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Hand of the Week: A $1.6m Hero Call to Win Aussie Millions
In this year’s Aussie Millions main event amateur player Shurane Vijayaram didn’t just beat the world’s elite -- he made a spectacular hero call in the final hand to do it.
With an extra $600,000 AUD on the line Vijayaram proved he had the guts to go for it all.
He read his British opponent Ben Heath correctly and went on to make a brilliant call he'll remember for the rest of his life.
Flop to River
We've reached the heads-up of the 2017 Aussie Millions main event. Ben Heath and his Australian counterpart Shurane Vijayaram both have A$1 million locked up, but a title is a title. And it’s also worth another AUD $600,000.
At blinds 80k/160k Vijayaram has a sizeable chip lead with a stack of 16m to Heath’s 5.4m. He’s close to a sensational win and beating all the professionals in this star-studded event.
He’s now on the button looking at He raises to 350,000. Heath calls and they head to the flop with 700,000 in the middle.
Flop is Heath checks and Vijayaram c-bets 400,000, which Heath calls. The pot is now at 1.5m chips and effective stacks are at 4.6m.
The turn is the Heath checks and Vijayaram now bets 500,000. Heath raises it up to 1.4m and Vijayaram makes the call after a little deliberation.
The pot is suddenly 4.3 million chips big and effective stacks are down to 3.2 million. On to the river
Heath puts all his chips in the middle and now Vijayaram has a big decision. He takes several minutes and then makes the call with fifth pair.
Heath can only show a bluff with # Watch the hand again in the video below – mind the bet sizes; they aren’t correct the whole time.
If you win an event like the Aussie Millions with a call like this you’ve earned your entry into the poker history books.
How did Shurane Vijayaram, who had never made the money in a live event before, come to the decision to call the all-in?
Let’s jump on his train of thought.
Pre-flop, Vijayaram raises from the button with his small pair. Ben Heath is holding K-8o, which is a hand slightly above average so he certainly wants to take a look at the flop.
That flop looks pretty good for both players but as we are heads-up the ranges are wide and difficult to identify.
Vijayaram c-bets, which is the obvious move here as Heath is not folding an overcard with an open-ended straight draw.
Turn of Events?
The turn doesn’t improve Heath’s hand but the British player had already made up his mind for plan B if necessary. Heath checks and Vijayaram could check back here.
He now has a double gutshot and his pocket pair has showdown value anyway. On the other hand his opponent might still pay him off with hands with an eight or just two overcards.
Still, I consider the check the better move here as Vijayaram would exert more control over the pot size. Now Heath tries to exploit the situation and goes for the semi-bluff – a very smart move in this situation.
If he manages to make a better hand than his fold, like an ace or any pair, his move would be excellent and he can close the gap in chip stacks significantly. He also still has the chance to hit on the river.
The problem with this move, however, is that a check-raise often smells like a bluff -- especially with such a draw-heavy board. Vijayaram on the other hand is playing a pair and although he’s drawing to two straights these wouldn’t be the nuts even if he hit any.
Point of No Return
The river card is a queen, which should be a blank most of the time so it doesn’t shake things up a lot.
Heath missed his draw but still decides to represent a big hand close to the nuts, meaning a set or a straight.
Of course Vijayaram is aware that the queen didn’t give his opponent a monster so the question he has to ask himself is if Heath has “it” or not.
With ranges as wide as in this spot – both players would play about 70-80% of their hands to start with – it’s tough to come to a decision.
Hero It Is
Listen to Vijayaram mumbling “what the hell do you have?" in the clip. The final aspect of this situation is that he might double Heath up to over 10 million chips but would still roughly be even.
This aspect makes it a little easier to try and be the hero who catches the big bluff.
Additionally a few strong hands like T-8, 8-5, 5-4 or 7-7 and 6-6 are juxtaposed to a lot of drawing hands with two clubs, an eight or just two overcards, so a bluff seems all the more likely.
Still, kudos to the amateur who kept his cool in this stressful situation and them made the correct decision with one of the most audacious calls of the year.
Shurane Vijayaram very much deserved his sensational victory at the Aussie Millions Main Event – an event that ended with a bang.
Ben Heath does a good job polarizing his range and exerting maximum pressure on his opponent, but the local hero doesn’t budge and gets rewarded with an extra AUD $600,000. Spectacular!