The Super High Roller Bowl Europe Event #6: $100,000 No-Limit Hold’em tournament was down to it’s final four players on Sunday night in Cyprus, which meant that the broadcast was taking place on Sunday morning in the United States. Johan “YoH Viral” Guilbert was the shortest stack at the table when the runaway chip leader Artur Martirosian moved all-in against him with 9♦8♦. Guilbert woke up with A♦K♦ on the big blind and shocked the poker world by simply folding pre-flop.
At the time of the fold, Martirosian had a massive chip lead over the rest of the field with 5,600,000 chips. Selahaddin Bedir and three-time WSOP bracelet winner David Peters each had around 410,000 chips and Guilbert had 345,000 chips. With the blinds at 15,000/30000 and an ante of 30,000, Guilbert had less than 12 big blinds remaining in his stack.
Play-by-play announcer Jeff Platt and color commentator Brent Hanks can be heard going from excitement that an all-in hand is developing to shock and dismay that Guilbert folded on the PokerGO broadcast of the event. “That did not happen,” Platt said three times. “That’s not real,” Hanks said twice. “What is he thinking?” Hanks continued, “I just witnessed the worst fold of all time.”
Taking ICM into consideration
The payout structure in this high roller buy-in event clearly played a huge role in Guilbert’s decision. The top prize was $1.4 million, followed by a $910,000 score for second place, $560,000 for third place and $385,000 for fourth place. The jump from fourth place to third place was a substantial $175,000.
Let’s say that Artur Martirosian is playing chip bully to the max with his massive stack and is moving all-in with any two cards he is dealt. Ace-king suited would be a 67.1% favorite against even that massively-wide range of all-ins. So roughly two thirds of the time, Guilbert will double-up to around 25 big blinds. One third of the time he’ll be out of the tournament in fourth place. These percentages change for the worse if Martirosian is being more selective about the hands he moves all-in with.
Calling is significantly scarier than moving all-in, especially against the other short stacks. When moving all-in, the player has significant fold equity, even against the chip leader who will fold plenty of hands he might have open-shoved with. Guilbert explained in a tweet that “in an environment at the final table where a pro has 80% of the chips in play, you have to play very tight on the calling range, a bit like a satellite because the other players can claim second place for nearly $1 million.”
Calling was correct, though this wasn’t “the worst fold of all time”
A handful of professional players and casual players alike joined the conversation on Twitter to debate whether or not this was a bad fold. Jaime Stapes originally claimed that the fold was correct, but after correcting some mistakes and running the numbers again, he concluded that calling with ace-king would have been correct even with ICM considerations.
The biggest flaw in Guilbert’s fold was that he was the shortest stack at the table. In a scenario where he had 25 big blinds and both of his opponents had 15 big blinds each, it would actually make sense to fold the suited ace-king, as painful as that might be for some poker players to imagine. That’s because in that scenario he would have more time and a better chance to outlast his opponents for a massive pay jump.
But as the short stack, it was going to be difficult for Guilbert to find a better chance to double-up before his opponents would than he had calling with the ace-king. And sure enough, 20 minutes after folding the ace-king suited, Guilbert was forced to call a Martirosian all-in raise with ace-queen offsuit for his final seven big blinds. Guilbert would win the hand and go on to outlast Selahaddin Bedir to finish the tournament in third place for a $560,000 score, the largest cash of his career to date.
Featured Image Credit: Flickr – World Poker Tour