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Mikhail Smirnov Folds Four-Of-A-Kind At WSOP’s “Big One for One Drop” Tournament

by: JamieD On  Tuesday, July 3, 2012

john morgan wsopAllow me to set the scene:

It’s the first day of the “Big One for One Drop” Texas Hold’em Poker tournament at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas – the same tournament that set a record with its $1-million buy-in.  Russian poker player Mikhail Smirnov was sitting at the table with $3,500,000 in front of him (slightly above the chip average at that point in the tournament).  With two eights in his hand (hearts and diamonds), Smirnov caught a third eight on the flop (jack of spades, eight of clubs, seven of spades) and bet out, but he was called instantly by Winmark Corporation CEO, Josh Morgan, who was seated immediately to his left.

Next came an eight of spades on the turn, giving Smirnov four eights.  He fired off another bet, but it was called by Morgan once again.  When the king of spades came out on the river, Smirnov bet $70,000 with four-of-a-kind, prompting Morgan to go “all-in” for $3.4-million.

While most might snap-call such a bet with four-of-a-kind in their hand, Smirnov feared the possibility of Morgan having the nine and ten of spades, thus giving him a straight flush (with the seven, eight and jack of spades already on the board).  After contemplating what his opponent could possibly have, the Russian businessman did the unthinkable…

He folded.

If you know anything about the game of poker, you’d probably be interested in hearing what goes through the mind of a man insane enough to fold four-of-a-kind.  Here’s how Smirnov explained it:

“It’s hard for me to explain.  It seemed like a very difficult call to make.  But for me — I think that my read of the table and when you think about this hand and it’s very easy for me to fold.  It was the right play.  Sometimes it’s very difficult to fold top pair, but this time I don’t know what he should have.  It’s impossible for him to have full house of Kings, impossible full house of Jacks, because he did not re-raise from button (pre-flop).  He would have re-raised with Jacks and Kings (pre-flop).  If he has full house of sevens, then he’d just call (the river bet).  A bluff is impossible because he likes to play in the tournament and he is not a professional.  I think I have no chance to win, plus he was so excited on the turn (when he made, what could be a straight flush).”

I’ll tell you this much.  It may take a lot of guts to call an all-in bet on the first day of a $1-million buy-in tournament, but it takes even more guts to fold four-of-a-kind.

Hat Tip – [WSOP]




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