What separates the top poker minds in the world from the average player?
In the Super High Roller cash game at the Aria in Las Vegas in 2015, Dan Colman faces an incredibly tough decision.
It’s a decision for about $300,000 and Colman manages to do the right thing.
What was he (probably) thinking? We take a stab at figuring it out.
Flop to River
Once again we’re guests at the Super High Roller cash game at the Aria in Las Vegas. Last week we paid a visit to the “recreational table;” now we’ll look some of the best players in the world – Andrew Robl, Sam Trickett, Doug Polk, Dan Colman and Scott Seiver.
The stacks at the table were enormous; except for Polk, none of the players had less than $500k in front of them. In this hand Polk folds while Robl raises to $2,400. Colman (stack: $583,000) finds ; ;
He re-raises to $8,500. Seiver (stack: $620,000) is on the button and 4-bets to $24,000. Robl folds but Colman pops it up again, now to $70,000. Seiver gives it a quick think and calls. There’s $144,800 in the pot and effective stacks are $513,000.
The flop is ; ; ; Colman bets $50,000 and Seiver calls. The pot has grown to $244,800 with effective stacks at $463,000 as we go to the turn ;
Now Colman checks and Seiver bets $120,000. Colman has a lot to think about but eventually calls. There’s $484,000 in the pot with $343,000 effective stacks. The river is the ;
Colman checks again and Seiver puts him all in with his last $343,000. Colman takes a little shy of a minute and folds. Seiver wins a $628,000 pot with ; ; and the winning set! Watch the hand play out:
It’s a huge pot but Dan Colman still manages to get away from it — a move that saves him over $300,000. Let’s look at the hand again and see how its progress influenced Colman’s play.
Players are quite active pre-flop already but every single move makes perfect sense.
Robl was holding eights, which is a good hand, but not if you find yourself sandwiched in a raising war between Scott Seiver and Dan Colman.
Seiver goes for an aggressive line. The ranges of his opponents are very wide due to their positions – hijack and cut-off – and he doesn’t just want to go set mining.
A more passive approach would have been a call after Colman’s 3-bet.
Robl would have called that bet, too, and then Seiver would have found himself trapped between two players and any flop without a nine would have left him guessing.
Thus, Seiver puts in a 4-bet. Colman has aces and obviously wants to get as much money into the pot as possible, so he raises again.
After his 5-bet there’s almost $100,000 in the pot and Seiver has to ask himself whether it makes sense to call here with pocket nines.
First, he needs to consider the range of his opponent, which is pretty much J-J, Q-Q, K-K, A-A, and A-K.
He’s way behind this range with his hand, so the next question is, is it profitable to pay and hope to hit a set?
The crucial factor to answer this is how much money Seiver can win if he does hit the set. These are the so-called implied odds.
The price is $46,000 and Colman has $500,000 left – more than 10x the raise Seiver has to pay for a call. That’s enough, as statistically you flop a set once in eight times.
Seiver has position and he’s still ahead against A-K.
Colman Figures It Out
Initially Colman’s hand pretty much play itself. The flop is dry, he has the best hand almost always, and if his opponent has A-K he might get a nice payout.
His bet of $50,000 – about a third of the pot – is designed to keep Seiver in the hand, but on the turn Colman switches into check-call mode.
The reason is Seiver suddenly looks very strong when he calls the flop bet.
A-K is pretty much the only worse hand that can call on this flop. Colman wants to avoid an all-in situation as he’d rather get to showdown.
He can’t fold to Seiver’s turn bet because then the other players at the table would go on and steal a lot of pots from him in the future.
When Seiver puts him all-in on the river, however, Colman only beats a couple of bluffs. If Seiver really had A-K he’d much rather try to get to showdown.
Kings, Most Likely
Colman later said he put Seiver on kings and indeed that’s the most likely hand for Seiver based on the pre-fop action.
As it turned out Seiver had the second-most-likely hand – pocket nines – that beats Colman’s hand post-flop. But this is negligible for the analysis.
On a side note: It’s unlikely that Seiver would have played pocket deuces this way.
Colman simply didn’t think Seiver would go crazy and bluff in this spot. Seiver had already 4-bet pre-flop, called a 5-bet, floated(?) the flop and then barreled on the turn and river.
The only logical move for Colman was to fold. Colman got there pretty quickly and saved $300,000; a weaker player probably couldn’t have done that.
Colman shows us all his talent here. First, he slams on the brakes at the right moment. Then he folds aces.
Seiver tries everything to stack his opponent with a set, but at the end of the day he has to acknowledge Colman’s skills and is left with “only” $500,000.
Where weaker players lose their whole stack, shrug, and re-buy, world class players still find a way out.
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