Idol Hands … Dan Smith takes advantage

Jeffrey Chang puts himself in a tough spot

Lance Bradley

Dan Smith       Ks9s

Jeffrey Chang  KhTd


Dan Smith       2,200,000

Jeffrey Chang  709,000

Blinds 10,000/20,000 with a 3,000 ante

Action is folded around to one of the most dangerous tournament players in the game, Dan Smith, who happens to have a pile of chips totaling over 2 million. Smith should be raising at least 90 percent of hands due to his stack, position, and outright talent, and K9 suited is in the upper part of that range.

Smith raises to 45K

Jeffrey Chang peeks down at KT offsuit in the big blind facing a small button raise. His hand is well ahead of Smith’s raising range, but not strong enough to reraise given the other factors at play. He’s out of position against a big stack who’s going to be able to put him in tough spots that his hand just isn’t strong enough to withstand. His best play is to take the 4 to 1 odds being laid and make the call.

Chang calls 25K more

FLOP  7c 6s Th

Great flop for Chang making top pair, king kicker. I wouldn’t mind leading out with a bet here. The board is connected and Dan could certainly check back a number of holdings. It gets a little hairy if Dan raises, but his opening range is wide enough and he’ll be raising enough nonsense that Jeffrey can profitably reraise all in. The more standard play is to check here, however, and I think it’s a little better than betting since Dan will be betting the vast majority of the time and Chang can put more of his stack in the middle with a check-raise.

Chang checks

The flop isn’t too bad for Smith, either. He flops a gutshot straight draw along with a backdoor flush draw. Still, he only has king-high at the moment and should definitely apply pressure with a bet. The board is somewhat connected, but his opponent is unlikely to be able to continue, making a bet profitable.

Smith bets 50K

Chang is sitting on top pair with a strong kicker facing a bet from a button raiser with a very wide range of hands. This hand is very strong in this moment, but extremely vulnerable to turn and river cards. In fact, just about every turn card makes KT far harder to play. Additionally, Smith will be checking back a decent chunk of his range on the turn if called and checked to, so Chang will often be giving two free cards if he elects not to raise here. Chang absolutely needs to check-raise here, and he should raise to around 175K. This is 25 percent of his remaining stack and puts Smith to a tough decision with many of the hands that can take the lead on the turn or river.

Chang calls 50K

TURN 7c 6s Th Jd

This is one of the many bad turn cards Chang could have avoided with a check-raise on the flop. It’s by no means the worst, but it’s an overcard that Smith could have hit. There’s no sense leading out with a bet now, Chang should check and react to Smith’s action.

Chang checks

Aside from an 8, king, or spade, this is about the best turn Smith could see. It gives him a double gutshot straight draw, where he can now hit an 8 or a Q to make a straight. Potentially even more useful, it puts an overcard on the board that is unlikely to have hit Chang and that Smith can use to put a ton of pressure on all smaller one pair hands. He should continue to put pressure on his smaller stacked opponent betting about 25 percent of his remaining stack, or around 150K.

Smith bets 150K

This is a perfect bet from Smith and puts Chang in a world of pain. His now second pair is not nearly as strong as it was on the flop, and this bet from Dan is basically putting him to a decision for the remainder of his chips as well. Chang’s stack is just the right size for Smith to be able to pressure with this sized bet, so there’s a high likelihood that Smith will be betting this amount with a lot of holdings that Chang is beating. I really don’t like any of the options here: folding seems so weak when Chang’s hand is still so likely to be best, calling is all right but leaves Chang at the mercy of the river card, and moving all in protects his hand but risks his tournament life with a bet that is just about never going to be called by worse. Of all of these bad options, calling with the intention of calling on the river is probably best. Folding is the safer play and I’m not entirely opposed to the idea, but I think that Smith’s range is just wide enough to make calling the better option. It’s important to note that if Chang elects to call here, he should be calling off his stack on any river that doesn’t change the board texture drastically. Dan is too strong and capable of bluffing to call here and hope to check it down on the river.

Chang calls 150K

RIVER 7c 6s Th Jd 5s

The river doesn’t improve Chang, but it doesn’t change much either. He should continue to check and hope Smith checks behind.

Chang checks

Decision time for Mr. Smith. He’s failed to improve, but he’s been representing a strong hand against an opponent that certainly seems weak. Situations like this come down to listening to your gut feeling and understanding how often the bluff needs to work for it to be worth the risk. Dan has an opportunity to apply maximum pressure to a smaller stacked opponent with a seemingly weak hand. Chang’s remaining stack is just below the size of the pot, so Smith’s all in shove will be profitable even if it works just half of the time. It appears that Chang has a one pair hand below jacks, and his refusal to commit all of his chips to this point leads me to believe that he isn’t comfortable putting his entire stack in the middle. Smith has the stack to sustain the blow if he does get called, I like the gamble here. Move it all into the middle.

Smith moves all in for 461K effectively

Lance Bradley

This is exactly what Chang didn’t want to see. His tournament life is at risk with a marginal holding, and the stress of calling it all off doesn’t help with proper decision making. The river 5s doesn’t improve the hands that Smith is betting on the turn, so if Chang was good on the turn he should just about always still be best. He’s in a tough spot, but if he decided to call on the turn he should be calling it off now.

Chang folds

Chang made one crucial misstep by not check-raising on the flop that led to all sorts of difficult decisions later in the hand. Dan Smith used his stack, position, and image brilliantly with great sizing decisions on every street, and showed us yet again why he’s one of the best in the game.

November 2014