Most players fear a check-raise on the river.
It often gets us into a very unpleasant spot, as the pot odds are usually so good that a bluff becomes unlikely.
Scott Seiver found himself in this exact situation at the Super High Roller Bowl 2015 – and got out alright.
That's a big deal, as with only three players left outlasting another opponent is worth $2 million.
Seiver Not Swayed By Rast
Connor Drinan, Seiver and Brian Rast all have $3.225 million locked up but there are still two even larger prizes to catch.
At this point Rast and Seiver both have about 9m in chips -- much more than Drinan with around three million.
It looks very much like Rast and Seiver will go through to the heads-up while Drinan is hoping for them to get entangled in a big pot.
The blinds are 60k/120k/10k when Drinan folds the button and Rast limps in the small blind. Seiver checks his 8 8 5 5
There's 270k in the pot. The flop is 9 9 7 7 7 7 Rast checks, Seiver bets 225k and Rast calls. There's now 720k in the pot.
The turn is the 6 6 . Rast checks again, Seiver now bets 455k and Rast calls again.
The pot has gone up to 1.63 million and both players still have more than eight million in front of them. The river is the K K .
Rast checks a third time. Seiver bets out 1.1 million, but suddenly Rast check-raises to 2.875 million!
The pot is now 5.6 million chips big and Seiver has to pay another 1.7 million to see Rast’s hand. For a start, he asks Drinan about the size of his stack.
Then he starts pondering what Rast is trying to make him fold, both saying “I have a huge hand” and “I think it’s no good."
Eventually he makes the call and wins a 7.4 million-chip pot (almost a third of the chips in play). Rast is left with 4.8 million.
A lot of drama, a lot of money and a confusing line on the river make this a fascinating hand. Seiver almost forced himself to fold a straight but then decided to call.
After Drinan folds, Rast limps into the pot with Q♥ 7♥. It’s a slightly above-average hand, but he’s out of position and doesn’t want to unnecessarily bloat the pot.
Seiver’s holding is so bad he’s happy to see a flop for free. At this point both players have extremely wide ranges.
They can hold pretty much anything except high pairs and other top-class hands.
Rast Flops a Monster
Rast flops trip sevens – a monster – and he chooses a very reasonable play. There are few chances that Seiver has hit anything, so he’s going to fold almost every time if Rast bets here.
Hence, it’s a better idea for Rast to check and hope for Seiver to bluff or hit on a later street.
Seiver’s bet is a bluff, indeed, and it’s also the right move considering his hand. Seiver’s range has all kinds of cards in it, among them sevens which he can represent well in this spot.
On top of that he's flopped a gutshot draw, giving him a couple of outs in case he gets called.
Seiver Hits the Jackpot
The six on the turn looks harmless to Rast so he sticks to his plan. Seiver, on the other hand, has just hit jackpot. Not only does he now have a straight, he also knows that Rast probably has something because he called the flop.
Consequently Rast check-calls again, and they go to a river where things get a little out of hand. The king on the river is not a threat to either of the players.Get $500 Now!
It is, of course, possible that either player holds a hand like K-7, but overall, it’s very unlikely.
Rast lets Seiver go ahead a third time, which really makes more sense than to bet. Seiver might have hit something and call but it’s more likely that he doesn’t have anything and bluffs again.
The turn had allowed for several hands to bluff – like an eight or two diamonds – that now have no showdown value whatsoever. But Seiver has other things on his mind.
All of a Sudden, a Bluff Catcher
Seiver’s holding a straight that’s very well hidden and his opponent has a hand that’s been good enough to call two bets.
So, he puts in another value bet and is completely taken off guard when Rast check-raises.
All of a sudden his hand has been turned into nothing but a bluff catcher. Rast’s range is now made up of sevens, the T-8 for a higher straight and several full houses.
Pot odds of 3.3 to 1 plus the fact that Seiver would still be level with Drinan if he loses the hand eventually convince him to make the call.
There’s not much to discuss about Seiver’s call but Rast’s check-raise begs the question if he didn’t play a little too tricky here.
As ever so often, the crucial question is – “can a worse hand call”? And to be honest, except a few worse sevens, there’s nothing that jumps to mind.
The move is at least a bold one and maybe Rast is hoping that his line to check-call twice and then check-raise could be interpreted as a bluff. But that doesn’t really justify the check-raise.
In this crucial hand, Rast and Seiver clash on the river.
Seiver is really tempted to fold a straight heads-up but at the end of the day he makes the right decision.
Rast’s move cost him a lot of chips, but he was still able to survive both his opponents and take down the tournament.