Casino Boss Soft Plays the Nuts in partypoker Big Game

The recent partypoker "Big Game" at King's Casino Rozvadov which saw some of poker's biggest names line up to play a 36 hour cash game of NLHE/PLO mix had its share of interesting moments. We reported earlier today on Tony G hitting a sweet river to take down a $500,000 pot against Rob Yong. There was also an interesting NL hand in which the Casino's owner, Leon Tsourkernik opted to check-call on the river holding the stone cold nuts, a move frowned upon in most poker games.

The hand occured during a €100/€200 hand of NLHE. After an under the gun straddle from Ankin of Germany to €400 Tsourkernik bet €3,000 with {Q-Spades}{8-Spades} and was called by Rob Yong in the cut-off with {k-Hearts}{9-Hearts} and by Lebanese pro Albert Daher with {A-Hearts}{j-Hearts}.

The flop was about as action-packed as it could get with {6-Hearts}{8-Hearts}{q-Hearts} giving Tsourkernik top two pairs, Rob Yong the second nut flush and Albert Daher the nut-flush. Leon bet €10,000 with Rob calling and Daher raising all-in for another €7.6k. Leon just flat called and although Rob Yong wanted to re-raise the ruling was made that with Daher all-in for just €17.6k he had to just call, which lead to a little confusion.

This is where the hand gets even more interesting. Knowing that Rob Yong wanted to re-raise the flop (and therefore presumably has a better hand than his own two pairs), Leon opts to check the turn in the dark. The {2-Diamonds} turn changes nothing and with the pot already over €62k Rob Yong bets just €5k saying to the Leon "I'll give you a chance". Leon calls and once again checks in the dark, leading to Yong betting another €5k, this time also in the dark.


Above: Check out the controversial hand in which Leon Tsourkernik soft plays the nuts as a favour to Rob Yong

The river (naturally) comes down {q-Diamonds} giving Leon Tsourkernik the nuts with Queens full of eights. However, rather than raising, he opts to just call Yong's €5k bet much to the confusion of the table. Leon explained his actions saying, "I called the river, you know why? because he gave me a chance" referring to the small turn bet Yong laid out to keep Tsourkernik in the pot.

Soft-playing the nuts is generally frowned upon at the poker table, and often the casino rules will be such that a player will receive a penalty if they don't bet the nuts if they are last to act. However, a couple of things are worth noting here. Firstly, the 'rule' is usually only enforced if the player has the exclusive nuts i.e. they are the only player who can possibly have the nuts (for example Daher's hand would have been the 'exclusive nuts' had the board not paired on the river) and Tsourkernik's hand could have been equalled had Yong held the case Queen and another eight. Secondly (and perhaps more importantly), Leon Tsourkernik owns the entire casino so I'm guessing he can pretty much make or break any rules he likes!



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