Poker pro shows he knows when to fold ’em
At the final table of the World Poker Tour Season XVI Rolling Thunder Main Event, which was being broadcast around the world in early March, Ian Steinman made an incredible fold against 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Joe McKeehen.
With five players remaining out of a field of 440 runners, the blinds were 30,000- 60,000 with an ante of 10,000 when three players folded and Steinman raised to 160,000 from the small blind, holding Kd Ks.
McKeehen defended his big blind with Qc 10d, and the flop fell Ah 5h 7s. Steinman continued for 150,000, and McKeehen f loated, meaning he called with the intention of making a play later in the hand. The Jc then hit the turn.
Steinman, who was likely discouraged by the ace, slowed down with a check but still called when McKeehen bet 370,000. At that point the pot stood at more than 1.41 million.
The Kc river was an action card, as it not only gave McKeehen a welldisguised runner-runner straight, but also improved Steinman to a set. Steinman was first to act and bet 800,000, and McKeehen responded by moving all in for 2.94 million.
A call would cost Steinman most of his stack, and he hit the tank. The tournament employed a 30- second action clock, but with time extensions at his disposal, Steinman thought for more than three minutes before folding his hand.
“When I bet the river and then he moved all in, my first thought was that Joe is almost never bluffing here,” Steinman later told CardPlayer. “He has too much to consider with pay jumps/ ICM (independent chip model), and he’s a good enough player that I didn’t think it was a bluff. To a certain extent he is polarized, but he has the nuts a lot more often than he shows up with the rare bluff.”
Steinman explained that he didn’t put his opponent on trip aces, one of two hands that beat him, for two reasons. First, McKeehen would be prone to three- bet pref lop with pocket rockets. Second, chances are McKeehen wouldn’t bet so big with trip aces when Steinman shut down on the turn.
What it boiled down to was that Steinman put McKeehen on the Qh 10h, in which case he would’ve f lopped a flush draw that backdoored a straight. He was right about the cards, just not the suits.
“I’m still unsure if it was a fold or call,” Steinman said. “It’s not a plusEV (expected value) play on paper or in a vacuum. It was the biggest laydown I’ve ever made, but results don’t necessarily make it correct.”
No matter the math, the laydown saved Steinman some chips. He finished the tournament in second place for $201,428, while McKeehen busted in third for $131,081.
So, would you have folded if you were in Steinman’s shoes?
Poker players and fans were polled in the weeks after the tournament, and an overwhelming 89 percent said they wouldn’t have folded.