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#2 Johnny Chan vs Erik Seidel


Isn’t it iconic, don’t you suppose? 

Depicting a victorious athlete in a standard model. Displaying the symbolic qualities of a factor so properly that you simply turn into synonymous with that factor. A poker hand so epic that it transcends the sport, reifying one thing summary concerning the nature of competitors and threat. Iconic is a troublesome phrase to outline. 

moments that eclipsed, epitomized, and romanticized the sport itself

Beginning with Jamie Gold vs Paul Wasicka final week, I’m analyzing 5 of essentially the most iconic World Collection of Poker Essential Occasion poker fingers for the following 4 weeks. They’re 5 moments that eclipsed, epitomized, and romanticized the sport itself. They’re each acquainted and unusual, each canny within the outdated sense and uncanny within the trendy sense, in the way in which that myths and legends are. 

Though these fingers are a part of poker’s collective consciousness, there’s something overseas about them too as they’re from a distinct time and place. It’s my hope that by demystifying them, new life is breathed into them and maybe a brand new appreciation of their iconic standing will emerge. 

The Orient Categorical vs The Rookie

With that nauseatingly earnest preamble lastly over, the hand I wish to take a look at this week is arguably probably the most well-known fingers ever performed. Immortalized within the film ‘Rounders,’ it’s the last hand of the 1988 WSOP Essential Occasion, performed between Johnny ‘The Orient Categorical’ Chan and Erik Seidel, a person who nowadays is a bonafide poker legend however, unbelievably, was then taking part in his first ever match. 

Chan had gained the Essential Occasion the earlier yr, defeating Frank Henderson heads-up on a last desk that additionally featured Howard Lederer and Dan Harrington. He was driving excessive and fancied to go back-to-back from the start of the ultimate day. Seidel was the rookie, taking part in for simply 30% of himself however he had battled his technique to the ultimate desk largely below the radar. Massive names like TJ Cloutier and Humberto Brenes had been additionally within the combine however they fell in fifth and fourth locations, respectively. 

he was utterly misplaced at sea when he received to heads-up

If Seidel was in uncharted waters on the ultimate desk, he was utterly misplaced at sea when he received to heads-up. When Ron Graham bust in third, Seidel was already flagging and discovering it troublesome to take care of focus. He additionally felt out-gunned by the wily Chan who had extra chips and an even bigger arsenal of weapons when it got here to a mano a mano battle. 

The hand 

Chan and Seidel had $280,000 locked up however the winner would obtain $700,000, so this was a $420,000 heads-up contest (they actually had steep payout constructions in these days).

Firstly of the hand, Chan had 1.375 million chips and Seidel had 295,000. The blinds had been 10,000/20,000 with no ante. Chan limped the button with J♣️9♣️. Seidel checked his possibility with Q♣️7❤.

With a pot of 40,000, it got here Q♠️T♥️8♦️. Seidel checked, Chan wager 40,000, Seidel raised to 90,000 and Chan known as. 

The pot was 220K and it got here the two♠️ so the board learn Q♠️T♥️8♦️2♠️. The motion went test, test. 

To the river, the pot was nonetheless 220K and it got here the 6♦️ so the ultimate board was Q♠️T♥️8♦️2♠️6♦️. Seidel shoved his remaining 185,000 chips and with the nuts, Chan has the simplest name ever to win the Essential Occasion for a consecutive yr. 

Analyzing the pre-flop and flop

The very first thing to contemplate is simply how shallow the efficient stack was on this hand. Seidel has lower than 15 massive blinds. The second related element is there is no such thing as a ante. Chan’s limp with a suited one-gapper is certainly the usual line. With a giant blind ante (as can be extra normal in the present day), he may positively take into account shoving however with a better threat to reward, I like his resolution to only name. Seidel’s knuckle again can be completely fantastic. 

On the flop, Seidel’s test is tidy and Chan has a particular wager. His pot-sizing is greater than I might select however curiously a solver would advocate a mixture of wager sizes, together with full pot. With the straight, Chan unblocks the pairs/two-pair fingers so Seidel can have numerous fingers that can name a minimum of as soon as. 

all he’s actually doing is bloating the pot unnecessarily out of place

Seidel’s flop elevate achieves little or no. I suppose for that sizing he can get known as by worse however all he’s actually doing is bloating the pot unnecessarily out of place. I’m inclined to file this below ‘old-school info wager’ and there’s a motive that they fell out of favor. 

Chan’s spot is dreamy – he has the nuts and his opponent is elevating into him. 3-betting is an possibility as there are scare playing cards that would kill his motion however I believe flatting, as he did, is the superior selection. There is just one extra wager within the hand and it’s possible that Seidel, having now turn into the aggressor, will make it himself on the flip. 

Analyzing the flip and river

The deuce on the flip is a complete brick and Seidel has created a messy spot for himself. On the one hand, Chan could possibly be drawing and also you positively wish to deny fairness in opposition to these fingers. Nonetheless, by elevating Chan’s pot-size wager you’ve strengthened his vary to comprise a big quantity that beat you. On stability, I like his resolution to test. 

After Seidel checks, Chan has an attention-grabbing spot. Ought to he therapeutic massage the pot with a one-third pot wager or ought to he test and set the lure? It feels shut and a solver would do each at some frequency however I just like the test. 

Chan’s flip test did actually embolden Seidel, making him suppose he had the perfect hand and was up in opposition to maybe a hand like Okay-10, J-10, 10-9, or 8-9. Versus these fingers, he didn’t wish to get reverse-freerolled so he elected to wager himself. 

Given the scale of the pot, it’s troublesome to discover a bet-size that isn’t all-in however maybe he may have wagered 75,000. I choose this wager for a few causes:

  1. This dimension is extra prone to get known as by a hand like Q-4, J-10, or 9-10 which must be our goal fingers. 
  2. This dimension leaves room for Chan to bluff. By going all-in, you’re limiting Chan to responses solely with the worth portion of his vary. 


Total, Chan will get numerous credit score for setting the lure on this hand however, in actuality, there was a sure inevitability to Seidel going broke, or a minimum of dropping the vast majority of his stack as soon as that cooler flop was dealt. Seidel mustn’t have raised the flop and as a substitute simply known as. Had he taken that motion, he may maybe have discovered an escape route on flip or river relying on sizings, though theoretically, he must name it off on this specific run-out. 

I used to be thrown into that have having by no means even seen the ultimate desk.”

Heads-up poker is such a specialty format and Chan would have had a good quantity of expertise versus the then-recreational Seidel. “I used to be actually, actually drained and it was very arduous for me to be as targeted as I ought to have been on the time,” stated Seidel in an interview years later. “I used to be thrown into that have having by no means even seen the ultimate desk.”

The very subsequent yr, Chan can be denied a mind-blowing Essential Occasion three-peat by an upstart ‘Poker Brat’ from Madison, Wisconsin. ‘The Orient Categorical’ would stay a pressure in poker for 2 extra a long time, profitable his final bracelet in 2005.

In the meantime, Seidel’s rise within the sport stutter-started however was precipitous between 1992 and 2007, a interval wherein he gained eight WSOP bracelets and at one time was the winningest match poker participant in historical past. He has remained a dominant pressure, revered by the trendy wizards as an old-schooler who nonetheless punches with the perfect. He gained his ninth WSOP bracelet in 2021 within the $10,000 Excessive Curler Occasion for $978,000. 

Each Chan (2002) and Seidel (2010) have been inducted into the Poker Corridor of Fame. 


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