Jonathan Little on How Phil Ivey Crushed in a €100K Poker Tournament

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To this day, Phil Ivey is still one of the most feared players at the poker table, and this hand highlights exactly why. He floats on a flop with no real backdoor equity and then goes for the bluff on the river against Orpen Kisacikoglu in a €100,000 poker tournament.

Most players, myself included, would have snap-folded on the flop, but Ivey proves time and again that he is always thinking ahead and has plans for everything that he does.

The hand took place in a €100,000 No-Limit Hold’em Triton Super High Roller with the blinds at 500/1,000/1,000. Ivey (334,000) raised to 3,000 from the cutoff with the k-Hearts10-Hearts and Kisacikoglu (121,000) three-bet to 11,000 from the button holding the a-Clubsk-Diamonds.

Why so big? When you are playing deep stacked with an ante in play you should use bigger bet and raise sizes. Both blinds folded and Ivey opted to call. If your opponent is three-betting aggressively, which Kisacikoglu is known to do, they will have a wide range that king-ten suited will do well against.

Phil Ivey
Phil Ivey

On the 9-Spades5-Spades7-Spades flop, Ivey checked and Kisacikoglu continued for continuation-bet of 8,000. To me, it seems like a pretty easy fold, but Ivey had something else in mind. He check-called and the 3-Spades peeled off on the turn.

Ivey checked for a second time and it was on Kisacikoglu. What would you do in this scenario? Do you check and give up? Do you go for a bluff, and if you do, would you bet small (15,000) or big (35,000)? This is a dicey one because it’s pretty easy for Ivey to have a very wide range when he reaches the turn due to the small flop bet size and how coordinated the board is.

I would bet for a small size with all of my strong spades, and a small bet will often fold out a lot of one-pair hands that Ivey could have. Additionally, if Kisacikoglu were to check the turn he would most likely face a bet on the river from Ivey and would have to fold even if he was winning. Kisacikoglu will not win the pot very often if he checks the turn, but a bet could win him the pot even against marginal hands that he is losing against as they would frequently fold.

For those reasons, I like a small bet from Kisacikoglu. However, in this hand, Turkey’s all-time money leader checked behind and the j-Hearts completed the board on the river.

Orpen Kisacikoglu
Orpen Kisacikoglu

With 40,500 in the pot, this seemed like a great spot for Ivey to bluff. He doesn’t need to bet too big as Kisacikoglu will likely fold any hands that do not contain a spade. If Kisacikoglu were to have a strong spade he will still call a big bet which is why it doesn’t make sense to opt for a large size.

Ivey bet 20,000 and that got the job done as Kisacikoglu snap-folded. That is Phil Ivey, he gets it done, battles hard, and picks up a lot of pots other players do not.

For a more thorough breakdown of this hand, check out my thoughts in the following video used with permission from partypoker:

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $7,000,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at Sign up to learn poker from Jonathan for free at You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.