Hand of the Week: Petrangelo Stays Cool Under Aussie Heat

At the highest buy-in event so far this year, Mike Watson and Nick Petrangelo managed to outlast Fedor Holz and move on to heads-up play.

Having knocked off the hottest player in poker both players now had $529,000 AUD locked up. The winner, though, would take home $882,000.

As it turns out, the finale was only decided when one of the two North Americans went for an ill-timed bluff and got caught.

Flop to River

There are only two players left in the $100k Challenge in Melbourne and they’re fighting for one of the most highly coveted titles in the poker world.

Also, there’s the money – $520k to $882k is a quite a sizeable difference. The blinds are at 6,000/12,000 and Mike Watson is sitting on the button with 631,000 chips or 52 BB.

Nick Petrangelo in the big blind has almost twice as many chips – 1.2 million or 100 BB. He finds    

He sees Watson raise to 30,000 and calls. There’s 60,000 in the pot and effective stacks are at 600,000. The flop is      

Petrangelo checks and Watson checks behind. Still 60,000 chips in the pot and still effective stacks of 600,000. The turn is the  

Petrangelo now bets 45,000 and Watson calls. The pot grows to 150,000 and effective stacks are down to 560,000. The river is the  

Petrangelo now bets out 150,000. Watson thinks for a little while and then moves all-in for 560,000. Petrangelo thinks it through and eventually makes the call.

His two pair take the pot and the tournament as Watson only has     Watch the hand again in the video below.


If you get caught bluffing, you always look stupid. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the bluff was badly played.


Watson raised pre-flop with a weak ace. It’s a standard move by the Canadian. He assumes he has the best hand and wants to get more chips in the middle.

Petrangelo on the other side of the table has a classic hand to defend the big blind with.

Two medium-high cards with a two-gapper might not be a good defend at a full-ring table, as they will often be dominated, but heads-up ranges are wider and different rules apply.

No Flop Action

Petrangelo surely likes the 8 5 2 flop. He hit top pair, which is almost always the best hand heads-up, yet checking to the initial raiser is the standard and best play for him.

Watson has two reasonable options. He flopped a gutshot so he could carry on with a c-bet, but there are two issues that come along with that move.

First, an ace-high hand definitely has some showdown value in heads-up and he would be in a bad spot if he gets raised. By checking he keeps all the options for the turn – he can put out a delayed c-bet and/or try to go for a bluff.


Wants the chips.

Petrangelo Wants the Chips

With the 7 on the turn there are now different straight draws and two flush draws on the board, but Petrangelo still has top pair which is enough reason for a bet.

In this spot Watson could have a marginal hand like fives or sevens or he could be on a draw. Petrangelo has to think he has the best hand and he wants to make Watson pay.

From Watson’s point of view this bet could just as well be a steal or a semi-bluff so he’s not going anywhere — particularly as he’s getting 2-1 pot odds. A call in position is justified as he will speak last on the river.

Watson Risks it All

The J on the river is interesting in several respects. Petrangelo improves to two pair and shouldn’t really worry about who has the best hand.


Risks it all.

His bet of 150,000 is the correct move as there are many worse hands that can pay him off. The size of the bet is smartly chosen, too. It’s exactly pot size and thus polarizes his range a little more than a smaller bet would have.

Watson now takes his time to thinks things through. His gutshot didn’t come in and the ace isn’t really strong enough to be even a bluff catcher – he’s not beating anything anymore except busted heart draws.

But now is the time to think about what range he’s representing to his opponent. He raised pre-flop but didn’t show any strength afterwards.

Checking the flop makes it look like he has a hand with some showdown value but overpairs and heart draws are certainly out of his represented range as he would have bet or semi-bluffed them on the flop.

Calling the turn makes it look like he’s either trying to get to showdown with a marginal hand or he’s drawing to a diamond flush or a straight – plus he could have monsters with 9-6 or 6-4.

The J could have filled up several possible draws in Watson’s hand, which makes this a very good spot for bluffing.


Cool and collected FTW.

Petrangelo Keeps his Cool

Watson’s demise here is probably that the river is the second pair for Petrangelo so he’s not only beating all the bluffs but also all other two-pair hands.

Petrangelo is also aware that a top player like Watson will always be capable of bluffing and that Watson has a very wide range that includes a lot of air. 

Still, it takes some balls to make that call as he would have given Watson a big chip lead if he had been wrong.


Mike Watson tries to force his way to winning this pot but unfortunately plays against the top of his opponent’s range – which made his bluff an ill-timed one.

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