Hand of the Week: Miss Finland Undresses Savvy Pro w/ Pressure

Sara Chafak

Professional players often have difficulties playing amateurs.

Amateurs often play erratically, which makes it hard for the pros to read them.

With the return of PokerStars' Shark Cage for Season 2 we’re revisiting one of the most buzzed-about hands from Season 1.

If you watched the show at all you likely know the hand we're talking about between former Miss Finland, Sara Chafak, and accomplished poker pro Ronnie Bardah.

Bardah eventually loses control over the hand completely and has to bow to the inevitable.

Flop to River

The hand comes, as mentioned, in one of the first six episodes of Shark Cage, the latest poker show creation by PokerStars.

In this episode Eugene Katchalov, Jean-Robert Bellande, Bardah and Kara Scott are at the table along with online qualifier Gunther Steinbach from Germany and Chafak.

In this show you’ll forcibly miss one orbit if you get bluffed or get caught bluffing. Blinds are 5,000/10,000/A2,000. In this hand Miss Finland limps in from second position with A 2.

It gets folded around to Bardah in the big blind who checks his option with 8 4. There's 37,000 chips in the pot and the flop falls Q 5 4.

Bardah takes the lead with bottom pair and bets 15k. Chafak raises to 50,000 and Bardah calls. The pot grows to 97,000 and the turn brings the 4.

Bardah checks and Chafak bets 55,000. Bardah now raises to 155,000 and Chafak re-raises to 255,000. Bardah calls and there's suddenly 607,000 in the pot.

River is the 6. Bardah checks and Chafak moves all-in without much further ado and 700,000 chips. Bardah takes a long time to go through the hand over and over.

He even goes so far as to show his hand to his opponent before he finally folds at the very last second. Watch the hand play out here:

Analysis

An experienced pro like Ronnie Bardah with a really strong hand gets bluffed out of a pot by a complete amateur who holds complete air.

Ronnie Bardah
How is it possible?

How is that possible? Let’s take a look.

Our amateur hero limps pre-flop which makes it hard for any opponent to put her on a range. Amateurs love limping and they often do it with astonishing hands in a way a pro never would.

Bardah in the big blind has 8 4. It's pretty much a terrible hand so he takes the flop for free.

At least he hits bottom pair. He puts out a small bet to take down the pot right there and avoid any trouble, but he’s in for a surprise.

So Small It's Irresistible

Instead of folding, like Bardah likely expected, Chafak min-raises. In this spot it would probably be best for him to just fold.

He has a bad hand and it’s hard to predict what's going to happen next. But Bardah gets 5.5-1 pot odds so he decides to call.

On the turn Bardah gets lucky and hits the perfect card – another four. He even throws Chafak a look that pretty much gives it away.

sarachafakphotocreditlinaolofsson 3
So small it's irresistible.

But she’s not fazed at all and bets 55,000 with nothing but a gutshot. At this point Bardah plays a little inaccurately, as he announces raise.

Sure, he wants to take money from drawing hands, but apart from those there are almost no weaker hands than his that can actually call.

His opponent, whether on purpose or not, now goes for a treacherous move. She puts in another raise and it’s so small it’s irresistible.

Maximum Polarization

At this point Bardah's alarm bells go off. Apparently the amateur is trying to keep him in the pot by giving him fantastic pot odds with a perfect monster hand.

Then again, she’s a hobby player. So does she even know what she’s doing? Bardah hesitates.

Eventually he decides to call. His goal is now to get to showdown as cheaply as possible. His opponent has shown a lot of strength by raising the flop and re-raising the turn.

The river is a six – very likely a meaningless card, although it would finish the draw for an 8-7 which still is a realistic hand.

Bardah has no other options than to check. Sara doesn’t keep him waiting very long as she slightly overbets the pot, going all-in.

sara chafak vertical
Aggression pays.

Strong and Aggressive on Every Street

This move means maximum polarization. Any pro would now consider her to have a monster (like a full house) or nothing.

But, as she’s an amateur, Bardah has to take into consideration that she might have misplayed her hand. For example, she could have badly played top pair.

Bardah finally decides to fold, and at least part of the reason is he just doesn’t know what to think of his opponent.

Disregarding whether or not she knew what she was doing, Chafak played this hand exceptionally well. With the gutshot she always had some equity, she fought to get the initiative and she stayed strong and aggressive on every street.

Conclusion

The ex-Miss Finland demonstrates the value of position and initiative playing deep stacked on a TV poker show.

The way she plays her hand it hardly matters what her cards are.

She exerts so much pressure on her opponent that he’s forced to fold almost everything – which sends him into the shark cage

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