Poker Night in America aims to bring back the days of legendary poker TV shows like High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark.
It’s doing a pretty good job.
The fourth season featured players like former world champions Joe McKeehen and Phil Hellmuth as well as Phil Laak and Cate Hall.
One of the best poker moments, though, might have been this hand between Alec Torelli and Blake Bohn -- a hand that had a lot of deception but little in the way of monsters.
Flop to River
It's a cash game with $25/$50 blinds but the effective stacks are pretty deep. Both players have about $30,000 in front of them, corresponding to about 600 big blinds.
Our hero in this week’s hand is Alec Torelli, who finds A A Q Q in the small blind.
In front of him Asher Conniff raises to $175. Blake Bohn re-raises to $375 and Phil Laak calls on the button.
Torelli 4-bets to $1,500. Conniff doesn’t take too long to fold and Bohn 5-bets to $3,375. Laak folds and Torelli calls.
There's now $7,750 in the pot and effective stacks are at $25,000. The flop is 9 9 3 3 3 3
Torelli checks, Bohn bets $3,500 and Torelli calls. There's $14,750 in the pot and effective stacks are still over $20k. The turn is the 7 7
Torelli checks again and Bohn checks behind. Still $14,750 in the pot. The river is the 5 5 . Torelli now takes the lead and bets out $10,500. Bohn thinks about it and folds. He held 8 8 7 7 which was the best hand, but the $25k pot went to Torelli. Watch the video from minute 15 to see how the hand played out:
This is an amazing hand in several respects and we need to look at the most important spots.
It has to be said that Bohn played extremely loose that evening. He 3-bet a lot of hands to put players to the test.
You need to have this piece of information otherwise it’s almost impossible to follow these players through the hand.
If you look at the pre-flop battle first, there’s carnage even before any community cards are dealt. Conniff opens with A-Qs and his neighbor to the left Bohn re-raises immediately.
Bohn has 78, a nice suited connector, but he’s in middle position which is not very good for a call. He could just fold his hand but considering how deep the stacks are, a re-raise with this hand is perfectly in order as it begs the chance to become a monster.
Laak makes a very loose call with T-2s and Torelli decides to 4-bet with A-Qo from the small blind. Had this been a regular table he might have actually folded A-Q here but this table is so loose he still has a good chance to have the best hand.
A raise is the best move here. A call would invite Conniff to squeeze but now Conniff finds himself on the bad end of a squeeze.
Madness on the Flop
Consequently, Conniff gets rid of his hand but Bohn still wants to turn it up. He 5-bets to $3,375! Without Laak sitting behind him he maybe would’ve just called but now he wants to secure playing in position and maybe even win the hand pre-flop.
Laak does fold but Torelli sticks around. He calls out of position with A-Q and could easily be dominated by A-K. That means Torelli is assuming two prerequisites.
1) Bohn has to be a player capable of re-raising with a much wider range than A-A, K-K, Q-Q, or A-K.
2) Torelli can find ways to steal the pot out of position.
When Torelli calls the flop is a very insignificant looking 9-3-3 that doesn’t help either player.
A Bohn c-bet and Torelli call are standard moves in this spot – especially for Torelli who gets 3-1 pot odds.
Paradox on Turn and River
The turn is where it gets interesting. Bohn hits his seven and now takes the lead against hands like A-K or A-Q.
But he knows that Torelli’s range is pretty strong and mainly has high pairs, A-K and A-Q in it. It’s difficult to imagine he would have anything else.
Which is why it would have been a good idea to bet another $5,000 on the turn and then check the river to get to showdown cheaply.
When the river blanks Torelli seizes his chance to bluff immediately. His opponent showed some weakness on the turn and thus capped his range.
But Torelli has to decide whether he wants to extract more value from bluffs or try to bet enough to make better hands like A-K or a nine fold.
A bet is probably the better option here as Bohn almost never has a strong hand here but will fold quite a few stronger ones.
Why No Call?
The river shows the problems that Bohn’s play can cause. You end up on the river with a middle pair and if your opponent shows aggression you don’t know what to do with it.
But considering how clearly defined Torelli’s range was a call would have been the obvious next step. It almost goes without saying.
Bohn's equity against A-A–T-T, A-K, A-Q is 51.6 %. In other words he’s ahead against 32 out of 62 combos if his opponent has exactly this range.
Blake Bohn is audacious before the flop but on the river he doesn't pull the trigger.
Alec Torelli, on the other hand, plays a smart bluff with the lower edge of his range and it pays off generously.