One of my favorite ways to study poker is to look at hands between the best players in the world.
By reviewing hands like the one below, you can gain valuable insight into how these poker beasts think about the game…
…but sometimes, even the top players make what seem like glaring mistakes.
So, let’s dive into a $50/$100 hand on PokerStars between two top online pros: Berri Sweet and LLinusLLove.
Linus starts the hand with $13,970 in his stack (139.7 big blinds) and Berri covers.
Linus raises to $245 from the Button with 7♦ 7♠. Berri 3-bets to $1,111 from the Small Blind with A♠ 9♣. The Big Blind folds. Linus calls.
Linus makes a standard raise with Pocket Sevens. From the Button, he should be opening with around the top 40-50% of hands, of which Pocket Sevens is clearly a part.
Faced with the raise, Berri’s 3-bet with Ace-Nine offsuit from the Small Blind is too loose. He should be 3-betting the top 15% or so of hands, and A♠ 9♣ simply does not make the cut.
If the Button was a weak player who would fold too often against 3-bets, this could be a reasonable exploitative play. But Linus is an extremely strong player, so this is likely a major mistake by Berri.
After facing a 3-bet, Linus has an easy call with Pocket Sevens. He should be continuing quite wide, with around half of his opening range (both by 4-betting and calling). Pocket Sevens is right in the middle of that range and it’s an ideal calling hand.
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The flop comes T♣ 8♥ 3♠ with $2,322 in the pot.
Berri (A♠ 9♣) bets $765. Linus (7♦ 7♠) calls.
Berri is right to bet, here, but his size should be bigger on this flop texture. The best strategy here is to c-bet with a large size very frequently. This is because he has a range advantage and far more overpairs + top pair than his opponent.
With the board being low and connected, he should aim to put Linus’ marginal hands and draws in a tough spot by using a bigger size (at least half pot). By using this smaller size, Berri is essentially gifting some of his expected value (EV) to Linus.
Back to Linus, who has a standard call with Pocket Sevens. Pocket Sevens would be good enough to call a larger bet as well, but it’s a total no-brainer versus this small bet size.
The turn comes the 2♥, making the board T♣ 8♥ 3♠ (2♥). The pot is $3,852.
Berri (A♠ 9♣) checks. Linus (7♦ 7♠) checks back.
The 2♥ is an above-average turn for Linus’ range. Most of Berri’s bluffs (high cards plus some suited connectors) have now missed completely, which means the expected value of his range has dropped a little bit.
Berri should check with the majority of his range, though his top pairs/overpairs are still worth betting most of the time. There’s still a lot of equity to be denied and value to be extracted from hands that picked up draws.
With Ace-Nine offsuit, specifically, Berri should only consider betting if he holds a blocker to the heart flush draw. Holding a heart increases his fold equity because it makes it less likely Linus has a flush draw of his own. Additionally, a hand like A♥ 9♠ would be a great hand with which to triple barrel should the flush complete on the river.
Once it checks to Linus, he should bet with around half of his range for a medium size (~50% of the pot). His betting range should be somewhat merged in order to capitalize on the fold equity he’s getting from all of Berri’s missed overcards.
Betting with Pocket Sevens would be a great play in this scenario. It’s a fairly strong hand at this point, but it’s very vulnerable and taking down the pot without having to see the river would be a huge win.
In any case, Linus opted to check and it’s time to see a river.
The river comes the 7♣, making the board (T♣ 8♥ 3♠ 2♥) 7♣. The pot is still $3,852.
Berri (A♠ 9♣) checks. Linus (7♦ 7♠) bets $2,694. Berri shoves for $9,399 on top. Linus calls.
Results: Linus wins the $28,038 pot (or a nice 2018 Nissan Ventra, if you like to think about what you could have bought with that money).
The river 7♣ is not favorable for Berri. Around two-thirds of his range at this point is missed overcards hands, so he has no choice but to check a large majority of the time. His checking range should definitely include Ace-Nine, which is actually a bit too high in his range to consider bluffing with.
Linus hit his dream card on the river, so of course he should bet to try to get some value. He went with a middling size, which seems appropriate given the ranges at play.
Against the 75% pot bet, Berri should fold the majority of his range. He should hero call with some of his best Ace-high hands (like Ace-King, Ace-Queen, and Ace-Jack) to keep Linus honest.
Ace-Nine, specifically, is a must-fold in this spot. It actually blocks some of the weakest hands in Linus’ betting range (A9-suited, T9-suited, 98-suited, and Pocket Nines) which makes it a terrible bluff candidate.
Berri is a great player, but I’m not sure what he was thinking with this shove.
Why Do You Think Berri Bluffed All-In On The River?
Let me know in the comments below.
Nobody plays perfect poker and even the top players make mistakes at times. That’s the beauty of the game too. It’s a never-ending process of learning and, if you keep at it, you will become more and more proficient.
Whether it is from your friends and family or from unknown players on the online felt, the joy of being better at a strategy game than your opponents is something that we all enjoy.
That’s all for this article guys! I hope you enjoyed it and that you learned something new from it! As usual, if you have any questions or feedback please let me know in the comment section down below.
If you want more hand analysis, scroll down to the related articles and pick a hand that looks interesting to you.
Until next time, good luck, grinders!
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