High Stakes Poker Snapshot: Welcome to Ivey World

Published On: 15 March 2010 / Modified: 6 March 2018
Created By: Daniel Skolovy
Phil Ivey

It took five episodes of High Stakes Poker Season 6 to bring us an episode with some real action.

Episode five, which aired yesterday, had just that - and loads of it.

We had Dario spazzing vs durrrr, Gus getting felted for 200k vs. Negreanu, Mercier vs. Ivey and, of course, durrrr three-barelling Ivey.

Any one of those hands would make a great strategy snapshot. But, sadly, we had to narrow it down to the single greatest.

IMO, it's a close race between Ivey "picking off" Mercier's bluff and durrrr's three-barrel.

Though the Ivey-durrrr hand might have been more exciting, I believe there's more to talk about in the Mercier-Ivey hand.

The durrrr hand was just a sick three-barrel in a three-bet pot. Of course, had Ivey called like he was contemplating with his pair of sixes, we would really have something to talk about.

However, I wouldn't be able to provide much insight on fifteenth-level soul-reading so it's a good thing he folded.

The Mercier hand, though, is very interesting and not just because he's a PokerListings blogger.

The Setup:

The hand begins when Gus Hansen raises to $4,200 under the gun. Everyone folds to Eli Elezra who makes the call in the cut-off. Phil Ivey calls on the button and Jason Mercier three-bets to $22,100 from the small blind.

Both Gus and Eli fold and Ivey is the only one to call on the button. The flop comes 2 3 7 and Mercier continuation bets $28,700 into $55,000.

Eli Elezra

Ivey now elects to raise, making it $78,000 to go. Mercier tanks for a moment before moving all-in for $185,100.

Now Ivey goes into the tank and eventually makes the call with the 9 9.

Ivey's in good shape with his two nines vs. Mercier's A 4 and when the turn comes 8 and the river bricks Q the $425,200 pot is shipped to the man often called the best poker player in the world.

The Breakdown:

Gus steams it up and raises to $4,200 UTG with the Q 6. Everyone folds to Eli who makes the call for some reason with 9 5.

Ivey is next and he chooses to just call with the 9 9. Nines are a good hand but not good enough to re-raise. Calling keeps both of his opponents' ranges wider.

Mercier squeezes to $22,100 with the A 4

There's already over $13,000 in the pot and both callers are likely to have weaker hands after not re-raising the original raiser. If you couple that with the fact Gus is known to steam after losing a big pot and thus has a wider UTG range, a re-raise is going pick up the pot uncontested very often.

The plan is going according to ... plan when both Gus and Eli fold. But Ivey elects to call with his pair of nines.

Ivey is over 200bb deep vs. Mercier and in position. A call is almost mandatory.

The flop comes 2 3 7.

A flop that, all things considered, is actually pretty good for Mercier's hand. He has an overcard, a gutshot, and a backdoor flush draw.

He c-bets $28,700 knowing that even if called he has outs.

Ivey thinks before making it $78,700 with his weak overpair - a move I don't really understand all that much tbh.

Obviously Ivey is on a completely different level than me but this raise doesn't make a whole lot of sense as it accomplishes nothing.

A three-bettor in the small blind is either going to have you beat and call or shove, or he's going to have a hand worse than yours and just fold.

Jason Mercier
Caught red handed.

If he has a hand worse than yours, why give him a chance to fold? Why not allow him to keep bluffing? A worse hand will never call and a better hand will never fold.

There is, of course, the chance that Ivey raised knowing it would induce a three-bet bluff from a worse hand. But if that's the case why does he tank when Mercier shoves?

Either way, Mercier does elect to move in for $185,100. A move that, like Gabe Kaplan, I'm actually a fan of.

Mercier played his hand just like a monster and even if called he's not dead in the water; he has equity with his overcard, gutshot, and backdoor flush draw.

However, this is Phil Ivey. He somehow soul-reads Mercier and eventually, reluctantly, makes the call - a call that seemingly cannot be profitable vs. Mercier's range.

The turn and river bring no help for Mercier and the $425,000 pot is shipped to Ivey.

A very interesting hand from a very good episode of High Stakes Poker.

PS: Jason if you're out there and read this hit up the comments box for your thoughts on this hand.

More High Stakes Poker Snapshots from Dan Skolovy


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Gavin Perry 2010-03-18 13:33:05

Yeah Phil Ivey is still the best player in the world,there has been a lot of talk about Tom Dwan but Phil is still number 1.

odessit 2010-03-17 20:11:14

Well how about the fact that Jason is a known tournament player who probably will employ the squeeze every so often. How often are you squeezing with a small pocket pair, not too often. How about that Jason didn't look particularly comfy with the flop, but he 'had' to bet out. He kind of thought about it and then decides to bet. And lastly, he bet half pot. Now I'm thinking that most people with an overpair there will betting close to full pot, not 50-60%. Nothing wrong with taking it down right there and then, even though board is baby, there is some degree of coordination.

I think it isn't just the fact that it is Ivey's 15th level soul-reading, but also being able to pull the trigger on the call.

I strongly suspect that if Jason had bet full pot then the story goes something like "I am willing to go all in, I have a hand that I will not lay down. Now read this!" Then the decision to end up being all-in is decided on the flop. If Ivey calls the flop then he has to be certain that he will call the turn. Personally that is how I would play an overpair in that situation, 90-100% pot sized bet with all indication that I am commiting myself.

David 2010-03-17 11:14:37

When Ivey calls Jason's 3bet in position, it reveals quite a lot about the hand he has, the kind of hand that is not worthy of a reraise in position but calling one (considering they are ~200BB)...after the flop-reraise his hand is basically open and with that knowledge Jason shoves allin but..the problem is that Ivey also knows that Jason knows what he has. If you ask me Ivey didn't need (and use) his superb soul-reading abilities..He calls there cuz pot odds offers him a call rather than a fold..think about it; if u knew that your opponent knows what u holding, does the same logic that "oh, he shoved over my reraise he certainly has AA or KK" still applies? He calls while he knows Jason would have done exactly the same if he had them rockets but add the above mentioned factor and you'll get a call that is more often right than wrong even considering Jason's image.
By the way I found Ivey's reraise a very logical move since Jason's 3bet range includes a lot of high cards consider AK-AQ-AJ and considering Gus being the raiser, even hands worse than that...so if Ivey just calls and there comes a Q or a K and Jason bets it could his call be right then? and if there comes another rag just like the 8 that was the actual turn and Jason bets, Ivey is still facing the same situation as flop, so why postpone/complicate the situation?

Lazer 2010-03-17 03:59:33

To Mart1n...if you didnt watch, dont comment about that shit...dumbass

Mart1n 2010-03-17 01:38:08

Purely from a poker theory standpoint, Phil's flop raise and call is horrible BUT... from a gameflow, metagame, feel based standpoint... Ivey could have his reasons. I have not watched the episode.

acesacesaces 2010-03-16 22:16:15

Hi Jason

phil=retard 2010-03-16 21:29:15

you made a horrible call...

odessit 2010-03-16 20:07:50

And there you have it.

phil ivey 2010-03-16 01:10:20

In the hand i'm thinking ,if you had a monster are you really going to go all in on the flop?Surely that flop is harmless enough for kings or aces to try and milk a little more on the turn..if you had a set you are def wanting to milk more on the turn but couple that with the fact that it is a very likely and obvious squeeze play i had to call with my pair

lolz 2010-03-15 23:15:13

u can bluff ivey, unless ur durrr and even if ur durrrr, you eyes will water a little bit.



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