Christoph Vogelsang won the $300,000 buy-in Super High Roller Bowl this year in convincing fashion.
In a nail-biting heads-up he overcame another outstanding player known for his high-stakes prowess – Jake Schindler.
In the end Schindler ran a little short on luck and, maybe, also on mental resilience.
In this Hand of the Week we look at what that eventually decided the 2017 SHRB and gave Vogelsang a $6 million check.
Flop to River
So, we’re heads-up at the 2017 Super High Roller Bowl at Aria in Las Vegas. Incidentally they're also the two players that made the biggest impression on the audience in a field of top pros and wealthy and skilled amateurs.
Those two players: Christoph Vogelsang and Jake Schindler.
The heads-up has been going for more than five excruciating hours. It’s a tough battle for the coveted title and a $2.4m difference in payouts. Who will get the $6m and who will get $3.6m?
The chiplead has gone back and forth. At the time of this hand Vogelsang was ahead as he had just overtook a set flopped by Schindler and doubled up. These are the stacks:
- Vogelsang – 8.9 million
- Schindler – 7.9 million
Now let’s get to the hand. Blinds are 50,000/100,000/10,000 with the ante on the button. Vogelsang is in the big blind.
Schindler limps in and Vogelsang checks with 10 10 7 7
The flop comes 10 10 3 3 2 2 . Vogelsang checks and then calls a bet of 100,000 chips by Schindler. There's now 500,000 in the pot with effective stacks at 7.6 million.
The turn is the 7 7 . Vogelsang improves to two pair and checks again. Schindler bets 400,000 and now Vogelsang raises it to 1.5 million.
Schindler calls and there's now 3.5 million in the pot. Effective stacks are 6.1 million. The river is the 2 2 .
Vogelsang leads out with a 2.3 million bet and Schindler takes all his 6.2 million remaining chips to move all-in. Vogelsang doesn’t get much time to think because of the 30-second shot clock and he eventually announces call.
Schindler shows Jack-high with J J 8 8 . The two players shake hands and Vogelsang takes the title.
This hand is relevant not only because it decided the outcome of the tournament but also because of several strategic aspects.
Weak hand and OOP.
With a hand like J-8s Schindler could also justifiably raise pre-flop but opts for the limp to play a couple of streets of poker.
Vogelsang has a weak hand and is out of position. Even heads-up, T-7 doesn’t look too promising.
But then the German flops top pair, which is pretty much the best that could happen to him. Yet he doesn’t bet out as it’s unlikely that his opponent has hit anything and there aren’t many worse hands that can call.
So Vogelsang checks and Schindler makes a bet simply to steal the pot. He bets 100,000 into 300,000 and his bet only has to work one out of four times to be profitable. Plus, he has two backdoor draws.
Of course Vogelsang doesn’t fold top pair. Once again raising it would make only worse hands than his fold.
Action Card on Turn
The turn is the kind of card a screenwriter would have picked – the 8. It improves both of Schindler’s draws, giving an inside straight and a flush draw. Only the 9 would have been an even better card.
Why wouldn't he fire another barrel?
When Vogelsang checks again Schindler fires another barrel. And why wouldn’t he?
He’s now playing a veritable semi-bluff – opposed to a pure bluff on the flop – and he has at least 12 outs with the jacks being possible outs, too. This gives him 25% equity against a hand like top pair.
But Vogelsang doesn’t necessarily have top pair. He could still be in the hand with a three, a deuce or even more random hands, which would justify a call on the flop but not on the turn.
In this respect Schindler’s bet is a good one. But Vogelsang has actually hit the 7♥ as well giving him top two pair – a monster in heads-up play.
With the board now being on the draw-y side and facing a second bet by Schindler, Vogelsang decides to raise it up.
This is another perfect move because Schindler still has a pretty wide range. It even still consists of a high pair which Schindler could have limped with so Vogelsang can get calls from hands other than draws, too.
River Changes a Couple Things
Schindler calls the turn, telling Vogelsang that he has something. That something can be either a made hand with showdown value or a good draw. The 2♣ on the river isn’t the worst possible card for the German player – a heart would have been a lot worse – but it still changes a couple of things.
Peak Vogelsang arrives.
Vogelsang’s two pair is now counterfeited by all overpairs, meaning pocket jacks and higher now win. Still, Vogelsang’s bet is consistent with the way he played this hand.
He can’t win any more chips from busted draws but hands with a ten like A-T or K-T can still call. He puts out a value bet of 2.3 million but then Schindler moves in for 6 million to exert maximum pressure.
Let’s have a quick look at numbers before we take the next step. To win a pot of 12 million Vogelsang has to pay another four million, giving him pretty good pot odds of 3 to 1.
But if he’s wrong and loses he’s left with just one million equalling 10 big blinds. It would be extremely hard to overcome such a big deficit.
As time is limited, even a world-class player like Vogelsang can’t really go through all the options he has. But we can take a quick overview of the hands Schindler now has in his range and how he would play them.
- Overpairs; Schindler would probably call here as a raise would be too risky with only better hands calling it.
- Top pair; again call, as a raise wouldn’t help at all.
- Monsters like 3-3, T-T, 2-2, 7-7; all-in to maximize profit
- Air; fold to minimize losses or all-in to exert pressure
This list shows you that there are actually very few hands Schindler would push here. Basically it's four hands – except for the bluffs, of which a player like him always has some in his range.
Vogelsang’s call then wasn’t just the winning decision; it was also the right one as Schindler is bluffing here often enough – or in other words, he’s rarely very strong.
Maybe it was frustration over the big hand he’d lost a few minutes earlier, but Jake Schindler risks his tournament life in this gruellingly long heads-up with a dicey bluff and can’t force the fold.
Vogelsang, on the other hand, over the course of the four days this tournament took, shows that he’s at his peak at the moment and once more finds the correct decision(s).