Hand of the Week: Dwan Drops $350k Hammer on Sammy George

Tom Dwan

Which player sticks out the most in poker's history for his extraordinary playing style?

It's simple. Nobody made as many unbelievable, unreadable bluffs as Tom "durrrr" Dwan.

And he did it, most of the time, with half the poker world watching either at Rail Heaven on Full Tilt Poker or on some of the best and most watched televised poker ever recorded.

It's been a long time since Dwan has played poker in that kind of spotlight. But with a confirmed report of him playing in Manila this week -- and even rumors his unrequited durrrr Challenge with Jungleman could resume -- we may, if we're lucky, get a chance to see it again.

This one time, though, when he put $400,000 in with absolutely nothing against Sammy "Any Two" George - is worth revisiting.

Flop to River

It was late 2009. Full Tilt Poker arranged the Durrrr Million Dollar Challenge which gave three players the chance to compete against then team pro Tom Dwan.

One of the challengers was Sammy George, a businessman and semi-professional poker player from Britain. He goes by the nickname "Any Two," which gives you a hint about his playing style.

The game was $500/$1000 and both players had about $430,000 in front of them. Dwan is on the button and raises to $6,000 with    

George calls from the big blind with     The flop falls       George checks, Dwan bets $10,000 and George check-raises to $27,000.

Dwan calls. There's now $66,000 in the pot with each player having $400k in front of them. The turn is the   George checks again and Dwan bets $48,000 which George calls.

With $162,000 in the pot the players still have over $350,000 each. The river is the   Another check from George and Dwan moves all-in into the $162,000 pot.

This move really makes George think. After some hesitation he folds his two pair and Dwan wins $162,000 with seven high. Watch the hand again here:

Analysis

Is there method in the madness? Let’s approach the question by following the steps Dwan takes in this hand. The pre-flop moves don’t really say much. Dwan would raise here with a lot of hands.

Tom Dwan
$10k c-bet on the large side.

It’s admittedly a big raise but it still doesn’t give away a lot of information. George’s call is more informative because he would fold a lot of weak hands here and re-raise with the top 10 per cent.

George hits two pair which is a strong hand -- and a very strong hand considering this is a heads-up match. But there are also three hearts on the board. Any additional heart on the board would ruin George’s hand so it’s very vulnerable.

Still on this flop the Brit can be pretty sure he has the best hand. Following his check Dwan puts out a standard c-bet. (On a side note: a c-bet of $10,000 into a $12,000 pot would be considered very big today.)

Dwan would bet with pretty much his whole range here and as there is an ace on the board he probably bets 100% of his range. At this point the first interesting action of the hand happens: George check-raises.

Any amateur would now get off his 7-2o junk. But Tom Dwan is no such player.

A Different Plan

sammy george
Not the move George wants to see.

Strong players don’t like folding after they’ve invested money and Tom Dwan, in position, still sees a chance to win the hand. With pot odds of 3-1 Dwan calls and gives himself a lot of options for moves the later streets.

Now the 3 on the turn falls and George checks. This is a turning point in the hand because George caps his range. In other words he tells his opponent that his hand is not actually as strong as he represented with his check-raise on the flop.

For example all the small flushes can now be ruled out as he would have bet them for protection. This is helpful information for Dwan.

If George bets the turn the hand is most likely over as Dwan would have had to fold. But now Dwan can follow through with a different plan.

He bets $48,000 and gets a call. George obviously can’t fold. He might still have the best hand and he has full house outs.

The One Move He Doesn't Want to See

The 3 on the river pairs the board and that changes a couple of things. The ace-high flush is not the nuts anymore and George can’t beat a three in his opponent's hand anymore.

George checks again and now Dwan goes for exactly the one move his opponent didn’t want to see. Dwan is now representing AA or JJ. Also he exploits George’s telltale move on the turn that revealed the Englishman doesn't have a flush.

Of course, Dwan’s move is risky. If he gets called he loses $350,000 trying to win only $162,000. Mathematically speaking this means that his bluff has to work about two out of three times to be profitable.

On the other hand the all-in move is the perfect way to punish such a capped range like his opponent's. If Dwan chooses a “normal” bet size – say $100,000 – George would probably call with his above-average hand.

Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey
TD was for real.

Conclusion

Brilliantly, Dwan uses a revealing move from his opponent to his own advantage.

Playing the worst possible hand he comes up with a superb bluff of such an enormous size that it really forces a fold.

Anyone who wasn’t sure why Tom Dwan was considered one of the best players in the world, look at this hand and you'll get the picture.

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