Poker Hand of the Week: Oppenheim Hoodwinks The Grinder

Two heavy hitters go at it.

Making a better hand fold is Ione of the greatest achievements in poker.

If you can do this more often than your opponents you will be successful at this game in the long run. Very successful.

Our Hand of the Week this week gives us a perfect example of how to make it happen.

David Oppenheim makes Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi fold a really strong hand and exploits the all-in of another player along the way.

Flop to River

We’re following the action of what many players call the “real world championship." It’s the WSOP $50k Players Championship and the year is 2010.

This is the one tournament that calls for all-round poker skills and the one that all the best players in the world want to win.

In 2010 there were 116 players in this event and we’re joining with eight players left. They’re playing for the bracelet and a first-place prize of more than $1.5 million.

It’s an unusual situation as Mikael Thuritz in the big blind only has a 5,000 chip left, which means he’s automatically all-in. Thuritz had just lost a big pot and is down to his last chip.

The blinds are 20k/40k/10k. The first two players fold and Daniel Alaei limps in middle position. Michael Mizrachi has one of the biggest stacks with 1.75 million.

He limps in and Oppenheim, with 2 million chips in the cut-off, opts to limp as well with    

Now everybody feels priced in. Robert Mizrachi calls on the button and David Baker fills up from the small blind. So now we have six players in a pot of 275,000 chips.

The flop is       Baker checks in first position and Thuritz has no option. Alaei checks behind and then Michael Mizrachi bets 50,000.

Oppenheim comes along. Robert Mizrachi folds and so do Baker and Alaei. Thuritz is of course still in. The pot is now 375,000 chips and they go to a   turn.

Mizrachi bets again, now 125,000. But Oppenheim raises to 425,000. Thuritz is bound to just watch how Mizrachi calls.

There's now 1,225,000 in the pot and they go to the river.   Mizrachi goes for a check and Oppenheim bets another 550,000.

Mizrachi seems to be in a difficult spot. He squirms and looks at Thuritz but eventually releases his hand. Oppenheim is now forced to show his bluff and Thuritz’s     wins the 100,000 main pot.

Mizrachi folded trips! Watch the hand play out in the video below.


A remarkable hand by David Oppenheim. At first sight this might look like just another bluff but the hand really shows a very deep understanding of the game. Let’s go through the betting rounds to follow Oppenheim’s thoughts.

Deep understanding.

The player in the big blind is auto-all-in which is a situation you don’t encounter very often. Five players limp and the reason for that is mainly to bust the big blind.

In 2010 this kind of play was what players did to co-operate. They would check the board down to ensure Thuritz goes out, which would give them an added $400,000 in prize money.

The flop is 9-9-7, giving Mizrachi trips. He decides to bet out small. He knows that his opponents won’t have much but he might get a call from a seven.

Oppenheim is in position and calls with a purpose. He actually has only a backdoor straight draw and an overcard but there are four players acting behind him who could all have a stronger hand.

By investing 50,000 Oppenheim prepares to make a move on a later street and simultaneously represents either a draw or a really strong hand. It’s a speculative but cheap investment.

Side Pot Gets Interesting

Except Thuritz, who isn’t in a position anymore to make any moves, everyone else folds and the turn T is a pretty interesting card.

Mizrachi leads out again, representing a strong hand if you consider that he was betting into five players on the flop. But Oppenheim now has the up-and-down straight draw and goes for the semi-bluff.

Awaits his fate.

As mentioned above, his flop-call represented a draw or a strong hand and the ten on turn filled up 8-6 and T-9.

In addition to that there’s the silent witness Mikael Thuritz. Bluffs are often useless if one player is already all-in as you can’t push him out of the pot anymore.

In this specific case Thuritz’s stack is so small that the side pot is much more interesting to play for. Thuritz might not be a large mathematical factor but he sure remains a psychological one.

A player like Mizrachi doesn’t budge very easily, though, and a call is certainly his best option. Re-raising would only let better hands like 7-7 and T-9 call but it wouldn’t make any hands better than his fold.

The River Blank

With 1.225 million chips in the pot they go to the river. The card is a total blank and Mizrachi checks but Oppenheim serves him another bet almost half-pot size.


Oppenheim is sticking to his cunning plan all the way. He’s now offering Mizrachi very attractive pot odds but if Mizrachi calls and is wrong he’s down to 700,000 chips.

Now, seriously, what is Mizrachi supposed to think of Oppenheim’s hand?

His opponent called his bet with four players acting behind him, he raised the turn, and then he made a river bet that looks very much like a value bet.

Plus, he did all this with an all-in player in the big blind so he will have to show his hand. How is Mizrachi not supposed to think he’s up against a really strong hand?

So strong, in fact, that it makes him fold trips.

It’s sort of ironic that Mizrachi’s fold kept Thuritz in the tournament. The Swede hit the three on the river and sextupled up but wasn’t able to fully recover and finished the tournament in eighth place.

Oppenheim bluffed himself into the chip lead in this hand but in the end he succumbed and finished in third place. Mizrachi went all the way to the Poker Players Championship title.


This hand is a masterpiece by David Oppenheim. In a pot with six players involved -- one of which is automatically all-in -- he manages to bluff everybody out of the hand including Michael Mizrachi with trips.

Boards like these are ideal to make even strong hands fold -- at least if your range has all sorts of possible monsters in it.

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