Strategy Snapshot: Phil Ivey Teaches Sami Kelopuro $400,000 Lesson

Published On: 20 January 2009 / Modified: 27 June 2018
Created By: Daniel Skolovy
phil ivey 2

In the biggest pot of the year thus far Phil Ivey teaches Finnish pro Sami "LarzLuzak" Kelopuro a $406,814 lesson about why he shouldn't put in 30BB pre-flop, out of position, with a potentially dominated hand.

A lesson the Finn should probably already have learned, seeing as he's playing at the highest stakes available. However, even pros can get caught up in the moment and make plays that show a negative expectation.

On to the hand.


Sami "LarsLuzak" Kelopuro - $203,407

Phil Ivey - $318,940

Game: $500-$1,000 No-Limit Hold'em, Gus Heaven, Full Tilt Poker

Ivey Takes Biggest Poker Pot of the Year

The action kicks off with Phil Ivey raising from the button/small blind to $3,000. LarLuzak then three-bets to $10,500 and Ivey four-bets to $31,500.

LarzLuzak makes the call and they see a flop heads-up of 6 9 3. LarzLuzak checks and Ivey bets $44,000. LarsLuzak check-raises all-in for $171,907, and Ivey makes the call.

When the cards are flipped it's LarzLuzak on the draw with the K T against Phil Ivey's A A.

The turn gives LarsLuzak a little more hope and adds five more outs with the K, but the river bricks off with the 6.

The $406,814 pot and biggest pot of the year (thus far) honors go to Phil Ivey.

Phil Ivey

The Breakdown

Ivey gets things rolling with the easiest raise to $3,000 he's ever made off the button with A A. I mean, if you are regularly raising K 2 off the button, aces is a no-brainer.

LarzLuzak elects to three-bet to $10,500 with K T from the big blind.

Since Ivey's (and every high-stakes regular's) opening range on the button is so wide, two suited broadway cards are often ahead.

We know the outcome of the hand - we know that Ivey isn't just raising some button trash; he has AA for the before-the-flop nuts, and he chooses to four-bet to $31,500.

This play is for value - because of the nature of these high-stakes games, it's seldom necessary to slow-play.

All of the top players balance their range so well that at any time they bet they can have the nuts or a stone-cold bluff. This leads their opponent to make guesses toward their plays - guesses that are usually wrong.

LarzLuzak elects to make the call … a play I can't really get behind. Granted, I don't know the exact dynamic of this session, but I just can't see how it is very profitable to call a large four-bet only to play the pot out of position with a reverse implied odds hand like K T.

When the flop comes 6 9 3, LarzLuzak checks and Ivey bets $44,000 for value.

His hand is huge - he has the nut overpair and there is already 60BB in the pot. His bet is looking to extract value from any stubborn pocket pairs and draws.

Sami Kelopuro

LarzLuzak check-raises Ivey all-in for $171,907.

Now I can't say that I dig the pre-flop call, but I am in agreement with him on this flop. If you are going to call 30BB with K T then it's time to make a move when you flop a flush draw.

The check-raise itself is good because with Ivey's bet there is over $100,000 in the pot.

With such a large pot already brewing he is not going to be able to fold with his flush draw.

By check-raising as a semi-bluff LarsLuzak takes the initiative in the hand and can now win it two ways: he can cause Ivey to fold or he can win the pot at showdown by hitting one of the remaining nine spades.

Of course in this scenario Ivey has A A and isn't ever going to fold. However, if you look at Ivey's entire range it is possible to get some folds (bricked ace-kingtype hands, small pocket pairs, etc).

Although LarzLuzak's call before the flop is probably not very profitable, he plays the rest of the hand perfectly.

This time, he isn't lucky enough to hit, and when the turn and river bring bricks, Ivey has the enviable task of finding another mattress to stuff $406,814 under.

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Edward 2009-01-26 23:20:00

I am not too familiar with Ivey's cash game strategy, but I can't imagine that his preflop 3-betting range is more than AA-QQ. He likely would just call a reraise with AK or JJ-TT. Even an loose-agressive player like Ivey would fold lower pairs and AQ or AJ.

So that makes the all-in checkraise by Larzluzak suicide. You know you're up against an overpair and that you'll probably get a call.

jungeljon 2009-01-21 01:30:00

I didnt happen to see this hand however i did see a hand yesterday where LarzLuzak had pocket aces and pushed all in, after the turn, and lost to Ivey's Ace high Flush. the pot was also around 400000. hard to believe that there were 2 like that in just a few days.



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