High Stakes Poker baby!
PokerGO has revived the greatest poker TV show of all time and in a hand from the latest season, poker legend Daniel Negreanu went head-to-head against live nosebleed crusher Garrett Adelstein in a gargantuan pot.
The stakes were $500/$1,000 with a $1,000 big blind ante. Daniel had a stack of $220,000 and Garrett covered him with a whopping $565,000 stack. Not exactly your average home game.
Watch the hand below or read on for a written recap. My analysis is below the video.
Garrett raises to $3,000 with A♣ 7♣ from the Hijack. Daniel 3-bets to $10,000 with T♥ T♦ from the Cutoff. Everyone else folds. Garrett 4-bets to $40,000. Daniel calls.
From the Hijack, Garrett should be open-raising with around the top 20% of all starting hands. A7-suited definitely is part of that range.
With Pocket Tens, Daniel can employ a mixed strategy involving cold-calls and 3-bets or play a 3-bet or fold strategy. In either case, 3-betting with TT is a very profitable decision over the long run.
The first deviation from the solver preflop strategy comes when Garret’s decision to 4-bet. There are two main deviations here:
- His 4x size is much larger than the standard of 2.75-3x
- A7-suited is not a standard 4-bet hand
Usually, the best size to use for 4-betting out of position is somewhere around 2.75-3x the opponent’s 3-bet size. When Garrett 4-bets to a much larger size as he did, he makes life much easier for Daniel as he can fold his marginal hands.
As far as hand selection goes, A7 suited is not the greatest candidate for 4-bet bluffing. But it’s not a bad one either. It blocks a lot Daniel’s continuing range (AA, AK, AQs, AJs) and has decent playability due to flopping flush draws or combo draws every once in a while (11% of the time).
Some better hands to use as 4-bet bluffs would be some suited broadway like AJs, ATs, KQs, KJs, and KTs. These hands have better blockers, better equity, and more playability.
Now you might be asking yourself: If I’m 4-betting all of these hands, then what the hell am I calling with? The answer is that you should still call with these hands some of the time too, and also with some middling-to-high pocket pairs.
Faced with this 4-bet, Daniel has a must-call with his Pocket Tens. His hand is strong enough against a range that contains bluffs. In fact, playing 200bb deep, Daniel may elect to continue with his entire range as a call instead of having any 5-bets.
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The flop comes 5♠ 5♦ 3♦. The pot is $82,500.
Garrett checks. Daniel checks.
Normally, the preflop 4-bettor will always have the range advantage on the flop. However, that may not be the case here. Since they are 200+ big blind deep, Daniel should actually be flatting with all of his AA-QQ and AK, on top of the normal calling hands. So, it’s likely Daniel who has a small range advantage here (in theory, at least).
That being said, a substantial number of Garrett’s strong hands want to bet for value, and some bluffs should be mixed in there too. Despite this, A7-suited with no backdoor flush draw is best played as a check-fold on the flop given that it has almost nothing going for it.
Faced with a check, Daniel should mix between betting and checking with his entire range of hands. The reasons are a bit more complex than the scope of this article, but it has to do with preserving the equity realization of his AK hands.
The turn comes the 5♣, making the board (5♠ 5♦ 3♦) 5♣. The pot is $82,500.
Garrett checks. Daniel checks.
The 5♣ is a pure blank, but it’s a card that should help Daniel more than it helps Garret. Put simply, Daniel’s weaker hands that check back are still stronger than Garrett’s give-ups.
Daniel is checking back on the flop with some AK, AQs, and KQs while Garrett will check back on the flop with AK, AQo, AJs, ATs, smaller Ax suited, KQs, KJs, and KTs. Of course, I am talking about a theoretically correct preflop and flop strategy. In practice, his range might differ.
Daniel should be betting his hand a decent amount at equilibrium for a small size like 1/3rd pot. This bet is designed to get some value against and some protection against the plethora of overcard hands that I listed in the paragraph above.
That being said, Daniel’s check is also fine. In practice, it comes down to how often Daniel thinks that Garrett is trapping and how likely it is that he would try to check-raise bluff. If Garrett will under-bluff his check-raising range, then betting becomes better than checking. If he check-raises too many bluffs, then betting becomes better again because Daniel can bet-call profitably.
The river comes the 6♠, making the board (5♠ 5♦ 3♦ 5♣) 6♠. The pot is still $82,500.
Garrett thinks about it for a good few seconds then puts Daniel all-in for $179,000. Daniel thinks for a little bit after counting his stack and calls.
At this point, the river is a complete disaster of a card for Garret’s range because nothing improved. The correct bet size is indeed all-in since his betting range is polarized between a strong overpair or a bluff.
However, from a theoretical hand selection point of view, A7-suited is a bad choice since it unblocks any potential bluff-catcher from Daniel’s range. A hand like KJs or ATs is much better since they block AA, KK, and JJ, whereas A7 only blocks AA while also blocking AK/AQ type hands that will fold.
At this point, Daniel has a hand that at equilibrium should call sometimes and fold sometimes. In practice, he should be weighing how likely it is that Garrett was trapping vs how likely it is that he is bluffing. Since Daniel needs to call roughly $180,000 to win $440,000, it means that he needs to win more than 41% of the time in order to make a profitable call.
He clearly thought he’d win more than that 41% and made a nice call.
It’s very nice to see this kind of super high-stakes action live on camera. Poker is so awesome!
That’s all for this breakdown!
If you want more hand analysis, check out Doug Polk Chases a Flush Draw in Massive Pot (Analysis).
Until next time, good luck, grinders!
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