Just two teams remain with a chance at the very first Global Poker League championship. The Berlin Bears advanced early this morning after winning the Eurasia Conference title and will face the Americas Conference champion Montreal Nationals this afternoon for the title.
Brian Rast proved a most valuable player for the Bears yesterday, winning both of his heads-up games in their 4-2 triumph over the Hong Kong Stars in the conference semifinals, then all three of the games he played in the conference finals versus the Moscow Wolverines.
Including in those wins for Rast was one in the decisive seventh game versus Moscow's Anatoly Filatov to give Berlin a 4-3 victory and spot in today's championship.
Among the many interesting hands played yesterday was one from that seventh game between Rast and Filatov.
Rast had just over 300,000 to start the hand and Filatov about 165,000. The blinds were 4,000/8,000 with an 800 ante, and action started with Rast choosing just to limp from the button with and Filatov checking his option with .
The flop came . With two overcards and a backdoor flush draw, Filatov checked. Rast had made middle pair, and he bet 8,800. Filatov called, bringing the pot to 35,200.
The turn was the , and Filatov — still with those two overs and now with a flush draw — checked once more. Rast paused a moment and checked behind, and both watched the fall on the river.
With just king-high, Filatov bluffed with a bet of 14,690, and Rast went into the tank.
One of the factors Rast likely considered was that there had been no preflop raise from Filatov, suggesting he didn't have an ace and so the river didn't change things. No preflop raise also lessened the likelihood Filatov had a pocket pair to beat Rast's pair of sixes.
Rast also certainly considered how Filatov had check-called the flop and then checked the turn, not taking the initiative in either instance. That, too, suggested weakness, although the wet board meant Filatov could certainly have either a flush or a straight. The river bet also hinted Filatov didn't have a medium-strength hand, since he'd also have to fear Rast could have either a flush or straight.
The river bet, then, was somewhat "polarized" — that is, a bet indicating either extreme strength or total "air." Rast took more than a minute to think about what to do — take a look to see how it played out:
Filatov would double up on the following hand to claim the chip lead, but Rast fought back, retaking the advantage and ultimately earning the victory.
You can watch every hand from every Global Poker League playoff match over on the GPL site. Meanwhile, be sure to follow live coverage of today's championship right here on PokerNews starting at 2:00 p.m. PT (5:00 p.m. ET).
Image/video: Global Poker League.