Jonathan Little Hand of the Week – Ultimate Read by Phil Ivey?
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Today’s hand features the man considered by many the best poker player of all time, Phil Ivey. Ivey finds himself in a tricky spot for a lot of money and has to reach deep to try and find the correct decision.
The hand in question takes place at the Hustler Live stream, with blinds set at $100/$200/$400/$800, and Ivey squares off against Andy, a tough player and a Hustler regular.
Andy is in the first straddle, and everyone folds to him, so he only has Ivey in the $800 to get through.
He looks down at K♠9♠ and bumps it up to $2,400. Ivey wakes up with the monster, though, as he finds A♦K♣ and now has the decision to make.
Phil goes for the best option and 3-bets to $9,000. This is a spot in which many hands you dominate will call a re-raise, and you’ll have the position for the rest of the hand, so there is every incentive to raise it up.
Given the situation and the dynamics, Andy does the only reasonable thing – he makes the call, and the two proceed to the flop.
The dealer spreads the first three cards, and they are 10♦6♠4♠, giving Andy a flush draw. He plays it in flow and checks over to Ivey. Phil decides not to continue with aggression and takes a free card instead, checking his option.
Andy’s flop check is a normal play, especially given they are very deep, playing around $460,000 effective. With shallower stacks, leading becomes an option sometimes, but with stacks so deep, there is no reason to bloat the pot out of position.
Phil decides to check back. Given how deep they are, there is an argument to be made that Ivey could continue with a small bet with his entire range here. He will have many more strong hands here, so it makes sense. That said, if he will keep some hands in his checking range, Ace-King, with no backdoor flush draws, is a great candidate.
The turn brings a very interesting card in A♠, improving Ivey’s hand to the top pair with the top kicker but giving Andy the absolute nuts.
After the flop went check-check, Andy decides to take over the betting lead, but he does something unusual. Namely, he goes for a large sizing, betting out $28,000, which is $10,000 more than the size of the pot.
The overbet with the nuts makes sense here. With this approach, you’ll usually have the nuts, which will allow you to put in a lot of money on the river, or lone K♠, blocking the nuts and allowing you to put a lot of pressure on your opponent.
Ivey has the top pair and top kicker and exactly zero percent equity in this hand. So, what does he do with his hand?
As mentioned, Andy’s range will contain a lot of nut flushes, some queen-high flushes, and then some hands containing just the K♠, which still have a fair amount of equity against Phil’s hand.
Given the action before the flop, Andy shouldn’t really have that many off-suit kings in his range. Plus, when you’re Phil Ivey, you can expect that players will severely under-bluff against you.
Given all this information, folding in this spot doesn’t seem all that unreasonable, even if our poker hand seems strong in a vacuum. Does Phil come to the same conclusion, or does he go for an entirely different play? Check out the video above to find out!
Jonathan Little is a two-time WPT champion with more than $7 million in live tournament winnings and best-selling author of multiple poker strategy books. If you want to learn from the best and increase your edge at the tables, make sure to get your FREE 3-day pass and check his training site at pokercoaching.com