Garrett Adelstein is known as one of the best live poker players in the world. If you watch live streams, there’s a good chance you’ve seen him in action.
Today, we are going to analyze a hand from the Hustler Casino live stream that features Garrett facing off against Gal Yifrach in a humongous pot worth $180,000 (or just below 5 years of median income in the US).
I am going to dissect each player’s strategy to find out if either made any mistakes in this massive hand.
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The game is No-Limit Texas Hold’Em and the blinds are $50/$100/$200 with a $100 Big Blind ante. This time, Garrett decided to double straddle ($400) which was probably because the average stack was super deep. That effectively raises the stakes by (roughly) a factor of two.
The action folds to Gal who raises J♥ 7♥ to $1200 from the Cutoff. Everyone folds up to Garrett, who defends his straddle with T♥ 9♠.
Gal’s decision to raise with J♥ 7♥ is probably a marginal but fine decision. It’s hard to say exactly how wide he should be opening from the Cutoff when there are 5 players left to go through — it’s a pretty rare preflop situation to be in.
That being said, 4 of those 5 are out of position against him, so it’s likely that an open-raising range consisting of around the top 25% of hands is optimal. J7s is right on the borderline.
Garrett’s call with T9-offsuit is almost certainly the correct play. He needs to realize 28% equity against Gal’s raising range, which is very likely to happen with a connected hand like T9o. It has around 38% raw equity against an opening range containing the top 25-30% of hands.
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The flop comes J♣ 8♠ 7♦ and the pot is $2,850.
Garrett checks. Gal bets $1,200. Garrett raises to $4,600. Gal calls.
Garrett’s check is standard here. He should check his entire range out of position after defending from the Big Blind.
Gal’s c-bet with two pair is good, and his bet size selection is appropriate. At first glance, it may seem like Gal’s bet size is too small for a connected board like this. However, Garrett has a pretty significant nut advantage due to the fact that he is the only player that can have T9-offsuit for a flopped straight.
When the preflop caller (Garrett) has a nut advantage like this, the in-position player (Gal) should use a small bet size. A smaller c-bet draws out raises from the nutted hands and semi-bluffs. This means that when the opponent simply calls, the many overpairs in Gal’s are much better off and get to play a simpler strategy (bet big on blank turns).
Now, back to Garrett who should be check-raising his straight almost every time for value. The raise size should be big, exactly like he made it. He shouldn’t forget to add bluffs here (such as Q9, QT, K9s, A9s, 65s, etc.) at some frequency/
Gal should always call the raise on the flop with two-pair. Alongside those hands, he should also call with top pairs that have some extra equity, like those with a backdoor flush draw or gutshot straight draw. The overpairs with which he’s c-bet should also call. From the non-made hand category, he should be calling with the draws that he bet with.
The turn comes the Q♠, making the board J♣ 8♠ 7♦ Q♠. The pot is $12,050.
Garrett overbets $15,000. Gal thinks about it and calls.
Garrett’s overbet is perfectly justified here with so much money left to play for. At the top of his range, he needs to make the pot exponentially bigger in order to get the maximum amount of money in on the river.
Gal makes a super marginal call here. When Garrett overbets, his value range is exclusively T9, 88, and 77. This means that J7 doesn’t dominate any of Garrett’s value hands, hence Gal’s hand is a pure bluff-catcher. To make matters worse for Gal, all of Garrett’s semi-bluffs have a ton of equity — think hands such as A9, K9, Q9, 96, 65 of spades.
In practice, I would say this call is likely not profitable for anyone reading this (unless your opponent is an outrageously aggressive player).
Further Reading: For more advice about overbetting the turn, check out This is When (And Why) World-Class Players Overbet the Turn.
The river comes the 7♠, making the board J♣ 8♠ 7♦ Q♠ 7♠. The pot is a hefty $42,050.
Garrett overbets all-in for $68,700. Gal calls and scoops the whooping $180,000 pot.
Garrett’s decision to jam is an absolutely atrocious play here, at least from a game theory standpoint. The 7♠ is one of the worst rivers for him (alongside any 8, J, and Q). A good chunk of Gal’s range has made a full house, and a smaller chunk has made a flush. On these terrible cards, Garrett should check his entire range and (this may surprise you) fold versus a shove with his flopped straight.
Gal has a no-brainer call here. All he’s probably thinking about while counting his chips is Vegas and the fucking Mirage!
That’s all for this breakdown guys! As you can see, and as I usually say at the end of these articles, everyone makes mistakes, even the best players in the world! (They just make less of them.)
Want more hand analysis? Check out The Final Hand of the 2021 WSOP Main Event (Analysis).
Until next time, good luck, grinders!
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