Hand of the Week: An Incredible Call That Won $1.8 Million

Steve O'Dwyer
Super sick call by Steve O'Dwyer

Today we're dealing with a hand that did actually happen right this very week.

Yesterday, in fact.

It's from the heads-up match of the $100,000 Super High Roller at the 2015 PCA in the Bahamas.

It's between world-class pro Steve O’Dwyer and wealthy businessman Roger Sippl – and it was for a lot of money!

From Flop to River

We've reached the final of the $100k Super High Roller event at the PCA. The last two players have already secured $1.3 million and were playing for another $500k – and the title of course.

Steve O’Dwyer enjoys a sizeable chip lead. He’s holding 12.2 million chips while Sippl is down to 4.2 million.

The blinds are 80,000/160,000/20,000 so Sippl still has 26 Big Blinds.

Our hand begins with Sippl on the button raising to 450,000. Steve O’Dwyer calls in the big blind with


There is now 940,000 in the pot. The flop is


O’Dwyer checks, Sippl c-bets 750,000 and O’Dwyer calls again. The pot has grown to 2.44 million chips. The turn is the


Both players check, and on the river falls the


O’Dwyer checks again, and Sippl moves all-in with his last three million chips. O’Dwyer takes a couple of minutes and decides to call. Sippl shows


And Steve O’Dwyer is the winner of the Super High Roller event!

Hand Analysis

In the final stage of this tournament Roger Sippl tries to catch up but fails completely. Let’s look at the hand again and find out how Steve O’Dwyer found a call on the river here.

Roger Sippl
An ill-timed bluff from Roger Sippl.

Pre-flop, Sippl’s raise with J T is a standard move. It's an interesting response from O’Dwyer to flat call with A T as this is a veritable monster heads-up.

However, there are good reasons for this.

First, by re-raising, every following move of his opponent would mean a decision for his whole stack. Second, he keeps all the bad hands of Sippl’s range in the hand.

The flop falls Q 8 8 and nothing spectacular happens. The big blind checks to the initial raiser and the initial raiser makes a c-bet.

A fold is obviously not an option for O’Dwyer now, because his opponent doesn’t hit that flop most of the time and his range is still rather weak.

Turn Makes Things Interesting

The 2 on the turn makes things more interesting.

O’Dwyer checks again, and if Sippl would have found a shove right there O’Dwyer probably would have folded.

Instead Sippl wants to use his position to check behind and find out what O’Dwyer does on the river. The 3 on the river is another pretty blank card. O’Dwyer checks again and now Sippl goes for the push.

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He is slightly over-betting the pot and thus polarizes his range as much as possible. These clues indicate that Sippl holds a weak hand:

  • The size of the bet – If Sippl wanted to get called or raised, he would bet much smaller.
  • The weakness of his range – Sippl's betting pattern doesn’t spell strength. He raised before the flop, followed it with a regular c-bet on the flop, but then checked a meaningless turn. When his opponent calls for a third time he suddenly moves all-in.
  • There is only a small range of legitimate all-in hands – Basically, only a queen or an eight can make a monster hand here.

A call is definitely an option in this spot but O’Dwyer also has to consider that Sippl could be bluffing with hands like A-K or A-J.

Then again, these are two of only very few hands that O’Dwyer doesn’t beat. Also, a good ace would give Sippl quite a bit of showdown value.

The question remains, though, whether O’Dwyer would also have called for his tournament life. A call seems logical, but it is a lot easier to make if you know you will still have a proper stack afterwards in case you’re wrong.


In a situation of maximum polarization, Steve O’Dwyer gets the perfect chance to make a spectacular hero call. The circumstances are particularly positive, as even if he was wrong he would have been able to carry on with even stacks.

Sippl shows a lot of courage here but his all-in would have been a lot more credible on the turn – and it would have had a lot more fold equity.

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