$100/$200/$400 Cash Game at Hustler Casino
The poker world was abuzz when icons Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey took part in a high stakes cash game streamed live at the Hustler Casino in Gardena, California. Regularly drawing big names to their weekly stream, the action drew the attention of some of the game’s best, who were eager to get in there and battle.
The Game: $100/$200/$400 Cash Game
Stacks Sizes: 520 Big Blinds Effective
Blind vs Blind With The Best
While Phil Ivey was certainly drawing eyes at the Hustler, the other chairs at the table occupied even more world class talent such as World Series of Poker bracelet winner Gal Yifrach. An accomplished player himself, Yifrach would limp with A♥-J♣ after being folded to on the small blind. While limping with the A♥-J♣ may be hard to implement in your strategy, an effective game theory optimal (GTO) strategy mixes in a wide range of limping hands that include A-J. On the big blind, Ivey would raise it to $1,600 with the 4♥-3♠. Many players may wonder why on earth Ivey would be raising this hand, but when acknowledging an effective GTO strategy junky connected hands when mixed in help provide bluffs as you raise more premium hands. Yifrach would make the strategic call, taking it to the flop.
A Formidable Flop
The Pot: $3,600
The Board: K♠-Q♥-J♥
Effective Stack: 512 Big Blinds Effective
With three faces on the flop, Yifrach would check out of position to Ivey. On this board being the preflop aggressor, Ivey needs to consider what is in Yifrach’s limping range before acting. There are too many hands that are weak to this board for Ivey to fully give up the hand on, while a bet does make sense Ivey should be careful over continuation betting on boards like K-Q-J. Ivey would make the $2,000 continuation bet, and Yifrach would quickly call. Bottom pair with a straight-draw and a backdoor flush-draw is a hand Yifrach should be happy checking and calling. When facing a player like Phil Ivey who is more than capable betting without the nuts, doing whatever you can to get to showdown is the ideal strategy in this spot.
The Pot: $13,600
The Board: K♠-Q♥-J♥-2♣
Effective Stack: 507 Big Blinds Effective
Yifrach would again check out of position, leaving Ivey in a spot where he should be assessing his game plan for this hand. If electing to bet the turn, Ivey must plan on making an additional bluff bet on the river. When considering what Yifrach may be calling with, hands containing tens and flush-draws will continue calling and will fold to a bet when they miss on the river. Ivey should likely give up, but if his poker senses suggest his opponent is weak he should apply ruthless aggression to induce a fold. Ivey would fire a second barrel of $6,000, putting Yifrach in a tough spot. A lot of people in this situation would chicken out and fold, which Yifrach should definitely not do considering the aggressive nature of his opponent. When considering the blockers he held, Yifrach’s A♥-J♣ blocked a number of Ivey’s value hands (A-A, J-J, K-J) that are in his range, making his call strategically sound.
What A River
The Pot: $19,600
The Board: K♠-Q♥-J♥-2♣-A♣
Effective Stack: 492 Big Blinds Effective
After being checked to, Ivey must consider what hands he is trying to get to fold. First, Ivey should take into consideration what hands he could represent that would bet for value. Being a world class player, Yifrach is certainly capable of checking with a ten out of position, making one pair hands like Q-9 the ones Ivey should try to target when deciding on his bet size. If he is going to have any shot of taking down this hand, Ivey must look to bet big, but how big should he make it? A pot size bet is the proper amount as it is likely large enough to get paired hands to fold out, but to induce a fold from a player holding two pair you may need to go even bigger. Considering Yifrach’s preflop limp, two pair is not currently in his range, making a pot sized bet the best amount even though Yifrach does indeed have two pair. Showing no fear, Ivey would complete the triple barrel and fire a $17,000 bet.
Result: Gal Yifrach Stands Toe To Toe With The Best
With too many bluff catchers to fold, Yifrach would do exactly that and make the call to catch Ivey’s bluff and scoop the pot. Kuddos to Yifrach!