He Said/She Said, Vol. 8: Jerry Yang vs. Phillip Hilm
<I>The hand: Nine players remain in the 2007 WSOP Main Event. Phillip Hilm sits with 19,240,000 chips to Yang's 25,010,000 chips. The blinds are 120,000/240,000 with a 30,000 ante. Hilm is in the SB, Yang on the hijack.
Preflop Action: The action folds to Yang, who raises to 1,000,000. The next two players fold and Hilm thinks for about a minute before calling with . The BB folds. [/I]
Tony: It folds around to Yang who opens for one million. This is a somewhat larger raise than I'd prefer, being four times the big blind, but given the stack depth at the final table, it's by no means a major mistake. Traditionally, though, I prefer raise a little under 3x, say to perhaps 700,000. It folds to Hilm, who makes what is a really awful call in the SB. Against aggressive players it's nearly impossible to play almost any hand profitably by flat-calling out of the SB. The range of hands I would consider flatting here include A-A, K-K, K-Qs, and K-Js. Considering the stack depth, though, I'd really prefer a reraise with the big pairs as well. I'd be three-betting everything else I want to play, and by no means would mind a three-bet from Hilm with K-Qs and K-Js as well, depending on the current metagame with Yang. Making loose calls out of the SB is a great way to bleed chips away in NL hold'em, in both cash and tournaments.
Celina: Both players are very deep-stacked here, which makes the preflop plays quite standard overall. Hilm makes a somewhat loose call against Yang with , but it is a hand that Hilm sees great potential in to trap Yang into giving away a large amount of chips postflop. The only dilemma is that the 4x raise made by Yang had blotted the pot quite a bit, where if Yang makes a large bet on the flop, the two players will be playing for their stack.
Action: Hilm checks, Yang bets 2,000,000, Hilm calls.
Tony: Hilm checks. I think this is another mistake. If you look at their stack sizes you realize that Hilm is in perfect position to pull a three-bet all in against Yang. For example, Hilm could lead out 1.3 million anticipating a Yang raise. If Yang makes it roughly four to six million, Hilm is able to shove for another ~15 million on top. This gives Yang a really tough call with most of his range, including A-K. Also, even if Yang calls, getting it in on the flop is just about never bad for Hilm unless he's run into a set. Against Yang's exact hand Hilm has 44.2% equity in the hand, nearly a coin flip, and that's assuming Yang makes what is a fairly difficult call. Instead, Hilm elects to check, and Yang bets 2 million. With 18 million behind, check-shoving seems a little bit of an overbet but would still be an appropriate play. Raising to six million would be a very bad move since Yang would likely think something like A-K is good and jam himself, forcing Hilm into the coin flip and taking away much of his fold equity. Hilm elects to check-call, which isn't all bad since he may believe Yang might never fold top pair or he may believe Yang is continuation-betting. Yang has a very large range and Hilm's pair of fives has enough showdown equity to try and get to the river in a pot-controlled situation.
Celina: Odds after the flop: Yang: 55.76%, Hilm: 44.24%. Hilm gets a dream flop. It is a flop where he should lead 1.6-1.8 million into the pot, and in the event Yang raises, Hilm should three-bet all in over the top. Yang, with A-K in this hand, may talk himself into a fold against possible holdings such as K-J and 5-5. Hilm's hand, on the flop, has the most potential value, but Hilm has to realize that if he check-calls and another diamond falls, Yang might slow down the action and only play small ball. If the turn brings a non-threatening card, Hilm is going to have a difficult time convincing Yang that he has the best hand. Hilm in this instance chooses to make a call; he may feel that Yang could very well be betting here without a pair, and Hilm can try and take the pot away on the turn.
Action: Hilm checks, Yang bets 4,000,000, Hilm shoves for 16,360,000. After half a minute of thought, Yang calls.
Tony: The turn brings the which is, of course, a major brick. Hilm checks and Yang bets four million, leading to a Hilm all-in. I think Hilm's shove here is abysmal. Unless Yang is a total maniac, he is rarely betting two streets on this board texture and for this bet sizing without a very strong hand, has the kind of hand that can call a turn shove. If Hilm thinks Yang is simply bluffing, he has a pair with which he can call, and many rivers will either brick or improve his hand, so it's not like he needs to be that concerned with being sucked out. Additionally, he doesn't need to realistically be concerned with Yang three-barrel bluffing him all in on the river, since this is an incredibly difficult play with this board's texture and would be very rare, especially in a situation as high-pressured as the WSOP final table. The more likely outcome if Yang is two-barreling a hand like A-Q, A-T, or Q-T or whatever, is that he checks behind on the river believing if Hilm has called two streets, he's going to call the third. When Hilm shoves, Yang realizes that the only realistic hand in Hilm's range to play like this is probably K-J. However, kings and jacks almost always reraise preflop, and a set of fives likely bet or raise the flop. Yang makes a good thinking call in what is certainly a very high-pressure situation, and Hilm's suicide is complete when the river brings the dud . Yang has played a fairly straightforward hand and made a good turn call; meanwhile, Hilm has managed to botch things on every single street.
[/B]Celina: Odds after the turn: Yang: 70.45% Hilm: 29.55%.Yang bets four million after Hilm again checks, and Yang's big bet here should be an indication to Hilm that he is pretty strong, and Hilm probably can't get Yang to fold his hand. After deliberating, Hilm still decides to shove, a play that he probably should have done on the flop. Yang, after putting in a vast amount of chips with top-pair/top-kicker, should only realistically be losing to K-J or 5-5. Neither of these hands make any sense. Why would Hilm give Yang a free card on such a draw-heavy flop, with both the option of betting and raising available? Yang is winning against any other king, jack, straight draws, flush draws and bluffs, and opts to make the call here. Hilm played the hand in the most unconvincing way on the flop and turn, only forcing a fold from those hands that he already beats on the turn. In this spot should, Hilm should opt to just call, then check-fold the river and still have 12 million chips left at 120,000/240,000.
Yang eliminates Hilm in ninth place, then goes on to win the Main Event after taking down this massive pot.
Tony 'Bond18' Dunst is a professional online poker player living in Australia. Dunst is one of the moderators of the strategy forum at 2+2, and is noted for his tongue-in-cheek recaps of big stories in the online poker world that he posts there and at pocketfives. Celina Lin is Tony's girlfriend and a good player in her own right. In fact, Celina has just signed on with PokerStars as a player/endorser, and will represent Team PokerStars at events all over the world. These two spend an incredible amount of time at home discussing poker hands. In each volume of this ongoing column, Dunst and Lin break down a hand and 'discuss' it in a way only a boyfriend and girlfriend can.