Davidi Kitai is one of those notoriously underrated master tournament grinders. His results are mind bogglingly impressive and yet somehow his name doesn't really come up in poker related conversations as often as it should. Speaking of his results, Davidi is one of the few "triple crown" winners with 3 WSOP bracelets, one WPT, and one EPT title. He has more than $8,000,000 in lifetime earnings giving him 87th place on the All-Time Money List.
If you've ever seen one of the major televised poker tournaments there's a good chance Kitai was a part of a featured table line-up. Davidi is an extremely accomplished, extremely consistent player and in this article, we're going to take a closer look at his game.
Master of the Hero Call
If you've ever heard about Davidi you most likely know him for one thing and one thing only - his amazing hero calls. In a game of incomplete information making a very narrow call in a very narrow spot is perhaps the most impressive thing a poker player can do. Making such a play in the context of an EPT final table deserves even more praise. His hand against Andrew Chen during 2012 EPT Berlin heads-up match started with somewhat loose - though acceptable given the context - open with 4h2h from the villain and a somewhat conservative flat call with Ac3c from the Belgian player.
The flop 7hJc5s gave Chen plenty of backdoor draws and made his standard flop cbet even easier than it otherwise would've been. Davidi had a lot of showdown value and he made the call. 9s on the turn was very important for how this hand played out in the end. Chen should continue betting with the top of his range, backdoor spades and combo draws, he should also protect his more vulnerable value hands like Jx in the context of a heads-up game.
The fact that he decided to check back looked very weak in the eyes of a seasoned player like Davidi. That's why the Belgian pro opted to steal the pot from 7x and 5x type hands by betting the river on a card that made the board even more coordinated. Andrew Chan, for reasons known only to himself, decided that go over the top of David's steal allowing him to make history with this classic hero-call. Again, it made very little sense for Chan to play the top of his range in this manner given the board texture. The middle part of his range made even less sense and that's what Kitai figured out in the end.
If you think that hero call with A-high in a heads-up match of an EPT event is impressive, how about a hero call with Q-high in the heads-up for a WSOP bracelet? This time around, Kitai raised QsJs over his opponent's limp. Vayo made the call with Td8s, and the flop came 7h9d9h. Davidi followed his preflop play with a fairly standard cbet on a dry lockdown board and his opponent decided to call with an open ender - so far, so good. Ad on the turn prompted a similar sequence of plays with Kitai making a double barrel bluff and Vayo calling with his draw in position. 5c on the river caused the Belgian pro to slow down and his opponent - sensing the weakness - attempted a river steal. While in the previous hand, board texture provided us with most of the information necessary to analyze the lines of both players, this one is a bit more tricky in that regard.
In the EPT spot, Chan locked himself in a line that made it extremely improbable that he was holding the goods. Vayo however, did no such thing. Many players could still show up with Ax or even 9x on the river in a similar spot and that's why we have to assume Kitai had some sort of read on his opponent. The fact that almost all the draws (with the exception of 86) bricked on the river was certainly one of the reasons why Davidi thought his opponent might be somewhat bluff heavy but it wasn't enough to make a call with virtually no showdown value. Perhaps Vayo had a history of fast playing monsters on lockdown board and Kitai knew that?