Hand of the Week: Seidel Decimates Dmitry w/ J-High Call

Erik Seidel has been a top-class poker player for decades.

This week’s hand analysis will show you why he’s so highly respected and has so many fans around the world.

Welcome to one of the most spectacular calls in poker history!

Seidel Smokes Urbanovich

We’ve arrived at the heads-up of one of the most valuable poker tournaments of 2015 – the €100,000 Super High Roller event of the EPT Grand Final.

The finalists are 8-time WSOP bracelet winner Erik Seidel, #3 on the all-time live poker money list, and Polish newcomer Dmitry Urbanovich, who made his first live poker tournament appearance just this year.

Both players have already secured €1.4m. Now they’re playing for the extra €60,000 and, of course, the title.

Urbanovich began the heads-up as chipleader but Seidel was caught up and now has a commanding lead of 12.5m (41 bb) to 5.25m (17 bb) chips.

Blinds are 150,000/300,000/a40,000 and Urbanovich is in the small blind/on the button. He only fills up and Seidel checks in the big blind with  J diamonds J 4 diamonds 4

There are 680,000 chips in the middle when the flop unfolds A diamonds A A spades A 6 clubs 6 Both players check and the turn is the K diamonds K

Seidel checks again and now Urbanovich bets 300,000 chips, which Seidel quickly calls. The pot now has 1.28 million chips in it.

The river is the 5 hearts 5 Seidel checks again and Urbanovich leads out with a bet of 525,000 chips. Again Seidel doesn’t need a long time to make the call.

His opponent sheepishly shows 4 spades 4 2 spades 2 and Seidel takes down a 2.3m-chip pot. Soon after the tournament was over and Seidel had won it.

Hand Analysis

Now let’s see how Seidel was able to make a call that baffled most of the global poker community.

Urbanovich (Photo: Jules Pochy)

First things first there is some important action pre-flop. Urbanovich is a very aggressive player who would raise almost every hand from the button.

He’s also aware that, as far as pot odds and position are concerned, it’s correct to call with pretty much any two.

It’s noteworthy that Urbanovich doesn’t raise here. If he’s not trapping it looks like he’s holding a very mediocre hand like Q-6 or 9-5.

Seidel looks at J-4s, a marginal hand, so he’s happy to see a cheap flop. He checks and the dealer turns over A♦ A♠ 6♠.

Now both players check, which is a logical move if you look back at the pre-flop action. Our finalists don’t give away any signs of this flop having helped them.

The Option to Semi-Bluff

The K♦ on the turn at least gives Seidel a flush draw. He has the option to semi-bluff now but decides to check.

Urbanovich sees a chance to claim the pot. He knows that four-high is not good enough to win any pot, but he also has a flush draw and he’s seen Seidel check pre-flop, on the flop and on the turn.

Seidel gets pot odds of 3.3-1 which are just good enough to make the call if he needs the flush draw to come in to win the hand.

The river is the 5♥ which is a total brick. None of the draws came in and Seidel checks again.

Urbanovich now finds himself in a bad spot. He really needs more chips but he has a hand that can never win at showdown.

His only option is a bluff. He bets 525,000 and makes it look like a value bet asking for a call. The pot odds are again roughly 3.3 to 1.

A Call Only World-Class Players Can Make

Seidel is immediately suspicious and the reason is that Urbanovich doesn’t really represent any range.

He’d need an ace or king to be able to bet but with the lack of action pre-flop both seem highly unlikely.

As mentioned above any aggressive player would have raised with an ace or a king unless he’s explicitly trapping.

There are no other hands that allow value bets. Urbanovich wouldn’t bet with a five or a six as these have showdown value.

Pocket fives and pocket sixes are also ruled out as these would also raise pre-flop. It really smells like a bluff.

Seidel is right and consequently he makes a correct call. The one thing he has to fear is that his opponent might bluff with a better hand than his, like Q-2 or J-7, and Seidel would lose the pot.

But these are less possible hands than all the possible bluffs with T-x, 9-x, 8-x as well as 4-3, 4-2, and 3-2. Seidel can also afford to lose this hand being in such a clear lead.

However, if he’s successful with a call he’s also dealing a mental blow to his opponent. All these factors combine to help Seidel find a decision but this is a call only world-class players can make.


Erik Seidel recognizes an empty range and makes a formidable call with jack-high. It proved to be the decisive hand as the Polish newcomer was not able to recover and the tournament ended only minutes later.

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