Hand of the Week: Holz Hollywoods, Rast Holds On, Mercier Triples

Jason Mercier
Jason Mercier

The final table has just played out in Australia but the $100k Challenge at the 2016 Aussie Millions brought forth a spectacular hand earlier in the week.

It's played by three of the world’s best poker players in Jason Mercier, Fedor Holz and Brian Rast.

All three have strong holdings in this tilt and their battle leads to a surprise ending.

It's a special hand and worth taking some time to revisit in detail.

Flop to River

It’s the early stages of the $100k High Roller Challenge of the Aussie Millions. The blinds are 2,000/4,000.

Brian Rast (stack: 404,000 chips) raises to 9,000 from early position with    

Fedor Holz (stack: 78,000) calls on the button with    

In the big blind Jason Mercier (stack: 120,000) finds     and reraises to 24,000.

The pot now has 47,000 chips in it. Rast calls, and then Holz calls, too, so the pot grows to 77,000. Effective stacks are 48,000 for the main pot (Holz, Mercier, and Rast) and 97,000 for a potential side pot (Mercier, Rast).

The flop falls      

Mercier leads out with a bet of 23,000. Rast calls and Holz moves all-in after using his time-bank button to do a bit of Hollywood-ing. The action goes back to Mercier.

There's 172,000 in the pot and he has 74,000 left. Mercier also pushes all-in so Rast now has 74,000 to pay to potentially win a pot of 246,000 chips.

He gives it a long thought and then calls with a hand that has to be beat in this spot. The turn and river are the   and  

Mercier hits the nut flush on fifth street and wins the 320k pot. Watch the hand again here:


Some hand, right? But there are a couple of critical points in it that need explanation.

Jason Mercier
Aces up his sleeve.

Chipleader Rast raises pre-flop from under the gun, which is a standard move. Interestingly, though, Holz just calls with a stack of 200 bb on the button, investing a significant part of his stack with Q-Ts.

Apparently, Holz sees Rast’s range as so large that this hand plays well against it.

Now Mercier turns on the gas and re-raises from the big blind. He actually has aces, but of course his opponents don’t know.

Looking at the stack sizes, Mercier could try to exploit use his position here to 3-bet shove with weaker hands, but instead he just raises to lure both Holz and Rast into the pot and maximize his profit.

Mercier’s range is a lot stronger with this raise than it would be with an all-in.

Rast Won’t Let Go

Rast calls the raise and Holz overcalls. Rast’s call between Holz and Mercier doesn’t look very solid, but apparently he thinks that he can build enough equity with it against Mercier’s 3-bet range.

Holz’s call is a little more obvious. He’s last to act and he’s getting great pot odds. He’ll get the chance to decide on the flop whether he’s ready to push or not.

Brian Rast 2
Not easy to let go.

Even Alfred Hitchcock couldn’t have come up with a better flop than the one we’re now getting to see.

Mercier adds the nut flush draw to his over pair; Rast hits top pair, top kicker and Holz simply hits a queen-high flush.

Mercier makes a rather small bet and that’s trouble for Rast. Despite his top pair he’s in an uncomfortable position.

As he has a lot more chips than his opponents his tournament life is not at risk. Plus he’s getting very good pot odds.

But a fold in this spot would still be well justifiable because of the strength Mercier is showing by betting into two opponents.

Missing the Emergency Exit

After Rast calls, Holz moves all-in. Then Mercier pushes as well, making the situation even more miserable for Rast.

Fedor Holz 2
Puts on a show.

He’s still getting great odds but the question is are there any hands he can still be ahead against.

Rast uses his complete time bank before eventually making the call. He knows he’s behind but pot odds and the draws on the board are outweighing the risks.

The best-case scenario for him would be Mercier holding T-T (maybe with the ten of spades) and Holz holding K-J/Q-J, which would make his call look correct.

However the reality is that the winner of the Big One is way behind. Seconds later, Mercier almost triples his stack.


Fedor Holz flops the nuts and then pulls off a big show, only to watch Jason Mercier overtake him on the river.

Brian Rast finds out step-by-step how bad his position is.

I guess the moral of this story is sometimes you know you’re getting yourself in trouble, but you still can’t do anything about it.

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