Some players become famous for their
results, while others reach notoriety for their crazy playing styles that get
them involved in massive pots all the time.
Some, however, get the attention of the
poker media for all the wrong reasons, and Ivan Freitez certainly belongs to
Although he tops the Venezuelan all-time money list with close to $2.7 million in live winnings, Freitez has actually become a poster boy for angle shooting in poker.
He has repeatedly shown that he has no problem breaking poker etiquette rules as long as it doesn’t get him in serious trouble with tournament officials.
Pulling angles whenever he gets a chance seems to be a part of Freitez’s long-term strategy.
players and tournament directors aren’t thrilled about it, but what do you do
with a guy who’s ready to pretty much walk the fine line between what’s allowed
and what isn’t without actually crossing it?
Angle-Shooting His Way To EPT Title
became known to the wider poker public in 2010 as he managed to master a deep
run in the EPT Grand Final.
Prior to this,
the Venezuelan had a few cashes on record, but only one of them was for low six
figures, so he hardly stood out from the thousands of poker players out there.
Coming into the
EPT Grand Final event, Freitez clearly came up with a “strategy” that he
thought would give him an edge.
Whether this was
something he used in other tournaments or devised it for this event is
impossible to say.
The odds are
Ivan Freitez had some experience shooting angles in the past, as it’s hard to
believe he just woke up the morning before the tournament and thought about
Freitez’s idea was quite simple, and it sort of took advantage of poker rules.
actions are binding, so if you announce the action before putting chips in the
pot, the action stands. Whatever you do after doesn’t matter.
Throughout the tournament, in the spots where he had the nuts or close to the nuts and was facing a bet from an opponent, he would announce a raise.
proceed to put in the calling chips, saying he meant to call, justifying the
confusion with the now-famous “no speak English” phrase.
Freitez knew the rules very well, and he knew that his verbal action was
binding. Every time, he was forced to make the minimum raise.
The whole point
of his shenanigans was to throw the opponents off and confuse them into making
a light call.
apparently pulled this trick off a few times throughout the tournament and
Thomas Kremser, the tournament director, was getting tired of his spiel.
So, when he
tried to pull his angle once again in a hand against Eugene Yanayt, Kremser
took a proactive approach.
It was a
familiar setup. After calling on the flop, Freitez improved to two pairs to get
ahead of Yanayt’s top pair.
The turn checked
through, and then the river filled up Freitez, giving him the virtual nuts.
Believing his top pair was good, Eugene bet for value and faced Freitez’s “I
raise – I meant I call” trick.
Kremser came to
the table to resolve the situation and as expected, he announced that Freitez’s
raise was binding. But he did something else as well.
Yanayt that Freitez was known for doing this with very strong hands, and every
time he got called, he turned over the virtual nuts.
advice, Yanayt ended up making the call as it was just a min-raise, and he was
sitting with a pretty good hand, especially short-handed.
At this point,
the tournament was down to 10 final players, so they were playing at two tables
turned over the full house, most players were disgusted at what they witnessed,
but Yanayt wasn’t all that upset.
In an interview
a bit later, he said he was actually pretty content with how the hand played
out as, given his actual hand, he would have probably had to call a bigger
raise on the river.
So, in this
particular instance, the angle-shoot ended up costing Freitez chips, which only
goes to show that playing a controversial game is a double-edged sword.
Karma? What Karma?
If poker was a
completely fair game and proverbial poker gods were there to punish cheaters
and angle shooters, Freitez would’ve probably run into a massive cooler a few
hands later and bust from the tournament.
But that’s not
really how things work, and karma is a nice thing to believe in, but it doesn’t
seem to care too much about affairs between poker players.
went on to win the tournament, scooping by far the biggest prize of his career.
He pocketed over
$2.2 million after defeating Torsten Brinkmann in the heads-up skirmish for the
It’s safe to say
that the video of his EPT shenanigans didn’t win him any popularity points, but
his bank account was $2 million+ richer, so it’s hard to imagine he was
particularly upset about it.
After all, he
knew what he was doing all along, and it didn’t bother him one bit.
massive boost to his bankroll, Freitez didn’t go crazy with buy-ins like some
poker players tend to do after a big win.
He went back to
playing smaller buy-in events, with an occasional larger tournament thrown into
As for his
results after the Monte Carlo tournament, he didn’t have many worth mentioning,
except for the win in the $350 Deep Stack Rock ‘N’ Roll event in 2015.
small entry, this was a massive field of over 3,000 players, so Freitez ended
up pocketing $117,366.
Ivan Freitez Controversy: How Bad Was It?
Image: Jayne Furman/WSOP
The 2010 EPT
Grand Final gave Ivan Freitez the reputation of a proper poker villain. The
poker world was in shock that someone would try to pull off such a move.
After all, isn’t
poker a gentleman’s game, and aren’t you supposed to follow the etiquette, even
if it won’t produce the desired result?
people at home who barely ever play or only play with their friends would think
this, but this just isn’t the reality.
Freitez was caught pulling an angle on TV and things got messy, but these
things happen all the time.
Is it shocking
that he did it in such a big event? That depends on how you look at things.
On the one hand,
you’d expect people to conduct themselves better in a 10K tournament with live
On the other, if
players are willing to pull angles in small daily events where the top prize
might be a few thousand, why would it be surprising to see it in a tournament
where millions are on the line?
To make it very
clear, angle shooting isn’t cool and in the long run it’s probably –EV if you
want to be a serious part of the poker community. Rubbing everyone up the wrong
way will eventually come back to bite you.
That said, it
happens all the time, and since it’s not technically against the rules, it’s up
to the players to do their best to protect themselves.
directors can play a role in the process, and what Thomas Kremser did was a
great example of this.
everyone agreed that he handled the situation perfectly.
There is no lack
of controversy in the poker world, and scams and cheating scandals happen from
time to time.
In the grand scheme of things, the Ivan Freitez controversy barely scratches the surface.
Lead image: Twitter/CodigoPoker