September 26, 2020 Poker Strategy, Poker News Lars Liedtke

Poker Hand of the Week – Matt Kirk with a gutsy check-raise river bluff vs Michael Zhang at NL1,000/$2,000

Poker Hand of the Week Setup

We have a very interesting hand from the cash game of all cash games at GG Network. Australian High stakes legend Matt “Aussie Matt” Kirk joins the NL$1000/$2,000 game and creates a lot of action right from the start with a very gutsy check-raise river bluff vs. Michael Zhang.

High stakes legend and action player Matt Kirk joins the action

We are once again in nosebleeds heaven at the GG NL$1,000/$2,000 game, where all the high stakes legends such as Trueteller, LLinusLLove, crazytrader, Michael Addamo, Jason Koon, Leon Tsoukernik, Ben “Ben86” Tollerene, and Wiktor “limitless” Malinowski battle for six-figure pots on a daily basis.

Last week we had another awesome addition as another extreme action player joined the game: Matt “Aussie Matt” Kirk!

He plays the biggest stakes for years, loves action, and is absolutely fearless, that’s why Kirk specialises in PLO cash games, but whenever a really big game is running “Aussie Matt” is up for it and drives the action. This time he clashes with tournament crusher Michael “mczhang” Zhang, who boasts online tournament winnings of almost $5,000,000 and live winnings of $3,484,462.



We are at a 6-max NL$1,000/$2,000 table and the effective stack sizes at the beginning of the hand are 69.5 big blinds and Matt Kirk has Michael Zhang covered.

Poker Hand of the Week Action

Preflop Action:

Michael Zhang raises UTG with J♥J♠ to $4,500 and Matt Kirk makes a very loose call from the small blind with 3♣4♥. Everybody else folds. Pot size: $12,700


The 9♣3♠2♥ rainbow flop is perfect for Zhang as it is very dry with hardly any draws, while he has an overpair. It needs some protection though and he therefore decides to go for a rather large sizing by betting $8,350 into $12,700.

Matt Kirk has flopped middle pair and is going nowhere. Pot Size: $29,400


The K♣ on the turn is a bit of a scare card for Zhang, but doesn’t make up a big part of Matt’s range. That’s why he fires a very large second barrel of 75% pot after Kirk checked over to him again. Aussie Matt snap-calls and we go to the river.  Pot Size: $73,500


The 6♥ on the river does complete the open-ended straight draw as 54 gets there. Matt Kirk checks a third time and Michael Zhang now puts out a smallish value bet of approximately 1/3 pot ($24,255 into $73,500).

When the action comes back to Kirk it gets interesting as he doesn’t think about folding. Instead he makes a big check-raise to $146,265, which puts Zhang All-In. This puts Michael in a very tough spot as usually a check-raise All-In on the river signals a very strong hand.

After going deep into the tank for more than 40 seconds, Michael Zhang calls with his Pocket Jacks and sees the good news, when Matt Kirk only turns over 3♣4♥.  Pot Size: $282,104 Pot.

Poker Hand of the Week Analysis

What a sick hand! Let’s go through it step by step. First of all, I don’t like the call preflop from Matt Kirk out of position with 43o out of position against a UTG raise. Michael Zhang has a pretty strong range here against which you are losing a lot of money long-term by calling. Mistake number one.

The flop is pretty standard as Zhang flops and overpair, which needs some protection. I addition to that, he knows that Matt is very loose and sticky, that’s why he wisely choses a large sizing for his cbet. Matt Kirk flops middle pair with his rather weak preflop holding and has to call.

The King on the turn hits Michael Zhang’s UTG raising range, while it misses most of Matt’s small blind defending range, so Michael can be relatively sure that he still has the best hand after Matt Kirk checks a second time over to him. He acts accordingly by firing a large second barrel of 75% pot to give potential straight and flush draws not the right odds to call. Very nice bet by Zhang!

Facing such a big bet on the turn with only third pair no kicker is a pretty easy fold, but Matt decides to stick around, which is his second mistake in this hand.

On the river things are getting very interesting. Matt checks a third time and Michael Zhang makes a nice value bet of 1/3 pot looking to get called from middle pair. However, Kirk check-raises him All-In, which is a very powerful move in Texas Hold’em and puts Zhang into an extremely tough spot since the obvious straight draw with 54 is part of Matt’s range and got their on the river.

Nevertheless, it is pretty unlikely that Matt has a King and Michael beats a nine, so there are only four combinations of54 that beat him, which is not enough to justify a fold. Michael Zhang figures that out correctly and makes a great call to win a massive and well-deserved $282,104 pot. Nice hand Michael Zhang!

Watch the Poker Hand of the Week from 0:14 here:

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