Erik Seidel is not the most exciting figure in the poker world. Even though he's an extremely accomplished poker player, fans of the game rarely put him on the pedestal among other greats of the game like Ungar, Ivey or even Hellmuth. This is most likely caused by his unassuming table presence, Seidel is perhaps the quietest person that was ever inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.
Even though his skills are easily overlooked the man managed to stay successful for many decades, which is incredibly difficult to do in a discipline as volatile as poker. The fact that a large part of said success came in the recent years, makes his accomplishments even more impressive. Speaking of accomplishments, Seidel won eight WSOP bracelets, one WPT title and he currently occupies the second place on the tournament all-time money list.
Words Have Power
Seidel isn't exactly known for being a huge talker and that's what made the line "I'm counting on you for entertainment value, make it lively!" so powerful in the context of this hand. Raising the flop with KQ on an AQ3 board is a somewhat unorthodox thin value play but given the verbal set-up, it makes all the sense in the world, especially if we take into the account all the gutshot and combo draw combos available on the board. A huge part of Hellmuth's range should have some equity on this texture, and giving away said equity cheaply was not a road Eric decided to take.
Given how the four of diamonds on the turn completes some gutshots, Phil had a bunch of Ax type hands in his range and draws had a lot less equity now, checking back on this street was a solid play by Seidel, given how his hand couldn't really hope for three streets of value. The river combined with Hellmuth's passive action made the Ax part of his range somewhat unlikely and so Erik went with a very healthy thin value bet sizing - when we consider the relative strength of his hand - which was obviously a masterful decision.
Old Dog New Tricks
One of the most impressive things about Seidel is the fact that he managed to go on an insane tournament heater shortly before Fedor Holz made it cool to do so.
"Seiborg" had no problems with adjusting his game to the modern poker reality and this hand showcases that perfectly. Seidel decided to defend his blind fairly loosely and then proceeded to bomb three streets against a weak perceived range of his opponent.
Hero Call For The History Books
This hand is an example of a real poker master at work. Successful hero calls are among the most exciting plays a player can make at a poker table and if we add to that the context of an EPT High Roller tournament, we get something really special. Dzmitry Urbanovich elected to skip the flop bet, and he went for a check in position instead, on an AAx board in a head's up pot which is something that not many players would've done when holding a strong hand.
Bet on the turn with two different flush draws on the board made the range of a young pro somewhat polarized and when none of those draws hit on the river, Seidel added two and two together producing one of the more impressive hero calls in tournament poker history.
The Evolution of a Player
We all know this hand from arguably the best poker movie ever created - "The Rounders". A hand like that could be a career destroyer, a weak poker mindset could prevent Seidel from ever looking past that crippling loss, and the fact the this was perhaps the most viewed losing hand in the history of poker, could only amplify the severity of potential mental issues.
However, Seiborg refused to be defined by that one moment, he even managed to make another WSOP Main Event final table a decade later (a year after Rounders was released! - almost like he wanted to quietly prove a point) and one more decade after that he was in the middle of a massive heater that catapulted him on top of the all-time money list.
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