Unheralded poker enthusiast/student Gilles Bernies managed an incredibly deep run in the 2016 EPT Dublin main event.
It was an ill-timed bluff that finally stopped him.
It takes close to perfect play and still a lot of luck to win a big tournament - especially if you're an amateur.
Bernies almost got there, but was eventually superseded by Polish superstar Dzmitry Urbanovich.
The hand that became the big turnaround during heads-up play was a wild bluff by the German.
Flop to River
Only two players are left in the 2016 EPT Dublin main event. They’re both going to win €350,000 but the winner will score over €561,000.
At the time of this hand Bernies has about 10.5 million chips -- a lot more than his Polish opponent with 7.5 million. The blinds are 50,000/100,000/10,000 and Bernies is in the big blind.
He gets 42. Urbanovich raises to 225,000 and Bernies pops it up to 575,000. Urbanovich calls, so there's 1.17 million chips in the pot. Effective stacks are about 7 million.
The flop is KJ8. Bernies bets 625,000 and gets raised to 1.475 million. Bernies takes a couple of minutes before moving all-in with 6.3 million. Urbanovich insta-calls and shows 85
The board runs out 76 and Urbanovich doubles up with his pair of eights. He now holds 15 million chips while Bernies falls down to 3 million.
Not too much later Urbanovich had clinched another impressive title in his young career. Watch the hand again below:
What went wrong in this crucial hand that lost Bernies the tournament? Let’s have a look.
Urbanovich is raising almost every button now. He’s in position and he has 75 big blinds in front of him -- more than enough space to maneuver.
Bernies in the big blind decides to re-raise with 42. He’s holding the second-worst hand in a heads-up and he chooses a bet size that almost forces Urbanovich to call.
The Polish pro only has to pay 350,000 more to win a pot of 820,000, which corresponds to pot odds of 2.3 to 1.
As Bernies’ hand has little potential he should have either raised big to make Urbanovich fold right there or just fold himself.
Bernies Pushes Through
When Urbanovich calls they see a flop that fits Bernies’ range pretty well.
With his re-raise he’s representing a range with a lot of high cards including, of course, kings and jacks.
Urbanovich’s range is much more difficult to pin down. As we’ve already mentioned he’s raising a lot of hands, and he’s also calling a lot here because of the pot odds and playing in position.Play with Dmitry Online!
There’s nothing wrong with Bernies’ c-bet. No doubt he can force a fold here often enough to make this move profitable.
Betting 625,000 into a pot of 1.17 million means this only has to work one out of three times.
But Urbanovich doesn’t fold. Instead, he raises.
Check the numbers. After the raise there's 3.3 million in the pot and he has 5.5 million left.
This is where Bernies could still fold but instead he goes all-in. A bad idea, as Urbanovich snaps him off and easily wins the hand.
Good or Bad Play?
Of course, you always look silly when a bluff goes wrong. But that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad move. There are three factors to consider when you bluff:
- How likely is it going to work?
- What are the chances of winning the hand after a call?
- What stage of the tournament are we in?
The second point presents a big problem for Bernies’ play. After getting called pre-flop Bernies’ hand has virtually no equity, while hands like A-4 with an overcard or T-7 with a gutshot at least have some outs.
This clearly indicates a fold, so to still justify a bluff it has to have a high chance of succeeding.
Urbanovich’s Range Too Strong
Urbanovich’s raise does look like a bluff or semi-bluff, but on the other hand the board offers several draws and combo-draws that an aggressive player like Urbanovich might be able to use to his advantage.
Also, Bernies can only make complete bluffs fold, and this is probably the main reason why he shouldn’t have made this move.
When he puts Urbanovich all-in the pot is a sizeable 9.6 million chips and he has to pay 5.5 million more. This equals pot odds of 1.75 to 1 and he needs to win the pot 37% of the time to make it profitable.
Considering the number of draws and, consequently, possible semi-bluffs, this is not a particularly big number.
There are quite a few card combinations in Urbanovich’s range that he could and raise and call a shove with – for example every hand with two spades, open-ended straight draws like T-9 or Q-T, all the made pairs, top-pair hands and so on.
But there's another reason why the bluff doesn’t make too much sense – the tournament stage. It doesn’t change much if Bernies gives up the hand. He’d still have the chip lead.
As he loses the hand, however, the situation changes dramatically. Urbanovich gets a big lead and Bernies is left with 3 million chips.
Gilles Bernies starts a wild bluff against Dzmitry Urbanovich but it's not a convincing one.
The range of the Polish player is pretty strong and Bernies has no outs in case he gets called.
It’s a bit of a bitter twist that this enables Urbanovich to win the largest and most important pot of the tournament with a meager pair of eights against four high.