Top Tournament Pro vs Top Cash Game Pro (High Stakes Analysis)

What happens when a top-tier tournament player ($18.5 million+ in lifetime cashes) hops into a high stakes cash game and battles one of the world’s best cash game players?

Poker hands like this…

The game is $50/$100 online with $28,500 effective stacks.

The hand is a match up between online cash regular DavyJones922 and tournament crusher Conor Beresford (1_conor_b_1).

Let’s jump in.

Preflop Action

DavyJones raises to $250 from the Button with . Conor 3-bets to $1,125 from the Small Blind with . DavyJones 4-bets to $3,150. Conor calls.

Preflop Analysis

DavyJones’ raise to 2.5bb is good. He should be doing this with a pretty wide range on the Button.

From the Small Blind facing a 2.5x open raise, Conor should 3-bet with roughly the top 15% of hands, and King Queen offsuit makes the cut.

Most strong online poker players only 3-bet and never call from the Small Blind against a raise. This aggressive strategy of no cold-calls protects him from facing a wide squeezing range and a plethora of multiway pots with the Big Blind left to act behind.

Facing this 3-bet, DavyJones makes the clear 4-bet with Pocket Aces. His 4-bet range should consist of premium hands such as Pocket Jacks or better plus Ace-King for value. To avoid exploitation, he needs to balance out that range with some semi-bluffs such as Suited Aces, suited connectors, and offsuit Broadways (all at some frequency).

Given the very deep stacks, a 4-bet sizing between 2.5x and 3x the 3-bet size should work best. This lowers the expected value (EV) of the suited hands that will have the pot odds to call anyways.

Against the 4-bet, Conor makes a very loose call. It’s a pretty big 4-bet and he’ll have to play out of position with a high stack-to-pot ratio (SPR) against a very aggressive player. It’s tough for me to imagine that he’ll be able to realize enough equity with this particular (offsuit, sometimes dominated) hand to justify the pot odds that calling requires.

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The Advanced Solver Ranges for cash games — one of six sets of preflop charts in the Upswing Lab.

Flop Action

The flop comes  . The pot is $6,400.

Conor checks with . DavyJones c-bets $1,919 with . Conor calls.

Flop Analysis

This flop smashes DavyJones’ range. He has an advantage in every strong hand class — i.e. he’s got more flopped sets, two pairs, overpairs, and top pairs. Plus, he’s got fewer missed hands and weak pairs.

A range bet strategy using a small bet size is the optimal way to approach this situation. This will allow DavyJones to capitalize on the vast amount of weak hands that Conor has in his range (like Pocket Fours through Pocket Tens and suited Aces that have no pair). Even with a small bet on the flop, DavyJones will still have the ability to get the entire stack in on the river because the pot is so big already.

With his having connected for top pair, Conor should be calling as he does. But I want to talk a bit about Conor’s overall strategy here rather than focusing on his hand.

DavyJones has such a big range advantage here that even gutshot straight draws to the nuts (such as Ace-Queen suited and Ace-Ten suited) without a backdoor flush draw are merely breakeven calls for Conor. This is despite the great pot odds Conor is being offered versus this small bet.

Even hands such as Ace-Jack suited, Queen-Jack suited, and Jack-Ten suited without backdoor flush draws are -EV calls.

This goes to show how brutal it can be to have a severe range disadvantage on flops that heavily favor the preflop aggressor.

Turn Action

The turn comes the , making the board . The pot is $10,238.

Conor checks. DavyJones checks.

Turn Analysis

The is a brick turn. Nothing changes.

Conor should check with his entire range. There’s no reason to start donk betting.

DavyJones, however, should be looking to barrel with a polarized range and a pretty big size (around 66-80% pot) in order to set up for the river shove. This gets value from all those two club hands that would love to see a free river.

Checking back with Pocket Aces here strikes me as very large mistake because it misses a ton of value and gives a lot of free equity. A much better hand to check back would be Pocket Kings as it blocks the top pairs that make up the majority of the calling range.

Having said that, DavyJones might have had a good reason for checking back. Maybe we’ll be able to ascertain why on the next street.

River Action

The river is the , making the board . The pot is $10,238.

Conor bets $15,352. DavyJones calls, scooping the $40,943 pot.

River Analysis

The river  is another blank.

Conor’s range is in great shape here because he has a lot of value hands (K9s+) and a lot of missed draws that are now able to bluff at a high frequency without the risk of being exploited. 

That being said, he cannot always fire with all of his potential bluffs. Davy is probably looking to bluff-catch aggressively on brick rivers such as this one.

Conor’s bet size is good if you are up against an average player who is coming into this part of the game tree without any strong hands. That is the way to punish a weak range. But he is playing one of the best, and this type of player thinks a little bit ahead and chooses the right hands and the right spots to strengthen the weaker parts of his range.

Facing this bet, Dave has an easy call with Pocket Aces. His hand is almost certainly best on the river since Conor’s better hands would have likely check-raised on the flop.

But I want to stress this point though: you shouldn’t check with Aces on the turn like DavyJones did here! There are better hands to slow-play — ones that block the calling range such as Ace-King, Pocket Kings, and King-Jack. (I am not saying that you should always or frequently check these hands — just sometimes.)

Checking the turn here works at high stakes/nosebleeds because you have elite players like Conor who will stab you to death with overbets for thin value and bluffs.

If your opponent checks too many thin value hands on the river — and that’s the case for the majority of poker player — trapping the turn will massively underperform!

What do you think of DavyJones’ check on the turn?

Let me know in the comment section down below!

That’s all for this article! I hope you enjoyed this breakdown. Let me know which hands you’d like me to cover next.

If you want more hand analysis, check out The 2nd Largest Poker Hand In TV History ($2,250,000 Pot Analysis).

Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!

Note: Poker players (maybe even the ones in your games) are improving their skills every day in the Upswing Lab training course and community. Don’t let yourself fall behind. Learn all about the Lab here!


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About the Author
Dan B.

Dan B.

Online grinder aspiring to reach the highest stakes and crush the toughest games. I'm available for quick strategy questions and hourly coaching -- reach out to me at [email protected].

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