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Hand of the Week: Malec’s Showstopper From EPT Barcelona
It was the perfect set-up.
It ended EPT Barcelona and was completely unavoidable.
But eventual winner Sebastian Malec from Poland didn’t just beat German Uri Reichenstein in the final hand of the tournament — he talked him into it.
We join the action with players heads-up at EPT Barcelona. The clock is ticking towards midnight and Sebastian Malec and Uri Reichenstein are playing for a €315,000 pay jump and the title.
Both players already have €807,000 locked up.
From the Flop to the River
Six hours into the final duel, the blinds have gone up to 300k/600k/100k, and the stacks are pretty even. Malec has about 27 million, Reichenstein 25.6 million.
Malec fills up from the button, and Reichenstein checks his option in the big blind with:
There are 1.4 million chips are in the pot when the flop falls:
Reichenstein bets 800,000 but Malec raises to 3 million. The German takes a minute to call but eventually does and that brings the turn:
Now Reichenstein checks and Malec bets another five million. Reichenstein calls. The pot has grown to 17.4 million chips, and Reichenstein has 17.6 million behind.
Reichenstein checks again, and this time Malec puts him all-in. A 35 million-chip pot and an EPT title weigh on Reichenstein’s next decision.
It takes him exactly 2 minutes and 22 seconds to make up his mind. Convinced that his straight is good most of the times, Reichenstein calls and is shown the nuts by Malec:
You can watch the hand again including all of Malec’s shenanigans in the video below.
What a spectacular clash between two really big hands after an excruciatingly long day of poker.
We’ll take Reichenstein’s point of view to review what happened.
His opponent Malec chose to complete instead of raise pre-flop. This isn’t giving away much information about his hand, although he would raise with pairs and aces most of the time.
On the other hand, he might chose to hide any of these hands, too.
Reichenstein has connectors. There is no reason for him to build up the pot out of position, so a check seems reasonable.
The flop gives Reichenstein a straight draw, so he takes the lead. If Malec hasn’t hit anything, he might just fold, and Reichenstein can win the pot with a semi-bluff.
Malec’s Maximum Polarization
When Malec raises, Reichenstein has to reconsider his opponent’s range. The Polish player could have hit two pair with Q-J, Q-6, or J-6, but there are also a lot of draws in that range, like K-T, T-8, or hearts.
Then again, some raises are played with complete air. If Malec had a queen or jack in his hand, he would probably just call.
Reichenstein has a good draw, although there are only three cards that give him the nuts. As Malec didn’t raise pre-flop, it’s less likely that he hit anything on the board.
The Dream Turn
The turn card is a dream card for all the poker fans in front of their TVs. Reichenstein likes it, too, as now he can only be beaten by flushes, while a king could give his opponent a higher straight.
A check is the right move here. If Malec is bluffing, it might induce another bet.
The Polish player sticks to his aggressive line and bets another five million into the 7.4 million pot.
As flushes only make for a very small part of Malec’s range, Reichenstein can never fold to this bet. Yet, Malec will have almost exactly a pot-sized stack to go all-in on the river.
The 8♦ on the river complicates things for Reichenstein. On the turn, he was only beat by flushes, but now there are also some full houses that can beat him.
Q-Q, J-J, and 6-6 are unlikely, as Malec would probably raise these pre-flop, but they are not impossible. Q-8, J-8, and 8-6 also need to be considered, although the question is, would Malec raise these on the flop.
Reichenstein checks again, correctly, as he can’t get any worse hands than his to call, while Malec might bluff or check behind with a weaker hand.
But Malec goes all-in, thus polarizing his hand to the max. This is now a monster or a monster bluff.
Look at the line of the Polish player again. He limped pre-flop, raised the flop, bet two thirds of the pot on the turn and then moved all-in on the river. That’s not how you play a mediocre top pair!
Two minutes and a lot of Hollywooding later, Reichenstein makes the call and loses the heads-up match. We can’t really blame him, though.
In heads-up a straight is such a strong hand and flushes are only a small part of the opponent’s range – a range that wasn’t defined at all pre-flop.
What we can see in the video is how confident and ostentatious Malec is – his demeanor and his bad acting on seeing the turn card was more reminiscent of a bad theater performance than a €5k poker tournament.
Maybe Reichenstein was missing some live experience to avoid the trap, so he had to learn it the hard way.
Two strong hands collide in an amazing hand, and the Polish winner Sebastian Malec manages to talk his opponent into calling.
Uri Reichenstein drew the wrong conclusions and wasn't able to let go of his strong holding.