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Grinder vs. Duhamel at the Main Event Final Table

The World Series of Poker Main Event title is far and away the most coveted prize in poker but the $50,000 buy-in WSOP Players Championship is no slouch either. It's probably the second most coveted title in poker, running neck and neck with the World Poker Tour Championship.

Well, at this year's WSOP, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi made it look easy by winning the Players Championship and then making an improbable run to the final table at the Main Event. No matter where he would finish at the final table, by winning the Players Championship and final tabling at the Main Event, Mizrachi accomplished a truly legendary feat!

With five players remaining at the Main Event final table, and with the blinds at $500,000/$1 million, the following hand was played.

Everyone folded to Jonathan Duhamel ($27.25 million in chips) in the small blind where he opened for $2.2 million with As-9h. From the big blind, Mizrachi ($54 million in chips) responded by moving Duhamel all-in with 3s-3h. Duhamel called.

With $55 million in the pot, the hands were almost exactly even money. The cards fell off Kh-9d-5d-9c-Jh, and Duhamel, who had just lost $17 million on the previous hand, won the huge pot and took over the chip lead.

Let's take a closer look.

Duhamel's opening bet of just over two times the big blind is pretty standard these days, although in the past, a heftier raise of three times the big blind was the norm. Why the change? Because players don't defend their blinds as often as they once did; they don't feel compelled to risk three big blinds when a smaller bet will win the pot before the flop about as often.

I hate Grinder's $27 million all-in move. Why ship in $27 million with pocket threes?

Here's my reasoning. Though current internet poker theory suggests that Grinder's move would be a solid play if he were able to pick up 15% of his stack, that argument doesn't necessarily apply to brick-and-mortar tournaments, especially in tournaments where the blinds escalate super-slowly.

Another reason to hate the move was that Mizrachi was clearly the best player at the table - the chalk. At the time, he had the chip lead and everyone at the table was afraid of him. In fact, at the final table, the other players were so awed by his play that they referred to his uncanny reading ability as "Grinder-vision".

Look, when you're the best player at the table and everyone knows it, it's pretty easy to win a lot of small pots and build your chip stack virtually risk-free. Mizrachi should have used this image and his superior skills to pound the other players when they were weak, and saved his big bets for when he had a real strong hand.

While sticking $27 million into the pot with 3-3 indeed took the skill out of Grinder's hand, I still give him credit for sensing that Duhamel was relatively weak. I mean, really, Duhamel called with A-9 offsuit!

Mizrachi's move should have worked. Duhamel should have folded his hand.

I don't like Duhamel's $25 million call at all. Did he really think that Mizrachi had a hand like K-Q or A-8? And what were the chances that his A-9 offsuit would be out in front? Let's just say not very likely. Duhamel should have saved his chips for a better spot.

Final thought: Though I strongly disagree with the $27 million all-in raise with 3-3 and the call with A-9, both gentlemen surely deserve a ton of credit for their reading abilities. After all, Grinder was correct that Duhamel was relatively weak and Duhamel was right that Mizrachi didn't have him dominated.


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