If you haven’t had a chance yet you might like to check out some episodes from the new poker show Game of Gold. In my newsletter this week I talk about some of the reasons I think the show has been successful but here I want to take a deeper look at some of the interesting hands from the first two episodes. If you have no idea what I’m talking about and want to check it out here’s a link to the first episode:

https://youtu.be/tWt9Yo92gqA?si=aZx4Py72WO4uZ2dN

One of the unique attributes of the show is that you see the reaction of some of the other contestants not actively on the felt as they watch the hands. Some of those players making comments are household names like Daniel Negreanu or Fedor Holz. When you see them criticize a play that you hadn’t noticed yourself it makes you want to dive deeper into the hand. Keep in mind the poker is heavily edited for entertainment so you as a viewer are having the context jerked around in ways that can be hard to follow. You might miss details of which player is suddenly really short stacked because they didn’t show all the action that lead to this point. To understand the hands you kind of have to pause, double check who has how many big blinds as it’s not the same as from the previous hand you just watched.

Episode 1 there were two hands involving AQ that several of the players watching criticized. I wanted to look at those more closely. Both hands involve Nikita Luther folding AQ.

In the first hand they are playing about 40 BB deep, Kyna England raises 2.5x from what the graphic says is UTG ( but keep in mind they are playing 4 handed so UTG is actually the cutoff). Kyna has JJ, the button calls with 55 and Nikita reraises to 12.5bb with AQs. You can tell the contestants watching feel this raise size is too big but if it is it’s only fractionally too big. Kyna shoves the 40bb and when it comes back to Nikita she folds. They definitely make it out to be a blunder but I looked at it and if it’s a mistake it’s not a big one. I looked up some similar scenarios where AQ off suit was a fold here but AQ suited was considered too good to fold. But there’s definitely some exploitative considerations that might make you turn this into a fold. You have to remember we are playing under ICM considerations of pay jumps, this is not chip ev. In chip ev you aren’t supposed to fold AQ there.

The other hand has Olga raising UTG off of a big stack and Kyna shoving 11 BB on the button w A8os (which is too loose by the way but nobody complained about that). SB on about 10bb folds and Nikita has AQos in the BB and only a slightly bigger stack than Kyna. She folds and they cut to several of the contestants shocked at the fold. But as far as I can tell this fold is absolutely correct. I think I would have been more conflicted about it than she seems to be but with those stack distributions and those ICM considerations it’s totally fine. I have the luxury of looking up sims in my armchair but I think it shows that even these really great players are inclined to call off a little too loose. These top guys love to go for the win but ICM has some pretty nitty folds and I believe this is one of them.

Nikita parlays these two nitty folds into a 2nd place finish. I think she played better than she got credit for by those watching on.

Episode 2 can be found here:

https://youtu.be/ZHXZ7C5mysQ?si=e-cVH8XxHeaMmPW4

For me the hands I found interesting were Kevin Martin’s hands. He plays a cool hand in the BB versus Josh in the SB. Both players have trashy hands but Josh makes the nut straight on the turn yet it still checks through. On the river Josh bets his hand finally (not sure why he doesn’t lead the turn) and Kevin makes a crying call with Queen high. It looks really dumb on TV but I kind of liked it. The board reads K3453 and it went check check on flop and turn. It would be very odd for Josh to have limped Kx then checked flop and turn. A high is just trying to show down on the river, Josh won’t bet Ace high on the river. So Josh is probably repping trip 3s or better which isn’t an easy hand to make and there are plenty of air hands. I wouldn’t make that call with Q6 but it’s got heart for sure. I’d be scared I can’t even beat some of Josh’s bluffs like Q9.

This hand is followed by Kevin picking up QTs on the button with something like 18bb. You can tell Kevin has been studying because he doesn’t need Jason Koon to be yelling it’s a shove, he shoves correctly. Those are the perfect types of hands to be shoving 15-20bb from the button. Unfortunately for him Charlie picks up a AQ.

Kevin’s last hand is also interesting because he’s down to a single big blind holding 42os UTG. Negreanu is yelling that he should fold and just be allin next hand with a random hand that figures to be better than 42 obviously. But wait a second. We don’t know if they are playing with an Ante First or Big blind first rule. If they are playing BB first he should definitely fold but if it’s ante first then you just get in whatever hand you have before you are in the big blind. Interestingly, it was only on this hand that I noticed they were playing with only half a BB as the ante which makes sense short handed but isn’t necessarily the norm and should also factor into Kevin’s decision if it is ante first.

Hope you guys are finding the show interesting and let me know if some of my commentary here is adding value for you.

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