chewy vs Darren

$100,000 Buy-In! Was This All-In Bluff a Good Idea?

As a good player, sometimes it can be a smart idea to avoid big confrontations against other good players at your table.

But when you play $100,000 buy-in tournaments, avoiding good players ain’t happening.

Players who register these massive events know that they’re signing up to battle against the best.

Let’s run through a hand between two top pros, Upswing Poker coach Darren Elias and Andrew “LuckyChewy” Lichtenberger, to get a glimpse into how these high stakes battles play out.

I’ll recap each street, followed by a summary of Darren and Nick Petrangelo’s analysis.

Note: This hand analysis comes from the tournament master class Road to Victory,

In their best-selling course, Darren Elias and Nick Petrangelo teach you how to navigate every stage of a tournament like a pro, from the first hand to the final table.

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Tournament: $100K WSOP High Roller

Stage: Early (No ICM Pressure)

Blinds: 1,000/2,000 with 2,000 ante

Effective Stack: 250bb

Preflop Action

Hijack raises 2.5bb. Andrew 3-bets to 8.5bb from the Cutoff. Darren cold 4-bets to 22.5bb from the Big Blind with Ac Qs. Hijack folds. Andrew calls.

Simple Preflop Analysis

Darren makes a good 4-bet bluff here with Ace-Queen offsuit. Not only is this 4-bet profitable in a vacuum, but it also helps balance out his value 4-bets (like Pocket Aces and Pocket Kings).

Note: Ace-Queen offsuit is a really nice 4-bet bluff candidate, in general, because it blocks so many strong hands (Pocket Aces, Pocket Queens, and Ace-King).

Advanced Preflop Analysis

Darren notes that the player in the Hijack is a weaker player who is likely opening a wider range of hands and will likely call too many 3-bets. Because of that, Nick Petrangelo thinks that Andrew is very likely widening his 3-bet range in this situation.

Even without those reads, Ace-Queen offsuit is a good hand with which to cold 4-bet in this spot, at least at a certain frequency (~50% when playing so deep). Other cold 4-bet hands include Pocket Tens or better, King-Queen suited, Ace-Ten suited or better, and Ace-Five suited.

Darren says that in this case, given his reads, he elected to always cold 4-bet with it because of the wider range at play. This makes perfect sense from a theoretical standpoint. Let me explain why…

Against a certain 3-bet size, you have to defend a certain percentage of that range to be unexploitable. Say your opening range contains 100 combinations (combos) and you need to defend 40% of them to remain unexploitable. You’ll defend with the top 40 combos (40% of 100).

But if your range is 200 combos, you still need to defend 40% of them to be unexploitable. That means you’ll need to defend with 80 combos. You can only have so many premium hands, meaning that in that wider range scenario, you will theoretically need to defend with some weaker hands. That can be tough to do, even for a strong player like Andrew, which is what makes Darren lean towards always 4-betting with Ace-Queen offsuit in this spot.

From a sizing perspective, both Darren and Nick agree that a bigger size would have been better given the deep stack depth they are playing at. You want to disincentivize loose calls for Andrew, who is in position, and bloat the pot before the flop is dealt (to mitigate the in position player’s postflop edge).

Andrew should be calling here with a range of Pocket Sixes or better, Ace-King, some suited wheel Aces, some suited Broadway cards, suited connectors, and suited gappers (at varying frequencies).

Flop Action

The flop comes Th 4d 2s. The pot is 49bb.

Darren bets 21bb with his Ace-Queen high. Andrew calls.

Simple Flop Analysis

Darren’s bet on the flop is too loose, in theory. His hand simply doesn’t have enough going for it to justify making this bet.

However, he has reasons to believe that his opponent will over-fold to future aggression. Assuming this read is correct, his bet is arguably good.

Advanced Flop Analysis

This is the type of non-standard scenario where looking to solvers for “the answer” is not going to be fruitful at all. Both players have already veered away from the GTO solution before the flop, so postflop solves aren’t going to apply directly.

Nick points out that we are in a “perception vs reality” type of scenario. What Darren’s range looks like is likely different from what Andrew perceives him to have.

This dynamic happens only in real-world poker as it is a game of hidden information. In solver world, all information is known, and you cannot hide your strategy. Nonetheless, there are useful things to learn from the solver by using approximated ranges. 

In this instance, given the larger stack-to-pot ratio (SPR), the fact that Darren has all of the Ace-Queen offsuit in his range, and the equity distribution is close to symmetrical, a medium frequency, large c-bet size is appropriate.

Ace-Queen is a pivotal hand in this scenario because it has a little bit of showdown value, doesn’t have a lot of nut potential, and there are a lot of combinations of it. For this reason, in theory, it is important to protect that part of the range by checking with both Ace-Queen and some strong hands too.

In this case, Darren made a large deviation from GTO by betting a hand that should always check and by using a smaller sizing than the solver. That being said, the expected value (EV) difference, even at equilibrium, is negligible. 

In his analysis, Darren explains that he expects to have a much higher success frequency by bluffing on the turn and river than the solver would. He thinks that Andrew will call too many pocket pairs on the flop compared to the Solver, and those hands will all fold on the turn.

On the river, he believes that Andrew will also avoid making the thinner bluff-catches than the solver would with hands such as Tx, Pocket Jacks, and Pocket Queens.

Turn Action

The turn comes the 4h, making the board Th 4d 2s 4h. The pot is 91bb.

Darren bets 62.5bb. Andrew calls.

Simple Turn Analysis

Again, Darren is making a savvy, read-based play in this situation.

In theory, this bet is simply too loose. The solver would prefer bluffing with hands that have more equity (like flush draws or Ace-Five).

But if his read that Andrew will over-fold is correct, his double barrel is a strong play.

Advanced Turn Analysis 

The 4h turn doesn’t connect much with either player’s range. In theory, Darren should be slowing down, as his range is now weaker than Andrew’s.

His Pocket Queens and Pocket Jacks are not strong enough to value bet (they’ve become bluff-catchers). Furthermore, Ace-King (a very prevalent hand in his range) still has a sliver of showdown value.

For both of these reasons, creating a more protected checking range is mandatory to avoid exploitation. The solver actually checks with Pocket Aces and Pocket Kings at a low-to-medium frequency in this spot to protect the overall checking range.

Looking at Ace-Queen, specifically, now. In theory, Darren shouldn’t get here with it. But if he does, he should be slowing down, especially when his hand doesn’t contain a heart (like in this case). 

Holding the heart is important because the Ah and the Qh block a little bit of Andrew’s calling range. That means that the bluff will be a little more successful when holding either of those hearts.

When choosing bluffing candidates, you would be wise to consider how wide your value range is. In this case, Darren’s value range is very narrow. Therefore, he should be more selective with bluffs, prioritizing higher equity and/or better blockers.

Nick points out that the Ah is bluffing more frequently than the Qh because there are more nut flush draws in Andrew’s range than Queen-high flush draws. Again, better blockers have a higher priority.

But again, that’s the theory behind this situation. All of these factors are less important if your opponent is over-folding, and this is why Darren takes an exploitative line of barreling here. He is expecting Andrew to have called too many pocket pairs on the flop with which he will now fold on the turn. If his assumption is correct, this makes bluffing here the best line.

River Action

The river comes the 7s, making the final board Th 4d 2s 4h 7s. The pot is 217bb.

Darren goes all-in for 175bb with his Ace-Queen high.

Simple River Analysis

Keeping with the theme of the previous streets, Darren’s exact hand should probably never arrive at the river in this fashion. But once it does, he is making a strong exploit to keep betting, believing that his opponent will fold too often against this relentless aggression.

Advanced River Analysis

The river 7s is a brick that doesn’t improve either player’s range.

At equilibrium, we will see an inversion of the blocker effect that we saw on the turn. Holding the heart was a good thing on the turn, but it is a negative for bluffing now. Why is that?

Because now Darren wants Andrew to have a missed flush draw (which will fold). If he held a heart himself, Andrew’s range would be weighted away from missed draws and towards made hands that might call.

That said, Darren points out (once again) that while it is valuable to understand these mechanics of the game, the reality will oftentimes be different.

Based on his original assumption that a bluff would make Andrew fold more than the solver would, and more than what is necessary to overcome the blocker deficiency, that is the line that Darren should take.


Andrew folds and Darren takes down a nice-sized pot early in the tournament.

What do you think Andrew had?

Let me know in the comments below.

That’s all for this one! I hope you learned something new that you can apply in your very next tournament!

Till’ next time, good luck, tournament grinders!

Note: Upgrade your tournament skills with elite training. Check out Road to Victory 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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