In Part 1, we looked at some interesting hands played by eventual winner Ramon Colillas at the 2019 PokerStars Players Championship at the final table. We will continue the series now, picking up the play with 4 handed action.
At 2:05, with the blinds at 150K-300K, we see Colillas make a standard open with K♣10♣ to 650K in the cut-off. Action folds to Koonce in the big blind who looks down at A♠5♠. This is a nice hand to 3-bet bluff with as it has some blocker value, and it also plays well defending as a call. Koonce elects to call, and the players see a flop of K♦3♦2♠. With a gut shot and back door spades, we would expect Koonce to continue, but Koonce surprises by donking out directly into Colillas, leading for 1.1M.
How should Colillas respond with his top pair/ten kicker? Firstly, he should feel confident he has the best hand. AK would have 3-bet preflop most likely, and KQ/KJ would very likely make the standard play of check/calling the preflop raiser on the flop. Stronger hands, like K3s/K2s/33/22 would either check/call the flop or check/raise, not lead out into the preflop raiser, denying them a chance to continuation bet with bluffs on a board they will likely c-bet at a high frequency.
The most likely holding for Koonce to do this with, frankly, is a draw, and probably one of his weaker draws (as a strong combo draw like A♦5♦ may elect to check/raise some of the time). So Colillas can either call or raise here. Given he has the positional advantage and now a reasonable read, I think calling is fine, and that’s exactly what Colillas does. The turn brings the 10♥, missing all draws and giving Colillas top 2 pair. One of the benefits of just calling in position is that it allows Koonce to bluff again on the turn, and Koonce does just that, betting 2.7M into the 3.9M chip pot. At this point, Colillas elects to call again. While this is fine, I think it may be preferable to simply move all-in.
At this point there is 6.65M in the pot, and Koonce only has 5.23M behind. Koonce double barreling and for this large turn sizing, is indicative of a reasonably high equity draw (he actually has a weak draw, but if I had to guess, his intention is to bet all-in on river diamonds to represent the flush).
In short, Koonce can have a number of good equity draws, the pot is already very large, and we certainly have the best of it with top 2 pair. If we shove and Koonce folds, we take down a very nice pot with zero risk, and if Koonce calls, we rate to have him in bad with one card to come for all the chips. However Colillas makes the call, and the river comes the A♣, missing Koonce’s draws (real and bluff draws), but giving Koonce top pair. Koonce now checks to Colillas. With the pot at 9.35M and Koonce only having 5.23M left, it’s reasonable to simply bet all-in, which is what Colillas does.
While this is again fine, I think I would prefer to make a very small value bet here. Something that is hard for Koonce to fold a pair of tens to, like when he has J♦10♦. Also guaranteeing Koonce’s busted nut flush draws that paired the ace pay him off. A hand like [ax][5x] can’t really beat anything Colillas would bet for value if he bets something like 2M into the 9.35M pot, Koonce likely won’t be able to find a fold. By moving all-in, Koonce can reasonably fold a weak ace and still be in the tournament with 16bb’s. After some deliberation, Koonce does make the laydown. Overall, Colillas’s line is fine but may have missed some value.
At 2:59:50, now 3 handed, Martini elects to open the SB with J♣3♠ to 1.2M at 200K-400K, and Colillas makes a standard defense calling with K♠10♠. Martini starts the hand with 34.93M, while Colillas starts with 14.95M and the already folded Rivera has 11.98M. The reason Martini elects to open such a terrible hand, and to such a large sizing of 3x the big blind, is simply to apply pressure to Colillas’s 2nd place chip stack. It’s hard to for Colillas to defend liberally vs this sizing, and there will be ICM pressure available to Martini for post-flop bluffing.
Colillas’s hand is too strong to consider folding in this spot, however, and a 3-bet would be fairly reckless as he can’t call a 4-bet from Martini, who is in a wonderful position to 4-bet bluff given the stack dynamics 3 handed. So Colillas elects to make the most reasonable play and call, and we see a flop of 8♦K♦2♥. Martini makes a standard continuation bet of 900K. The small sizing makes sense with his entire range on K82, as if Colillas has simply missed he’ll likely fold and move on, maintaining his slight chip advantage over Rivera. Colillas really has only one play facing this bet, and he makes it, calling the continuation bet. Clearly, top pair is too strong to fold to a roughly 25% pot c-bet. And raising would be quite reckless, as he will fold out Martini’s pure bluffs which he’s now crushing anyway, and he opens himself up to get re-raised and put in a really awkward spot facing a range of value hands that beat him and likely good equity draws, while his tournament life is being threatened.
The turn is the 7♦, completing a possible flush, and Martini elects to give up, checking and folding to Colillas’s 1.45M turn bet. It’s a smart play. Colillas should be reasonably strong in this spot given the ICM of the situation 3-handed, and he can have flushes which will never fold and have Martini drawing dead. Even top-pair has Martini drawing dead. It was a well-conceived steal attempt, but it failed, it’s okay to give up. Colillas’s line here is very standard, and he played the hand well, but it’s a spot where less experienced players may trip themselves up by 3-betting preflop or raising the flop, putting themselves in more awkward positions and opening themselves up to being outplayed by the chip leader.
While anything can happen at the final table of a tournament, Colillas continued to play like a true champion, making strong decisions that made him tough to play against and were ICM sound. We’ll be back to break down some more shorthanded play in Part 3 soon.