Hand of the Week: When a Royal Flush Goes Terribly Wrong

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Making a Royal Flush is every poker player’s dream.

Strictly speaking, though, in cash games it’s all about the money you win with it.

This week we'll look at a hand recently played at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, located on the German-Czech border and currently Europe’s most successful casino.

Scott Hanna, American player and co-manager of the King’s Casino, misses out on capitalizing on his Royal Flush. Instead, the hand ends disastrously.

Flop to River

It’s a live-streamed High Roller game with players like Liv Boeree, Igor Kurganov, Martin Kabrhel and Max Altergott.

They're playing against some tough amateurs, like Poker Industry Person of the Year and King’s owner Leon Tsoukernik, and Hanna.

The limits are €25/€50 but there are up to three straddles in each hand so the pots are swelling up easily.

In this hand there are also three straddles. Hanna puts out the second one with    

The third straddle comes from Kurganov but his hand doesn’t really matter here. Former European champion Martin Kabrhel is first to act.

His stack is €40,000 and he raises to €2,400. All the other players fold but Hanna (stack: €21,000) calls. There's €5,375 in the pot.

The flop is Q T 6. Hanna takes the lead and bets €2,000, which Martin calls. There's now €9,375 in the pot.

The turn is the K. Hanna now bets €3,000 and Kabrhel calls again. €15,375 in the pot and the river is the 9.

Hanna now checks. After some thought Kabrhel checks behind with top pair, top kicker, showing    

Hanna wins the €15,375 pot. Watch the hand below starting at 1h35mins


Analysis

Maximizing profit and minimizing losses in spots when you have the worst hand are two of the main goals in cash games.

If you hold a Royal Flush you don’t have to ask yourself anymore if you win the hand. It’s now all about maximizing.

ScottHanna
Dream comes true, but a few things missed.

There's nothing unusual pre-flop. It’s a very loose game and you can hardly fold a hand like A-J, even if you’re playing out of position after the flop.

Hanna makes an interesting decision on the flop. With a Royal Flush draw and a gutshot, he wants to build the pot.

So he bets €2,000 into the €5,375 pot. Kabrhel also holds a gut shot plus two river cards, so he can’t really give up the pot.

The Dream Comes True

The turn makes a dream come true. It’s the K that gives Hanna the ultimate hand. It also gives Kabrhel top pair.

Now Hanna’s donk-bet on the flop pays off. He can now carry on betting and should be able to get more money in the pot.

This also shows you one of the big problems when you’re playing out of position: You can only make sure there will be more money in the pot if you lead.

A bet of €3,000 into the €9,375 pot is, however, very low. Hanna seems to be missing a couple of key factors here.

1. Kabhrel’s range is pretty strong. He raised under the gun and called the flop.

2. The river can be a card that kills the action.

3. Hanna has only put about a third of his stack into the pot but he has a hand that wants to go all-in on the river.

The Worst Possible Card on the River

So, the turn bet should have been considerably higher. A €6,000 bet would have blown up the pot to €21,375 in case Kabrhel calls.

Martin Kabrhel
Kabhrel: Saved by the 9h.

On the river he could then have gone all-in comfortably and he would have given Kabrhel good pot odds for a call.

The river is unfortunately the worst possible card for Hanna – the 9. There are now four hearts on the board and the highest heart Kabrhel can have is the 8.

Hanna decides not to bet and give Kabrhel the chance to bluff. Actually, he should have led out with a small bet here as this would have given Kabrhel a better chance to bluff.

Also, it would often get called as Kabrhel has to give his opponent the ace of hearts to believe he was value-betting.

Conclusion

A Royal Flush is a hand you don’t see very often.

Yet, as beautiful as it is, you’ll want to maximize your profit.

Hanna misses the chance to prepare an all-in by betting too small on the turn as he wasn’t considering the stack sizes properly.

This mistake comes back to bite him on the river, when the worst possible card literally brings the action to a halt.

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