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2016 WSOP on ESPN: Two More Challenging River Decisions

Griffin Benger


  • How would you play the rivers on these two 2016 WSOP Main Event hands from late on Day 5?

  • Are you calling or folding? Play along with players making deep runs in the 2016 WSOP Main Event.

"I love poker because it's the most challenging thing in the world to me."

So said high-stakes pro Griffin Benger (pictured above) on this week's coverage of the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event airing on ESPN.

As we already know, Benger would successfully meet the Main Event challenge this summer to make the final table that will start October 30. The episodes shown this week covered the last part of Day 5, carrying the action down from 137 players to just 80, with Benger and his fellow final tablists Gordon Vayo, Kenny Hallaert, Jerry Wong, and Fernando Pons all receiving air time.

Josephy will have the chip lead when the Main Event final table begins, but we saw him nearly knocked out with just under 110 players left in a hand versus Vladimir Geshkenbein. All in on the flop with a set of sixes versus Geshkenbein's flush draw, Josephy watched the turn complete his opponent's flush, but the river paired the board to give Josephy a better full house and preserve his tournament life.

The focus this week was once more on the talkative William Kassouf who enjoyed the chip lead for much of the latter part of Day 5, ultimately ending with a top five stack. While there were again a few interesting hands involving Kassouf's opponents trying to sort through his constant "speech play," since we covered an example of that last week we'll highlight a couple of other hands from this week's shows for a new round of "What Would You Do?"

Hand #1: Benger vs. Niwinski

We'll start with a hand involving Benger and play along with him versus the big-stacked Michael Niwinski, one of the "first-timers" being highlighted by ESPN who enjoyed an especially deep run in his initial WSOP Main Event.

With exactly 100 players left from the starting field of 6,737, the average chip stack was 3.37 million. Benger had the chip lead at the time with a little over 8.5 million while Niwinski began this hand with just under 6.9 million.

The blinds were 30,000/60,000 with a 10,000 ante. The action was picked up on the flop, although we're told Niwinski was the preflop raiser. As he has position it appears that after Niwinski raised, Benger was in the blinds with {8-Hearts}{8-Clubs} and called, making the pot 400,000 even.

The flop came {7-Clubs}{2-Clubs}{5-Spades}, and with his overpair Benger checked. Niwinski continuation bet 155,000 and Benger called. The turn was the {Q-Diamonds} and Benger checked again. This time Niwinski bet 240,000, and after thinking a short while Benger called once more, building the pot to 1.19 million.

The {6-Clubs} completed the board, and Benger checked again. Niwinski is shown sitting quietly for about a half-minute, then betting 440,000.

Benger studied the board for just a few seconds and folded, and Niwinski collected the pot.

While Niwinski's three barrels had presented a tricky challenge for Benger in this hand, viewers at home could see Niwinski's hole cards — {A-Spades}{4-Spades} for ace-high.

Hand #2: Vornicu vs. Garshofsky

In between the many all-ins involving short stacks in the latter hour this week came one other interesting hand and decision, this one happening on the feature table and involving Valentin Vornicu and Mitch Garshofsky. We'll play along with the short-stacked Garshofsky in this one as he tried to keep his tournament run going at a time when there were 95 players left.

With the blinds still 30,000/60,000 with a 10,000 ante, Vornicu had over 6 million to begin the hand while Garshofsky started with about 1.95 million.

Vornicu opened for 135,000 from early position and it folded around to Garshofsky on the button who called with {A-Clubs}{10-Spades}. The blinds folded, meaning there was 450,000 in the middle when the flop came {A-Hearts}{4-Clubs}{K-Spades}.

Vornicu checked and Garshofsky bet 200,000, earning a call from Vornicu. The turn was the {5-Diamonds} and the action went similarly — a check from Vornicu, a bet of 325,000 this time from Garshofsky, and another call from Vornicu. Pot 1.5 million even.

The river brought the {3-Clubs}, and Vornicu gathered together a bet of 660,000 — a little less than half the pot, and a little more than half the 1.285 million Garshofsky had behind.

Garshovsky went into the tank, talking through the hand as he did.

"He has to get it in on the river, because he's afraid of a check-check so he won't get paid," Garshofsky said to himself as he was tanking, adding "it would be sick if you hit a deuce" (i.e., if Vornicu had a deuce in his hand).

Finally Garshofsky did call the bet, and Vornicu tabled his {A-Diamonds}{2-Hearts} for a rivered wheel. Garshofsky would hang on a bit longer before being eliminated in 82nd ($67,855).

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