Hand of the Week: Jason Mercier Opens the Throttle on Cal42688

Jason Mercier
Full speed ahead wins the day.

What’s the real difference between a world-class player and just a regular one?

Many poker fans have asked themselves this question, and to find the answer it’s essential to watch closely how the top pros play.

In this week's hand we witnessed a battle between two undeniably top-class players – Jason Mercier and Calvin "Cal42688" Anderson – and this one was really thrilling.

It’s the finale of SCOOP Event Number 20, $2,100 No-Limit Hold'em. There are three players left and the pay jumps are significant.

Flop to River

The blinds are 3,000/6,000/750. Ryan HITTHEPANDA Franklin raises to 12,780 from the button but behind him Calvin Anderson reraises from the small blind to 31,213.

Jason Mercier in the big blind decides to pop it up even more. He 4-bets to 82,338. Franklin gives up his hand but Anderson calls.

There's 180,000 chips in the pot and the flop falls      

Anderson checks and Mercier bets 68,000. Anderson makes the call and the pot has grown to 316,000. The turn is the  

Anderson checks again and Mercier bets again, this time 109,000. Anderson calls and the pot is now 535,000 chips big.

The river is the   Another check from Anderson and now Mercier pushes all his remaining 329,000 chips all-in.

Anderson decides to fold. Mercier wins a big pot and later goes on to victory in this tournament while Anderson, who was chipleader before this hand, finishes in third place. These were the hands:

Ryan Franklin:        Calvin Anderson:    

Jason Mercier:    

Watch the hand play out below:

Analysis

Jason Mercier
Knows how to use enormous power.

In this battle of three world-class players Mercier comes out victorious despite holding the worst hand. It’s an impressive play and it was the catalyst for Mercier’s win.

Franklin from the button is opening with a standard raise. His hand is actually significantly stronger than his range as he would raise almost any two in this situation.

Anderson is the big stack at that point. His 9 7 is a nice, if speculative, hand. It makes him want to exert pressure so he puts in another bet.

However, that’s not the end of it. Mercier is still to act and he has just woken up with pocket sixes.

The actions of both his opponents don’t mean that much. Franklin’s button raise was standard and Anderson could well re-raise against a weak range.

Also, Mercier’s hand is only behind higher pairs, and with only three players at the table it's often the best hand.

There are several intentions behind this 4-bet. Mercier could win the pot right there and add 50,000 chips to his stack. Or he can win the hand later either by hitting a set or by just keeping the best hand.

Most of all he keeps the initiative and uses the enormous power his pre-flop action has gained him for his advantage. As we will see this is of major significance in the course of the hand.

Time for Plan C

Calvin Anderson
Anderson: Can't fold here.

Franklin finds himself in a sandwich so he’s forced to give up his hand. He could go all-in here but his hand is often dominated by hands that would call, so it’s just not strong enough for such a move.

Anderson’s call is more interesting. Of course, he can’t just fold every time Mercier comes in with a 4-bet. But here he’s playing out of position against one of the best players in the world with a hand that almost never even makes top pair.

One of the reasons why Anderson calls is that he’s getting 2 to 1 for a call. He’s also only a 49 to 51 underdog to Mercier’s sixes, but without position it’s always difficult to turn your equity into profit.

The flop K 9 8 is an interesting one. Anderson has hit second pair but the flop also hits Mercier’s range, which obviously has several kings in it.

Anderson checks and Mercier bets. Now it’s the time for plan C. Mercier bets to represent a credible, strong hand and steal the pot.

Anderson can never fold here, however. He’s hit the board and he gets great pot odds of 3.6 to 1.

Full Speed Ahead

The A on the turn is better for Mercier’s range. Anderson checks again and now it’s full speed ahead for Mercier.

Because of the pre-flop action Mercier can be pretty sure that his hand is not the best anymore as Anderson would often check-raise with a flush draw.

Mercier bets again, leaving himself enough chips for an all-in on the river.

Jason Mercier
Don't play OOP with marginal hand against him.

Anderson demonstrates now how stubborn he can be. If you play poker in your spare time, imagine what it must feel like to be Jason Mercier, with an opponent who doesn’t go away. It’s very uncomfortable.

Anderson’s call also comes with disadvantages. He doesn’t have many outs (5) that would actually make his hand better, and he has to be afraid of Mercier moving all-in on the river. A fold would have been a viable option.

The river is the 3 and Andersen checks one more time. For Mercier this card is not that important because, apart from other strong hands, he can also represent a flush draw.

At least he can be pretty sure that the river didn’t help Anderson. It would have been interesting to see what Mercier had done if the river had been a king or a 9.

Kings and nines would have been the cards most likely to help Anderson as there are a lot of kings and nines in his range, regarding how the action had gone down.

Anyway, Mercier’s plan works out and he wins a big pot.

Conclusion

Don’t play with a marginal hand and out of position against Jason Mercier. That’s the lesson we can all learn from this story.

Calvin Anderson withstood the pressure for a long time before he finally had to give in against Mercier’s relentless pressure.

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