Ivan the Terrible
July 28, 2011, Posted by Pokerfarm
In May, Venezuelan player Ivan Freitez slime-balled his way to a huge tournament cash at the European Poker Tour Grand Final in Madrid. Rumours ran rampant about both his superhuman run-good skills, and the scummy, underhanded way in which he played the game. This week, footage has come to light that portrays one of the dirtiest and most blatant angle-shoots to ever be broadcast on television.
The tournament was down to two five-handed tables, with blinds of 25k/50k. Freitez, in the cutoff, raised to 120k with suited connectors. The action was folded around to American Eugene Yanayt who called with off-suit broadway. Freitez c-bet the flop for 200k with middle pair, and Yanayt made the call with top pair. The turn paired the board, and Yanayt checked unimproved. Freitez made trips, but checked behind. The river gave Freitez a boat, and an opportunity to show the world just what kind of a poker player he was. Yanayt led for 275k with his top pair. Freitez tanked for a while, confirming the size of the bet with the dealer and counting out 275k in chips. He then hesitantly announced, “I raise,” threw enough chips for a call towards the dealer, and made a commendably convincing move towards his cards, pretending to prepare for showdown. After a few seconds, he announced, “Sorry, call.” When challenged, he added a cursory, “no speaka English.”
While it was clear to everyone watching at home that Freitez had made the binding verbal raise in an attempt to trick the American into calling off additional chips, Yanayt didn’t have the luxury of seeing Freitez’s hole cards. Amid the confusion, tournament director Thomas Kremser was called over. After hearing what had happened, Kremser took the extraordinary step of announcing to the table Freitez was no stranger to underhand play:
“I think this is exactly the same situation as what happened already in this tournament, when you did exactly the same move and you had the nuts,” the Austrian official announced. Turning to Yanayk, he added “I should share this information with you.”
Addressing Freitez and Yanayk in turn, Kremser finished, “So I force you to raise now, and you have the option of what you do.”
Yanayk then faced the agonizing decision of whether or not to call off the minraise for an additional 275k. While he had been warned that Freitez had used this trick for value in the past, the American couldn’t rule out the chance that Freitez had made a mistake, or was even bluffing, hoping to use his reputation as an angle-shooter to rep the nuts with air.
Ultimately, Yanayt made the call and lost, shipping a 1.7 million chip pot to Freitez. Tournament director Kremser appeared visibly exasperated by Freitez’s behavior, but did not issue any formal penalty, taking the position that Freitez had not techinically breached the rules.
Perhaps the most galling part of the entire episode is that Yanayt later admitted he may have been prepared to call a bigger bet, so Freitez’s grand-standing antics were not only horribly unsporting but also completely unnecessary. Freitez’s angle shoot was just a part of a long string of unpleasant or suspect behavior, as he revelled in making horrible suck outs and exploited his poor grasp of English before finally going on to win the tournament. Sadly, the international scorn he has received for his behavior will likely do little to reduce the satisfaction of taking down the €1.5 million first-place prize.
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