Hand of the Week: Kurganov Staves Off Schemion w/ Masterful Call

Igor Kurganov
Masterful.

This week we look into the minds of two more world-class poker players – Igor Kurganov and Ole Schemion.

One pulls off an amazing bluff but the other finds a sensational call for his tournament life.

We’re at the Grand Final of Season 11 on the European Poker Tour. Blinds are 1000/2000/300 and there are still 150 out of a total of 531 players left.

There's still a long way to go before we reach the money.

Flop to River

Igor Kurganov sits in middle position with a stack of 80,000 (40 bb). He picks up    

He raises to 4,000. It's folded around to Ole Schemion on the button. He has a stack of 116,000 (58 bb) and re-raises to 9,100.

Kurganov calls and there's 23,900 in the pot. The flop falls      

Kurganov checks and then calls Schemion’s bet of 8,600. The pot is up to 41,100 chips. The turn is the  

Kurganov checks again and Schemion bets again – 16,100 this time. Kurganov calls again so there's now 73,300 in the pot. River is the  

Another check from Kurganov and Schemion starts to think. After a couple of seconds he puts Kurganov all-in.

That sends Kurganov into the tank. He lets out a deep sigh, jokes that Schemion “shook his head during the last bet," and eventually calls.

Schemion only has    

Kurganov wins a 160,000-chip pot and doubles up. Watch the hand play out below:

Ole Schemion
Known to steamroll.

Analysis

Where an amateur would fold his hand without even giving it a thought Kurganov makes a huge hero-call and wins a crucial hand.

How did he manage to make that decision? Let’s look at what happened from his point of view.

Pre-flop Kurganov raises a standard 2x and Schemion re-raises to 4.5 bb. At this point it’s very difficult for Kurganov to put Schemion on a range.

The EPT Player of the Year plays a loose-aggressive style and he wouldn’t make that move with only premium hands.

For Kurganov that means that if he folds medium hands like KJo in this spot Schemion would quite simply steamroll him with pure aggression.

Against a tight player it would be a big mistake to call a re-raise with KJo out of position, but here it’s all part of a bigger plan.

A Serious Threat

Igor Kurganov
Still ahead or already behind.

Kurganov flops middle pair, which is ok, but of course there are a lot of aces in Schemion’s range. When Kurganov checks Schemion fires the c-bet, which can actually mean any of the following.

  • He has an ace
  • He has a draw - for example a flush draw
  • He has nothing

Again, it’s important to recognize now that Kurganov just can’t simply fold because otherwise he would get crushed by Schemion’s relentless aggression. A call with second pair is a must as Kurganov did carry on with his hand pre-flop.

The 7 on the turn doesn’t change anything - or at least that’s what Kurganov has to think. There are only a few very unlikely hands that could have improved on that turn, so Kurganov has to conclude that he’s either still ahead or already behind.

Getting pot odds of 3.5 to 1, Kurganov’s call is a forced one just like the one on the flop. But Schemion has split up his stack so that he still has a very sizeable bet left for the river.

For Kurganov that’s a serious threat and surely makes him feel uncomfortable. Also, the seven has actually helped Schemion and gave him some equity.

Another seven or queen would probably give him the best hand. But of course, Kurganov has no idea.

The Last Push

An important part of Kurganov’s reasoning must be the range Schemion puts him on. Having called twice Kurganov’s hand looks like it is at least a big ace.

A brick on the river might have caused Schemion to give it up. But the 9 finishes a couple of draws and that has a crucial influence on the rest of the hand.

Ole Schemion
Tries everything.

When Kurganov checks on fifth street Schemion sees a chance to still win the hand. He’s certainly aware that he’s behind, as Kurganov has called twice, and he also knows his opponent is brilliant.

A flush draw is definitely within Schemion’s range on the flop and that hasn’t changed on the river. A player as loose-aggressive as him is certainly capable of double-barreling a semi-bluff.

On the other hand Kurganov holds the K, a blocker that reduces the chances of Schemion having a flush and eliminates reasonable flush draw hands like K Q and K T.

Another factor for Kurganov’s call was probably that he was aware this card opened a very good opportunity for Schemion to bluff while he probably wouldn’t have bet another time with just an ace.

If you watch the video you might also get the impression that Schemion’s body language could have given Kurganov the last push he needed to make that impressive call.

Conclusion

In this first-class hand Ole Schemion tries everything he can to get rid of his opponent.

Although he even represents a flush on the river Kurganov isn’t willing to be intimidated.

The hand is a rare example where you can see perfectly well what distinguishes an amateur from a top professional.

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