The Most Interesting Poker Hand Ever

The most interesting poker hand ever took place in a high stakes cash game involving Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey and Patrick Antonius last year. The blinds were $500/$1000 and Antonius raised to $2500 from early position with 55. Another player called with 64dd, Negreanu called on the button with 99 and Ivey called in the big blind with K10off. The flop came down 1095 giving Ivey top pair, Negreanu middle set and Antonius bottom set. The conditions were now in place for something explosive – and what happened did not disappoint.

Ivey checked the flop, Antonius bet $5,000 into $11,500, the other player folded, and Negreanu and Ivey called. There was now $26,500 in the pot and the turn was a 10 giving Ivey trips and Negreanu and Antonius full houses. Ivey and Antonius checked. Negreanu bet $26,000 and Ivey and Antonius called.

It must be pointed out that until Ivey and Antonius call it’s playing out like just another poker hand. When they both call red lights should be flashing because to call a pot size bet on that board means they both have monsters. Ivey isn’t calling straight draws like QJ or 87 out of position because with two tens out there one of his outs may give his opponent a full house. For example, let’s say Daniel has K10 and the river is a K. Phil makes his straight but Daniel boats up. And I think he’d raise with 55 because he wouldn’t want to give Daniel a free card in case he had a 10 to boat up. I think he would’ve raised 109 on the flop. So I think you can put Phil on a 10 here. I don’t understand why Phil didn’t raise here. Probably he had some sort of spidey sense that’s beyond me.

I also don’t understand why Patrick didn’t raise. Like I said 55 is vulnerable to a river card giving Daniel or Phil a bigger boat. It’s possible that Daniel had 109 or 99 for a bigger full house but it’s also possible he had just a 10 in which case Antonius should raise to protect his hand and get value. If Daniel reraises All In, he can reevaluate.

Anyways the pot is now $104,500, the river is a Q and Ivey and Antonius both check to Daniel. Daniel has to think he’s good here and he bets $54,000. Phil thinks for a long time before making a great fold. I think his thought process must have gone something like this: “I have a big hand but I can’t beat much at this point. A10 beats me, Q10 beats me, 109 beats me, 99 beats me and 55 beats me. The only thing Daniel could have that I’m beating is J10.”

This is where Patrick throws a monkey wrench into everything. He can beat trips but he loses to all full houses like Q10, 109 and 99. It seems like the prudent play is to call but Antonius reraises All In for about $150,000. I think Patrick’s thought process is that he can get value from A10 and K10 – even though he loses to any other full house. At any rate, now Daniel is in the blender. A10, K10 and J10 are calls for Patrick in that spot because there aren’t enough – or any in the case of J10 – worse hands that he can get value from so Daniel has to put him on a full house. And the problem is that of the three full house possibilities – 55, 109 and Q10 – Daniel only beats one.

So now the question Daniel has to ask himself is: “Would Patrick do that with 55?” Daniel has a 30 minute YouTube – which you can watch at the bottom of the blog – in which he explains why he didn’t think Patrick would do that with 55. It’s probably over my head but I think 55 is in fact in Patrick’s range here. The problem is that while Daniel beats 55, he loses to Q10 and 109. So Daniel probably has the worst hand.

However he’s getting pot odds. He has to call $100,000 for $300,000 which means he only has to be right 1 out of 4 times. Because I think 55 is in Patrick’s range the pot odds actually make this a call. It’s close because I think Daniel has the best hand only 1 out of 3 times for an expected value of $133,333 on his $100,000 call – but that’s still positive EV. Daniel is the best poker player in the world and in his YouTube he’s adamant that 55 should not be in a great player like Antonius’s range in that spot and so it’s an obvious fold for him – and I’m not going to pretend like I understand poker as well as he does. So Daniel folds and Antonius scoops the pot.

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