On the most recent season of High Stakes Poker, fan-favorite Garrett Adelstein squared off against nosebleed regular Jean-Robert Bellande (JRB) in a colossal pot.
I’m going to take a deep loop into that hand, which took place at the massive stakes of $500/$1,000 with a $1,000 big blind ante.
Watch the hand here and keep reading for my analysis (plus a written recap of the action):
Krish Menon limps UTG+1 with 4♥ 4♦. Garrett Adelstein raises to $4,000 with K♠ T♠ in the Lojack. Tom Dwan calls with 8♥ 8♦ in the Cutoff. JRB calls with Q♣ J♠ on the Button. Menon calls.
Regardless of his preflop holding, Menon should never start with a limp. I’ve covered this in many an article about limping, so I won’t harp on it now.
Garrett’s raise is the best play here with such a strong hand (K♠ T♠). He should be looking to raise with the top 12-18% of hands depending on how loose he thinks his opponent is limping. KTs is well within that 12-18% range.
With Pocket Eights, Tom’s call is probably the best play from the Cutoff. This is especially true if the players behind him are not aggressive 3-bettors who will often squeeze him out of the pot. He should be looking to call with a bunch of the pocket pairs here if that is indeed the case.
Faced with a limp, raise, and a call, JRB’s Button flat with Q♣ J♠ is too loose. He will end up in dominated situations too often. He is in position against everyone but, in my estimation, that positional advantage does not make up for just how poorly QJo will do versus 3 other players in a raised pot.
Menon makes an easy call and hopes to see a 4 on the flop.
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The flop comes J♣ 9♦ 7♣ and the pot is $18,500.
Menon (4♥ 4♦) checks. Garrett (K♠ T♠) bets $9,000. Dwan (8♥ 8♦) calls. JRB (Q♣ J♠) calls. Menon folds.
Welcome to multiway pots, the wild west of poker.
Since it’s a 4-way pot, I don’t have any solver solutions to back up my analysis here. In general, the jury is still out on what is the best way to play these multiway pots. That being said, I can use some mathematical concepts to derive some conclusions.
For example, betting half the pot like Garrett did forces the opponents to cumulatively defend 66% of the time (see: minimum defense theory). In a heads-up pot, this means that one player needs to defend roughly 66% of his range, which normally requires calling/raising with a pretty wide range of hands to achieve such a high frequency.
In a multiway scenario, however, this frequency needs to be reached by all the opponents cumulatively. In this case, Garrett has 3 opponents. If all of them fold 70% of their hands, that means that will have cumulatively folded (70% x 70% x 70% =) 34% of the time, which is just above the 33% folding frequency that Garrett needs to breakeven on his bluff.
If you think about the ranges in play, here, it’s actually quite hard to imagine the 3 opponents folding so often on this connected board. What is most likely going to happen is that, overall, the players will fold less than 33% of the time, which makes Garrett’s bluff less effective (and perhaps -EV).
In theory, I think Garrett has two better options than the one he went with:
- Bet smaller. A smaller bet needs to force fewer folds from the opponents in order to break even.
- Check his entire range. Checking the whole range is probably the best (and certainly easiest) way to play this spot because Garrett likely doesn’t have a range or nut advantage in this scenario. After all, he has the widest range of any player in the hand.
Faced with the bet from Garrett, Dwan’s call is likely too loose because there are still 2 players left to act and the bet is so big. His gutshot straight draw outs are far from clean — if he hits a Ten (especially the T♣), it’s far from the nuts. All in all, a terrible spot to be in. He should just let it go.
With top pair, JRB’s call is good. His hand is way too strong to consider folding just yet. Plus, he has position and backdoor flush and straight draws to go with his top pair.
With a weak underpair and no backdoors, Menon’s fold is obviously fine.
The turn comes the Q♠, making the board (J♣ 9♦ 7♣) Q♠. The pot is $45,500.
Garrett (K♠ T♠) bets $20,000. Dwan (8♥ 8♦) folds. JRB (Q♣ J♠) calls.
A board changing card hits on the turn. Garrett has made a straight with his K♠ T♠ and JRB has improved to top two pair.
Once again, it’s hard to tell exactly what sizing would be best here for Garrett or if he should be betting at all. In practice, I think it’s almost impossible to bluff profitably here with 2 players left to act.
The question to ask here is: what is the best size to use to maximize value? The correct answer is probably somewhere around 50% of the pot. This size allows sets and flush draws to continue. So, Garrett’s size seems great.
Dwan makes an easy fold at this point in the hand.
Many players will disagree with me here, and they might be right depending on how loose Garrett is actually value betting on the turn, but JRB’s call with top two pair may be slightly too loose. Garrett has a super-strong range and there is a good chance that JRB is crushed. But even if he’s not, the rest of the time he is doing okay (but not great) against some combo draw or nut flush draw.
Not only that, but any 7, 8, 9, T, K, or club annihilates his hand on the river. Q♣ J♠ is not the worst hand to call and I certainly can’t blame JRB for calling an under-pot-sized bet with top two pair, but I’d slightly prefer to have T9 in his shoes because I’d be ahead of the same hands (draws) and have more outs to improve.
The river comes the 3♥, making the board (J♣ 9♦ 7♣ Q♠) 3♥. The pot is $85,500.
Garrett thinks about it for a good few seconds and bets $125,000. JRB quickly calls.
The 3♥ is one of the best cards in the deck for both players since no additional draws have been completed. (Of course, a nasty card like the T♣ would have been preferred by JRB.)
When it comes to practical implications (aka exploitation) you need to take everything that I write with a grain of salt. This is the artistry of poker and there is no perfect answer.
Garrett’s sizing is probably correct given that he has the nut advantage on the river. JRB has just called down, which eliminates a lot of strong hand combinations from his range.
In theory, he probably needs to go all-in. But that sizing might be sub-optimal in the real world due to psychological factors. A lot of players lean towards folding extremely often versus all-in overbets. When faced with a slightly smaller size than all-in, JRB might call at a significantly higher frequency.
(All of this might be wrong. It’s possible that, even versus a shove, JRB might just think: “I have top two and draws missed, I call.” We will never know for sure.)
JRB’s call is too loose, in my opinion, but it’s highly debatable. It all comes down to how he perceives Garrett’s strategy in these spots. Does he think that he will bluff it off with a hand like a busted nut flush draw? Does he think Garrett will give up with a lot of draws? These are the questions that he needs to ask himself.
Personally, I think this spot will be under-bluffed by most players. Add in the fact that JRB should sometimes have stronger hands (like a slow-played set or straight) and I think it becomes a fairly clear fold.
You gotta admire the grit that it takes to put a quarter of a million dollars on the table in a highly difficult intellectual game such as poker. It’s what makes this game so amazing!
As far as strategy goes, we all mistakes, but sometimes you just have the nuts and get paid. It’s gotta be one of the best feelings while playing.
Want more high stakes hand analysis? Read Doug Polk Flops Broadway vs a Set (Analysis).
Until next time, good luck, grinders!
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