Hand of the Week: Schemion Pushes Sammartino to the Edge

dario sammartino
Dario Sammartino (Photo: Neil Stoddart, PokerStars)

This week we’re looking at a hand between German tournament kingpin Ole Schemion and Italian ace Dario Sammartino.

It's from the €100,000 Super High Roller Event at the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo Casino EPT Grand Final just this past week and it caused some highly controversial discussions.

Let’s look at what happened in detail to see what the fuss was about.

Flop to River

It was a crucial phase of the €100,000 Super High Roller. There were 14 players left but only nine would make the money. The first payout level is about €200,000.

Scott Seiver
Evoked quiet "Jesus" from Seiver.

Schemion and Sammartino both were big stacks at the time. Schemion held around two million chips while Sammartino – who qualified through a satellite for the tournament - had a little less.

Schemion is in the big blind and gets A A. It's folded to Sammartino who raises from the button. Schemion re-raises to 185,000 and Sammartino calls.

There's now 250,000 in the pot. The flop is Q J 7 Schemion bets 180,000 and Sammartino calls. The pot is now 610,000 and the turn comes 7.

Schemion now bets 382,000 and Sammartino calls again. The pot has grown to 1,374,000 chips. The river is the 4.

Schemion takes a minute and then moves all-in with his last 1.1 million. Sammartino goes into the tank and stays there.

Over about four minutes he repeatedly tries to get information out of the German, even waving his hands in front of Schemion’s face. Eventually, Sammartino calls and shows J J

The Italian holds the third nuts and wins the pot; the only possible dominating hands being 77 and QQ. All the players at the table are astonished; Scott Seiver is heard to utter “Jesus” incredulously.

You can see the last minutes of this hand here in the video:

And this is how Sammartino explained his behavior:

Analysis

Obviously this hand triggered a lot of discussion and several players accused Sammartino of slowrolling. But let’s take a look at the hand first, as it bears a lot of poker finesse.

The pre-flop action with Sammartino raising, Schemion re-raising and Sammartino calling are all standard. It's a good decision from Sammartino to just call the 3-bet as a 4-bet would have made Schemion fold all his bad hands.

Also there's no reason for him to bloat up the pot in a battle between two big stacks. Sammartino is in position and with this move,he has a broad perceived range -- meaning his opponent can put him on a lot of worse hands than his own.

Of course Schemion holds the best hand possible but Sammartino can’t possibly know that.

Sammartino Finds a Dream Flop

The flop is not very good for Schemion. It hits a lot of calling hands and creates several draws which are all in Sammartino’s range.

 Ole Schemion 2
Schemion's quality showed.

But in most cases Schemion would still have the best hand here and he can get calls from many worse hands like A-Q, K-J etc.

Sammartino, on the other hand, finds a dream flop. He now has the second nuts (to Q-Q). His call goes without saying, as with his monster he doesn’t want to scare Schemion off.

The turn 7 is a very good card for Schemion. If Sammartino has Q-J, Schemion has just counterfeited his hand and a seven is not likely in Sammartino’s range.

The seven is also insurance against all possible two-pair draws of Sammartino. Schemion now decides to risk his whole stack.

The bet on the turn is a preparation bet for the all-in on the river. You can tell Schemion’s quality by the way he segmented his stack perfectly to go all-in without any outrageous over-bet on the river.

Sammartino also likes the turn because now he's not in danger of losing to any straight draws which would well fit Schemion’s range.

There is no need to raise as Schemion was going all-in with a good hand anyway, and also with a couple of bluffs.

At this point we should be finished with the analysis, as all the decisions have been made. However, it is almost inexplicable what happens on the river of this otherwise well played hand.

Poker is a Game Still Played By Human Beings

As planned Schemion moves his complete stack across the line. With a jack or queen on the river he might have even checked.

Dario Sammartino WSOP
Still a game played by humans.

He’s counting on getting paid by some queen hands and some others, too.

But his opponent suddenly begins to fear his own courage. It was Sammartino’s first Super High Roller, it was in Monte Carlo, and it was the most important day of his life as he said.

The Italian obviously started to fear the worst. There were two possible hands that could beat him, and he was seriously trying to find a fold here because of the tournament situation.

It would be unfair to say he was slow rolling, as pocket queens are definitely inside Schemion’s range, but the German’s anger is also pretty obvious.

Considering how long Sammartino tanked Schemion must have thought he had the best hand, only to then get shown what felt like the nuts.

The whole situation is a little unlucky, but it shows that poker is still a game played by human beings who can get pushed to the edge.

Dario Sammartino was playing the most expensive tournament of his life and he was definitely on the edge!

Conclusion

Dario Sammartino hits a full house in a monster pot and then almost loses his nerve.

For Ole Schemion this was a terrible hand and it was the beginning of the end for him.

The former chip leader busted soon after -- and worse, outside the money spots.

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