Hand of the Week: McCormick Gets 'Drunk & Scottish' on Toby Lewis

mccormick1
Braveheart.

Few players have polarized viewers on the EPT Live stream as strongly as Scottish amateur Martin McCormick.

McCormick qualified for the PCA main event via a $27 satellite and found himself seated at the feature table - along with some of the game's best players - on Days 4 and 5.

With his outrageous table talk he made both a lot of fans and, well, a few enemies. But what was really impressive was how bravely he played the game.

This week we'll look at a wild bluff that gave him insta-fame in the poker community.

Flop to River

It’s the most crucial phase of the 2016 PCA main event. There are 23 players left (out of 928) and everybody has secured $27,860.

Now, the $728k first prize isn't out of reach anymore. The blinds are at 12k/24k/2k and McCormick is in first position with 639k in chips (=26bb).

He raises to 52k. It’s folded to seasoned pro Toby Lewis (718k chips = 30bb) on the button, and he calls. The blinds fold and we have 158k chips in the middle. Effective stacks are at 587k. The flop is      

McCormick bets another 60k and Lewis makes the call. There's now 258k in the pot with effective stacks at 527k. The turn is the  

McCormick and Lewis exchange a couple of words, among which McCormick explains that he’s “drunk and Scottish." Also, that Lewis can’t have pocket kings, “because that’s what I have."

McCormick bets 75k and Lewis calls again. The pot has 408k in it while the effective stacks are down to 452k. The river is the  

McCormick thinks for a couple of seconds and goes all-in for 452k, sending Lewis into the tank. It takes him a whole four minutes to make a decision. All this time, McCormick tells him how he doesn’t lie and how he’s going to show his hand either way. 

Lewis’ decision is to fold, and he does so without revealing his hand. McCormick shows, just as he promised, but it isn’t pocket kings. It's the     Many people would call that “total air." Watch the replay of the hand here:

Analysis

McCormick risked his tournament life in this hand. But was it a brilliant triple-barrel bluff or just crazy?

McCormick
Brilliant or crazy?

Pre-flop McCormick makes a rather loose raise from first position.

A-3s is a hand that’s often dominated when it meets resistance.

On the other hand, it looks a lot stronger than it is as he’s sitting in first position.

A fact the Scotsman might be able to use on later streets of this hand.

Lewis’ call on the flop makes it look like he has a good, maybe-not-great hand. K-J, Q-T or even T-9 are all reasonable hands for Lewis to be involved.

The pro might also think that he can still outplay the amateur at some point, even if he doesn’t hit the board.

McCormick Has to Bet

The K Q 4 flop hits both players’ ranges. McCormick has to c-bet, obviously. He’s represented a strong range that includes A-K, A-Q or even K-K or Q-Q pre-flop, so he has to bet in this spot 100% of the time.

Lewis ratlos
Face sums it up.

When Lewis calls, it becomes clear that he has something. Possible pre-flop hands like 7-7 would certainly fold here, as it would be way behind McCormick’s range.

This makes McCormick’s turn move even more interesting. The T is more or less a blank. It hasn’t changed much on the board except for a hand like A J would have improved to a straight.

Lewis still looks like he has a piece of the board, but he’s rarely very strong. There are many hands in his range that can easily call the flop but won’t make it all the way to showdown.

Among these would for example be a weak king, a high spade and a pair, a gutshot and all the floats. 

Before McCormick fires the next barrel he takes a lot of time. He’s basically trying to reach the decision there if he’s willing to go all the way on the river.

At the end of the day, all he has is a gutshot to something not even close to the nuts.

mccormick2
What could he have?

No Way He's Double-Floating

When Lewis calls again, McCormick knows that he’s not getting the English player out of the hand easily. There’s no way Lewis could be double-floating. It wouldn’t make sense.

The Q on the river is a good card as he can be almost sure that Lewis would have re-raised kings or queens pre-flop. The Scotsman, however, still has both these hands in his range.

He pulls himself together quickly and moves all-in, carrying out the plan he’d devised on the turn. Had the river been another spade, McCormick might have slammed on the brakes instead.

Couldn't Get Information He Needed

From Lewis’ point of view, his opponent can have several strong hands including flushes and full houses. We can only speculate what hand Lewis would take four minutes to decide with.

Maybe the main reason to fold was that he didn’t expect the amateur to pull off such a huge bluff.

The most likely scenario is a king in Lewis’ hand. He successfully tried to interact with McCormick but couldn't quite get the information he needed.

At the end of the day he probably didn’t want to make the wrong decision and lose almost his complete stack, as he only had his opponent covered by less than four big blinds.

Screen Shot 2016 03 18 at 12.10.10 PM
Got the best of it in the end.

Conclusion

Martin McCormick risked his tournament life and gets rewarded by adding a third of his stack.

While the hand became an instant classic and McCormick may have won the battle, Lewis still won the war.

McCormick finished in eleventh place for around $50,000. 

Lewis, meanwhile, went a lot deeper and finished in fourth place for $267,340.

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