Hand of the Week: Negreanu Dodges Fatal Blow from Legend Chan

negreanu

To kick off the New Year we’re revisiting a great battle on the legendary TV poker show Poker After Dark.

It’ll show you just how fast things can change in a poker hand and how a world-class player like Daniel Negreanu can dodge a fatal blow.

Even a fatal blow from a certifiable poker legend like Johnny Chan.

Flop to River

Six top players are sitting in the Poker After Dark $100/$200 No-Limit Hold'em cash game.

Chan raises under the gun to $600. Roland de Wolfe folds but Negreanu calls in the cut-off with    

Gus Hansen and John Juanda fold their hands and Patrik Antonius calls in the big blind.

There's $1,900 in the pot and the flop is      

Chan c-bets $1,800 and Negreanu follows up with a raise to $3,600. Antonius gets out of the way but Chan calls.

There's now $9,100 in the pot and the turn is revealed:  

Chan now checks. Negreanu bets $5,000 and Chan calls.

The river is the  

Chan takes the lead with a bet of $7,000, which Negreanu doesn’t like at all. He tanks for several minutes and eventually folds.

Chan held the   #  - a full house that indeed beats Negreanu’s straight. Watch the hand here:

Analysis

Negreanu makes a remarkable fold here and we’ll try and figure out how.

Pre-flop Chan makes a rather loose raise with A-5s from first position. Negreanu’s call with pocket fours from the cut-off is a lot more standard.

He'd like to have more players in the hand and intends to set-mine for a maximum payout if he hits. In the big blind Antonius comes along with J-9s, which is also a reasonable move.

Something for (Almost) Everyone

Antonius doesn’t hit anything on the flop but Negreanu now holds a (hidden) second pair and an open-ended straight draw.

Chan has found top pair and continues with an almost-pot-sized bet, which Negreanu min-raises to double that amount.

He does it with two ideas in his mind. Negreanu would like to win the pot right here and he hopes to make some hands that beat him, like a five or even an overpair, fold.

The secondary thought is to build the pot in case he hits his straight on a later street. If he gets called on the flop he can size up his bets in the next two betting rounds.

Antonius obviously has no reason to continue, so he folds his hand, but Chan doesn’t want to give up on his top pair. Also, Negreanu’s raise might look a little bit like a bluff to him.

And He Still Folds!

Chan does hit a second pair on the turn but at the same time Negreanu improves to a straight. Chan checks to the raiser who now bets another $5,000.

If Chan knew what his opponent was holding he would have to fold as he only has four outs to a full house. The pot has grown to $19,100 and the river turns out to be the ace Chan needs for a boat.

Chan3

His bet of $7,000 on the river is pretty much irresistible but Negreanu gives it a lot of thought and finally decides to fold.

He does that although he’s getting almost 4-1 pot odds, which means that he only has to be right 20% of the time. And he still folds!

Not Just Possible But Even Likely

Let’s see why. Negreanu has to ask himself what cards in Chan’s hand make sense for a move like this.

There can’t be any draws that came in, as there were no reasonable draws on the turn. The only possible draws are a busted diamond flush draw, which is virtually impossible based on the previous action.

The remaining hands are all better than Negreanu’s. There are plenty of full houses that make sense if you look at the way Chan played.

5-5, 3-3, 2-2, A-5, A-3, A-2 are all hands that are not just possible but even likely. Still, it’s almost unimaginable for Negreanu to fold here as he just had the virtual nuts on the turn – with Chan playing 6-4 sounding extremely unlikely.

Daniel Negreanu

But the Canadian shows his superior skills and gets rid of a straight.

Conclusion

This is an example of a battle on the highest level of poker.

The river is about the worst possible card for Negreanu but he still manages to fold a hand that had just turned into a monster on fourth street.

By the way: Chan showed his proficiency in this hand, too, as he put Negreanu on the exact hand he had afterwards.

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