A couple of the hands I found most interesting in this episode were hands played by Maria Ho. If you do nothing else watch the AK vs AA hand here

That hand is something else but before we break that down we’ll talk about a Negreanu hand and another one of Maria’s hands. Daniel Negreanu played a somewhat surprising hand versus Lukas Robinson. This is the hand where Daniel raises in position, Lukas defends and they both flop a draw. Daniel has the flush draw, Lukas has the straight draw and it’s all still fairly deep. Negreanu cbets flop Lukas calls and the flush comes in for Daniel on the turn. Now here is the part I found really surprising, the turn goes check check. I’m actually pretty shocked Negreanu checks back the made flush on the turn. Usually, when playing against a weaker player and the stacks are deep, you rarely take your foot off the gas when you hit a big hand. Because the opponent is weaker you don’t have to be too concerned about balancing anything. Sure there is deception in checking back but this comes at the very big cost of not making the pot bigger when you have the effective nuts.  Lots of cards can kill the action on the river and you might miss out on a lot of value. In a low stakes game you bet this spot 100% of the time. But the dynamic here is not something we are familiar with and it’s Dnegs so you know he has a good reason for checking so I wish one could get inside Daniel’s head on this one.

But let’s talk about the two most interesting Maria Ho hands. The first one is an odd hand where they are 3 handed and Yohan open limps the button with JT, Negreanu completes in the SB and Maria checks. The flop is 752 and it checks through. Now the turn is a 9 giving everyone a bit of a draw. Dnegs leads out with his gutter and over cards, Maria calls with the sneaky double gutter and an overcard, Yoh calls with the same hand as Daniel. The river pairs the 7 and Daniel waves the white flag and checks but Maria Ho bombs it with such a great bluff. It makes a lot of sense to me. She’s probably the most likely to have 7x or better the way the hand has  played because Yohan bets it on flop at a very high frequency when checked to him (but he checked). It just makes sense that she could have hands like 68/78 and she has an 8 in her hand so she’s blocking them from having the straight. So hats off Maria but there were still a couple more interesting things that happened. Yoh doesn’t fold right away. Somehow he doesn’t believe but unless he’s going to do something pretty crazy there’s not much to do but fold. The other interesting thing was how very early in the hand Jason Koon comments, “I think Maria just wins”. Given nobody had anything at that point it was an amazingly astute observation.

The other Maria hand is something out of the twilight zone, the AK vs AA hand heads up versus Yohan. The hand is crazy but for starters to make sense of it a little bit you have to realize how shallow their stacks are when this hand is dealt. They are playing 10bb effective so don’t be thinking limping or checking big hands like this preflop is a good idea in your game because you saw them do it here. They are both trapping with huge hands in an ultra shortstack situation, that’s the context. So Maria just completes hoping Yoh shoves but Yoh checks the two aces. The flop comes QJx and Yoh leads, Mariah calls with two overs and a gut shot. The turn is terrible for Maria, a King! Yoh checks, Maria bets, Yoh calls. On the river Yoh checks and absolutely incredibly Maria checks back. This blows everyone’s mind, Johan’s reaction is the funniest of all because he simultaneously thinks it’s crazy while begrudgingly accepting it was right… at least in this instance. The big question is are we simply being results oriented if we applaud this check back? Theoretically it has to be bad to check there right? But in the room afterwards Maria describes feeling like she was being trapped and guess what? She was. The other amazing thing to me is that the only two people watching who made a comment indicating that she might actually find a check back here were both women. Is that a coincidence?

I think that kind of hand is what makes poker so amazing because we’ll never really know. Maria, whether by intuition, live read, luck or some combination finds a way to not go broke AK vs AA heads up, 10bb deep on a King high board. It’s probably the most mesmerizing hand we’ll see for a long time.

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