Dwan Faces a Huge River Decision in a $1.3M+ Pot

tom dwan big river decision

5 minutes

Last Updated: June 15, 2024

The most recent edition of the Hustler Casino Live Million Dollar Game brought a lot of excitement and, not surprisingly, quite a few seven-figure pots.

The hand we’ll be looking a today involves none other than the legend Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan on one side and the DoorDash founder Stanley Tang on the other.

Blinds are $1,000/$2,000, with the $2,000 big blind ante, and Stanley is the effective stack with $677,000 to start. Tom is in the big blind, and there is no straddle in this hand.

Preflop Action

The hand starts with everyone folding to Stanley Tang in the small blind, and he wakes up with the absolute monster – KK. Tang makes it 5x, raising to $10,000.

Dwan in the big blind is the only player left in the hand. He looks down at 54 and decides to make the call, so the pot is $22,000 going to the flop.

Preflop Play Analysis

Stanley was probably not delighted to see the entire table folding in front of him as he picks up the second-best hand in poker.

His 5x raise is definitely on the bigger side, but they are playing very deep, and he is out of position, so it makes sense to go with a larger sizing. Additionally, Tom is a player who loves action, so he won’t be afraid to make a call in position with a wide variety of hands.

That’s exactly what happens, as Dwan calls with a couple of small connectors. Technically, he’s not getting great odds, but he has the position, and he’s definitely the better player, so he could win a big pot with the right runout.

Flop Action

The flop comes K76, giving Tang the top set (which is also the nuts at this stage), while Tom flops an open-ended straight draw.

Stanley continues with a bet of $20,000, and Tom calls, bringing the pot to $62,000.

Flop Play Analysis

Stanley flops the absolute nuts and decides to continue betting as he will almost always do on a king-high board. His c-bet size is on the larger side as he bets almost the full pot, and this is not in line with the trend of smaller c-bets we’re used to these days.

However, this is a pretty wet board with a flush draw and a couple of potential straight draws, and there is plenty of money behind, so a large continuation bet certainly has its merits.

Facing this big bet with an open-ender, Tom’s only real option is to call. Out of position, he might use this hand to check-raise some percentage of the time, but in position, there is no need to escalate things in an already big pot.

Turn Action

The dealer burns and turns the 4, making the board K764 and improving Dwan’s hand to a bottom pair. Tang no longer has the nuts as the four completes two possible straight draws from the flop.

This doesn’t discourage Stanley from betting, though, as he leads out for $50,000. After a short deliberation, Tom calls once again, bringing the pot to $162,000.

Turn Play Analysis

Tang continues firing with his top set and once again goes for a fairly sizeable wager, betting $50k into a $62k pot.

While he no longer has the absolute nuts, the turn card is one of the better non-blanks in the deck. The flush misses, and one of the two hands this card helps Tom would likely fold on the flop (namely, 5-3, unless he also had a backdoor flush draw to go with it).

All these things considered, Stanley wants to continue betting to build the pot and protect his equity against all other hands that Tom has in his range.

Tom is aware of this, too, which is why he elects to just call. He could try raising to potentially get Tang to fold a hand like AK or KQ, but his raise would represent a very narrow range. At the same time, he has plenty of outs against those hands.

dwan faces big river decision
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River Action

The board completes with the 4 for the final runout of K7644. With this card, Dwan backs into trips, there is now a potential flush on the board, and, of course, Stanley Tang improves to a kings’ full.

Tang now does something unexpected as he checks after betting on both previous streets. Tom now seizes the opportunity and goes for what he thinks is a value bet of $111,000. Tang takes a few moments before announcing an all-in for a total of $598,000.

Tom faces a huge decision, as he has to call additional $487,000 to get to the showdown. He takes his time, going over all the possible options in his head, but eventually ends up laying his hand down, surrendering a $871,000 pot.

River Play Analysis

Stanley’s decision to check the river is definitely not standard, as it gives Dwan an easy option to check behind with some of his hands that have a showdown value.

However, Tang recognizes correctly that this particular card could improve a lot of Tom’s holdings (such as flush draws and the kind of hands Dwan has), and it’s also a good bluffing candidate for hands that may have missed (like 89).

Once Stanley checks to him, it’s natural for Tom to think he has the best hand. He’s now ahead of all one-pair types of hands, like AK, KQ, KJ, and even pocket aces. Thus, his value bet is a perfectly reasonable response to the river check.

Tang pretty much has the nuts here, and he wants to get as much money into the pot as possible. Perhaps a smaller raise to something like $250,000 or $300,000 would be more appropriate as the check-raise on this river looks extremely strong.

On the other hand, with such a huge raise, he’s putting Tom to the ultimate test and perhaps making it easier to believe that he’s bluffing. The $500k shove doesn’t exactly beg for a call, and this play manages to confuse Tom.

However, after thinking about it, Dwan comes to the correct decision to give up, as it is really hard to figure out what hands Tang would be doing this as a bluff. Would he really turn a one-pair hand into a bluff to try and get Tom off of a flush, for example? It’s possible but not likely, especially from an amateur player.

All things considered, Dwan managed to pretty much lose the minimum in this hand. It was a pretty nasty setup, but “durrrr” was able to find the fold button at the most crucial moment in the hand.

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