Poker hands can take very strange runouts and rivers can cause turmoil.
This week we’ll look at a wild hand involving 888poker ambassador and three-time WSOP bracelet winner Dominik Nitsche.
At the end of the day there are two big hands in the mix but the hand is decided by a bluff.
Watch Nitsche's facial expression to guess which hand wins.
Flop to River
This is the first round of the PartyPoker Premier League in 2012. In this round the players try to qualify for the finale where the winner takes $125,000.
Two players have already busted and we’re left with the final four. Dominik Nitscheis the chipleader with 628,000. Melanie Weisner is second with 622,000.
Emir Misljimi has 314,000 and Michael Thoms has 236,000. Nitsche has just managed to bluff Misljimi and take the chiplead.
The blinds are 5000/10,000 and Nitsche now raises to 20,000 with
Misljimi calls from the small blind while the other players fold. There's 50,000 in the middle and the stacks are 294,000.
The flop is
Misljimi checks and Nitsche follows with a bet of 22,000. Now Misljimi check-raises to 50,000 and Nitsche calls. There's now 150,000 chips in the middle and effective stacks are 244,000.
The turn is the Misljimi wants to take the lead but accidentally string-bets, so his bet is set to be 30,000 chips only, which Nitsche calls again. There's now 210,000 chips in the pot with effective stacks at 214,000.
The river is the Misljimi checks, Nitsche bets 88,000 and Misljimi quickly moves all-in. Nitsche thinks about it for a while and then lets it go.
To his utter bewilderment Misljimi shows for a set. Go to 34:30 in the video below to watch the hand play out.
If you’ve ever wondered what commentators mean when they say “he turned his hand into a bluff,” this is a textbook example.
Starts it off with a loose raise.
The hand starts with a rather loose raise by Nitsche, who as chipleader tries to exert pressure even with a hand like 4-5s.
But then even a hand like this can turn into a monster.
Misljimi in the small bind does the right thing with his low pair for Nitsche, who's now in good shape to win this hand on almost any possible board playing in position.
The flop has something for everyone. Misljimi hits his set and Nitsche finds an open-ended and well-hidden straight draw.
Misljimi checks to the raiser, as you’d expect, and Nitsche follows up with a c-bet semi-bluff, as you’d also expect.
Nitsche represents mostly over-pairs here, if anything, but Misljimi could just fold his hand to a flop-bet if he’s missed. But the amateur has no intention to do so with his set. Instead, he goes for a small check-raise.
For Nitsche this can mean he’s looking at a set, a flush draw, or a badly played over-pair. But he obviously calls.
String Bet on the Turn
With these first skirmishes behind us and 150,000 chips in the pot, the turn 7♠ looks very safe for Misljimi. The amateur should bet around 80,000 here to give drawing hands bad odds and have a half-pot bet behind he can push with on the river.
Instead, he accidentally string-bets and the floor rules that he can only bet 30,000. This is a bet that Nitsche can always profitably call.
String raise doesn't help.
As long as his opponent doesn’t have exactly 9♦ 8♦, he has 6-8 real outs to the nuts and gets incredible 6-1 pot odds.
From Nitsche’s point of view, Misljimi’s range hasn’t changed. He might still look at either a bluff, a set, a badly played over-pair or a flush draw.
Rebel Without a Cause?
Up to here, nothing extraordinary has happened. Misljimi has to perceive Nitsche’s hand as being somewhere between decent and a draw because Nitsche raised pre-flop, called the check-raise on the flop and the bet on the turn.
Should Misljimi bet or check? What would make sense here is to go bet-fold, meaning he should bet to get money from over-pairs and other worse hands but fold to a raise.
Checking would only be slightly worse as Nitsche could well be bluffing or even check with a better set. But Misljimi decides to go for a third option, which we’ll look at in a second after we discuss if Nitsche should bet or not.
Misljimi has pretty much capped his range by checking so Nitsche can now ask himself now how many more chips he can take from a set or an over-pair.
Pot lost, jaw dropped.
Just checking would be the safe move as he obviously has a lot of showdown valuewith his straight. But it’s very tempting to win more chips from a weaker hand.
So, for Nitsche, betting is a perfectly fine move. But what happens next isn’t fine at all. Misljimi just moves all-in, thus turning his hand into a bluff and representing a diamond flush.
Is This a Good Move?
Now, is this a good move? It’s actually not as bad as you might think. Look at Nitsche’s range and how Misljimi’s hand plays against it.
If Nitsche has:
Bluffs – Nitsche will fold; Misljimi can’t win additional chips
Higher sets – Nitsche will probably fold; Misljimi wins extra chips as he can make the better hand fold frequently
Straights – Nitsche will fold sometimes; Misljimi wins extra chips as he can make the better hand fold sometimes
Flushes – Nitsche will almost never fold and Misljimi busts almost every time
So, at the end of the day, Misljimi’s bluff-check-raise isn’t that bad unless he’s up against a flush. It feels almost like he’s making a pretty good move here by accident.
Dominik Nitsche is shocked to find out he’s just folded the best hand because his opponent has turned his hand into a bluff.
Emir Misljimi oscillates between genius and madness and we can’t be 100% sure he knew what exactly he was doing.