Welcome to the first 2016 volume of Hold’em With Holloway. As I write this I’m on my way to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas, and while I wish I’d be on the beach soaking up the sun, I’ll actually be stuck in the casino with the rest of the PokerNews crew bringing you live updates from the $5,300 Main Event, the $100,000 Super High Roller, the single-day $50,000 High Roller event, and the regular $25,000 High Roller. You can follow all that action by clicking here.
You can expect plenty of PCA content in this column in the coming weeks, including big hands and pro analysis. But before that happens I want to take a look as a huge event that just concluded, the Triton Super High Roller Series $200,000 Cali Cup.
The tournament, which took place during the World Poker Tour Philippines at Solaire Resort and Casino in Manila, Philippines, attracted a field of 52 entrants including the likes of Mike "Timex" McDonald, Dan Colman, Phil Ivey, and Steve O’Dwyer, all of whom cashed but failed to win. That honor went to Fedor "CrownUpGuy" Holz, who secured a $3.463 million first-place prize.
Holz’s win was all the more impressive as it came hot on the heels of December’s WPT $100,000 Alpha8 Las Vegas, a tournament that attracted 45 runners. The 2014 WCOOP champ won that one too, though "only" for $1.589 million. Holz may not be a household name, but he should be, which is why I’m telling you take note — this kid is special.
While I wasn’t on hand reporting the event, I followed the live coverage from afar, especially the final table action, which lasted just 89 hands. Three of those hands stood out in my mind for various reasons, and I thought I’d delve into each of them a bit deeper.
Hand #27 – What in the World Did Colman Hold?
In Level 17 (20,000/40,000/5,000) with six players remaining on Hand #27 of the final table, Colman, who if you recall had an unprecedented year in 2014, opened for 85,000 from middle position and Devan Tang and Ivey defended from the small and big blinds, respectively. When the flop came down , Tang bet 150,000, Ivey folded, and Colman called to see the turn.
Tang bet 200,000, Colman called, and the completed the board on the river. Tang check, Colman bet 300,000, and Tang check-raised all in. Colman called off his stack and Tang tabled for a straight. According to the WPT live updates, Colman’s cards weren’t revealed. That begs the question, what in the world did he have to call off for his tournament life?
Obviously he didn’t have a nine in his hand, which would have allowed him to chop the pot. Given the way the hand played out — he called, called, bet, and then called off — I would wager he either had two pair or a strong jack, likely or .
As a member of the PokerNews Live Reporting Team, I often take opportunities to think through hands when they play out in front of me. Fortunately, you have the option to do this in hands such as this where one of the player’s hole cards remain a mystery. In this instance, put Colman on a range of hands and go through to see if it all adds up.
For instance, if Colman had a flush draw, say with a hand like , would the hand have played out as it did? Most likely not. Colman would have probably gotten it in earlier, or at the very least not called off on the river. Therefore, you can exclude such a hand.
Now how about a hand like ? If he flopped top pair with a gutshot, he would have played the flop and turn as he did. Calling off on the river would make sense, too, given he improved to two pair. I could very well see in his range.
What other hands can you see Colman holding in this hand?
Hand #33 – Holz Gets Extremely Lucky on Way to Win
I’m a firm believer that anyone who wins a poker tournament gets lucky somewhere along the way. Even Joe McKeehen, who played brilliantly, got lucky on Day 6 of the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event to stay alive before going on to win it. I’m not suggesting that getting lucky detracts from a win in any way; in fact, quite the opposite — it’s a part of winning. McKeehen, who put in a dominant performance at the November Nine final table, was a prime example, and so was Holz in this tournament.
On Hand #33, which took place in Level 17 (20,000/40,000/5,000), Holz got extremely lucky against none other than Ivey. It happened when Holz opened for 90,000 under the gun and Ivey three-bet to 270,000 from the small blind. Holz then four-bet jammed for 1.15 million and Ivey snap-called.
According to the PokerNews Odds Calculator, Holz was a 2-to-1 dog with a 30.92% chance of winning the hand while Ivey would hold 67.84% of the time. That all changed when the flop came down to give Holz a pair of kings and make him an overwhelming 92.73% favorite. Neither the turn nor river helped Ivey, and he was left with just 10 big blinds. He would be felted in fifth place just two hands later.
There’s not much to learn from this hand other than reinforcing the fact that luck plays a large role in tournament poker. Had Ivey held, Holz would have been out in fifth and there’s a good chance Ivey would have went on to win. Instead, it was the other way around.
Hand #62 – O’Dwyer Shoves with a Weak Ace
Back in October, I wrote about the peril of shoving with weak aces in this very series. On Hand #62, which took place in Level 19 (30,000/60,000/10,000), a hand took place that reinforced the danger of shoving with a weak ace over an open.
It happened when Holz raised to 140,000 from the button and O’Dwyer three-bet jammed for 1.3 million from the small blind. Holz called with , which was ahead of O’Dwyer’s . The flop made things interesting by giving O’Dwyer a flush draw, but he failed to get there as the blanked on the turn followed by the on the river. O’Dwyer was eliminated in fourth place for $953,700 in the hand.
I don’t fault O’Dwyer for shoving in this spot (I’d have done the same), but it goes to show you the danger associated with weak aces.
Did you watch the live stream or read the blog from the Triton Super High Roller Series $200,000 Cali Cup? If so, what hands impressed you and why? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter @ChadAHolloway.