Historical poker hands

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 2008

 - $10,000 Main Event: Final Hand - Peter Eastgate VS Ivan Demidov
Peter Eastgate
   
VS
Ivan Demidov
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Peter Eastgate 62.5% 31.5% 90.9%
Ivan Demidov 36.9% 68.5% 9.1%

Action

The 2008 WSOP Main Event was an historic tournament. It was the first time a final table had ever been delayed four months, and it was the first time a Dane would walk away from Vegas a World Champion.

Nearly 16 weeks after the Main Event reached the final table, the final nine players returned from their homes around the world. Each had his eyes on the bracelet and the $9.1 million first-place prize, but only Denmark’s Peter Eastgate would be successful.

The first seven players fell, and when the heads-up match began, Eastgate held a healthy lead with $79.5 million to the $57,725,000 of Russia’s Ivan Demidov. Eastgate battered his opponent and laid claim to more than $120 million of the $136.8 million in play before the final hand began.

Eastgate limped in on the button and Demidov checked in the big blind. The flop came down K32 and Demidov checked. Eastgate fired $1.25 million and Demidov made the call.

The turn was the 4. Demidov checked again and Eastgate continued his aggression, firing a second barrel worth $2 million. Demidov check-raised to $6 million and Eastgate just called.

The river was the 7 and Eastgate moved in. Demidov snap-called and turned over 4-2 for two pair. He must have thought he was good but Eastgate showed A5 for the wheel straight that got there on the turn.

Demidov was out in second for $5,809,545 while Peter Eastgate became the youngest World Champion in history, pocketing $9,152,416!

Analysis

When this hand began, Eastgate was the prohibitive chip leader, and opted to limp in from the button. With such a big lead and an ace in his hand, it’s almost certain Eastgate was looking to get it all-in before the flop should the short-stacked Russian raise.

Demidov checked, however, and caught bottom pair on the flop. Eastgate continuation bet the flop, which he would likely have done whether he missed or not.

Knowing this, Demidov smooth-called to see if Eastgate would shut down on the turn. Fourth street was an absolute disaster for Demidov, making his two pair but giving Eastgate the wheel straight.

From here on the action is irrelevant as the money will go in every single time.

Eastgate fires again and gets a check-raise from his opponent. He opts to smooth-call just in case Demidov is willing to fold this late in the hand.

Just as expected, the money goes in on the river, with Demidov’s two pair losing out to the turned straight of Peter Eastgate.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 2007

 - $10,000 Main Event: Silencing the Lam - Jerry Yang VS Tuan Lam
Jerry Yang
   
VS
Tuan Lam
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Jerry Yang 52.6% 12% 13.6%
Tuan Lam 47% 88% 86.4%

Action

Jerry Yang comes into the final table as one of the short stacks. He comes out fighting and quickly seizes the chip lead. Yang's aggressive play also gives him a huge chip lead coming into heads-up play against Tuan Lam, holding 80% of the chips in play at around 102 million. Lam has 25.4 million. With the blinds at 400,000/800,000 and a 100,000 chip ante, Yang looks down at 8 8 and makes a raise to 2.3 million. Lam looks down at A Q and moves all-in over the top.

Yang takes a moment and finally calls the bet, putting Lam's tournament life at stake. But when the flop comes down 5 Q 9, Lam takes a stranglehold on the hand. Yang will need to catch one of the remaining eights or running cards to win. When the turn brings the 7, though, it adds four gutshot outs to Yang's two remaining eights. The river brings the 6 and heartbreak for Tuan Lam, giving Yang a winning nine-high straight, the World Series of Poker Main Event bracelet and $8.25 million.

Analysis

There was very little that could have been done about this hand. Yang makes a standard 3x the big blind with his 8 8. Lam, knowing Yang has been playing very aggressively, has no choice but to move all-in with his short stack and A Q. Once the flop comes down, Lam becomes a huge favorite. However, Yang gets lucky and catches two running cards to make a straight. The beat looks much worse than it actually was. When the money went in, Yang was only a slight favorite for the coin flip with his pocket pair.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 2006

 - $10,000 Main Event: Talking Your Way to a Champion - Jamie Gold VS Paul Wasicka
Jamie Gold
   
VS
Paul Wasicka
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Jamie Gold 28.6% 86.5% 95.5%
Paul Wasicka 71% 13.5% 4.5%

Action

Jamie Gold enters heads-up play with a monumental chip lead, having grabbed the chip lead early in the tournament and amassing chips the whole way. Coming into the heads-up match, Gold out-chips Paul Wasicka 4.5-1. After a few hands of heads-up, Wasicka has a stack of approximately 16.2 million, while Gold has a massive stack of around 73.9 million. The hand begins with blinds at 200,000/400,000 and a 50,000 ante. Gold completes from the button with Q 9. Wasicka looks down at T T and raises to 1.3 million. Gold makes the call.

The flop comes down Q 8 5. Wasicka bets out 1.5 million. Gold calmly proclaims he is all-in. Wasicka tanks while Gold goes into one of his now infamous talks. Eventually Wasicka, believing Gold is on a draw, makes the call. When Gold turns up his pair of queens, the young phenom is down to two outs. The turn brings the A, and the 4 river card seals the deal. Gold is the new World Series of Poker Main Event champion and takes home $12 million and the prestigious Main Event bracelet.

Analysis

Jamie Gold limps the button yet again; a very weak play, especially heads-up. If you have a hand worth playing you should definitely bring it in for a raise from the button. However, Gold elects to limp and Wasicka finds himself with a very good hand heads-up. His T T makes for an excellent raising hand and he makes it 1.3 million to go, around 3x the big blind. Gold makes his call with position and his huge chip stack and we see a flop. The Q 8 5 brings trouble for Wasicka, with an overcard to his tens. He makes a continuation bet of just over half the pot, 1.5 million.

Gold then overbets all-in. Just a few hands prior, a very similar hand had played out. In a three-way pot with Wasicka and Michael Binger, Gold limped the button and then overbet all-in after a bet from one of his opponents. Binger ended up calling with top pair, top kicker and Gold drew out to a straight. With this hand fresh in Wasicka's mind, he knew Gold was capable of fast playing draws. The flop made quite a few draws possible. Thus Wasicka went with his read on Gold and eventually made the call. Unfortunately for him, Gold held a pair of queens and Wasicka was drawing very slim.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 2005

 - $10,000 Main Event: From rags to riches - Joe Hachem VS Steve Dannenmann
Joe Hachem
   
VS
Steve Dannenmann
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Joe Hachem 26% 83.3% 93.2%
Steve Dannenmann 72.5% 5% 6.8%

Action

After seven days of playing, the following unfolded at the final table only about half an hour into the heads-up play: Hachem and Dannenmann had $40 million and $16.35 million in chips respectively at the beginning of this hand. The blinds were $150,000-$300,000 with a $50,000 ante! Steven Dannenmann raised to $700,000 with the A 3 and Hachem made a seemingly loose call with the 7 3. The flop came 4 5 6. Hachem checked his straight and Steven bet $700,000 into the pot. Hachem re-raised to $1,700,000 and Steven flat called holding only ace-high and an open ended straight draw. The turn was the A. Hachem bet out $2,000,000 and Steven raised to $5,000,000. Hachem went all-in and Steven instantly called. Steven was drawing to a tie with one of the three remaining sevens on the river. The river was the 4 and Joseph Hachem became the new World Champion, winning $7,500,000!

Analysis

Raising with any ace in heads-up play is a good play but $700,000 is a small raise, indeed it was barely twice the big blind. With $1,050,000 in the pot and only $400,000 more to call, Hachem is getting the right price to call with any two cards, especially being the chip leader. Hachem correctly calls the raise and checks on the flop in an attempt to trap Dannenmann. Steven bets approximately half the pot thinking his ace-high might be the best hand; a reasonable bet even though the board is scary. Hachem decides not to slow play his straight any further and raises the pot another million. A good raise since there are quite a few free cards that can potentially hurt his hand (in reality he is in great shape but he doesn't know that for sure). Dannenmann calls and the pot now holds $4,850,000, which is more than 25% of Steven's total stack. The call indicates that Steven's plan is to see if his ace-high is good or else he thinks he can outdraw if one of his straight cards hit, also an ace could potentially make him the best hand. Definitely a dangerous call but still reasonable.



On the turn the A hits and that ends up being a money card for Hachem. He leads out again with a $2,000,000 bet and Dannenmann, thinking his pair of aces is the best hand, raises to $5,000,000. This is a tough situation for Steven; on the one hand, his hand is not extremely strong and, on the other hand, the board is dangerous enough that he doesn't want to allow Hachem to see the river too cheaply. The bet by Hachem is a very good move because it is small enough to allow Steven to think that he can raise Hachem off his hand by putting in a raise of $3,000,000. Of course, Hachem now set Dannenmann all-in and Dannenmann, who, in light of the fact that he was very much pot committed (50% of his original stack was in the pot) and quite possibly could have been holding the best hand, made the call. This last call by Dannenmann is a judgment call based less on pot odds and more on the likelihood of him having the best hand.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 2004

 - $10,000 Main Event: Value-betting until the river - Greg Raymer VS David Williams
Greg Raymer
   
VS
David Williams
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Greg Raymer 69.8% 66.4% 79.5%
David Williams 29.8% 31% 20.5%

Action

After 6 days of straight playing, the final hand of the 2004 WSOP was played out. The two remaining players were online qualifier Greg "Fossilman" Raymer and 23-year old poker professional David Williams. Raymer was leading by about 2-to-1 with approximately $17,125,000 in chips against Williams' $8,240,000, with blinds of $50,000-$100,000. Williams raised to $300,000 on the button holding the A 4 and Raymer called from the big blind with the 8 8. The flop came 4 2 5. Raymer checked and Williams instantly bet $500,000. Raymer took his time and then raised to $1,600,000. Williams quickly called his bet. The turn brought the 2. Raymer declared a bet of $2,500,000 and again Williams instantly called. The river was the 2, giving both players a full house. Raymer thought for a second before announcing he was all-in. For the first time in the hand, Williams also took at least a second or two before calling and flipped his hand face-up before Raymer had a chance to do so. Raymer looked down at Williams' card and then flipped over the winning hand. One second later, he raised both his hands in the air and screamed out in joy. First place gave Greg Raymer $5,000,000 in prize money, the largest tournament prize ever won.

Analysis

Pre-flop, both players played their hands according to regular poker theory. Raymer hit a nice flop and decided to check-raise the aggressive Williams, a smart play. A check-call would not be a preferred play here because there are many draws on the board and that would make it too cheap on Williams. Williams also correctly bet the flop, since he had a gut-shot straight draw and middle pair with top kicker. When he got check-raised, he should have either moved all-in or folded, rather than initiating a pattern of calling his short stack. Raymer correctly assumed he had the best hand all the way and was simply "value-betting" on every round, thus making Williams pay for trying to outdraw him.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 2003

 - $10,000 Main Event: The power of rags - Chris Moneymaker VS Sam Farha
Chris Moneymaker
   
VS
Sam Farha
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Chris Moneymaker 36.1% 75.5% 81.8%
Sam Farha 63.9% 24.5% 18.2%

Action

After playing heads-up for a few hands Chris Moneymaker had the chip lead going into this pot against Sam Farha. Moneymaker had about $6,600,000 and Farha $1,800,000 in chips. Farha had the J T and raised to $100,000 from the small blind and Moneymaker called with the 5 4. The flop came J 5 4, giving Moneymaker bottom two-pair and Farha top pair. Moneymaker checked and Farha bet $175,000. Moneymaker check-raised $275,000 and Farha moved all-in. Moneymaker called. The two-pair held up and even improved on the river to a full house. This hand won Moneymaker the title and $2,500,000 in prize money.

Analysis

Moneymaker played this hand very well and trapped Farha for all his chips. The check on the flop gave Farha the option to bluff in case he didn't hit. The small check-raise put Farha in a situation where he had to make a decision whether his hand was the best or not. The check-raise is to small to make Farha fold and if he just calls, Moneymaker will probably set him all-in on the turn.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 2002

 - $10,000 Main Event: Semi-bluffing on the flop - Robert Varkonyi VS Julian Gardner
Robert Varkonyi
   
VS
Julian Gardner
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Robert Varkonyi 61% 66.2% 75%
Julian Gardner 39% 33.8% 25%

Action

The blinds were $20,000-$40,000 and the ante $5,000 when the last hand of the tournament was played. Varkonyi had about a 6-to-1 chip lead going into this pot. Varkonyi raised $90,000 with the Q T and Gardner called with the J 8. The flop came Q 4 4, giving Varkonyi top pair and Gardner a flush draw. Gardner checked and Varkonyi bet $50,000, a small bet. Gardner decided to move all-in with $765,000 on a semi-bluff. Varkonyi called. The flush came on the river, but the 10 gave Varkonyi a full house. Varkonyi won the title and $2,000,000 in prize money.

Analysis

Gardner decided to bluff Varkonyi when the board didn't look too scary and he had enough chips to make a substantial raise. If called he knows he is likely to have at least 9 outs to draw out with. But Varkonyi made a good call and his cards held up. Varkonyi won the title and $2,000,000 in prize money.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 2001

 - $10,000 Main Event: Being overly aggressive - Phil Hellmuth VS Carlos Mortensen
Phil Hellmuth
   
VS
Carlos Mortensen
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Phil Hellmuth 26% 14.3% 18.2%
Carlos Mortensen 74% 85.7% 81.8%

Action

When the final table was down to five players a big hand came up between the world champion from 1989 Phil Hellmuth and Carlos Mortensen. The blinds were $15,000-$30,000 and the ante was $6,000. Making the pot $75,000 before the cards were dealt. Hellmuth limped into the pot, Phil Gordon limped in from the button, Carlos Mortensen limped in from the small blind and Stan Schrier in the big blind checked. The four-way pot had $150,000 in it before the flop. The flop came down Q 9 4. Mortensen checked, Schrier checked, Hellmuth bet $60,000 (less then half of the pot), Gordon folded, Mortensen raised $200,000 and Schrier took about two minutes to fold because he hadn't realized it was his turn to act. The pot now had $410,000 in it and Phil Hellmuth quickly announced that he was moving all-in with his last $900,000. Mortensen called and the hands were turned up on the table. Hellmuth held a Q-T and Mortensen had a Q-J, giving both players top pair but Hellmuth had the weaker kicker. At this moment Hellmuth had 3 outs to a T for a two pair to beat Mortensen. On the turn a J hit, giving Hellmuth an open-ended straight draw and Mortensen top two pair. The J helped Hellmuth because it gave him 8 new outs, but killed his 3 outs to the T. He needed an 8 or a K to hit on the river to make a straight. The A came on the river and sent Phil Hellmuth out in fifth place.

Analysis

Hellmuth's first bet is a good bet and it is not big enough to make him pot committed, so he should be able to release the hand. When Hellmuth moved his chips all-in he could only beat a bluff or make Mortensen lay down the better hand. Since it was an unraised pot with four players, it is unlikely that Hellmuth's hand is the best after he has been check-raised by Mortensen. Mortensen could hold any two pair, a set of 9's or 4's, AQ, KQ, QJ or the J T that would make him the favorite over one pair. Mortensen might have made the same play with the A 9, a JT and any Q, in that case Mortensen might have folded, but that still doesn't make Hellmuth's play correct.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 2001

 - $10,000 Main Event: Trapping with aces - Carlos Mortensen VS Dewey Tomko
Carlos Mortensen
   
VS
Dewey Tomko
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Carlos Mortensen 17.4% 48.5% 25%
Dewey Tomko 82.6% 51.5% 75%

Action

Carlos Mortensen had a 2-to-1 chip lead when he and Dewey Tomko played the last hand of the tournament. Mortensen raised to $100,000 with the K Q and Tomko flat-called with the A A in an attempt to trap Mortensen. The flop came J T 3 giving Mortensen two overcards, the nut straight-draw and a king-high flush draw. Mortensen bet out another $100,000 and Tomko raised $400,000. Mortensen responded by moving all-in on a semi-bluff and Tomko called with his remaining $1,500,000. Mortensen was drawing to nine clubs, three nines and one ace giving him 13 outs in total. The three on the turn killed his outs to the ace-high straight, but when the 9 hit on the river he made the nut-straight. The hand won Mortensen the title and $1,500,000 in prize money. This was the second time that Tomko finished second in the tournament.

Analysis

Both players played their hands well in this pot. Even if Tomko would have moved all-in on the flop Mortensen would probably have called, having as many outs as he did. Once the flop came and Mortensen bet out, they were both more or less trapped into playing their hands for all their chips

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 2000

 - $10,000 Main Event: A kicker that got outkicked - Chris Ferguson VS T.J. Cloutier
Chris Ferguson
   
VS
T.J. Cloutier
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Chris Ferguson 25.9% 15.2% 13.6%
T.J. Cloutier 74.9% 84.8% 86.4%

Action

When T.J. Cloutier and Chris Ferguson began playing heads-up, Cloutier had $400,000 and Ferguson had $4,700,000. Cloutier actually managed to take the chip lead away from Ferguson, but Ferguson was back in the lead when the last hand of the tournament was played. Cloutier moved all-in with the A Q and Ferguson called him with the A 9. The flop came 2 K 4, giving no help to either player. The turn was the K and on the river the 9 fell, giving Ferguson a pair of nines. Ferguson won the title and $1,500,000 in prize money.

Analysis

Cloutier analyses this heads-up match in his book "Championship Tournament Practice Hands" co-written with Tom McEvoy. In his own words he felt that Ferguson was getting nervous because he was being outplayed by Cloutier and was likely to make a mistake on a hand. He made that mistake when he called Cloutier's all-in bet before the flop with the A 9, but got lucky and won the pot.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1999

 - $10,000 Main Event: The small pocket pairs - Noel Furlong VS Alan Goehring
Noel Furlong
   
VS
Alan Goehring
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Noel Furlong 18.6% 83.2% 90.9%
Alan Goehring 81.4% 16.8% 9.1%

Action

Noel Furlong limped from the small blind with the 5 5 and Goehring checked from the big blind holding the 6 6. The flop came Q Q 5 and both players checked. On the turn the 2 hit. Goehring checked again and Furlong bet $150,000. Goehring raised $300,000 and Furlong moved all-in. Goehring called and realized he was drawing to only four outs (either a queen or a six). No help came for Goehring on the river and Furlong became the 1999 World Champion, winning $1,000,000 in prize money.

Analysis

Goehring could have raised before the flop, but he would have been in trouble either way because Furlong would most likely have called. Furlong probably even calls an all-in bet in this spot.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1998

 - $10,000 Main Event: "I play the board" - Scotty Nguyen VS Kevin McBride
Scotty Nguyen
   
VS
Kevin McBride
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Scotty Nguyen 34.2% 94.8% 97.7%
Kevin McBride 65.8% 5.2% 2.3%

Action

When playing heads-up, Kevin McBride raised $50,000 with the Q T and Scotty Nguyen called with the J 9. The flop came 8 9 9, giving Nguyen trip nines and McBride a gut-shot straight draw with two overcards. Nguyen checked and McBride bet $100,000 on a semi-bluff. After thinking for a while Nguyen called. The turn brought the 8, giving McBride a straight flush draw and Nguyen a full house. Only the J could give McBride the best hand at this point. Nguyen checked and again McBride bet $100,000. Nguyen called and the river card was the 8, which made a full house on the board. Nguyen now bet out $310,000, which would put McBride all-in if he decided to call. Apparently Nguyen said to McBride while he was thinking, "You call, gonna be all over baby." McBride answered, "I call. I play the board." This hand won Nguyen the title and $1,000,000 in prize money.

Analysis

When Nguyen check-calls a bet on both the flop and turn, McBride should have realized that he either held a nine or an eight. Nguyens big bet on the river is very good since the big bet made it look more like he was bluffing. But calling off all his chips in the hopes off splitting the pot was not a good move by McBride.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1997

 - $10,000 Main Event: Slow-playing a marginal hand - Stu Ungar VS Mel Judah
Stu Ungar
   
VS
Mel Judah
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Stu Ungar 65.8% 76.4% 88.6%
Mel Judah 34.2% 23.6% 11.4%

Action

When the final table was down to three players (Stu Ungar, Mel Judah and John Strzemp) the following hand came up. Mel Judah made a $60,000 raise on the button with the 10 9, Stu "The Kid" Ungar called from the small blind with the Q J and Strzemp folded in the big blind. The flop came J 3 10, giving Ungar top pair and Judah second pair. Ungar checked and Judah checked behind him. On the turn the 2 hit and Ungar bet $80,000 at the pot. Judah called the $80,000 and raised it another $162,000, putting himself all-in. Ungar thought for a while but called the $162,000 raise. When the hands were turned over everyone could see that Judah was drawing to 5 outs with only one more card to come. On the river the K hit and sent Judah out in third place. Ungar eventually went on to win the tournament and his third $10,000 WSOP title.

Analysis

Ungar set this hand up beautifully by gambling in a spot were he had a lot to win and not too much to lose. His check on the flop made Judah think there was a reasonable chance that he was either bluffing or drawing when he bet on the turn. It was this play that made Judah move in on the turn, although Judah might have done the same thing on the flop if Ungar had bet, but it is unlikely. Since Ungar had a lot of chips and knew that he had set up Judah to move in on the turn, his call on the turn was correct. Had Judah bet on the flop he most likely would have been able to get away from the hand without losing his whole stack.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1997

 - $10,000 Main Event: A stone cold bluff - Stu Ungar VS Ron Stanley
Stu Ungar
   
VS
Ron Stanley
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Stu Ungar 63% 25.4% 22.7%
Ron Stanley 37% 74.6% 77.3%

Action

It was down to the final four players in the tournament when the following happened. Ron Stanley limped from the small blind with the 9 7 and the late poker legend Stu Ungar checked from the big blind with a Q T. The flop came A 6 9, giving Stanley a pair of nines and no help for Ungar. Stanley checked and Ungar checked behind him. On the turn the 8 hit giving Stanley an open-ended straight draw to go with his nines and Ungar now had a gut-shot straight draw and two overcards to Stanley's pair. If a T hit on the river Ungar would make a better pair than Stanley, but this card would also give Stanley a straight. In short Ungar needed a Q or a J to make the better hand. Stanley bet $25,000 and Ungar reraised him $60,000 on a semi-bluff, hoping Stanley would fold. Stanley went into the tank but finally called. The K hit on the river, not helping either player but it was a scare card for Stanley since there were now two overcards on the board to his pair. There was about $200,000 in the pot after Stanley's call. Stanley checked and Ungar bet $220,000 into the pot. Stanley thought for a while and then reluctantly folded. Ungar decided to show his bluff as he was collecting the pot. This made Stanley lose his confidence along with the chips lost in the pot.
Stu Ungar eventually won the tournament and became the only player ever to win the Big One three times.

Analysis

Had Stanley bet on the flop it is likely that he would have won the pot right there. Instead he decided to trap Ungar with a weak hand or he didn't know what to do with the hand. When Ungar raised on the turn Stanley should have moved all-in or folded. Either Ungar has him beat and then Stanley must try to outdraw him or he is bluffing. With so many straight draws and a flush draw on the board almost any card is a scare card for Stanley, so a call here is a bad move. It is worth to mention that Ungar had checked top pair on the flop a few times before this hand came up and then bet/raised on the turn. He had set Stanley up for this play. Ungar must have smelled weakness in Stanley on the turn and realized that he had a chance to bluff him on the river in case Stanley would check to him.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1997

 - $10,000 Main Event: A mistake or a great play? - Stu Ungar VS John Strzemp
Stu Ungar
   
VS
John Strzemp
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Stu Ungar 34.8% 34.8% 42%
John Strzemp 65.2% 65.2% 58%

Action

When the last hand came up between two-time World Champion Stu Ungar and John Strzemp, Ungar held a 4-to-1 chip advantage. Ungar raised to $40,000 with the A 4 and Strzemp called with the A 8. The flop came A 5 3, giving both players top pair. Strzemp had the lead with the better kicker but Ungar had a gut-shot straight draw to go with his pair. Strzemp bet $120,000 on the flop and Ungar thought for a while before he moved all-in. Strzemp called all-in. The turn brought the 3, giving Ungar 23 outs for a split pot and 7 outs to win. The 2 fell on the river, giving Ungar a 5-high straight, his third title and $1,000,000 in prize money.

Analysis

When Ungar moved in on Strzemp he must have been thinking that Strzemp could have had a better ace than him, since there were no likely draws on the flop. But it wasn't likely to have been a great ace like AK or AQ since he wasn't reraised pre-flop. Because he had the chip lead he decided to move in hoping that Strzemp would fold a weak ace. If he was called and Strzemp held a hand like A8 or A7, Ungar still had about a 35% of drawing out. He didn't risk too much here since they would be about even in chips had he lost the hand. Strzemp just got unlucky that Ungar drew out on him. This is how Ungar himself thought of his play in the tournament, "I played a perfect tournament. I'm not kidding you. If every hand from start to finish was filmed "every bet, every raise, even every fold" players would witness a classic performance. It was a no-limit hold'em clinic."

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1996

 - $10,000 Main Event: Overplaying middle pair - Huck Seed VS Bruce Van Horn
Huck Seed
   
VS
Bruce Van Horn
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Huck Seed 33.1% 83.9% 75%
Bruce Van Horn 66.9% 16.1% 25%

Action

When the final hand came up, Huck Seed had the chip lead after doubling up with pocket Q's against Van Horns AJ. In the final hand Van Horn raised with the K 8 and Seed called with the 9 8. The flop came 9 8 4, giving Seed top two-pair and Van Horn middle pair with an overcard. Seed bet out on the flop, Van Horn raised and Seed re-raised Van Horn all-in. Van Horn called. The A hit on the turn, giving Van Horn nine outs to the nut flush, making it twelve outs in total. The 3 hit on the river and won Seed the title and $1,000,000 in prize money.

Analysis

Van Horn seems to have played this hand too aggressively. He probably should have either flat called Seed on the flop or raised an amount that he could get away from in case Seed would come over the top. Seed wasn't likely to be drawing when he bet out and then re-raised on the flop, it looked like he was trying to protect a made hand.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1995

 - $10,000 Main Event: Moving in with nothing - Dan Harrington VS Howard Goldfarb
Dan Harrington
   
VS
Howard Goldfarb
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Dan Harrington 47.2% 81.7% 93.2%
Howard Goldfarb 52.8% 18.3% 6.8%

Action

When the final hand came up the blinds were $15,000-$30,000 with an ante of $3,000 and Dan Harrington had the chip lead. Howard Goldfarb raised $100,000 before the flop with the A 7 and Harrington called with the 9 8. The flop came 8 2 6, giving no help to Goldfarb and top pair to Harrington. Harrington checked, Goldfarb moved all-in with $617,000 and Harrington called without hesitation. The turn brought the Q and the river was the Q, not helping either player. Harrington won the title and $1,000,000 in prize money.

Analysis

Goldfarb tried a big bluff on the flop in a situation where he didn't have any information on Harrington's holding. He would only get called if beat. Had he checked the flop and moved in on the turn, Harrington would have had a very tough call to make. Great check and call by Harrington who must have known that Goldfarb was capable of moving in with nothing.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1994

 - $10,000 Main Event: A bad spot to bluff - Russ Hamilton VS Hugh Vincent
Russ Hamilton
   
VS
Hugh Vincent
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Russ Hamilton 85% 95.2% 81.8%
Hugh Vincent 15% 4.8% 18.2%

Action

When it was down to heads-up play between Russ Hamilton and Hugh Vincent the following hand came up. Vincent had $1,600,000 in chips and Hamilton had $1,070,000. Hamilton, who held the Q Q, raised $150,000 and Vincent called with a 10-9 off suit. The flop came Q 6 5, giving Vincent nothing and Hamilton top set. Hamilton checks and Vincent checked behind him. On the turn the 8 hits, giving Vincent a double-belly-buster straight draw (he makes the nut straight if a J or 7 hits on the river). Hamilton bets out $400,000 leaving $500,000 in front of him. When it is Vincent's turn to act he decides to move all-in on a semi-bluff. Hamilton, who had more than half of his chips in the pot, called. The only hands that had him beat at that point are the 7-4 or 9-7 for a straight. On the river the board paired when the 8 hit, giving Hamilton a full house.

Analysis

Vincent made a few questionable plays in this hand. First he called a big raise (about 10% of his chips) with the 10-9 off suit, this might be considered a mistake but not a huge one. Hamilton's check on the flop is a good play and most likely set up the action on the turn. Although there is a straight draw and a flush draw out on the flop, with top set in this pot you have to gamble a little bit. Vincent's check is a decent play, giving him the chance to outdraw on the turn in case Hamilton has something like A-6, A-5, pocket 7's or pocket 8's. But Hamilton most likely would have bet the flop with any of those hands. To check the flop with a non-threatening board after a big pre-flop raise usually means that he missed completely or hit a great hand. But Vincent's check on the flop gained him no information on Hamilton's hand, which makes the all-in move on the turn a huge mistake. Also he should have realized by Hamilton's bet that he wasn't going to lay down his hand since he was pot committed.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1994

 - $10,000 Main Event: The importance of a kicker - Russ Hamilton VS Hugh Vincent
Russ Hamilton
   
VS
Hugh Vincent
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Russ Hamilton 72.4% 83.3% 93.2%
Hugh Vincent 27.6% 16.7% 6.8%

Action

In the final hand of the tournament Hugh Vincent limped with the 8 5 and Hamilton checked with the K 8. The flop came 8 2 6, giving both players top pair but Hamilton had the better kicker. Hamilton checked, Vincent bet $100,000 and Hamilton moved all-in with about $750,000 more. Vincent called only to find out that he was drawing to three outs for a two-pair. The turn came with the T and the river brought the J, giving both players a pair of 8's but Hamilton won with the K-kicker. Hamilton won the title and $1,000,000 in prize money.

Analysis

Vincent's call was obviously a mistake since he had no kicker to his top pair and no information on Hamilton's hand since the pot was unraised. He wasn't pot committed and could only beat a bluff. In case Hamilton would have semi-bluffed with a flush draw and/or straight draw, he is likely to have overcards as well. With that type of draw against him, Vincent would have been either a slight favorite or an underdog.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1993

 - $10,000 Main Event: Rags against rags - Jim Bechtel
Jim Bechtel
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Jim Bechtel 61.4% 75.2% 86.4%

Action

When the last hand was played, Glen Cozen had a short stack and Jim Bechtel was the chip leader. On the third hand they played heads-up, Cozen moved all-in with the 7 4 only to be called by Bechtel's J 6. The flop came T 8 3, giving no help to either player. The turn was the 2 and the river brought the 5. Giving Bechtel the winning hand with a J-high.

Analysis

This is what eventually happens when one player is short stacked and the other player has a large stack. The short stack moves in with a weak hand and gets called by another weak hand.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1992

 - $10,000 Main Event: A slow-play that back fired - Hamid Dastmalchi VS Tom Jacobs
Hamid Dastmalchi
   
VS
Tom Jacobs
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Hamid Dastmalchi 36.7% 16.8% 90.9%
Tom Jacobs 63.3% 83.2% 9.1%

Action

In the final hand between Hamid Dastmalchi and Tom Jacobs, the former held the 8 4 and the latter held the J 7 when the flop came J 5 7. Jacobs under-bet his top two-pair in an effort to lure Dastmalchi in. Dastmalchi sat and pondered for a while before making the call with his gut-shot straight draw. The 6 came on the turn giving Dastmalchi a straight. He checked to Jacobs who moved all-in and Dastmalchi called. The 8 came on the river, which was no help to either player. Dastmalchi won the title and $1,000,000 in prize money.

Analysis

In this hand, the danger of slow-playing any hand, even with an unthreatening board, was revealed. However, Jacobs was in a position that required him to gamble and the risk he took by under-betting the pot was small as compared to the potential rewards.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1991

 - $10,000 Main Event: A marginal hand that got punis - Don Holt VS Brad Daugherty
Don Holt
   
VS
Brad Daugherty
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Don Holt 35.6% 21.5% 18.2%
Brad Daugherty 64.4% 78.5% 81.8%

Action

In the $10,000 no-limit Hold'em tournament at the WSOP the final hand was played as follows. Don Holt limped in from the button with the 7 3 and Brad Daugherty raised $75,000 more with the K J. Holt called and the flop came 8 9 J. This flop gave Holt a three-flush and a gut-shot straight draw, but it gave Daugherty top pair. Daugherty checked and Holt moved all-in for about $450,000. Daugherty, who had the chip lead, didn't take much time to call Holt's semi-bluff. When the 5 hit on the turn it gave Holt four more outs (eight in total), as any T or 6 on the river would give him a straight. The 8 came on the river and made Brad Daugherty the 1991 WSOP champion.

Analysis

Holt made his first mistake by calling the $75,000 raise before the flop when he only had a small amount invested in the pot. His second mistake was moving all-in on the flop with nothing more than a gut-shot straight draw and backdoor potential. Had he checked the flop, Daugherty would most likely have bet the turn. If Holt had moved in then instead, Daugherty would have had a tougher call to make. Still the all-in bet on the flop could have succeeded, to call a big bet like that with only a pair of J's is a good call by Daugherty. Usually players don't like to risk giving a free card when the flop is as coordinated as in this hand, so Daugherty's check on the flop probably smelled like weakness to Holt.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1990

 - $10,000 Main Event:The miracle river card - Hans Lund VS Mansour Matloubi
Hans Lund
   
VS
Mansour Matloubi
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Hans Lund 27.5% 21.8% 95.5%
Mansour Matloubi 72.5% 78.2% 4.5%

Action

With the blinds at $15,000-$30,000 Matloubi raised $75,000 with the T T. Lund who was the chip leader called with the A 9. The flop came 9 2 4, giving Lund top pair with top kicker, and Matloubi an overpair. Lund checked, Matloubi made a $100,000 bet and Lund check-raised $250,000 more. Matloubi studied for a while before he called the $250,000 and reraised all-in for another $378,000. Now Lund had to think for a while but finally he decided to call the raise. When the hands were turned over everybody could see that Lund only had five outs (any ace or nine) to beat Matloubi's pocket T's. The A hit on the turn, a miracle card for Lund who now had top two pair and could only lose if one out of the two tens left hit on the river (a 22-1 shot). When the ace hit, Matloubi was standing up and kicked his chair, as he was very likely to get eliminated in second place. Yet, another miracle card hit on the river, the T that gave Matloubi a set of T's to beat Lund's two pair. Lund went from underdog, to almost certain win and then lost the pot (it had more than 80% of all chips in it). This was the turning point in the match and Matloubi eventually went on to win the title after his pocket 6's held up against Lund's pocket 4's.

Analysis

There is not much to say on the play before the flop. On the flop Lund pot committed himself when he decided to go for the check-raise. Even though he probably thought he was beat when Matloubi moved all-in, Lund had invested a lot of chips on the hand and that made it hard to fold. Since there were no likely draws on the flop, Lund had to strongly suspect that he was beat and that he only had a maximum of 5 outs to outdraw. But the slight possibility that Matloubi was bluffing or had a worse hand, the size of the pot and the fact that Lund might have 5 outs to outdraw, made him call.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1989

 - $10,000 Main Event: The two black nines - Phil Hellmuth VS Johnny Chan
Phil Hellmuth
   
VS
Johnny Chan
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Phil Hellmuth 67.6% 73.3% 70.5%
Johnny Chan 32.4% 26.7% 29.5%

Action

When the final hand came up, the blinds were $5,000-$10,000 and the ante was $2,000. Phil Hellmuth raised $35,000 with the 9 9, Johnny Chan re-raised $165,000 with the A 7 and Hellmuth moved all-in for $1,000,000. Chan thought for quite some time before calling with his remaining $450,000. The flop came K T K, which gave Hellmuth two-pair and Chan five outs to draw out. The turn was the Q. This gave Chan seven additional outs and made Hellmuth a 2.5:1 (approximately) favorite. The river brought the 6, thus giving Hellmuth the title and $755,000 in prize money.

Analysis

When entering the 1989 $10, 000 WSOP, Chan already had the main events of 1987 and 1988 under his belt, most certainly an amazing winning streak and quite possibly undefeated. In this tournament, however, it is possible that Chan made a mistake when he called Hellmuth's all-in bet as a 2:1 underdog, though he could have only really been in a really bad position against AA. Since Chan was the more experienced player of the two, he may have been able to save his chips and attempt to outplay Hellmuth later on.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1988

 - $10,000 Main Event: Flopping the nuts - Johnny Chan VS Erik Seidel
Johnny Chan
   
VS
Erik Seidel
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Johnny Chan 45.7% 96.7% 99.9%
Erik Seidel 54.3% 3.3%

Action

This hand, which was featured in the movie "Rounders", began with both players limping into the pot. Chan held the J 9 and Seidel had the Q 7. The flop came Q T 8, giving Chan the nut straight and Seidel top-pair. Chan bet out on the flop making the bet $40,000, Seidel raised $50,000 and Chan smooth-called. The turn came with the 2, which did not affect either hand. Chan checked and Seidel moved all-in. Chan then called. When the hands were turned over, Seidel quickly realized that he was drawing dead with one card to come. The river brought the 6. This hand won Chan his second title and $700,000 in prize money.

Analysis

In the last hand, Chan trapped Seidel and made him believe that either he held the best hand or that Chan was weak. Very nicely set up by Johnny Chan.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1987

 - $10,000 Main Event: Overbetting the pot - Johnny Chan VS Bob Ciaffone
Johnny Chan
   
VS
Bob Ciaffone
   
Flop
     
Turn
River
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Johnny Chan 43.4% 81.3%
Bob Ciaffone 56.6% 18.7%

Action

When it was down to three players (Johnny Chan, Bob Ciaffone and Frank Henderson) the following hand came up. The blinds were $10,000-$20,000 with an ante of $2,000. Ciaffone had $665,000; Chan had $525,000 and Henderson had about $250,000 when Chan limped on the button with the K Q and Henderson also limped from the small blind. Ciaffone looked down at the A 4 and decided to raise the pot $85,000 more. Chan called the raise and Henderson folded his hand. The flop came K J 4 giving Chan top pair and Ciaffone bottom pair with an overcard. Ciaffone bet out $185,000 at the pot and Chan moved all-in for a $240,000 raise. Ciaffone thought for a long time and then decided to call. Chan's pair of K's held up and later he went on to win the tournament (his first $10,000 WSOP, but he won the next year in 1988 and finished second in 1989).

Analysis

Ciaffone analyses this hand in his book "Pot-limit & no-limit poker". He felt that his pre-flop raise and the call on the flop were reasonable. But the bet on the flop was a mistake. Worth to mention is that he overbet the pot, both pre-flop and on the flop. It was these bets that made the pot so big and in the end made his call reasonable. He justifies the call by saying that he probably had 5 outs to win the pot plus the fact that Chan might be drawing (although unlikely) and that he had the opportunity to knock out one of the greatest players in the world. He felt that if he won the pot he would be a huge favorite to win, which is true. What about Chan's pre-flop call? He did call a big bet with a hand that was a slight underdog, but he didn't know that for sure. Three-handed, KQs is a good hand. Even though he indeed had the worst hand going in, Chan probably felt that he could outplay Ciaffone on the later betting rounds and he had the better position.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1987

 - $10,000 Main Event: A coinflip - Johnny Chan VS Frank Henderson
Johnny Chan
   
VS
Frank Henderson
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Johnny Chan 45.9% 28.3% 13.6%
Frank Henderson 54.1% 71.7% 86.4%

Action

Chan raised $60,000 with the A 9 and Henderson moved in for another $300,000 with the 4 4. The flop came 5 8 K and the turn brought the T. When the 9 hit on the river, Chan won the title and $461,000 in prize money.

Analysis

There is not much to be said about either play. It was a typical final hand and a coin flip.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1985

 - $10,000 Main Event: Putting too much faith in the - T.J. Cloutier VS Bill Smith
T.J. Cloutier
   
VS
Bill Smith
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
T.J. Cloutier 33.4% 30.8% 29.5%
Bill Smith 66.6% 69.2% 70.5%

Action

When Smith and Cloutier got down to playing heads-up, Cloutier had the most chips. Then Cloutier lost a big pot with pocket 9's against Smith's pocket K's and that pot made Smith a big chip leader. Cloutier chipped away at Smith, who was an alcoholic and was drunk at that point which made it easy for Cloutier to get his chips. Cloutier got back to about a quarter of the total amount in chips. According to Cloutier, Smith was the tightest player in the world when sober, maybe the best player in the world when he was half-drunk and a horrible player when drunk. Smith raised the pot with pocket 3's, Cloutier moved-all in with an A-3 and Smith called. The flop came down 4-5-10, giving Cloutier seven outs to win (any ace or deuce). No help came on the turn or river and Smith won the title.

Analysis

According to Cloutier, he didn't even look at his kicker before he moved in his whole stack. His reasoning was that he probably had the best hand anyway or two overcards if Smith had a pair. This must be considered a mistake by Cloutier. What makes the play even worse is the fact that Cloutier was the better player of the two and Smith was drunk which, in Cloutier's own words, meant that he played horrible. When a player feels he can outplay his opponent in the long run, there is no reason for playing weak hands all-in pre-flop.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1981

 - $10,000 Main Event: Set over set - Bobby Baldwin VS Perry Green
Bobby Baldwin
   
VS
Perry Green
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Bobby Baldwin 18.8% 91.4% 95.5%
Perry Green 81.2% 8.6% 4.5%

Action

When the final table was down to seven players the following hand came up. Baldwin held the 9 9 and Green had the Q Q. The flop came 9 4 3, giving Green an overpair to the board and Baldwin top set. Baldwin checked and Green bet $40,000. Baldwin, who had the most chips of the two, then raised $86,000 and putting Green all-in if he calls. Green thought for a while but decided to call. The hands were flipped face up on the table and Green realized that he only had two outs to hit or he would be out of the tournament. The turn came with the J and the river brought the miracle Q. This pot gave Green enough chips to last until playing heads up with Stu Ungar for the title.

Analysis

This hand shows how much the luck factor can mean in one specific hand. Green's 8.5% chance of winning the hand on the turn or river meant either elimination or a chance to win the tournament and a huge difference in prize money. If Baldwin, who was one of the greatest players at the table had won the pot he would have been a big favorite to win the title instead he went out soon after this hand was played.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1981

 - $10,000 Main Event: Draw against draw - Stu Ungar VS Perry Green
Stu Ungar
   
VS
Perry Green
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Stu Ungar 65.3% 71.6% 77.3%
Perry Green 34.6% 28.4% 22.7%

Action

When the final hand of the tournament was played, Stu Ungar raised with the A Q and Perry Green called holding the T 9. The flop came 8 7 4, giving Ungar two overcards and the nut flush draw. Perry flopped the nut straight draw and had two overcards to the board. Green , who was first to act, decided to move all-in on a semi-bluff and Ungar called. Green needed a J, T, 9 or 6 that was not a heart, thus giving him 12 outs in total. The turn brought the 4, which was of no assistance to Green. The Q fell on the river and won the title for Ungar. It was Ungar's second victorious tournament in a row and it awarded him $375,000 in prize money.

Analysis

Both gentlemen played well in this hand.

Texas Holdem No-Limit WSOP 1980

 - $10,000 Main Event: Betting small on the flop - Stu Ungar VS Doyle Brunson
Stu Ungar
   
VS
Doyle Brunson
   
Flop
     
Turn
 
River
 
Best hand percentage Pre-Flop The Flop The Turn The River
Stu Ungar 39% 17.8% 90.9%
Doyle Brunson 61% 82.2% 9.1%

Action

When the final hand of the tournament was played between Stu Ungar and Doyle Brunson, they were almost even in chips. Brunson raised with the A 7 and Ungar called with the 5 4. The pot was at approximately $17,000 when the flop came A 7 2, giving Brunson top two-pair and Ungar a gut-shot straight draw. Ungar checked, Brunson made a pot-sized bet of roughly $17,000 and then Ungar called. The turn brought the 3, giving Ungar a 5-high straight and the nut hand. At this point, Ungar bet out about $30,000 and Brunson decided to move all-in. The river brought the 2 and, thus, proved useless to Brunson. Ungar won his first main event title along with $375,000 in prize money.

Analysis

Brunson was of the opinion that he bet too small on the flop. Generally, in this situation, he would have bet big in order to throw his opponent off. However, this time he decided to trap Ungar though he believes it was a mistake to move all-in on the turn. Brunson felt that had he just flat-called, Ungar would have shut down on the river when the board was paired and made both a flush and a full house possible.