Arts & Entertainment

Daniel Negreanu on Poker: A Monster Fold at the WPT Championship

There’s been a lot of online chatter about a monster fold recently made by former WSOP Main Event champion Joe Hachem. Some even consider Hachem’s play to be one of the worst laydowns in poker history.

At the WPT Championship, players started with a deep stack of 50,000 chips and blinds at just 50-100. With this structure, it’s rare for a player to get knocked out in the first hour, but it does happen.

Very early in the tournament with the blinds at 100-200, a young internet player raised to 700. Two players called, as did Hachem, from the button with 5h-3h. The flop came As-7d-4c and everyone checked to Joe.

With an open-ended straight draw, Hachem decided to check, preferring to see a free card. The turn card was the 6c. The kid bet out 2,000 and the next two players folded. Hachem raised to 7,000. The kid reraised to 12,000. Hachem fired back with another raise, making it 22,000 to go.

Here’s where it got a little crazy. The kid reraised all in for 27,000 more!

Joe glanced at his opponent and said, “You got 8-5, kid,” and folded his hand face up showing the low straight. The kid then showed his pocket aces. Joe folded the best hand and everyone in the crowd was stunned.
Well, Hachem actually made the better long-run decision.

In deep stack poker, you’d better have the nuts — or pretty close to it — to justify moving all-in on the turn. In this hand, Hachem figured the only hand he could beat was three aces. And for that to be the case, the kid would have had to make a horrible play by moving all-in even though there was a potential straight on the board.

You see, the biggest mistake was not the way Hachem played his hand; that distinction goes to how the kid played his. Yes, the kid’s trip aces was a strong hand. But when Hachem reraised him twice, what kind of hands did the kid think Joe could possibly have had?
It’s unlikely that Hachem would have reraised twice with a smaller three of a kind. His two most probable hands were 3-5 or 5-8, each making a straight. Did the kid really think that Joe had a straight and would fold? No way.

The key reason why Hachem’s fold wasn’t as bad as some believe is that he still had 27,000 chips remaining after laying down his hand. With blinds at only 100-200, there was still plenty of poker to be played. Joe Hachem was hardly in dire straits.

Face it; your poker decisions will sometimes appear foolish. Perhaps you’ll fold the best hand or will end up calling with the worst hand. What’s really important, though, is that you process all available information and make the best long-term decision possible.
Hachem made the wrong decision in this hand, but don’t think his WSOP and WPT titles were fluke wins. It’s the ability to make a solid laydown that gives a true champion like Joe Hachem his edge.

Though Hachem didn’t win this tournament, his monster fold was indeed the talk of the tourney. Without the benefit of a solid read on his opponent so early in the tournament, a safer play for Hachem would have been to simply call the kid’s reraise to 12,000.
What would I have done? Well, had I been in Joe’s shoes, I would have made the same monster laydown, too.

Visit for information about Daniel Negreanu’s new book, Hold’em Wisdom for All Players.


© 2008 Card Shark Media. All rights reserved.