Hand of the Week: Mustapha Kanit Defies Laws of Poker

Mustapha Kanit has done it again.

He won his third High Roller event in the last 12 months this past weekend and proved that he's a one-of-a-kind player.

On his way to victory in the €25k Super High Roller at EPT Dublin Kanit pulled off a spectacular bluff on Anton Bertilsson that defied the laws of poker.

We'll take a look at how he was able to pull off this crucial bluff that brought him a big step closer to victory.

Kanit Defies Poker Laws

It’s the final table of the €25k Super High Roller at EPT Dublin and we’re down to four players. Everybody has €176k locked up but the winner’s check is for over €500k.

The blinds are 50k/100k/10k so there's already 190,000 chips in the pot before the first hand is dealt. Chance Kornuth is the short stack (1 million chips) in first position, and he folds. Anton Bertilsson (4.5 million chips) raises from the button to 200k.

Kanit in the small blind holds Q diamonds Q 9 diamonds 9

He re-raises to 530,000. Charlie Carrel folds his big blind but Bertilsson raises it up again, now to 1,180,000.

Kanit calls and there's now 2.5 million chips in the pot while the effective stacks of both players are at around 3 million chips.

The flop is 8 spades 8 A diamonds A 8 hearts 8

Kanit checks, Bertilsson bets 700,000 and Kanit calls. There's 3.9 million chips in the pot and effective stacks are at 2.3 million.

The turn is the 7 hearts 7  Kanit checks and Bertilsson checks back. The river is the J spades J Kanit leads out for 1.75 million which sends Bertilsson deep into the tank. Eventually, he folds Q spades Q Q hearts Q Watch the hand play out in the video below:

Hand Analysis

Was this the product of a great mind or of lunacy? That’s the question we have to try to answer.

Genius or lunatic? Sweater suggests both.

Let’s trace back the steps to understand what both players were probably thinking.

It’s a crucial situation in this phase of the tournament. Where an amateur would be very happy to win €170,000, pro players are more interested in the win.

The pay jumps are higher and higher with every spot so it’s worth taking some risks to take it all down.

Not Ready to Give Up

Kanit is the chipleader so he has the best chance of winning the tournament. With a hand that’s slightly better than average he decides to make a move.

Bertilsson raises from the button so he has a very wide range. Although he’s in position he’d probably give up a lot of hands to a re-raise.

But the Swedish player has a hand he definitely won’t give up so he goes for a 4-bet.

This would get rid of most of the players in the world, but Kanit is not ready to give up.

A Cunning, Multi-Level Plan

What happens then is something you don’t see very often. And there are only a few players who can do it.

Kanit has no position and no hand. All he has going for him are good pot odds. But he calls and he’s now following a cunning, multi-level plan.

His call of Bertilsson’s 4-bet is effectively a pre-flop float and he float-calls again on the flop.

An A-8-8 flop could possibly have hit either player. After Kanit’s check, Bertilsson bets, which he’d probably do with 100% of his hands.

He won’t be able to make a hand fold that’s better than his own but he will be able to protect his hand against bluffs. If he had checked the flop Bertilsson would have been in trouble if Kanit bet the turn.

The fact that Kanit calls again is absolutely sensational. The Italian understands the danger of playing against a shortstack but he also knows that he might be able to take a large step towards winning the tournament without being in danger to bust.

In the second-last betting round he decides to put his opponent to the test. The turn is a crucial part of his plan.

Trapped in a World of Pain

Kanit checks the turn and Bertilsson checks behind. The Swede could be trapping here but it’s more likely he doesn’t like the ace on the board and that caps his range.

mustapha Kanit 2014
Pain merchany.

This is exactly what Kanit has been waiting for as his double float can only work if Bertilsson shows some sign of weakness.

Had Bertilsson moved all-in, Kanit would have had to fold and he would have lost 2m chips. However, he would have been left with a very healthy stack.

The J♠ on the river isn’t important for Kanit’s plan. The only card that might have changed his play would have been an ace.

But now Kanit can go through with his bluff. He bets out and Bertilsson finds himself in a world of pain.

Kanit can easily represent an ace. Anything between A-J and A-6 is realistic and these hands would have received sufficient pot odds for the way he played, too.

Naturally, there is always the possibility that Kanit is bluffing. But it seems very unlikely as Kanit called before and on the flop, which makes it look like he does have a big hand.

That’s why you can’t really critique Bertilsson for his fold. If he called here and lost he would have been left with a micro stack of 6BB.


Kudos to Mustapha Kanit for this complex and elaborate bluff.

The stack sizes and the tournament situation were perfect for this move, but the way Kanit carried it out was absolutely beautiful.

What might have happened if Bertilsson had checked the flop? Would Kanit have tried to barrel turn and river?

Possibly, but then we would have missed a spectacular moment at EPT Dublin. Hear Bertilsson explain his thoughts on the hand below:

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