Jonathan Little Hand of the Week: Jason Koon Bluff Catching on the River
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The hand we’ll be analyzing today comes from the final table of a High Roller Series event, featuring $432,000 for the winner, so the stakes are certainly high.
Our hero for the day will be Jason Koon, one of the best tournament players around, who finds himself in a difficult river spot with a pure bluff catcher.
The action begins with Koon min-raising to 160,000 from a stack of about 16 big blinds with A♣8♠.
This is a perfectly reasonable play, as you want to have some raise-fold hands at this stack depth, and hands containing an ace, making it less likely for your opponents to have one, are the perfect candidates.
Marius Gierse in the big blind is the only one to make the call with K♥9♣, and he has Koon slightly covered.
The dealer spreads the first three cards, and they are J♦10♥6♠, so Koon misses completely while Gierse picks up a gutshot straight draw.
After Gierse checks to him, Jason decides to continuation-bet for 220,000, despite the fact his opponent will connect with this board somewhat frequently.
I believe this is a fine approach, as it gives Koon a chance to win the pot right then and there and grow his stack.
And, given how close both players are in terms of chip counts, Gierse can’t really afford to blast off with any random hand.
As for Gierse, he has just the right hand to call with. He has too much equity to raise and potentially be forced to fold if Jason decides to jam, so he makes the call.
The turn is the 7♥, improving Koon to a gutshot straight but also giving Gierse a double gutter. He still continues to play in flow and checks it over to Jason.
Should Jason continue with the aggression on this turn? It’s not a great card for him, but I think he could still bet and fold if his opponent raises.
That said, Geirse will almost always have something on this turn, so you can’t expect too many folds if you do bet again.
After a short deliberation, Koon decides to check back, and they proceed to see the final card in this hand.
The dealer produces the 6♣ on the river, pairing the board and putting Gierse to a decision. If it were you in this spot, what option would you go for?
Gierse decides to take over the initiative but bets a small amount of just 200,000. With him having about a pot-sized bet behind, it probably makes sense to have two bet sizes in this spot: a tiny one and a big one (all-in).
As for his hand selection, I do think K-9 makes sense as a bluff, as it completely lacks a showdown value, and Jason’s range here will mostly consist of A-high hands and some medium pairs.
Knowing that, though, I prefer the big bet size to make it harder for Koon to find a hero call when he does have these types of hands.
Of course, some percentage of the time, you can expect to run into the virtual nuts, but that won’t frequently happen in this particular spot.
So, with all these factors in mind, can Jason Koon make the call with ace high and scoop the pot? 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