By Matt Clark
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Ian Steinman made the fold of the season on the World Poker Tour and saved his WPT Rolling Thunder tournament life. Heck, it might even be the greatest fold the WPT has ever caught on camera. It’s certainly in the conversation.
Facing a river shove from Joe McKeehen, Steinman folded a set of kings correctly against McKeehen’s straight. It was a spot where only two hands beat Steinman.
Painting the picture, Steinman began as the chip leader and McKeehen was second. Five players remained, and a call by Steinman would mean his stack was devastated.
Steinman knew all of this and burned through six of his 30-second time chips during his period in the tank.
An hour after the hand played out, Steinman was on break and got a chance to clear the air about what was going on in his head when he faced the enormous decision. Steinman struggled to come up with exact words to describe what was going on during the hand, but here’s what he had to say.
“In my mind, my thinking was very kind of fishy, but if it’s somehow correct then it’s some weird high-level study,” Steinman told WPT.com. “It still might have been a terrible fold. Most likely it was just a terrible fold with bad logic and maybe I just kind of got caught up in the moment.”
Steinman’s rail for the final table includes pros Brett Murray and Taylor Black. According to them, Steinman was “beating himself up” over the fold.
“We’re all just in shock that that’s what he had,” said Black. “He had been beating himself for a half hour and we were beating him about it. He was beside himself thinking he had blown the tournament because Joe [McKeehen] told him, ‘You’re going to regret that fold for the rest of your life.'”
When he finally did fold, Steinman decided that McKeehen had queen-ten of hearts for a flush draw that backdoored into a straight.
Steinman gazed up at the tournament clock for a minute when he was in the tank against McKeehen. As McKeehen was the second-largest stack at the table with five players remaining and a World Poker Tour title on the line, Steinman thought hard about the ICM considerations of his hand. The hundreds of thousands of hands played online by Steinman played a factor into Steinman’s knowledge of the money that was at stake.
“ICM is an obvious consideration,” Steinman said. “If I have a hand like ace-king, I can fold comfortably because of ICM and things like that, which is why kings could become a fold in some strange sense.”
The results of the decision couldn’t be questioned in the stages that followed for Steinman. The Californian had the chip lead three-handed with McKeehen staring at him across the table. McKeehen was the favorite to be heads up with Steinman, as short stack David Larson looked to be hanging on by a thread. As fate would have it, McKeehen fell in third place and Steinman went heads up with Larson.
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