Idol Hands … Overly Aggressive in Paradise

Mizrachi vs. Clyde-Smith at the PCA

Michael Mizrachi: 7c6d
George Clyde-Smith: AsJc

Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi: 518k
George Clyde-Smith: 202k

With the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure just around the corner, we revisit a featured table from last year’s main event. This $10,000 buy-in main event is held in The Bahamas every January and is often the biggest $10K event of the year outside the World Series of Poker. With just 166 players remaining and nearly $2 million to the winner, every decision counts.

Clyde Smith vs MizrachiMichael “The Grinder” Mizrachi epitomizes the “feel player.” His unorthodox style is misunderstood by many and feared by anyone that’s say across from him. He plays a lot of hands, making it very difficult to put him on a standard range of possible holdings. He can have any hand at any time, which gives him the ability to bluff in many spots that others can not. Like any fearless player though, he can get a bit carried away sometimes.

Blinds 1.5K/3K with a 400 ante

George Clyde-Smith looks down at ace-jack offsuit under the gun at an eight-handed table. This is a hand weaker players would be better off folding, especially with nine or 10 players at the table. However, with just eight players vying for the pot and the experience of Clyde-Smith, this is a playable hand and he should be coming in for a raise.

Clyde-Smith raises to 6K

Mizrachi peaks at seven-six offsuit on the button facing an under the gun raise from a 67 blind stack. Michael covers this stack two and a half times over, but he should still be considering the “effective stacks,” or the lesser stack of two players involved in a pot. There’s no way around it — seven-six offsuit is just not going to play well against an under the gun opening range. Even from the button, this is a clear fold against all but the worst players. The Grinder has his own style however, and elects to make the call.

Mizrachi calls 6K

Both blinds call

FLOP: Ad Qc Jh

Both blinds check

Clyde-Smith has flopped top and bottom pair with both blinds checking to him. His hand is strong, but in a four-way pot just about every hand is vulnerable. While there is no flush draw present, a king or 10 puts a one card straight on board and a turned queen would negate his two pair and make trips for a player holding a queen. On top of protecting his hand, he should be looking to extract value from weaker hands, and on a board like this there may be several that are trying to catch up. Of course, good players don’t make the optimal play in every situation or it would be too easy to be put on a hand and be taken advantage of by other insightful players. No, the best players will deviate from optimal play occasionally in order to keep opponents guessing, and that’s what Clyde-Smith chooses to do here.

Clyde-Smith checks

Mizrachi has less than a 1 percent chance to make the best hand, but that’s not going to stop him from trying to force everyone else out of the pot. This is a board I wouldn’t typically recommend bluffing at in a raised, four-way pot. There are just far too many pairs and draws out there that aren’t going to fold for one bet, so if you’re firing one barrel you’ll need to commit to at least two and the long-term profitability of the bluff goes way down. With the aggressor checking and two blinds that Michael may feel he can bully even if called once, there are a couple of factors in his favor. I think betting here will cost him money in the long-term, but he’s won a lot more money than I have.

Mizrachi bets 13K

Both blinds fold

Great result so far for Clyde-Smith as the pot is now heads up and he has a very aggressive player betting into his strong holding. I hate check-raising here, as it could put him in a difficult spot out of position in an inflated pot, but even more so because he’ll just be forcing The Grinder to fold far too often. He can call and represent a far weaker holding than he’s got and hope that Mizrachi just can’t help himself.

Clyde-Smith calls 13K

Turn: Ad Qc Jh Jd

Best card in the deck for Clyde-Smith on the turn as it gives him a full house but looks like a card he is unlikely to have. Additionally, Mizrachi could have a jack or just decide to pretend he does. Check again and hope The Grinder continues.

Clyde-Smith checks

Getting called on the flop was far from ideal, but the under the gun raiser just check-calling his bet will generally mean a weak holding. Mizrachi is likely putting his opponent on KK, KQ, KJ, AK, AT, and some weaker aces. Of these hands, only KJ can feel comfortable facing more heat on the turn. Again, this is a high variance bluff line and one I wouldn’t recommend taking. However, this is actually a pretty good bluff spot for Mizrachi. If he is going to continue, I’d like to see some pressure in the range of 35K.

Mizrachi bets 20K

Clyde-Smith got the bet he wanted. It’s on the small side at just under 40 percent of the pot size. It’s hard to read whether that means strength or weakness. If Mizrachi is weak, and Clyde-Smith check-raises, he’ll almost certainly get a fold and miss out on a potential river bluff. If Mizrachi is strong, and Clyde-Smith check-raises, he’ll likely get action but he will be taking an incredibly strong line and may cause Mizrachi to fold a fairly strong holding on the river. If Clyde-Smith elects to just call, he’ll be able to get a bet out of Mizrachi’s strong hands on the river anyway, and gives The Grinder a chance to continue bluffing if he’s weak. Calling again is definitely the play here.

Clyde-Smith calls 20K

River: Ad Qc Jh Jd 8h

The River 8h is a good card for Clyde-Smith in that it could have made Mizrachi a straight with T9 and should deter a bet in any way. The plan is to check and trap, and there’s no reason to change course now.

Clyde-Smith checks

Mizrachi’s bluff sizing on the turn was quite small and almost begging for a call. While it may seem like a lower variance bet than my recommended 35K, it’s actually higher variance because if you’re begging for a weak call on the turn you simply have got to fire a third barrel on the river. With less than a 1 percent chance to make the best hand on the flop, The Grinder comes off like a bit of a sucker here, but we have the benefit of having all the information. From his seat, it still looks like Clyde-Smith has a one-pair hand here almost always, and it’s going to be very difficult for him to call a big bet here. Of course, The Grinder’s reputation precedes him and he’s going to be called here more often than most, but his line looks very believable for either a jack, a flopped or rivered straight, or even a full house. I haven’t been on board with his decisions for the majority of this hand, but this is a good bluff opportunity as long as he bets enough.

Mizrachi bets 65K

Clyde-Smith is beaten by only two hands, AA and QQ, both of which are extremely unlikely to be in his opponent’s hands. It will be tough to get called by a straight, but it’s a possibility. And smaller full houses are fairly likely to call with the price his opponent will be getting. Calling is a bit too safe here, shove for value and hope Mizrachi has something to call with.

Clyde-Smith moves all in for 163K. Mizrachi folds.

January 2014