The return of Gus Hansen, Alex Kostritsyn and Isaac Haxton made for some fascinating battles in the high-stakes games on Full Tilt Poker this week.
While each player had some compelling sessions we’re going to focus on one of the biggest hands that Ike Haxton played, this time against online powerhouse Denoking.
Neither Ike Haxton nor his opponent Denoking have top 10 hands but they gave each other a lot of action nonetheless.
Play From Flop to River
We find ourselves at a NLHE heads-up with blinds $300/$600. The effective stack is about 187 big blinds, equivalent to $112,000.
In this hand, Denoking raises to $1500 from the button. Ike Haxton calls, so is now $3,000 in the pot. The flop falls
Haxton checks to the aggressor, and Denoking fires another $1800. Haxton calls again. There are now $6600 in the pot. The turn is the
Haxton checks another time, Denoking bets $4620 into the pot, and now Haxton raises it up to $22,000. It is now Denoking’s time to call, and the pot has grown to $50,600.
The effective stacks are now at $86,880. The last card of the community board is the
Haxton takes the lead and pushes, and Denoking calls. The hands at showdown:
Denoking’s flush beats Haxton out of $224,360.
Big bets with small hands for both players in this interesting hand, where the winner manages to make a whopping $100,000 of profit.
Let’s have a closer look at how Isaac Haxton, one of the best heads-up players in world, manages to lose this pot.
Denoking opens the pot with a marginal hand but he is in position, so his range covers pretty much every hand there is.
Haxton’s decision to defend his big blind out of position with 6-3o is a little more surprising. In fact, this hand is so weak, he can only justify a call here, if he has reason to believe he can steal the pot very often.
Haxton hits bottom pair, which is a decent hand heads-up, but Denoking finds a near perfect flop. He also hits a pair but also has flush draw.
This hand would be a slight favorite even against an overpair or top pair, so a continuation bet goes without saying. Denoking tries to either build the pot or take it down right here.
Haxton calls with a pair of threes, which is fine cause it could well be the best hand. On the other hand, he knows how difficult it is to get to showdown with a hand like this against an aggressive player like Denoking.
Thus, Haxton has a plan B and that steps into action on the turn. On the 9♣, Haxton checks, but with the intention of check-raising, should Denoking bet. Which he does.
None of his five outs (apparent outs, in reality he only has the 6♣ and the 6♦) came, so he turns his hand into a bluff.
Haxton’s check-raise is a hint that he is going to move all-in on the river while at the same time it gives Haxton the chance to still fold to another raise.
Denoking, however, sees no reason to fold his hand. From his point of view he has 14 outs, plus the chance that Haxton could well bluff on a double paired board.
The river pairs the board and Haxton exerts maximum pressure with his overbet all-in. He puts about $87,000 in a pot with $50,000.
It is not our favorite move. Denoking’s range has a lot of Flush Draws, Sets, Two Pairs and a nine in it, which will all probably not fold anymore after this card.
Also, what is Haxton trying to represent here? A flush draw would probably have raised the flop and a full house is a pretty rare thing but these are basically the only premium hand that Haxton can possibly play that way.
Denoking has a pretty easy call and wins a pot of over $224,000.
In NLHE games with deep stacks, extreme aggression is often the correct strategy.