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Advanced Poker Strategy - Shak vs Holz

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Dan Shak vs Fedor Holz

The 2016 Super High Roller Bowl at 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 fourth episode of the 2016 SHRB, Dan Shak tried to bluff Fedor Holz, arguably the best young gun in the game. How did it go?

Find out below along with Shak’s own thoughts on the hand.

The Setup

On Day 3, action was five-handed with the blinds at 12,000/24,000/3,000. Action folded to Holz (813,000) in the small blind, and he raised to 65,000 with the Q♥Q♦, which Shak (1.918 million) decided to call from the big blind holding the J♠10♣.

As it happened, both players held better-than-average hands for a blind-versus-blind battle. Holz’s raise from the small blind signified strength, and Shak had a hand with which most players want to see a flop.

The Flop & Turn

When the flop fell 9♠9♣K♣, both players checked, and the dealer burned and turned the 10♥. Holz opted to bet 60,000, and Shak called with his pair and gutshot.

“What did I call the turn with? I had to call with a king or nine, at least that’s what I wanted Holz to think,” said Shak. “It just so happened I had a ten-jack for a gutshot. He didn’t bet much on the turn, so I decided to shoot for the gutshot. I’m glad it didn’t come as he would have filled up.”

While Shak only had a 4.55% chance of winning the hand – he needed to catch another ten – in his mind he believed a queen would also give him a winner, and maybe even a jack too. Given Holz downsized his bet – which means he bet less than he had on a street prior, in this case, 60,000 on the turn when he had originally made it 65,000 preflop – it’s not hard to see why Shak, who had chips to spare, peeled the river.

The River

The 7♦ was a blank for Shak, and he watched Holz bet 120,000 into the pot of 265,000. While many might expect Shak to just call due to the showdown value of his hand, he decided to raise small to 300,000.

“I thought there was a chance I could get him to fold a king if I was beat, but I did also think there was a chance my ten was good,” Shak explained. “I really didn’t feel like I was good, or I probably would have just called. I put him on a bad king at best and felt he would put me on an even better king or maybe even a nine.”

Holz ended up using a time extension before making the call to win the pot.

Amazing Call

“I honestly felt he had nothing,” said Shak. “If I made it a bigger raise, he might have actually called quicker. If I put in too big a raise, he may get kind of suspicious. If you watch him, he had to call for half his remaining stack, which to me would be pretty significant. I was actually shocked he called with queens. I’m a fairly tight player, and I think most other players would fold queens there as I usually wouldn’t raise in that position unless I had it. I thought it was an amazing call on his part, to be honest with you.

So, what did Shak think about his experience playing one of 2016’s hottest players?

“I think he is running good, but I also thought that was a really good call,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a call you or I would have made. Just the way the hand played out, the only thing he can really beat is ten-jack or a stone-cold bluff. I personally thought it was a really good call.”

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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