Hand of the Week: Pierre Punishes Mario for Missing Emergency Exit

Eye of the Senior (Photo: One Drop)

Earlier this week we looked back at the heartbreaking finish to the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event for Belgium's Pierre Neuville.

In his own words, he said "the worst has happened to me."

Today we'll revisit a more positive memory - one of the big hands that propelled him to become the oldest player, at 72, to ever reach the WSOP final table.

In this dramatic hand Neuville and American Mario Sequeira battle it out and they don’t play exactly by the book. Which is a very good reason to take a closer look at the carnage.

Flop to River

It's Day 7. At this point there are 21 players left in the tournament and everyone has locked up $262,000. The pay jumps are now over $60,000.

Neuville and Sequeira are two of the big stacks at the table holding 12 and 9 million chips, respectively. There are three tables left with seven players each and the blinds are 100k/200k/30k.

It’s folded to Neuville in the small blind who holds    

Neuville raises to 475k but Sequeira in the big blind re-raises to 1.2 million. Neuville 4-bets to 2.675 million and Sequeira calls. Effective stacks are now at 7m and the pot is already 5.56 million.

The flop falls      

Neuville c-bets 2.95m and Sequeira pushes all-in for his last 6.765m. Neuville thinks about it and then announces call with his top pair. Sequeira shows    

Turn and river are    

Neuville wins with a full house, tens full of kings, versus Sequeira’s tens full of queens and becomes the new chipleader with 22 million. Sequeira busts in 21st place and wins about $260k. Watch the hand again here:


It’s a big clash and it’s Neuville who comes out on top. This hand paved the way to the final table for the Belgian.

Neuville1 2
What's happening here?

But what happened during the hand and how could Sequeira have avoided busting?

Neuville’s K 6 is a good hand considering there was no raise in front of him. It’s definitely good enough for a raise.

Let’s look at stack sizes first. Neuville has about 60 big blinds and the effective stacks are about 9.5m, corresponding to 48 bb.

Neuville’s raise is standard – a little more than 2x because he’s out of position – and Sequeira re-raises big to 1.2 million.

In a blind versus blind battle this doesn’t necessarily mean much, but we have to consider the tournament situation. The pay jumps are high and there are a lot of players with small stacks.

Neuville tries to exploit that situation and push Sequeira out of the hand. He puts in another small re-raise to 2.675 million, which leaves him the option to fold as he's only invested a quarter of his stack.

A Risky Move

After Neuville’s 4-bet Sequeira could go all-in, which would win him the pot most of the time and add 3m chips – roughly a third - to his stack.

This would be quite a nice win as there are many worse hands Neuville would call with, like lower pocket pairs or dominated hands like A-J.

Instead Sequeira opts to go for the more risky play and calls. He has now invested a third of his stack and his intention is to push on almost any flop.

Mario Sequeira
Mario Sequiera

It’s a risky move because Neuville’s range is still rather wide.

With a king and a ten on the flop Neuville has no reason to slow down. He’s committing himself now but Sequeira hasn’t shown a lot of strength pre-flop.

What About Folding?

All the more surprising is Sequeira’s quick all-in, which means he’s turning his hand into a weird sort of bluff.

He’s not getting called by a hand worse than his and a king can’t really fold because of the pot odds. And Neuville has a king.

It looks like Sequeira decided before the flop to go for this stop-and-go move and then he does so without any hesitation or regard for the board.

Holding pocket queens there is a 58% probability that there will be no overcard on the flop – that’s good, but not great.

Pierre Neuville
Unleash the punishment.

Sequeira wasn’t able to hero-fold after he saw the unpleasant overcard, even though he would have been left with 34 bb -- still a sizable stack.

Had there been an ace Sequeira probably would have found the emergency exit out of this hand.

But as it ended up Sequeira generated an unfavorable risk-reward-situation, put his tournament life on the line and received maximum punishment.


An important, haywire hand where Pierre Neuville acts highly aggressive and his opponent takes too much of a risk.

A world-class player would probably have found a strong fold at some point but Mario Sequeira lost his complete stack.

He finished the 2015 WSOP Main Event in 21st while Neuville went on to make poker history.

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