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Poker by Chad Holloway

After Jack Salter finished runner-up to Scott Davies in the 2014 World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific, Salter said that he was disappointed with how he played the final hand. I couldn’t help but wonder how he could have played it differently. Could he have possibly folded? Would I have folded if I’d been in his shoes?

The hand in question happened in Level 25. Blinds were 25,000-50,000 with a 5,000 ante, and Salter and Davies were sitting with 4.6 million and 5.3 million, respectively. Given their deep stacks, it looked as if it would take a “cooler” for them to play a big pot - a hand where the opponents each have powerful holdings. That’s exactly what developed in hand No. 85 of the final table.

It began when Salter opened for 105,000 from the button. Davies reraised to 300,000, and Salter called.

On a flop of 6h 10h 10s, Davies bet 175,000, and Salter called.

The 8s appeared on the turn. Davies bet again, this time 330,000, and Salter raised to 930,000. Davies pushed back with a three-bet to 1.8 million, and Salter tanked for nearly two minutes before four-bet shoving all in.

Davies snap-called with the 6d 6s for a flopped full house, which was ahead of Salter’s 10c Qc flopped trips. I imagine this is the point at which Salter began to question his play, so let’s examine the hand a bit further.

The preflop action was standard. Salter had a better-than-average hand and raised accordingly from the button. Davies correctly three-bet with his pocket pair, and it only cost Salter 195,000 more to see a flop in position. Davies’ continuation on the flop was expected, and so was Salter’s call. Of course, Salter could have raised, but he had no reason to believe Davies held a bigger hand.

Things got interesting after Davies bet 330,000 on the turn. By the looks of it, he either had a big pocket pair, a flush draw, or he was bluffing. You can’t blame Salter for thinking he was ahead with trips. Raising was the best way to build the pot, but Davies’ three-bet must have come as a surprise. That was when Salter was put to the test.

Did Davies have a big pocket pair? Did he have a better 10? What could he have had? No doubt all of these questions ran through Salter’s head. He eventually shoved, but could he have folded? Doing so would have left him with a workable stack. And of course, calling was an option, too.

Personally, I would have played it the same way as Salter. Putting Davies on pocket sixes would have been tough. It was more likely he held a big pocket pair, or maybe he was pushing a heart flush draw. He could have had a 10 with a better kicker, too, but Salter had to assume he had two of those possibilities beat, so I don’t mind the shove.

Salter could have caught a 10, queen or eight to stay alive, but it wasn’t in the cards, as the 3s blanked on the river. Salter had to settle for second place and a $516,960 consolation prize, while Davies captured the bracelet and $850,136 first-place prize.

How about you? Would you have played it differently if you were in Salter’s shoes?

Chad Holloway is a World Series of Poker bracelet winner and Senior News Editor for PokerNews.com.