Hand of the Week: Antonius Picks Off Ballsy Polk Bluff

As the 2014 World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific picks up steam in Melbourne we've been reminded of some great action from the Crown Casino earlier in the year.

If you want to see some top-class poker, check out the Aussie Millions High Stakes Cash Game clips that have recently been posted online.

There's plenty of action and lots of interesting hands - including our Hand of the Week pick between Doug Polk and Patrik Antonius.

Online they play as "WCGRider" and "Finddagrind," but here they're battling each other live and in person for over half a million.

The Hand

They were playing astronomical stakes in Australia: $1,000/$2,000 plus a mandatory button straddle of $2,000 so there's $5,000 in the pot before the action even begins.

Polk: Gets Antonius squirming.

It's folded around to Polk in the small blind, who just completes with $1,000. Antonius checks and there's now $6,000 in the middle.

Effective stacks are $470,000, equalling 235 big blinds. The flop falls

Polk checks and Antonius bets $6,000, exactly the size of the pot. Polk calls and the pot grows to $18,000. The turn is the

Now Polk takes the lead and bets a small $5,000. Antonius raises to $23,000 and Polk makes the call.

There's now $64,000 in the pot and the players have roughly $440,000 in front of them. The river is the

Polk checks, Antonius now overbets the pot for $90,000 and surprisingly, after a bit of thought, Polk raises to $302,000. Antonius squirms for a while but eventually calls with

beating Polk’s semi-bluff with

Polk drags in the $668,000 pot.

Hand Analysis

What begins as a seemingly harmless blind vs. blind battle with marginal hands (7-4 and 8-6) develops into a gripping duel between one of the most famous players in the game and a dangerous young gun who has proclaimed himself to be the best cash-game player in the world.

Take a closer look at this hand, and especially at what happened on the river.

Pre-flop Polk gets 5-1 pot odds but he doesn’t raise with his 7-4o, which will later become more significant.

Both players hit the flop heavily. Polk has two pair and Antonius flops the nuts. Polk decides to play his hand slowly and just check-calls.

Patrik Antonius
Looking good until the river.

On the turn, things become interesting. The second five brings a pair to the board and Polk’s hand is counterfeited as his pair of fours doesn’t play anymore.

The young American doesn’t slow down, though. He takes the lead with a small bet. Antonius feels he's still ahead so he raises to get more money into the middle.

There are a lot of worse hands that can call him but there is of course the chance that he's already beat – albeit by only very few hands.

Polk Sets Off Fireworks on the River

On the river Polk lights the fireworks. He checks first but when Antonius comes in with a massive overbet he responds with an even more brutal raise.

Polk set up this move with his call on the turn, like you would do if you had a monster and wanted to keep your customer. As a matter of fact he's turning his former bluff catcher into a bluff.

Polk gives his opponent pot odds of 2.4-1 – pretty good – but in a high-stakes game like this, the absolute number of the pot has to be taken into account, too.

To call Antonius has to pay $212,000 and his opponent has just polarized his range to the maximum (partly because of the busted flush draws). There are now quite a few hands that can beat the Finn:

  • 5-5 (1 possible combination)
  • 7-7 (3 possible combinations)
  • 7-5 (6 possible combinations)
  • 5-4 (6 possible combinations)
  • 4-4 (3 possible combinations)

Plus these highly unlikely hands:

  • Q-Q (3 possible combinations)
  • Q-5 (6 possible combinations)

If you discount the pocket queens there are still 19 hands Polk definitely has in his range.

But Antonius has to consider this: Because of how he played pre-flop, it's very unlikely Polk holds a pocket pair. You would certainly expect Polk to raise with a pair.

That leaves Antonius with 12 possible hands that can beat him: 7-5 and 5-4 in all suits. They're just not enough to make him fold.

Antonius made a very strong call here on the river but we still have to pay Polk respect for his ballsy raise. He would have probably made a weak five fold.


Polk tries to overcome one of the most experienced and fearless players in the world on the river with a massive $300,000 bluff.

Antonius shows he's seriously hurting from the pressure but, in the end, makes the correct decision against his opponent’s highly imaginative move.

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