Fedor Holz is one of the true shooting stars of poker.
The 21-year-old German played in the WSOP for the first time this year and he immediately made a deep run in the most hallowed poker tournament of all, the Main Event.
Still, not everything went the way he planned.
Holz finished in 25th place but the kid known as “CrownUpGuy” showed some poker skills that excited not only the TV commentators, Norman Chad and Lon McEachern, but millions of viewers around the world.
In our hand of the week he tried pull off a bluff that got sniffed out and snuffed out.
Flop to River
It’s Day 5 of the 2015 WSOP Main Event and the blinds are 20,000/40,000/5000. It’s folded to Holz who raises to 90,000 with 8 8 7 7
Everyone folds except Upeshka de Silva in the big blind. He holds A A K K and re-raises to 265,000.
At this point Holz has his opponent covered with 2.9 million vs 1.9 million. He calls the re-raise and there's 590,000 in the pot. The flop is A A J J 8 8
de Silva leads with a bet of 345,000 which Holz calls after some quick deliberation. There's 1.28 million in the pot and de Silva has about 1.3 million left.
The turn is the Q Q
Now de Silva checks and Holz bets 425,000. de Silva calls and there's now 2.13 million in the pot. De Silva has about 800,000 left.
The river is the 9 9
de Silva checks again and Holz puts him all-in. de Silva takes several minutes to make a decision but he eventually calls and wins the pot.
It’s an impressive call by the American, who also won a bracelet this year in Event #45. Let’s try and figure out what both players were thinking during this hand.
Pre-flop Holz raises with a speculative hand and de Silva responds from the big blind. With A-K de Silva would probably like to get his chips in the middle pre-flop but Holz only has 8-7s.
There are probably not a lot of weaker hands that Holz would call the re-raise with. The only advantage of his hand is that he usually has two live cards, unless he’s up against an overpair.
And, of course, Holz is in position. On the flop AJ8, de Silva obviously c-bets as he usually has the best hand here. Holz could just fold now but instead he’s figuring out a cunning plan. He has both real outs and pseudo-outs.
The real outs are (almost 100% sure) the two eights and three sevens still in the deck, but the pseudo-outs are actually a lot more interesting. These are all the diamonds, queens and nines. Maybe even the kings.
Any of these cards would give Holz the chance to steal the pot. There's also the possibility that de Silva bluffs.
Holz Goes Into Steal Mode
The Q is indeed a card de Silva doesn’t like to see on the turn. He now checks, which means he’s narrowing his range by a lot.Play with Fedor Now!
Excepting bluffs, de Silva’s range now has pretty much just A-K and K-K in it because hands like A-A, Q-Q, J-J and A-Q (which would be re-raising hands pre-flop) would probably just go all-in.
Holz realizes this immediately and goes into steal mode, using his pseudo-outs. He bets 425,000 and basically already announces an all-in on the river.
He also generates very good pot odds for himself as this bet only has to win the pot one in four times to be profitable.
But de Silva refuses to let go as he still has an inside draw to the nuts and knows his opponent might be bluffing or semi-bluffing.
Holz Pulls the Trigger
The 9 on the river is the perfect card for Holz. de Silva checks again and Holz pulls the trigger.
He bets 800,000 which is enough to put his opponent all-in. From de Silva’s point of view the board could have hardly developed any worse. Not only does his top pair look like it’s not worth anything anymore but his tournament is also on the line.
The American took almost 10 minutes before he was finally able to make himself call with A-K, which is probably the hand Holz expected. de Silva took down the pot and doubled up.
Pot odds of 4 to 1 and Holz’s aggressive game might both have been factors for this decision. But Holz’s range also has a lot of legitimate hands in it that would not only crush de Silva’s hand but would also still bet all the way -- like all the sets, flushes and straights.
de Silva was right to call, but Holz played the hand perfectly.
Fedor Holz puts his opponent to the test and applies a high level of aggression that requires great hand analysis.
There are not a lot of players who would have called that river.
Upeshka de Silva finds a fantastic call on a gruesome board and wins a huge pot that brought him many spots deeper into the Main Event.