Bluff catching is hard enough, but when three short stacks remain at the GGPoker Super Millions Final Table, one wrong read can cost a player hundreds of thousands of dollars. The two biggest stacks with six players remaining, 2019 WSOP Main Event runner-up Dario Sammartino faced a challenging river bet from seasoned pro David Miscikowski. With no live tells at his disposal, did Sammartino find the call?
The Game: GGPoker Super Millions Blinds: 100,000/200,000 Stack Sizes: 49 Big Blinds Effective
Folded around to as the small blind, Miscikowski virtually looked down at A♥-6♣ and made it 600,000, properly applying pressure as the big stack. Holding 7♦-6♥, Sammartino would make the call. While not the best hand, having the benefit of position and decent odds to see the flop makes 7♦-6♥ a reasonable hand to call with, however, with the three remaining short stacks Sammartino should have aired caution and acknowledged the ICM implications of mixing it up with the chip leader.
Can A Guy Get An Eight?
The Pot: 1,350,000 The Board: Q♣-9♠-5♥ Effective Stack: 46 Big Blinds
Out of position, Miscikowski had to decide whether a continuation was the best play to make on this flop. The problem with a continuation bet on this board is that it connects very well with Sammartino’s big blind calling range. With a range consisting of a lot of medium strength connectors, Miscikowski can assume Sammartino, at the very least, had a gutshot straight draw. While Miscikowski had reason to be cautious, acknowledging the ICM pressure Sammartino was facing meant his opponent could be forced to fold to preserve his stack. With a substantial chip lead Miscikowski could have rationally bet to bluff, but elected to check which was another fine play.
Checked to, Sammartino was left with his own decision on whether to bluff or not. By checking, Miscikowski represented that either he had nothing or had a marginal made hand. When facing similar spots, most of the time the small blind is going to have junk, but if your opponent is loose and aggressive (like Miscikowski) a check-raise would be disastrous. A check back allows a straight draw to stay alive, which is likely why Sammartino elected to check.
The Pot: 1,350,000 The Board: Q♣-9♠-5♥-7♥ Effective Stack: 46 Big Blinds
Following the 7♥ on the turn, Miscikowski again had the option to check or attempt a bluff. While Miscikowski could have attempted a bluff, the 7♥ connected well with Sammartino’s big blind calling range and could have even brought in a flush draw. Holding the 6♣ gave Miscikowski his own straight draw which, unbeknownst to him, took away some leverage from Sammartino. Hoping to apply some pressure, Miscikowski made a bet for 869,500, drawing an easy call from Sammartino holding a freshly paired seven.
The Bluff Was Reachable, Could Dario Catch It?
The Pot: 1,350,000 The Board: Q♣-9♠-5♥-7♥-5♦ Effective Stack: 41 Big Blinds
Having nothing but air, Miscikowski likely realized his only hope of winning the hand was through a bluff. If he were to check, Miscikowski could have easily opened himself up to be bluffed by hands like K♣-10♦ that were well within Sammartino’s range. When facing similar spots, you must ask yourself if a bet will induce your opponent to fold a nine or a seven. Such a bet would have to be at least the size of the pot to force them out, but was Miscikowski capable of making such a bold play? A “chunky” bet would at least have a shot at getting through, and Miscikowski would make the chunkiest bet yet for 4,682,970.
Following the large bet from Miscikowski, Sammartino was certainly in a pickle. While certainly faced with a tough decision, calling in this spot was the best move to make considering Miscikowski’s polarized range. By blocking straights with the 6♥ and the low likelihood Miscikowski has a five, Sammartino could have comfortably found a call especially with all of the busted draws in play. Whenever you block a lot of nut hands and some bluffs, you have to try and find the nasty calls, but was Sammartino able to pull it off?
Result: Sammartino Loses The Battle, But Not The War
While we had the benefit of knowing Miscikowski’s hand, Sammartino did not, which is why he made the fold. While Miscikowski executed a great big stack bluff, it was not enough to fend off Sammartino who would bounce back and win the tournament. Congratulations to Dario Sammartino for adding to his already impressive poker resume.
About The Author
Two-time WPT Champion Jonathan Little is a powerhouse in the global poker community. He's authored several bestselling strategy poker books, and accumulated over $7 million in live tournament cashes in the last 15 years. Crowned 2019 Poker Personality of the Year at the Global Poker Awards, the American pro is constantly rolling out a stream of exclusive articles, videos, and webinars here on PokerCoaching.com.