Hand of the Week: Seidel Speeds Past ICM on WSOPE Bubble

Erik Seidel

This week's hand of the week is an unusual situation.

Poker legend Erik Seidel and WSOPE Main Event winner Kevin MacPhee clashed during a quintessential phase of the tournament.

Seidel ended up busting with the third-largest stack. But was it really necessary?

From third in chips to a seventh-place bustout. How does that happen to a player like Erik Seidel? Here's how it went down.

Flop to River

We're on the bubble of the final table at WSOPE Berlin. There are seven players left and we have a couple of short stacks. The blinds are at 15k/30k/5k and the stacks look like this:

  • Kilian Kramer (UTG): 435,000 (14.5bb)
  • JC Alvarado (UTG+1): 1,070.000 (35.7bb)
  • Felix Bleiker (HJ): 215,000 (7.2bb)
  • Andrew Lichtenberger (CO): 2,135,000 (71.2bb)
  • David Lopez (BU): 585,000 (19.5bb)
  • Kevin MacPhee (SB): 3,300,000 (110bb)
  • Erik Seidel (BB): 1,650,000 (55bb)

It’s a classic bubble situation. Three players have very small stacks and the pay jumps are huge. The big stacks like Kevin MacPhee can exert a lot of pressure.

In the hand in question it’s folded to David Lopez on the button. The Spanish player raises to 65,000 and MacPhee reraises from the small blind to 160,000.

Seidel sits in the big blind with     He 4-bets to 365,000. Lopez gets out of the way but MacPhee raises again and makes it 760,000.

Seidel decides to 6-bet all-in and gets a snap call. MacPhee shows    

Nothing spectacular happens on the board. MacPhee wins the hand and later also the tournament. Seidel busts in seventh for €100,000.

Erik Seidel2013 WSOP EuropeEV052K NLHFinal TableGiron8JG1044
Let's dive deeper.


The internet community criticized Seidel’s play heavily because he went to war with the big stack for no reason. He thus lost a lot of money with respect to the Independent Chip Model (ICM).

So let’s dive a little deeper into what happened here. It looks like short stacks Bleiker and Kramer won’t last at the table much longer. David Lopez is just moving into dangerous territory, too.

Chipleader MacPhee is in a great spot because he can pound on the medium stacks. The players with medium stacks really don’t want to bust before the short stacks.

Every player they outlast will give them €30K-€75K more. When MacPhee reraises Lopez’ button raise from the small blind it doesn’t really say anything about the strength of his hand.

Seidel in the big blind finds A K -- a monster in this situation as he’s only behind to kings and aces. In addition to that he has position on MacPhee so he doesn’t mind building a larger pot with his 4-bet.

This Could Be a Trick

When MacPhee puts in a 5-bet he probably has one of two possible reasons:

Kevin MacPhee
Can't fold to 6-bet.
  • He has a very strong hand
  • He's trying to push Seidel off the hand.

From a mathematical standpoint it looks like MacPhee can’t fold to a 6-bet all-in anymore. There will be 2.43m chips in the pot and he gets great pot odds of 2.7-1.

Of course this could be a trick by MacPhee, trying to scare Seidel off. For Seidel it’s now all-or-nothing.

If he folds he gives up 25% of his stack, corresponding to €100,000 of his expected tournament value. His chances of winning would diminish greatly.

But if he moves all-in he might force MacPhee to fold the weaker part of his range (A-9 to A-J and pairs 99 or lower) and Seidel could take down the pot without a fight.

He'd add almost 50% to his stack and get almost even with MacPhee.

It’s a Set-Up

Seidel opts for the all-in and sees he stepped into absolute disaster. His opponent shows aces.

Erik Seidel
Can't question the boss.

Does that mean Seidel played it wrong? No.

Seidel is one of the most successful poker tournament players of all time. He’s won $25 million in tournaments.

He doesn’t care if he wins €30k or €75k; he wants the €883k first prize and he wants the championship bracelet.

For a player with a smaller bankroll – and that’s pretty much every player in the world – a fold would have been the better choice.

But not for Erik Seidel!


Seidel goes full speed ahead on the final-table bubble of the WSOPE Main Event and finds himself badly coolered.

A horrible spot for Seidel, but we don’t really have anything to criticize him for.

He's Erik Seidel!

Please fill the required fields correctly!

Error saving comment!

You need to wait 3 minutes before posting another comment.

No Comments

Best Poker Sites - Editor`s Pick