biggest online poker pots nl

5 Biggest Online Poker Pots Explained

Today, we’re going to mix things up a bit by discussing the 5 biggest online poker pots in No Limit Hold’em (according to highstakesdb).

All 5 pots are well over a half million dollars, and were played at “Rail Heaven,” which is a colloquial term for $500/$1,000 (the biggest game that used to run on Full Tilt Poker).

We’ll go through the biggest online poker pots in ascending order, so you can skip ahead if you’re itching to see the biggest of the bunch:

5. Tom “durrrr” Dwan vs Urindanger in a $657,073 pot.
4. durrrr vs John Juanda in a $678,072 pot.
3. John Juanda vs Phil Ivey in a $687,023 pot.
2. Viktor “Isildur1” Blom vs durrrr in a $694,954 pot.
1. durrrr vs Urindanger in a $723,941 pot.

I recommend reading through all of them, not just because they’re entertaining, but also because the accompanying analyses could help iron out some kinks in your game.

Let’s dive in!

#5. durrrr vs Urindanger: $657,073

Watch Doug’s breakdown below or keep scrolling for a read-only version.

This hand was played by Tom “durrrr” Dwan and Di “Urindanger” Dang in a 5-handed cash game.

5-handed $500/$1,000. $327,786 effective stacks.

durrrr (UTG) raises to $3,000 with 4 4. Urindanger (CO) 3-bets to $10,500. 3 folds. durrrr calls.

Flop ($22,500) A 7 4
durrrr leads for $17,600.

In general, but especially on A-high flops, durrrr should be checking to the preflop aggressor because their range will usually be stronger. Additionally, Urindanger is incentivized to c-bet relatively often, so betting into them doesn’t make sense.

Now, it’s on Urindanger.

Urindanger raises to $44,200. durrrr calls.

Like durrrr’s flop bet, this raise is dubious. In Urindanger’s position he should have very few raises, and a made hand, like AK, for example, should be played as a call since durrrr’s bet size is polarizing.

Moreover, Urindanger shouldn’t have 77 or 44 in his range, as those hands would be played as a call rather than 3-bet preflop.

Finally, while an argument could be made for raising AA at this stack depth, that hand plays well as a trap given how unlikely it is to be outdrawn.

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Turn ($110,900) A 7 4K
durrrr leads for $71,200. Urindanger calls.

Durrrr is strongly representing a set, here, so raising him again would be especially terrible.

River ($253,300) A 7 4K6
durrrr bets $201,887. Urindanger calls.

durrrr shows and Urindanger mucks.

As played, durrrr has a clear shove spot with his set on the river, and Urindanger looks him up. Urindanger mucked what we can only guess was a misplayed AK.

#4. John Juanda vs durrrr: $678,072

Watch Doug’s breakdown below or keep scrolling for a read-only version.

This fairly simple hand was played by durrrr, sitting with $337,504 in the big blind, and John Juanda, sitting with $335,536 in the small blind.

After a Cutoff raise to $3,000 and a button call, Juanda squeezes to $14,500 with K Kfrom the small blind. durrrr, holding AA, 4-bets to $43,800. Juanda responds with a huge 5-bet to $137,400.

Now, obviously, when one has kings against an opponent’s aces, they’re probably destined to lose a big pot. However, in this hand, with over 300 big blinds, one shouldn’t be trying to shovel all the money in preflop.

Granted, we’re talking about a blind versus blind situation, which means ranges are a lot wider than usual. But that doesn’t mean one should always 5-bet and get it in with kings, especially for an excessively large amount. 5-betting too large actually hampers one’s ability to work in bluffs with hands like AQ or AJ, or whichever few hands one might choose 5-bet bluff with.

durrrr’s response is to jam over the 5-bet, and Juanda calls. It’s all looking good for durrrr after a clean flop and turn, but then…

biggest online poker pots #4 juanda vs durrrr

Juanda hits a king on the river and takes down a $678,072 pot. Ouch!

#3. John Juanda vs Phil Ivey: $687,023

Watch Doug’s breakdown below or keep scrolling for a read-only version.

Incredibly, this hand was played back-to-back with the previous hand.

“Elmariachimacho,” a.k.a., Guy Laliberté, open-limps in the cutoff. Juanda, now on the button, raises to $4,500 with K 8, and durrrr, who didn’t get a chance to rebuy after the last hand, ships in his remaining $2,468 with Q 7.

Phil Ivey ($340,779 stack) wakes up with T T in the big blind and 3-bets to $16,968. Juanda, possibly feeling frisky after his recent suckout, makes a huge 4-bet to $54,370.

Juanda’s preflop re-raise sizing is, again, too large, but his hand selection is fine. K8is a perfectly reasonable hand to 4-bet bluff with (although there are slightly better hands) because of it’s king blocker and equity when called. The bet size, however, makes Juanda’s bluff needlessly expensive, especially given his position. Something around $42,000 would have been more reasonable.

Ivey calls.

Flop ($112,208): A T 5
Ivey checks. Juanda bets $112,208.

Once again, Juanda’s bet sizing is excessive. It’s easy to guess why he’s made it: he doesn’t want to bet-fold such a large draw if Ivey were to check-raise. However, Phil shouldn’t have too many raises on this board considering the preflop ranges, so Juanda would be better off betting more like 30-50% pot.

Ivey then jams for $287,409 and Juanda calls. The turn and river runs out 3♣, 9, and Ivey rakes in the $687,023 pot.

#2. durrrr vs Isildur1: $694,954

Watch Doug’s breakdown below or keep scrolling for a read-only version.

This is a another preflop cooler for Tom “durrrr” Dwan. He holds A♣ K♣ with $649,552 in the small blind, while his opponent, the infamous Isildur1, holds A A with $346,477 in the big blind.

After taking turns reraising each, durrrr 6-bet jams and Isildur1 calls. The board runs out 8 9♣ T 9 8, and Isildur1 scoops a $694,954 pot.

There isn’t much to be said about this hand, except for durrrr’s choice to 6-bet jam. With 346 big blinds to start and facing a normal 5-bet to 75BB (2.5x the previous raise), flatting AKs might be preferable to shoving. N

ow, don’t get me wrong, AKs is a monster hand preflop, and Isildur’s reputation for extreme aggression might justify durrrr’s shove. But when you’re playing this deep, the theoretically correct value shoving range is very narrow and doesn’t include AKs.

#1. durrrr vs Urindanger: $723,941

Watch Doug’s breakdown below or keep scrolling for a read-only version.

The list ends as it started: with a huge pot between durrrr and Urindanger. And it’s another aces versus kings cooler, but this time there’s some postflop play.

$500/$1,000. $356,970 effective stacks.

Urindanger is dealt A♣ A in the cutoff
durrrr is dealt K♣ K in the small blind

Urindanger opens to $3,000. elmariachimacho calls. durrrr 3-bets to $16,300. Urindanger 4-bets to $45,000. elmariachimacho folds. durrrr calls.

This time, durrrr makes the correct play and flats with a possibly-beat premium 350bb+ deep.

Flop ($94,000) 9 5♣ 4
durrrr checks. Urindanger c-bets $52,700. durrrr raises to $139,500.

A check-call here from durrrr is probably better than a check-raise for the same reasons that calling preflop is preferable to 5-betting:

  • durrrr’s hand doesn’t fare well against the range of hands that our opponent could call with (mostly just aces).
  • Calling keeps Urindanger’s range as wide as possible, which allows him to continue barrelling with his bluffs.

At this stack depth, our opponent’s preflop value 4-bet range will be aces, kings and occasionally queens. That means our opponent’s calling range versus our flop raise will be mostly aces and flush draws (given we block out kings so heavily), which is not ideal.

Let’s see how the hand wrapped up.

Urindanger 3-bet shoves for $314,971. durrrr calls.

Turn ($723,941): 3

River ($723,941) 6

Urindanger wins the biggest online poker pot in NL history: $723,941!

Wrapping up the biggest online poker pots

Hopefully this list has been both entertaining and informative. It’s clear how much high-level poker has progressed in the past decade, and you’re probably especially weary of overvaluing strong preflop starting hands when playing deep.

Losing just one 400BB pot will put a huge dent in your win-rate for sessions to come. So, if deep stack play is a weak part of your game, it would be wise to think about your deep-stack 4-bet and 5-bet ranges in particular. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to sit with any amount of big blinds and play every premium hand correctly preflop.

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Ben Ward

Ben Ward

Online and live grinder turned poker writer

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