Hand of the Week: A Tournament-Defining Mistake at WPT Vienna

Konstantinos Nanos
Konstantinos Nanos

This week we’re dealing with a very recent tournament: WPT Vienna.

At the final table a battle ensued that paved the way for the eventual winner Konstantinos Nanos from Greece.

We’ll take a look at a hand that appears to be a pretty simple mistake but actually involves a considerable amount of strategy going on in the background.

From Flop to River

It’s the finale of WPT Vienna and there are just three players left.

Everybody’s going to win at least $68,000 but obviously they're now playing for the title and the winner’s check of $157,000.

Second place pays $108,000, which also sounds pretty good.

We have to pay special attention to the stack sizes here. Austrian player Vladimir Krastev has 3.3 million for the chip lead and Nanos is second with 2.5 million.

Thomas Bichon from France is holding 800,000. The blinds are at 15,000/30,000/5,000 so the smallest stack amounts to 27 big blinds.

Krastev raises from the button to 65,000. Bichon folds the small blind but Nanos 3-bets from the big to 175,000.

Krastev doesn’t take long to re-raise and pops it up to 390,000. Nanos mulls it over for awhile before five-betting to 875,000.

Now it’s Krastev who needs to mull it over but eventually he moves all-in with his 2.5 million. Nanos doesn’t need to think about it at all; he calls quickly and shows:

   

Krastev is obviously behind. He turns over:

   

The flop is not very spectacular:

     

But the turn:

 

Gave Krastev a flush draw and an 18% chance to win the hand.

The river is the:

 

Nanos won the hand and would go on to take the entire tournament down.

After the hand Nanos had five million chips while Krastev and Bichon both had around 800,000.

Analysis

At first glance it looks like Vladimir Krastev simply made a big mistake here but poker is rarely that trivial.

Vladimir Krastev WPT photo
Vladimir Krastev WPT photo

Let’s look back to the start of this hand and check all the different factors that come into play here.

In a tournament, you always have to consider the initial situation. Thomas Bichon in third place does not have enough chips to hurt any of the other two players.

However, that’s not the case between Krastev and Nanos. If Krastev loses a big hand he could fall back into third place while Nanos is even in danger of busting from the tournament.

In a situation like this the game can become very passive and there will be a lot of threats rather than actual moves.

It’s also important to look at the prize money according to ICM because it tells us how much the players’ chips are worth at the moment.

As mentioned before all three players have $68,000 secured and the actual ICM gives us the following values:


Vladimir Krastev 109BB $127,227
Konstaninos Nanos 83BB $119,215
Thomas Bichon 27BB $86,557

As you can see it would be very costly for Krastev and Nanos to bust in third place. Both would lose over $33,000.

Now, knowing all this, we return to the hand. Krastev is on the button and gets K Q. A strong hand if you’re three-handed so a raise is the obvious play.

Bichon folds so there are only the two big stacks left. When Nanos re-raises Krastev could easily just call and then play the hand in position.

Instead he opts for a 4-bet but he’s only investing 12% of his stack into the pot. Then, after Nanos’ 5-bet, Krastev should have thought very hard about the following questions:

1) What range would Nanos play this way?

2) How can Krastev optimize his risk/reward ratio?

It’s only the 27th hand at the final table so there's not a long history between these two players.

WPT Chips

It’s unlikely that Nanos would make this play with a bad hand, thus his range is roughly big aces (A-J +) or pocket pairs 9-9 or higher.

Even more important is the risk/reward ratio. As we said, Nanos has only invested a small portion of his stack but every move that follows would increase his risk up to 76%, equaling the 2.5 million chips he’s holding.

Also if he loses this hand he would fall back into third place and he might only win the $68,000 instead of the $127,000 his stack is currently worth in theory.

Now check Nanos’ stack. When Krastev 5-bets all-in -- there's 3.4 million chips in the pot -- and Nanos only has to put in another 1.6 million. He’s getting 2.12 to 1 pot odds and would have to call with any decent hand.

Against that, K-Q doesn’t look very pretty. The hand flips against 9-9, T-T- and J-J but is completely dominated by higher pairs.

Although K-Q is often used for a move like this – and there are good reasons for it, as the chances of running into A-K, A-Q, K-K, or Q–Q are very low – it is definitely a mistake here. There are several reasons for this.

Nanos gets good pot odds with his strong range, Krastev’s risk/reward ratio is bad, and K-Q only has little fold equity against the calling range.

Conclusion

Krastev tries to use his big stack and the tournament situation to show Nanos who the boss at the table is.

He misreads the range of his opponent, though, and thus paves the way for Nanos to win the tournament.

What a costly mistake!

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