Hand of the Week: Klein Rings JRB's Bell with Ballsy River Raise

Bellande thinks
JRB out manoeuvred.

When there's a flush or a straight on the board in poker, everything usually points to a split pot.

Most players check around on a board like this. But good players still get creative.

This week we look at a duel on the river where both players try to steal a split pot.

One of them doesn’t look too happy afterwards.

Flop to River

Again we’re returning to the great Super High Roller Cash Game from last summer at the Aria in Las Vegas.

The blinds are $300/$600 and Jean-Robert Bellande has already straddled $1,200. We’ll look at this hand from his point of view.

Bill Klein raises from UTG+1 to $6,000. It’s folded around to Bellande who calls with    

There's now $12,900 in the pot and the flop is       Bellande check-calls a $10,000 bet and there's now $32,900 in the pot.

The turn is the   Both players check and the pot is still $32,900. On the river falls the   to put a straight on the board.

Bellande now takes the lead and bets out $45,000 but Klein raises to $115,000. Bellande thinks about what this means, laments his fate and decides to fold.

Klein shows     He had just bluffed into and won a $77,900 pot. You can re-watch the raising, bluffing and lamenting here.


These are some venturous moves on this river. Basically, this pot should be chopped, but then both players decide to bluff and they really go for it.

Bellandes decision

Let’s see why it was Klein who came out on top. Pre-flop, Klein starts out with an ultra-loose raise and a really bad hand.

It’s not exactly a great move as there is almost no board he can hit well. When everyone folds, Bellande is clearly calling with a hand that’s great to defend his straddle with.

It’s made of medium-high cards, which means it avoids most of the range of an early position raise.

The flop appears to be very nice to Bellande, as he hits top pair, but independent of that this is a flop that’s generally friendlier to a defender than to a raiser.

Bellande’s check is standard but Klein still c-bets. This is not a bad idea as Bellande would surely fold hands like K-J or 4-4, and Klein might be able to steal it with nothing.

After the Calm …

Obviously Bellande calls, and he’s probably quite happy with the seven on the turn. He still has top pair but now he adds a gut-shot straight draw.

To Klein the board looks pretty ugly now, so he slows down and doesn’t bet again. It looks like he’s giving up on this pot but he does leave himself a little chance for the river.

… Comes the Storm

There's “only” a humble $32,900 in the pot as they go to the river. It’s the 5, which completes the straight on the board.

This card creates a tense and exciting situation. If Bellande checks now he basically says that he doesn’t have a ten and Klein would have the power of position.

So, instead, Bellande tries to use his first position to his advantage as he can go and bluff first. A ten is perfectly within his range, so it’s going to be hard for Klein to call if he can’t beat the board.

klein moves2
Klein stays cool.

Klein stays cool

Bellande over-bets the pot and $45,000 goes into the middle. The commentator says “an overbet usually takes it down,” but maybe the size of this bet was Bellande’s actual mistake.

An overbet looks more like a bluff than a bet of two-thirds of the pot -- in this case about $20,000. This bet would have served well as a blocking bet that might have kept Klein from trying any tricks.

But the way Bellande plays he makes it very hard for Klein to call, who suddenly has an idea. He makes a huge raise to $115,000.

Klein is now representing a ten, maybe even J-T, and although Bellande has to ask himself why his opponent would check the nuts on the turn, it’s still a bet that’s difficult to pay off.

Bellande gets pot odds of 2.75-1 but the problem is he knows he’s competing for maximum half the pot. So he’s not paying $70,000 to win $192,900 but only half of it – about $96,000.

On top of that, the line-up of this table doesn’t make the call any easier.


The finale of this hand once again demonstrates how important position is in poker.

The only advantages Klein has over Bellande are some bits of information and the last word.

With his bold raise on the river, he exploits the situation perfectly and takes down an almost $80,000 pot which otherwise would have been split.

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