In Parts 1 and 2, 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 3 handed action.
At 3:07:13 with blinds at 200K/400K, Rivera opens the button to 800K with J♦2♦. After the SB folds, Colillas makes the call in the big blind with 9♥7♠. This may seem like a loose call, but defending with middling 1 gappers is fine given the price Colillas is getting… 400K into a pot of 1.8M means he only needs a bit more than 18% equity. Against a wide button range, let’s say 40% roughly, 97o has a bit over 40% equity preflop. It will be hard to realize this equity playing out of position after the flop with such a modest holding, but even factoring that in he should still easily eclipse the 18% break even point.
They go to the flop, which comes 9♦4♣2♠, a fantastic flop for Colillas as top pair is a very strong hand for the wide ranges that have gotten involved here. Colillas checks and Rivera bets 600K into the 2.2M pot. Colillas makes the standard play of calling the continuation bet. Check-raising this board wouldn’t be too exciting, as it would force a lot of worse hands to simply fold, but no better hand will fold.
So we proceed to the turn with 3.4M in the pot and it comes the A♣. Colillas checks it over to Rivera as he should, Rivera bets 1.2M, and Colillas calls as he should. The ace may seem like a scare card, since Rivera is the preflop raiser, but remember the ranges are very wide here so Rivera has less aces than one might think. Compared to his entire open range, only about 20% or so has made top pair on the A♣ turn. Additionally, with the showdown value of ace high, he may have opted to check behind some of those hands on the flop rather than c-bet. So we have a situation where the preflop raiser is going to often try to represent this card has improved him, when it actually hasn’t. And the price provided by having to call only 1.2M into a pot of 4.6M makes folding a pair of 9’s completely untenable.
The river is the 6♦ and with 5.8M in the pot and Rivera having 10M left in his stack, Colillas checks a final time. Rivera deliberates and gives up, checking behind. Nicely played hand by Colillas, and Rivera’s play left him squarely in 3rd place.
At 3:36:37 with blinds now at 250K/500K Rivera picks up A♥4♦ on the button and opens to 1.1M on a 16.2M stack. Martini gets out of the way and it’s on Colillas in the big blind with K♣5♥. After losing a key hand he is now on the short stack with 5.3M. A shove with a king blocker would be reasonable, as is calling, and Colillas does the latter. With 2.95M in the pot the players see a flop of 2♣5♦J♦. Colillas checks and Rivera almost instantly declares all in (Colillas has 3.7M behind). Colillas needs only about 10 seconds to make the call for his tournament life. How can he call so quickly? It’s really fairly simple. Rivera’s wide button opening range will have mostly missed the flop, it’s hard to make a pair.
Additionally, with a strong hand he might elect to check behind on the flop to trap or bet small, and with a medium strength hand he may check as well or bet smaller than all in, as his typical cbets were small. Either way, he’s got things to think about before acting, yet he instantly declared all in despite routinely taking his time with prior decisions. There’s a good chance he’s decided before the flop came to jam if checked to and is just following through. Colillas makes the quick call and the board runs out 9♦ and 6♣ giving Colillas the double up to 20 big blinds.
At 3:55:13 we see Colillas pick up A♦K♣ on the button, and he raises the minimum to 1M on a 16M stack. After Rivera gets out of the way, chip leader Martini makes the call with Q♣7♣. This is an easy defense, as Rivera has gone down to 14 big blinds while Colillas has 30, so Martini can put a lot of ICM pressure on Colillas on many boards.
The players see an action flop of 10♣J♣K♠, giving Colillas top pair top kicker, and Martini a flush draw and open ended straight draw. Martini checks to the raiser and Colillas fires for 800K into the 2.75M pot. Martini raises to 2.9M, and Colillas is faced with a decision. He elects to only call. I think he could reasonably reraise here, but the call allows him to see the turn and what Martini does before making his next decision. Martini knows that Colillas should be fairly strong here, playing as 2nd stack against the chip leader, and he’s check/raising anyway. Colillas probably suspects Martini, who knows all this, has a hand with a lot of equity, like JT or a strong draw, and since Colillas himself holds the king of clubs, Martini can’t have top pair + a flush draw. But he could certainly have a hand like QJ or QT, or even Q9 defending the big blind. So the call is prudent.
With 8.55M now in the pot and Colillas having 12.15M behind, the turn is a blank, the 4♦. Martini, perhaps sensing the strength of Colillas’s call of his check/raise, now checks the turn. Colillas elects to check back and play rivers in position, protecting his 2nd chip stack position. The river blanks off with the 3♠, and Martini checks again. Now Colillas makes a very reasonable value bet of 2.5M. He has to figure he’s got the best hand being checked to twice now. Either Martini has showdown value (and AK beats all those hands) or he’s given up on a bluff. About 1/3rd pot is perfect to draw the showdown value calls and add 5 big blinds more to his stack, and it’s small enough that it may occasionally induce a bluff shove by Martini’s busted draws. Martini thinks better of it and folds, giving Colillas a really nice pot and bringing him up to 41BBs. The stacks are now Martini 33.28M, Colillas 20.7M, and Rivera 7.48M.