There has been some crazy high-stakes action since the beginning of 2021.
No Limit Hold’em end-bosses have been throwing money around, trying to prove who reigns supreme on the felt. And many of these crazy hands have been anything but “standard.”
Because relatively few people have seen these hands, we’re going over the wildest ones in a new article series. This will be the first of many high stakes hands that will make you scratch your head.
Let’s dive in!
This hand was played heads-up between high stakes monsters BERRI SWEET and makeboifin at $100/$200 No Limit Hold’em.
The effective stack to start the hand is $20,000.
BERRI raises to $480 with T♥ 4♥ from the Button. Makeboifin calls from the Big Blind with A♠ 5♦.
Both players played their hands optimally.
BERRI should be opening very wide, with around 70-80% of all possible hands. His hand is well within that margin. His raise size is correct, putting just enough pressure on his opponent’s range to force him to defend with very marginal hands.
Makeboifin’s defense should be comprised of about 20% 3-bets and 55% calls. A♠ 5♦ easily makes the cut, best played as a call.
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The pot is $960 and the flop comes A♦ 7♦ 3♥.
Makeboifin (A♠ 5♦) checks. BERRI SWEET (T♥ 4♥) fires a $297 c-bet and Makeboifin calls.
BERRI should be firing a c-bet pretty often on this type of board (around 60% of the time for a 33% pot c-bet). As far as hand selection goes, T♥ 4♥ is a good candidate since it has both a backdoor flush draw and a couple of backdoor straight draws.
This type of hand is great because it can continue barreling as a semi-bluff when it adds a gutshot or a flush draw on the turn, especially when other draws complete. Not firing these kinds of hands on the flop will leave you with too strong of a range on a variety of turns.
Makeboifin has a super easy call with a top pair with a weak kicker. It doesn’t make sense to raise with this hand, even with these wide ranges, because he needs to protect the many weaker hands with which he will also call on the flop (such as a small pair).
The turn comes a T♣ making the board A♦ 7♦ 3♥ T♣. The pot is now $1,553.
Makeboifin (A♠ 5♦) checks, BERRI SWEET (T♥ 4♥) bets $1,116, makeboifin check-raises to $4900, and BERRI SWEET calls.
This is where the hand starts to live up to the title of this article.
Makeboifin strays from an equilibrium strategy here with his check-raise.
If he wanted to play a strict GTO-oriented strategy, this hand is a clear call. Ace-five has showdown value, and check-raising with it risks forcing out BERRI’s bluffs that may have continued barreling on the river. Plus, most of BERRI’s calling range will be stronger top pairs, some pair plus flush draws, and flush draws. It’s tough to imagine getting called by many worse made hands.
This hand only makes sense as a raise if makeboifin thinks BERRI is deviating from that equilibrium strategy quite a bit by calling vs the check-raise and/or 3-betting on the turn way too much.
And he does exactly that. BERRI calls with his T♥ 4♥, a call he should never make against a well-built check-raising range. This justifies makeboifin’s super thin check-raise.
The river comes 6♣ making the board A♦ 7♦ 3♥ T♣ 6♣. The pot is now the size of a 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport (or $11,350).
Makeboifin (A♠ 5♦) bets $3,744. BERRI SWEET (T♥ 4♥) goes all-in for $14,324. Makeboifin makes the call for another $10,580 and scoops a total pot of $40,000 (roughly a basic trim level 2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class).
Makeboifin is once again pushing the envelope. He goes for a 33% pot bet, either to extract super thin value or to induce aggression from BERRI. This line is also far far away from the equilibrium strategy in this spot. However, his adjustment is proven to be a good one by BERRI’s retort.
Those are the upsides to BERRI’s river raise…but there are downsides to consider.
The problems with the river raise are two-fold:
- BERRI shouldn’t have reached this part of the game tree with this hand (at least from a theoretical perspective).
- He seems to have a tendency to take this kind of line (otherwise makeboifin wouldn’t have made this incredibly ambitious play).
Making crazy aggressive plays is one thing, but doing so when your opponent knows you like to make such plays is very risky. All they have to do is click call.
This hand once again goes to show that poker is an ever-evolving game and that the introduction of solvers has only added a new shade to strategy development.
That’s all for this article! Stay tuned as I am going to break down some other amazing nosebleed action that took place so far this year.
Ready for part 2? Read Why Was This Pot So Small? (Stefan vs Limitless Analysis).
Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!
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