Ivan Freitez: One Of The Worst Poker Players For Angle Shooting
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 that group.
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.
Naturally, other 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
Ivan Freitez 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 trying it.
Freitez’s idea was quite simple, and it sort of took advantage of poker rules.
All verbal 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.
Then he’d proceed to put in the calling chips, saying he meant to call, justifying the confusion with the now-famous “no speak English” phrase.
Obviously, Ivan 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.
Freitez 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.
Kremser told Yanayt that Freitez was known for doing this with very strong hands, and every time he got called, he turned over the virtual nuts.
Despite the 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 of five.
After Freitez 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.
Ivan Freitez 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 title.
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.
Despite the 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 the mix.
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.
Despite the 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?
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?
Understandably, people at home who barely ever play or only play with their friends would think this, but this just isn’t the reality.
Sure, Ivan 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 coverage.
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.
Tournament directors can play a role in the process, and what Thomas Kremser did was a great example of this.
Pretty much 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