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Hand of the Week: Seiver and Robl Bob and Weave at Highest Level
A very common theme that runs through our hands of the week:
Hands that clearly show what separates the pros from the enthusiasts.
For this week's hand we'll stick to the Super High Roller Cash Game held at the Aria in Las Vegas in the summer of 2015.
The three-day session with varied lineups of players produced several of the most spectacular hands of the year, and this intriguing battle of wits between Scott Seiver and Andrew Robl.
Flop to River
The players at the table are a who’s who of high-stakes poker: Sam Trickett, Doug Polk, Andrew Robl, Patrik Antonius, Dan Colman and Scott Seiver.
The blinds are $400/$800 but the stack sizes are huge. Our protagonists have $710,000 (Seiver) and $1.6 million (Robl) in front of them, which translates to 887 effective big blinds!
Polk folds in first position and Robl raises to $2,500. Antonius behind him re-raises to $8,500. Dan Colman folds and Seiver finds on the button.
Seiver 4-bets to $24,000 and Trickett and Paul Newey fold their blinds. Robl calls and Antonius escapes the sandwich with a fold. There are two players in the hand and $59,100 in the pot as we go to the flop.
Robl and Seiver both check. No change to the pot. The turn is the
Robl checks again and Seiver now bets out $38,000. Robl calls rather quickly, making the pot $135,100. The river is the
Robl checks again, Seiver thinks about it and decides to check behind. Robl shows and wins. Seiver doesn’t show his hand but tells Robl that he had two pair as well. Watch the hand here:
This hand might look less spectacular than most of the hands we discuss here, and also the pot wasn’t incredibly big at $135k. But this duel has a couple of interesting and instructive elements.
Robl raising with A-K preflop is an obvious thing to do as he has the best hand most of the time. Antonius had been getting really bad cards all the time. He’s trying to make a move here with K-9s but Seiver on the button is not going to let go.
His A-Jo isn’t anything special, but at a seven-handed table with several particularly loose-aggressive players, it’s definitely too strong to fold -- especially as he'll have position all through the hand.
The re-raise to $24,000 is rather loose but it gives him the initiative and more information about the hands of his opponents.
Imagine a 5-Bet
When both blinds fold the action goes back to Robl. He’s holding A-K, but being one of the best cash game players in the world he knows that he shouldn’t overrate his cards.
He’s playing out of position and the stacks are massive. Just imagine what would happen if he 5-bet. Almost all worse hands would fold, and if there was a call or even a raise, he would most likely be behind.
Instead he’d have built up a huge pot and he’d have to play out of position against a very strong opponent range.
Thus, Robl decides just to call, and that gives him another advantage. He can now play the top of his calling range and he can both win against bluffs and against weaker value hands – which is exactly what happened here.
As Good As It Gets
Robl hits the flop pretty much as good as it gets. He beats every hand except aces, kings or eights. He sticks to his plan and checks, thus trying to induce Seiver to bet his bluffs and his weaker value hands.
Robl’s problem throughout this hand is, however, that Seiver plays it perfectly. He checks behind on the flop as he knows he can only be way ahead or way behind.
So a bet doesn’t make much sense as the hands that call him are likely to beat him. Seiver decides to play carefully against a strong range of Robl.
He goes for pot control as his hand is not good enough for three barrels anyway.
It Gets Complicated
The jack on the turn doesn’t change much for Robl. His hand is probably still the best, he’s now drawing to the nut flush, and there are virtually no weaker hands that can call him.
Robl checks again. Seiver, understandably, bets as it looks like his hand has just drastically improved. At least he can now beat A-Q and he might get some money from a club draw.
As Seiver doesn’t have a club, he’d probably be happy to win the hand there instead of potentially losing to a pair of nines with the nine of clubs.
Robl’s call surely catches Sevier’s attention, as it narrows his range. Robl now looks like he has a strong hand like a set or a strong flush draw.
K♣ Q♣ would be one possibility; even so it seems unlikely that Robl would have called a 4-bet with it pre-flop.
The 4♠ on the river is a total blank and Robl checks again. Had he known what Seiver was playing he would, of course, have led.
But with the way things are he’s hoping for Seiver to bluff – maybe with a one-club hand that tried to steal the pot on the turn.
Seiver doesn’t fall for it and checks rather quickly behind.
Many weaker players would have bet their two-pair hand in this spot, because they’d have missed how strong Robl’s range really is and that A-Q is the only reasonable hand they can actually beat.
This is poker on the highest level.
The way Robl and Seiver play it, they make it fairly easy to understand and to follow.
But there are only a few players who can manage (and maintain) playing hands so perfectly over a long stretch of time.
Seiver and Robl seem to be two of them.