Your call: Karl Mahrenholz at the Genting Poker Series

Karl Mahrenholz faces a tough decision on the river against a solid opponent…

Event: Genting Poker Series

£440 Main Event
Stack: 100,000
blinds: 400/800/100

Karl’s hand: A-8

Board: Q-9-3-A-Q

Situation: This tournament had around 580 players over two starting days. One re-entry was permitted per player and after busting once on Day 1a I re-entered on Day 1b which is where this hand took place. With a starting stack of 25,000 and one hour levels this was a well-structured three-day event. This hand took place on Day 1b. I had been on the same table since the start of play and several of the original players were still present. I had built my stack from 25,000 up to 100,000 mainly through making strong postflop hands and winning some big pots. I hadn’t shown down any bad hands and hadn’t been overly aggressive, although I had been opening reasonably frequently since amassing my stack. In this hand, I opened A-8o from mid-position to 1,800. Everyone folded to the BB who called after a short think. My read was he didn’t have a hand that was an automatic call (or raise) but probably a reasonable one he thought was worth seeing a flop with. My opponent was one of the stronger players at the table and I knew he wouldn’t be calling with too wide a range. While he had been aggressive at the table, in the last hour since doubling up he had been playing more solidly. He started the hand with 50,000. The flop came Q-9-3 rainbow and he check-called my bet of 2,400. The turn was an Ace, he checked and I bet 3,000. He check-raised to 7,200 and I called. The river paired the Queen. He bet 11,100 after a short think. What is my best play and why?

Last month

Karl faces a tricky spot against a big stack…

Event: GSOP Prague

€1,100 Main Event
Stack: 340,000
blinds: 5,000/10,000/1,000

Karl’s hand: K-Q

Board: Q-J-6-J-6

Situation: Action folded to the button to my BB. He was among the tournament chip leaders with a stack of around 1.3 million and had been playing aggressively. He opened for a min-raise. The SB folded and I called with K-Qo. Flop was Q-J-6 with a flush draw and we both checked. The turn paired the Jack and completed the flush. I check called his bet of 35,000. The river paired the 6, I checked and he announced a bet of 86,000. This was the first time I had seen him announce a bet rather than move chips across the line. What is my best play?


I was surprised when he checked this flop due to his aggression and his image of me as a tight player. I thought he must either have a hand with showdown value that he wanted to pot control (Jx/6x) or maybe a reasonable draw not strong enough to play faster. The turn was a bad card considering the range I had given him. It was also possible his lack of flop c-bet was due to the texture of the flop and the likelihood it hit my preflop calling range. It seemed too weak to check this hand twice and fold so I called to see how he reacted on the river. The river pairing the 6 meant any pot control hand from the flop had now turned into a hand strong enough to bet the river for value. When he bet almost 1/3 of my stack I had to decide whether his line was a delayed double barrel bluff or a pot control hand that had become strong. I decided the latter was most likely. Unfortunately this time I was wrong and he later told me he had 9-8o (no diamond).

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