The Poker Masters was a five-event, high buy-in tournament series played at the Aria in Las Vegas earlier this month.
The buy-ins were $50k for the first four events and $100k for the final tournament. The Poker Masters winner - who claimed the first-ever purple jacket - was the player who made the most money. The series attracted dozens of the world’s top players and featured several dramatic battles including this one between Daniel Negreanu and Koray Aldemir - the #2 ranked player on the Global Poker Index for 2017.
Negreanu vs. Aldemir at Poker Masters
In the final $100k event there were 16 players left and action was approaching the money bubble. Negreanu and Aldemir were the big stacks at this table, sitting with 634,000 and 414,000 respectively. Blinds were 1500/3000/300. It was folded to Aldemir in the cut-off who raised to 7,000 with J J J J
Phil Hellmuth folded on the button but Negreanu in the small blind re-raised to 27,500. Steffen Sontheimer - the ultimate winner of the purple jacket - folded the big blind. Aldemir called. There were 61,000 chips in the pot and effective stacks were 387,000. The flop fell A A
Negreanu led out with a bet of 16,000 which Aldemir called. So now 93,000 in the pot and effective stacks at 371,000.
Turn was the 2 2 . Negreanu bet again - this time for 45,000 and Aldemir called again. Now 183,000 in the pot and effective stacks down to 326,000.
River: 9 9 . Negreanu fired 125,000 and Aldemir took a quick moment to think before he moved all-in. Negreanu quickly called and showed the nuts with Q Q 10 10 .
That was the end of the line for Koray Aldemir in this tournament.
It was a brutal run-out for Aldemir, who flopped a monster and then was presented with one of only three hands that beat him.
Was it possible for the young German to avoid his fate? Let’s take a closer look.
Pre-flop, Aldemir made a standard raise to 2.33 bb and Negreanu – the biggest stack at the table – 3-bet to 27,500, equalling about 9 bb.
Before acting Aldemir has to put his opponent on an approximate range and make a first assessment.
Having that big stack, Negreanu will 3-bet a lot more than he would with a small stack. Also note that Aldemir is in late position and also playing a sizeable stack so he has a wider opening range, too.
Let’s look at Negreanu’s range, which roughly has the following hands in it;
- Pocket pairs 7-7 or higher,
- Broadway hands like A-K or K-Q,
- Some suited connectors like 8-7s and
- a few bluffs like A-4 or even K-2
The next step for Aldemir is to estimate what his best next move is. Many amateurs would now 4-bet because they’re afraid to see an overcard on the flop and would rather end the hand right there.
The probability of an overcard hitting the flop is actually 57% but a top player like Aldemir still just calls here and does so for several reasons.
- A 4-bet would only isolate him against strong hands.
- By just calling he keeps all possible bluffs in Negreanu’s range in the hand.
- He has position and a better range of hands than Negreanu, making it well worth it to continue the hand.
- He doesn’t invest too much money while playing a hand against the table’s biggest stack.
Semi-Bluff and Rope-a-Dope
The flop makes this hand very interesting as Aldemir hits middle set while Negreanu is open-ended.
The Canadian obviously tries to take down the pot right there – two high cards on the flop hit his range and he can often make better hands than his fold, like 9-9 or 7-7.
This is also a textbook spot for a semi-bluff. Aldemir has no reason to get out of line here. There’s no reason for him to raise and maybe chase away any of Negreanu’s weaker hands.
He calls and the two players see the 2 on the turn, which is a complete blank. Negreanu uses it to fire a second barrel.
Thanks to his 3-bet pre-flop his range has A-A, K-K, and A-K in it as well as J-J and 8-8.
By representing these he can still make hands like A-J or A-Q fold despite only having queen high At the same time he can build the pot without taking too many risks and win a lot of chips if he hits his outs on the river.
Aldemir stays calm and calls again. As the turn is a blank nothing has changed and by raising he would still only drive away hands like A-K or K-Q that would pay him more chips on the river.
Ka-ching on the River
The river is Negreanu’s dream card – the 9. He has hit the nuts and he can still hope to get paid.
Even a hand like A-K would still consider calling but there are also several two-pair hands and sets in Aldemir’s range.
Negreanu bets around a third of the pot and now Aldemir asks himself whether he should call or raise.
To make a raise a viable option there have to be enough hands worse than his that can call and Aldemir holds the fourth nuts. The hands that beat him are K-K, Q-T and T-7, but the last one is highly unlikely.
A more conservative player like Hellmuth would probably simply call without thinking about it too much, but a New School player like Aldemir tries to maximize on his profit in a spot like this.
So, which hands could realistically call an all-in here? Obviously, the three hands that beat him – three possible combinations of K-K, 16 possible combinations of Q-T.
We can definitively neglect T-7 as, although Negreanu once called this his favorite hand, he wouldn’t 3-bet it from the small blind pre-flop.
Then there are three possible 8-8 combos, nine possible K-J combos and maybe nine 9-8 combos -- if Daniel had decided to go with that.
As Negreanu wouldn’t call an all-in with A-K there are more better than worse hands to Aldemir’s set that would call.
That’s why Aldemir’s push is not convincing in this spot. A call would have left him with 200,000 chips -- equalling 50 big blinds in even the next level -- and that would have been a much better move.
Negreanu Rivers Jackpot
At the main event of the inaugural Poker Masters in Las Vegas, Daniel Negreanu rivers jackpot and then gets even luckier when his opponent Koray Aldemir gets greedy and overlooks Negreanu’s calling range.