Advanced Poker Strategy– Kaverman vs Mercier

Chad Holloway

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advanced poker strategy

The 2016 Super High Roller Bowl at the ARIA in Las Vegas saw 49 players put up the $300,000 buy-in their shot at a $5 million first-place prize and one of the most prestigious titles in all of poker. Given all the action was filmed for worldwide broadcast on NBC Sports, we at 888poker thought it’d be fun to not only identify the biggest hands, but to also offer analysis on them straight from the pros.

In this hand, which occurred in the second episode of the 2016 SHRB, Byron Kaverman picked up pocket aces against Jason Mercier. There were many time extensions used, and eventually, a big laydown was made. Below, we highlight the hand and get Kaverman’s take on how things played out.

Before we get to that, it’s important to remember that the Super High Roller Bowl was played with a “Shot Clock,” which gave players 40 seconds to act on their hand. Such shot clocks are designed so there is no excessive tanking.

However, each player was also provided with five time extension chips per day, each of which granted the user and extra minute to act on his or her hand.

The Setup

Early in the tournament, blinds were 3,000/6,000/1,000 when Kaverman (242,000) raised under the gun holding the A♠A♥ and Fedor Holz (674,000) called with Jx10x. Jason Mercier (484,500) defended from the big blind with Q♣9♠ and three players took a flop of 5♦2♦Q♥.

Mercier checked from the big blind, Kaverman bet 17,000, and Holz folded. Mercier then called, the dealer burned and turned the 7♣, and Mercier check-called a bet of 30,000.

The Decision Point

Kaverman eventually bets 70,000, and it was Mercier’s turn to hit the tank.

“It's a spot where he knew that I knew most of his range is Qx,” explained Kaverman. “I was thinking about my value-to-bluff ratio - given the strength, I showed on the flop and turn along with different bet sizes, and what they could be designed to attempt to fold out, had I been bluffing.”

For those who don’t know, a value-to-bluff ratio refers to constructing a betting range that is balanced between value hands and bluffs. According to pokerstrategy.com, you determine a value-to-bluff ratio by dividing the number of possible value hands by the number of possible bluff hands.

So, VB-Ratio = number of value hands/number of bluff hands

For Kaverman, betting 70,000 into a pot of 142,000 essentially told Mercier that 50% of the time he was betting with the best hand, while the other 50% of the time he’d be bluffing. It’s a tough spot to be in, and in this hand, Mercier had to decide.

Mercier used three time extensions and then laid down his hand.

“Ultimately, he made a good fold, although I did get some value with his time banks,” said Kaverman.

“I'm a big proponent of shot clocks in tournament poker, and I think the trend ARIA has really got going will continue throughout many of the big events,” said Kaverman. “I think they sometimes are used strategically in the later stages, but generally are too valuable to spare.” 

Be sure to check back regularly as we continue to bring you more hands from the 2016 SHRB “Straight from the Pros.”

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