One of the more talked about hands shown last week on the PokerStars TV live stream of the PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino® Main Event took place on Day 2 — an interesting case of an aces-versus-kings hand that didn't necessarily "play itself," as those hands often go.
Setting the scene, there were 196 players remaining in the 727-entry event and they were about halfway through the day with the average stack about 111,000. The top 143 finishers would make the money, so the bubble wouldn't be bursting for a while yet.
They were in Level 12 — blinds 1,000/2,000, ante 300 — and were fully eight-handed at the feature table when it folded to French player Benoit Lam in middle position. Lam had 51,300 to start the hand, and he opened for 4,500.
It folded to PokerStars qualifier Anderjs Maklecovs on the button. The Latvian player had 82,700 to start the hand and he called. Action reached Swiss player Salvatore Graziano in the big blind, another qualifier. He began the hand with 41,900 and he decided to call as well.
That meant there were three players involved and a pot of 16,900 when the flop came . Graziano checked quickly, and after riffling his chips and giving each of his opponents a look, Lam continued for 7,000. Maklecovs then immediately raised to 15,000, knocking out Graziano.
Lam studied the situation for two full minutes — smiling occasionally, rechecking his cards once, and looking repeatedly at Maklecovs — then called. The pot was up to 46,900, Lam was down to 31,500 and Maklecovs had 62,900 behind.
The turn was the . Lam checked quickly, and Maklecovs immediately set out a bet of 35,000 — enough to put Lam all in.
Here's a clip of what happened next:
As shown above, following a minute-and-a-half tank, Lam folded his hand face up — . Maklecovs showed his cards as well — .
Lam's fold was a tough one, clearly, and probably not one every player would make. That said, it isn't hard to imagine a number of hands in preflop button-caller Makelcovs's range fitting with that highly-coordinated board.
Speaking of, that flat call by Maklecovs with pocket kings was also not "standard," and as it turned out likely helped encourage Lam to remove big pairs from Makelcovs's range when he did decide to let his aces go.
As it happened, Maklecovs would get knocked during the next level by Patrik Antonius in a hand that saw the Latvian all in on a flop with (nut flush draw) versus Antonius's (lesser flush draw, pair of deuces). The turn was the and river the , and Maklecovs was eliminated shy of the money.
A little later Graziano would be the unfortunate player finishing 144th later in the day to bubble the tournament. Meanwhile, Lam would make it all of the way to a 66th-place finish for a €12,080 cash.
Would you have folded aces in this spot as Lam did? You can watch the hand from the beginning here.