Jonathan Little Hand of the Week – Jason Koon Running Good Against Hellmuth
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The poker world is still buzzing about the recently concluded match between Phil Hellmuth and Jason Koon, in which Jason booked a decisive victory.
Thus, I thought it would be fun to break down one of the hands from that match, as it was a heads-up skirmish for a cool $1.6 million – not something you see every day.
The hand I’ll be dissecting takes place with blinds 3,000/6,000 and Phil trailing Jason by quite a margin, starting with 190,000 in chips to Koon’s 1.4 million.
Hellmuth is on the button, and he starts by limping in with K♥2♥, which is a perfectly standard play. But Jason is having none of it, and he bumps it up to 24,000 with 6♦4♦.
At first glance, the raise may seem a bit too ambitious, but it turns out that the GTO strategy here is to raise with your strongest hands and then a variety of low suited connectors and even some suited junky hands.
The idea here is that you’ll either have your opponent dominated (when you do have those strong hands), or your cards will be live and in pretty decent shape against their limp-calling range.
Hellmuth doesn’t have much of a decision here. He makes the call, and they proceed to a fun flop.
The first three cards off the deck are all identical, as the dealer spreads J♣J♦J♥. Koon fires a c-bet of 30,000, and given the preflop action, he can credibly represent a lot of good pocket pairs.
Combining those with other strong ace and king-high hands (and some jacks), Jason simply has a big range advantage here.
Phil is not ready to give up. He makes the call, which seems a bit on the looser side, but I think it is probably fine.
It’s one of those spots where you’ll have a hard time realizing your equity if your opponent keeps barreling, but if you expect them to shut down on the turn some percentage of the time, you can call with the goal of trying to get to a cheap showdown unimproved.
The Q♣ rolls off on the turn, and the action checks through. This is an interesting card, as Jason won’t have many queen-high hands in his preflop raising range.
It’s harder to pinpoint Phil’s range, as he would likely float the flop with many of his queen-high hands on that particular texture. Koon probably realizes this and decides to put the brakes on and check.
For Hellmuth, this is an easy check-back with his particular hand. If he bets and gets called, he is probably always beat, and the hands that he can get to fold are the ones he’s ahead of anyways.
The final card is 4♠, improving Jason to a full house. The standard strategy in this spot is to bet small and get paid by the hands that you’re beating that can still call a small bet, such as ace and king-highs.
This is exactly what Jason does, as he fires out for 36,000, trying to extract some value from Phil now that his hand has improved significantly.
What happens next? Does Phil Hellmuth find the fold button, or does he make the call? And if he calls and sees the bad news, do you think he takes it gracefully or goes into one of his famous rant modes?
Make sure to 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