Poker pro shows he knows when to fold ’em

The Mercury News Weekend - - PUZZLES - By Chad Hol­loway Tri­bune Con­tent Agency Chad Hol­loway is a 2013 World Se­ries of Poker bracelet win­ner and me­dia di­rec­tor for the Mid- States Poker Tour.

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.

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