Hand of the Week: Negreanu Vaporizes Shlomi with Jedi Mind Trick

This week we’ll prove to you that you can have your cake in poker and eat it, too.

Poker legend Daniel Negreanu demonstrates very impressively how you can force your opponent to fold by analysis and deduction.

This is one of the most beautifully manipulated hands in poker history.

Do you remember our article on how to win on sixth street? At the time we thought that was the last chance to win a hand but Negreanu might have found another.

Negreanu Destroys Shlomi

It’s the early stage of the EPT London main event in 2010. The blinds are 50/100. From first position internationally unknown player Angel Shlomi raises to 475. (Five years ago there still were 5x raises.)

Farzad Bonyadi calls from middle position and Negreanu on the button finds 10 diamonds 10 9 diamonds 9

He overcalls to bring the pot up to 1,575. Now the flop falls  9 spades 9 5 spades 5 4 clubs 4   

Shlomi bets big -- 1,525 is almost a pot-size bet. Bonyadi thinks better of it and folds but Negreanu calls on the nine-high flop.

There's now 4,625 in the middle and we go to a turn Q hearts Q

Now Shlomi bets 2,125, a little less than half the pot. Negreanu calls again and we now have 8,875 chips to play for. River is the 8 clubs 8

Now Shlomi bets another 3,000, just over a third of the pot. Surprisingly Negreanu puts in a huge raise to 12,000.

While Shlomi goes into the tank Negreanu suddenly comments, “I'm thinking you have aces or kings."

James Hartigan comments from his booth that Shlomi now has to think “If you read me for aces or kings, you must have them beat” and indeed Shlomi folds  K clubs K K spades K    

So Negreanu wins the pot with the worst hand. And just to add insult to injury he finishes off by saying, “I only said what I thought he had, not that I could beat it.” Watch the hand here.

Hand Analysis

This hand is a masterpiece. You don’t find many of these in the history of poker and we’re going to enjoy it by having a closer look.

Daniel Negreanu
Three-way strategy.

The pre-flop action is important already. Shlomi raises big from early position. You don’t have to have any history with him to tell that he has a pretty good hand.

When Bonyadi calls, Negreanu is tempted to join the hand. He’s on the button and he holds a hand that plays very well in a multi-way pot. And of course he’s going to be in position as soon as the flop hits.

The blinds fold and we see a flop of 9♠ 5♠ 4♣, which is rather draw heavy. Shlomi puts in a pot-size bet and Bonyadi quits.

For Negreanu this is another piece of information. He gets a further hint that his opponent might well have a big pair and doesn’t want to allow Daniel to draw cheaply.

It's a Good Bet

At this point Daniel is already plotting how to win the hand.

In his mind there are three possible scenarios:

  • 1) He hits another nine or a ten for a hidden monster
  • 2) He can represent a flush if another spade comes up. If his opponent has a high pair he can’t have a flush.
  • 3) He might want to steal the pot against a hand that will hardly improve and might begin to worry as the board unfolds.

It’s part of the plan that Shlomi’s hand is more or less obvious and that he might make a mistake. When the Q♥ hits the turn Shlomi continues to bet.

It’s a good bet - a little over half the pot -  that will take more money from drawing hands. Negreanu calls in line with his three-way strategy.

Obviously Trying to Make Daniel Call

After the 8♣ on the river Shlomi bets one last time, only a little more than a third of the pot. This bet has a couple of weaknesses.

Daniel Negreanu
Master of mind tricks.

Shlomi has a hand that would make it difficult to pay a raise. He should have asked himself which hand worse than his can still pay him off.

Also, until the river he played as if to get money from drawing hands but the only draw that came in was for a 7-6 hand.

In this early stage of the tournament it would have been smarter to check and go to showdown or to try and induce a bluff from his opponent.

On Daniel’s side of the table it’s become pretty clear to him that he’s playing against an overpair. If his opponent was bluffing or had a stronger hand than a pair he would probably bet more to exert more pressure.

Instead he’s obviously trying to make Daniel call.

A World-Class Poker Mind Trick

This tells Daniel that his pair of nines isn’t good enough to win the hand. Maybe if it had been checked to him on the river it could have been.

Had Shlomi checked the river he would have made it very difficult for Daniel to bluff. The pot would have been much smaller so Daniel would have had less leverage.

Daniel probably would have checked behind and hoped for his nines to hold. But what follows now is a world-class mind trick -- one that you probably haven’t seen anywhere else.

Negreanu raises big and then tells the table what hand he’s putting Shlomi on – “aces or kings." Shlomi is visibly unsettled because Daniel gets it right, and he decides to fold his hand because Daniel convinced him that he was beat.

Maybe he should have thought about it a little longer to figure out what Daniel actually tried to achieve. Daniel is really trying to suggest that Shlomi folds, which he wouldn’t want him to do if he had a strong hand.

This is a good example of leveling. Negreanu is thinking one step further than his inexperienced, insecure opponent.

Shlomi Pays Dearly

The Canadian top pro shows his skills in this hand against his “victim” Angel Shlomi. Negreanu’s A-game contains not only cards but great hand analysis and advanced skills in psychological warfare.

Shlomi on the other hand played his hand a little carelessly. He’s making the mistake of narrowing his own range street by street. At the end of the hand he pays dearly when he sizes his bet poorly and invites Daniel to raise.

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