Live games can get crazy at times, especially in high stakes games that are streamed for thousands of viewers. Some players love to make ambitious (and sometimes reckless) plays when there is an audience to entertain.
This recent hand between Antonio Esfandiari and Jeremy Levin from Hustler Casino Live is a great example. “Magic Antonio” flops middle pair, but he ends up turning it into a bluff when the board runs out in a scary way.
Watch the video below and/or read on for a recap of the hand with street-by-street analysis:
The blinds are $50/$100/$200 with a $100 BB ante. There was also another straddler, so the game is actually $50/$100/$200/$400 for this hand.
The action is folded down to Jeremy who looks down at A♠ A♥ in the Big Blind. He open-raises to $1200. The first straddler (George) calls with A♦ K♣, and Antonio flat calls with 9♦ 5♠ from the third straddle.
The effective stack size between Jeremy and Antonio is roughly $31,000 (or 75 straddles).
Obviously, Jeremy has a no-brainer raise with Pocket Aces. His size seems good considering the stack depth is only 75 straddles. If he was deeper, he should consider going bigger (more like $1,600).
Now to George, who makes a huge mistake by only calling with A♦ K♣. Ace-King is a hand that is incentivized to always 3-bet for value and protection, denying a bunch of equity from both Jeremy’s and Antonio’s range.
As played, Antonio is getting amazing pot odds to play in position throughout the hand. However, 95-offsuit seems like a bad call for Antonio given that the pot will be disputed 3-ways. I would estimate that this call is marginally –EV.
(What do you think about this preflop call by Antonio? Let me know in the comments below.)
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The flop comes T♣ 5♦ 3♥. The pot is $3,950.
Jeremy fires a c-bet of $1,800. George folds and Antonio calls.
The poker community’s knowledge of multiway pot strategy is lagging way behind heads-up pot strategy at this point in time. Having said that, a small c-bet size or check with Pocket Aces is probably the right play here. The board is dry and disconnected, and there is still value to be had from other one-pair hands.
George makes the right decision to fold since there is another player behind whose range is uncapped. If he were the last one to act, then he would have an easy call because he would beat all the bluffs while having a lot of equity against the value range.
Antonio has a pretty easy call at this point. Folding a pair on the flop in position is generally not a good strategy if you want to win money.
The turn comes the 7♣, making the board T♣ 5♦ 3♥ 7♣. The pot is now $7,550.
Jeremy thinks briefly and checks. Antonio thinks about it for a few seconds and bets $4,400. Jeremy decides to call.
With Pocket Aces, Jeremy has a good hand to check here. It’s the most invulnerable one pair hand since it will always be at least the highest overpair on the board no matter the river. That being said, betting would also be fine.
Now to Antonio, who makes two mistakes in this spot:
- The fact that he bet
- The bet size that he chose
Let me break it down. When you have a vulnerable pair like a 5 here, you are either:
- Behind some medium-strength hands such as KT, QT, and JT that bet the flop and slowed down on the turn.
- Behind some slow-played hands such as AA, KK, and TT.
- Ahead of the semi-bluffs that give up which would be mostly 2 overcard hands (KQ, KJ, QJ, J9, etc.).
Against the first category of hands, he has around 10% equity. And versus the latter category of hands, he has around 88% equity.
Because Antonio is either way ahead or way behind, his hand doesn’t benefit from betting. And if he does, he doesn’t need to bet big at all if he wants to fold out those 12% equity hands. They would fold even against a 20-25% pot bet.
So, what does he accomplish by betting half pot with his hand here? Not much, really.
He loses more against medium and strong hands that Jeremy will check-call with. Furthermore, he doesn’t need to turn this hand into a bluff, since would probably have many weaker hands to do so, like:
- Flopped double backdoor hands such as QJs, Q9s, K9s, J9s, etc.
- Gutshots and open-enders such as A2, A4, and 62s.
Jeremy makes the right decision here and just calls. There is no good enough reason to check-raise for value with a hand that is so invulnerable.
The river comes Q♦, making the final board T♣ 5♦ 3♥ 7♣ Q♦. The pot is $16,350.
Jeremy checks. Antonio puts him all-in for $24,800 after thinking about it for a bit. Jeremy ponders for about two and a half minutes and finally calls, becoming $33,650 richer with his decision.
Jeremy’s check is the best play for his range, as he is up against a polarized range and the river doesn’t give his range any advantage.
Antonio makes another mistake here, at least from a theoretical perspective.
While it’s true that he has essentially no showdown value with his hand, his range contains enough missed bluffs so that he doesn’t need to bluff with this type of hand.
In practice, if he manages to make Jeremy fold more than 60% of his range (based on the Minimum Defense Frequency formula), then his bluff is +EV.
- MDF = Risk / (Risk + Reward)
- MDF = $24,800 / ($24,800 + $16,350)
- MDF = 0.60 -> 60%
Jeremy is faced with a tough decision since he is not dominating anything in Antonio’s value range. So, he must decide whether or not Antonio will be bluffing with too many hands. In this case, since Antonio is betting roughly 1.5 times the pot, he should be bluffing around 37.5% of the time.
The math here is Risk / (Risk + Opponent’s bet + Pot) or 1.5 / 4.
Pocket Aces is a close call either way, and he ends up making the correct call.
As with all poker hands, you will never know if you actually played the hand right in the moment. All you can do is try your best, follow your instinct, and over time you will see if your strategy is actually beating your opponent’s strategy.
That’s all for this analysis guys! If you have any hands that you’d like to see analyzed, please leave a comment down below (ideally with the link to the hand).
What do you think about the way Antonio played this one? What about Jeremy?
Let me know in the comments below. I’m especially curious to see what people think of Antonio’s preflop call.
Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!
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