Hand of the Week: Kitai Puts Mastery on Display w/ Queen High

This week we’re revisiting one of the best and most beautifully played hands of 2014.

In it, Belgian Triple Crown winner Davidi Kitai shows us why he's one of the best players in the world and a true artist at his craft.

You’re about to witness a call that’ll leave you speechless.

The Setup

We're at the final table of Event 15 of the 2014 WSOP, which is a $3,000 NLHE 6-max tournament.

There are three players left and Kitai is a close chipleader over Tony Ruberto.

Gordon Vayo is already a little short-stacked. The blinds are 25k/50k/5k. Kitai is on the button and finds    

He flat-calls. Vayo fills up in the small blind and Ruberto checks in the big. The flop is      

Vayo checks, Ruberto bets 95,000 and Kitai calls. Vayo mucks his hand. There's now 355,000 in the pot and we go to the turn  

Ruberto bets again - 195,000 this time - and Kitai makes the call again. The pot is now 745,000. The river is the  

Ruberto now bets 515,000. Kitai thinks it through quickly and makes the call with Queen high. Ruberto shows    

Kitai wins the pot. Watch the video below (apologies for crude audio) to see the hand play out:


The pre-flop action is very important here. Kitai flat-calling on the button is rather unusual. You would expect him to attack with position to try and steal the blinds.

5648DavidiKitaiEPT8BERNeil Stoddart
Good chance Ruberto is bluffing, but still.

Holding a mediocre Q 4 Kitai decides he wants to play it in position without taking a big risk.

Vayo gets good enough odds to fill up from the small blind with about any hand and Ruberto checks his option.

If either player in the blinds had a pocket pair or an ace, you’d expect them to raise to get rid of at least one opponent and build up a bigger pot.

The A J T flop has probably not helped anybody. Unsurprisingly Vayo checks but Ruberto bets out 95,000 chips, which is a little more than half the pot.

With a pot that small Kitai could easily fold now. But he does have a gutshot and a backdoor flush draw and he’s playing against an opponent who he doesn’t credit with any big hand.

What big hand would bet the flop here? Any ace probably, K-Q of course, K-J and Q-J maybe. All other hands would rather try to get to showdown cheaply.

He’s unlikely to hold any of the hands mentioned, though, as he’s supposed to raise most of them pre-flop.

This means there's a good chance that Ruberto is bluffing. Also, Kitai has position and might be able to steal the pot on a later street.

Kitai Shows with Unblinking Eye

The turn 2 is a great card for Kitai as it improves his hand a lot. On top of the gutshot draw he’s now drawing to a flush. Ruberto doesn’t slow down and bets 195,000 into a pot of 355,000.

Kitai is getting pot odds of 2.8-1 and has 12 outs, thus his call is perfectly correct. There's also the possibility that he still has the best hand.

Davidi Kitai
As you might have guessed, Kitai went on to win.

The T on the river is a very interesting card as it’s actually a blank.

The chance of Ruberto having a ten is almost zero as he would never have bet a ten twice. The only possible exceptions here are unlikely two pairs like A-T and J-T.

Ruberto fires a third barrel and strongly polarizes his hand. He’s holding an absolute monster, a draw that didn’t come in, or air.

If he held an ace or a jack he would have checked as there is no worse hand that can call him.

Now, if you’re an excellent player like Kitai, you recognize the intended polarization. Yet, when you’re watching this, you’ll find it very hard to believe how fast Kitai calls.

All it takes Kitai is a quick look at Ruberto and there is the call. With an unblinking eye Kitai shows his queen-high hand and collects the pot. What a play!


Kitai later went on to win the tournament.

In this hand he shows all of his skills. His opponent’s range is strongly polarized but it consists mainly of weak hands, which is what makes a call with queen-high possible.

In this spot many players would have been suspicious, but to actually make the call you have to be a champion!

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