Poker Hand of the Week: Bluff or Monster, Mr. Watson?

david peters 100k challenge
David Peters has a decision.

At the last big event of 2016 in Prague, David Peters just managed to snatch away the #1 spot on the GPI from Fedor Holz.

Since then the American has looked down on (almost) every poker player on the planet from the top or second spot in the rankings.

And it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere soon.

At the $100,000 Challenge at the Aussie Millions, though, he got too attached to a hand and couldn’t let go.

Flop to River

The Aussie Millions $100k Challenge is a very exclusive tournament. This year, just 18 players registered to play.

At this point there are six players left. Just three will share all the prize money between them with the winner getting AUD $882,000.

The blinds are 3000/6000/1000 and the stacks are pretty deep. Peters sits in the big blind with 178,000, which is one of the smaller stacks.

Mike Watson raises and it’s folded around to Peters, who calls with    

This brings the pot up to 37,000 and the flop is      

Peters checks and Watson bets 15,000. Peters calls and the pot is up to 67,000. The turn is the  

Peters checks again. Watson follows up with another bet of 45,000 which Peters calls again. The pot has now grown to 157,000 and they go to a river  

A last check from Peters which Watson answers with an all-in. Peters has to risk all his chips to call. He takes a while to make his decision and ultimately risks his tournament life.

Watson shows     for the rivered second nuts. Peters busts and misses the money spots. Watch the hand play out in the video below.

Analysis

You might think that Peters’ call on the river with two overcards to his pair is a little loose. But upon closer look it becomes clear that he had good reasons for it.

peters
Standard call here.

Let’s get down to business. Peters gets a hand that is typically one to defend your big blind with against an open raise.

Watson raises from the cut-off with a large stack which means he has a pretty wide range. He’s in the second-best position at the table and might just be out for a steal.

Peters' call is standard. His hand is much too strong to fold it.

This Is Important

The flop is very nice to Peters. He finds top pair and is only behind the strongest of Texas Hold’em starting hands.

These would be at the top of Watson’s range – A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J, A-T, K-T and sets with pocket tens, sevens, or deuces.

But as Watson’s range has so many more weaker hands in it, there’s no way that Peters should ever fold to the obligatory c-bet.

The situation changes when the J hits the turn -- from Peters’ point of view a very unwelcome overcard but not necessarily a disaster.

But then Watson bets an amount that has to have Peters worried about the river. Can he even still fold on fifth street?

The Canadian puts 45k into the pot to make it 112k. If Peters calls, it’ll grow to an even 157k. The effective stacks, however, will be just 110,000 when they go to the river.

But Peters knows that if you’re playing against a top-class player like Mike Watson you have to hold your own when the pressure’s on.

Plus – and this is important! – the jack of clubs opened up a lot of possible draws and combo draws which makes a semi-bluff so much more likely.

Bluff or Monster?

The K appears on the river -- a card that has A Q, K Q and Q 9 get there. Flush and combo draws with gutshot and flush draws, on the other hand, haven’t come in.

Mike Watson 100k challenge
Your move, Mr. Watson.

Watson moves all-in and Peters isn’t really asking himself if Watson has hit a jack or a king.

The question is much more if Watson has hit the straight with A-Q or Q-9 or even with 9-8 on the turn – or if he might have a set.

Because look at it -- who in their right mind would go all-in here with just a pair of kings? Or even jacks? 

Peters has already called twice, which makes him look rather strong, so he's facing the question “bluff or monster, Mr. Watson?”

If Peters folds here he still has a healthy stack with about 200 big blinds left. But if he wins, he suddenly has a shot at the big money.

At the end of the day, as the tournament is played with a shot clock, players don’t really have the time to go through all the hands and options.

Peters saw that the flush draw didn’t come in. Maybe that made him make the decision he did.

Watson’s Point of View

Watson has a different experience in this hand. The flop is very dry and he doesn’t hit anything except backdoor draws, and he’s left with one overcard.

shot clock
Tick tock.

Now, the J on the turn is somewhat of a dream card. It gives him a flush draw and an open-ended straight draw.

In case his overcard is also an out, so he could now have up to 18 outs!

It doesn’t take a player like Mike Watson to realize this is a perfect spot for a semi-bluff. The semi-bluff here has a lot of pot equity, fold equity and gives you very good implied odds.

Another question remains unanswered, however. Would Watson also go all-in if the river blanks out? We don’t know, but it’s certainly possible.

And that’s exactly what justifies Peters’ call – even though he was wrong this time.

Conclusion

Mike Watson and David Peters give it all they have in this hand with one guy maximizing pressure on every street while the other finds reasonable ways over and over to stick with his hand.

In the end it’s Watson who comes out on top, paving his way to a second place in this event good for A$400,000!

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