Welcome to "Strategy Snapshot," an ongoing series in which PokerListings looks at a key hand from a major live tournament and breaks it down from a strategy standpoint.
For our first article, PL.com looks at a key clash between online poker superstar Annette Obrestad and Reijo Manninen at the final table of the EPT Dublin main event.
Players: Annette Obrestad vs. Reijo Manninen
Tournament: EPT Dublin, November 3, 2007
Situation: Final Table/Four-Handed
Obrestad open-raises the pot to $30,000 from the button with A2. With the blinds at $6,000/$12,000, the raise is a little less than three times the big blind - more an attempt to steal the blinds than it is for value.
However, Manninen chooses to protect his big blind with Q8. The reason for this call is twofold. First of all it only cost him $18,000, so he is getting better than 2-1 on his money. Secondly, this call protects his big blind. It shows other players at the table his blind is not easy prey. This is very important in the late stages of tournaments as they involve a lot of blind-stealing!
There is now $66,000 in the pot and the flop comes down 8♠ 5♥ 3♦. Manninen checks and Obrestad makes a three-quarter-pot-sized bet of $43,000. This bet is a standard continuation bet. Obrestad had taken the lead in the betting pre-flop so she continues her aggression after the flop. Once again she is looking for a fold rather than a call.
Manninen does not comply; instead he check-raises the pot to $110,000. This is a very good bet. He knows Obrestad has been opening quite a few pots from the button with most likely less-than-optimal holdings.
He also knows if a player raises before the flop they will most likely make a continuation bet whether they hit or not. So he decides his pair of eights with a queen kicker is currently the best hand and makes a pot-sized raise. Obrestad sees this bet and re-re-raises to $243,000. A prime example of multilevel thinking, this is a very bold move.
She knows Manninen knows she has been raising a lot of hands from late position. She knows he is capable of making a move on a flop that is unlikely to have helped her. This bet is another attempt to get her opponent to muck his hand.
This bet also acts as a semibluff. She doesn't have the best hand currently, but she knows she has four outs to a straight plus one overcard to the board, for a total of eight outs. With position on the button she can also opt to see a free river card if she wants.
Manninen makes the call. He thinks his pair of eights are good but he can't be sure. It will be too expensive to find out on the flop. He decides to just call and play poker on the turn.
The turn comes down 3♣. This pairs the board and completes the rainbow (no flush draws available). Manninen checks and Obrestad checks behind. Manninen's check is quite simple. He has a good hand but not a great one; he doesn't want to bet out, risk getting raised again and have to play a huge pot out of position with a marginal hand.
The reasons for Obrestad's check are pretty evident too. She's shown lots of aggression and she still has a player calling. When Manninen calls the three-bet raise on the flop, he's saying he has a real hand. Trying to push him off the hand here on the turn could prove to be quite costly to Obrestad so she chooses to check behind and take a free card, hoping to make her straight or a pair of aces.
The river brings down the 4♦. This is a beautiful card for Obrestad, making her the wheel. Manninen once again checks. He still wants to keep the pot small by checking and calling. He definitely feels he has the best hand now, after the turn went check-check, but he still doesn't want to inflate an already large pot by betting.
Obrestad, now with her straight, is sure she has the best hand. She knows from the flop betting that Manninen has a good hand and she wants to extract the most value with her river bet. She settles on a bet of a little over half the pot: $300,000. This is a great bet. It gives Manninen 3-1 odds on a hand he feels is the best.
Manninen makes the call knowing Obrestad's range of hands is very wide and he could very likely have the best hand here. Much to his chagrin, Obrestad turns over her ace deucey for the rivered wheel and the $1 million-plus pot.
This hand is very interesting for a couple of reasons. The flop shows deep multilevel thinking by both players. It also shows the importance of playing poker with position!
Obrestad was able to take control of the hand before the flop and keep control throughout. She applied increasing pressure and forced Manninen to play scared poker, which is inevitable when playing out of position.
This allowed Obrestad to take a free card on the turn and make her winning straight. Both parties played this hand well. Obrestad was lucky to make her winning straight on the river, true, but she never would have gotten there if she hadn't played her hand extremely well on the flop!
End note: Despite taking this hand, going on to eliminate Manninen and eventually entering heads-up play with a huge chip lead on American Reuben Peters, Obrestad's aggressive strategy still couldn't seal the deal on the EPT Dublin title.
To catch up on what went down, check out reporter Matt Showell's recap blog here.