Two of the best online cash game players of all time — Linus Loeliger (LLinusLLove on Pokerstars) and Berri Sweet — have been clashing heads in the No-Limit Hold’em streets for the past year.
They have played thousands of interesting heads-up hands against each other and there are some interesting dynamics at play.
In this article, I am going to break down a heads-up hand that they played during one of their many encounters at the $10,000 buy-in tables ($50/$100 blinds).
Without any further ado, let’s dive in!
Berri Sweet opens on the Button to $261 with A♠ T♣. LLinusLLove 3-bets to $1,050 with K♠ Q♥. Berri Sweet calls.
Both players played this spot correctly.
Berri Sweet should be opening with (roughly) the top 80% of hands heads-up. Obviously, A♠ T♣ is well within the top 80% of hands. His raise size of around 2.5 big blinds is appropriate.
Faced with the raise, Linus’ 3-bet is also correct both size-wise and hand selection-wise with such a strong preflop holding. He is looking to 3-bet with a merged range consisting of about 20% of the strongest preflop hands. King-Queen offsuit is more than strong enough to do so.
Against a 4x re-raise, Berri Sweet should defend with around roughly 45% of the opening range. Ace-Ten offsuit is must call.
Note: Want to know exactly how to play every hand in every common preflop situation? Get instant access to extensive preflop charts and lessons (for cash games, heads-up, and tournaments) when you join the Upswing Lab training course. Lock your seat now!
The flop comes K♣ 8♥ 3♠ and the pot is $2,100.
Linus c-bets $650 with top pair second kicker. Berri calls.
King-high flops are favorable for the 3-bettor, which means highly aggressive strategies are called for.
On this specific flop, Linus has a range advantage of over 12%. This is due to a few reasons:
- Linus is more likely to have Pocket Aces and strong Kx hands
- Linus is more likely to have QQ-99
- Berri has a lot of hands that missed the flop completely (such as QTo or 97s).
Due to these reasons, the correct strategy for Linus is to c-bet with his entire range for a small size (25%-40% of the pot). This bet will force Berri to fold a lot of his range while allowing Linus to over-realize his equity.
Despite having mostly whiffed the flop, Berri’s call with Ace-Ten offsuit is fine. He’s got an overcard and Ace-high, which very well may be good at this point. Even so, the call is basically breaking even.
The turn comes the 4♥, making the board K♣ 8♥ 3♠ 4♥. The pot is $3,400.
Linus bets $2,378 with his top pair strong kicker. Berri calls once more.
(Remember, Berri and Linus have A♠ T♣ and K♠ Q♥, respectively.)
Things get spicy on the turn!
Linus’ double barrel is a rather trivial decision with such a strong top pair (although some arguments could be made towards check-raising all-in). His double barreling range should be polarized, consisting of:
- Medium and strong top pairs (with K9 being the weakest hand for value)
- Flush draws and straight draws (as his main bluffs)
- A splash of Queen-Jack suited since it has the best blockers to Berri’s strongest top pairs (KQ and KJ)
- Ace-Ten offsuit with a heart (also a good barreling candidate given that it folds out the majority of the Ace-Jack and Ace-Queen while blocking ace-high flush draws that will certainly call)
Berri’s call with Ace-Ten offsuit, however, is completely off the GTO rails. There are a few possible explanations for this decision:
- The simplest explanation is that Berri made a mistake, overvaluing the strength of his Ace-high hand
- Berri thinks that Linus is over-bluffing on the turn and giving up on the river enough
- Berri believes that if the river is an Ace, he can profitably shove for value or use his hand to bluff-catch
I will let you, the reader, decide which one is most likely.
The bottom of the calling range here should be Ace-Jack and Ace-Queen (both at a very low frequency) according to the solver. But almost all the pocket pairs are folded except for Pocket Tens.
The rest of the calling range is made of top pairs, middle pairs, 3rd/4th pairs, and flush draws. Pocket pairs are weaker than other pairs because they only have 2 outs to improve when they are behind, compared to 5 outs for a flopped pair like 98.
The river comes the 5♥, completing the K♣ 8♥ 3♠ 4♥ 5♥ board. The pot is $8,160.
Linus bets $2,050 with his top pair. Berry raises all-in for a total of $5,920 as a bluff. Linus calls, scooping a $20,000 pot.
The flush-completing river isn’t good for Linus’ one pair hands. But the good thing is that, if he holds a flush blocker, these hands are just strong enough to go for a thin value bet with a small size like 25% pot.
Like on the turn, Berri should have also folded his hand here. He has many other better bluff candidates such as Ace-Queen with a heart or Ace-Jack with a heart. Even a hand such as 87-suited or 86-suited are better candidates than Ace-Ten with no heart, according to the solver.
After the triple barrel, Linus should sometimes call and sometimes fold with his hand at equilibrium. This becomes a snap call if Berri has shown that he has a tendency to over bluff in these kinds of lines.
Heads-up poker is such a deep game given that you get to play with such loose ranges all the time. Even the best players sometimes struggle to know the “optimal” play with each hand in their range.
What Do You Think of Berri Sweet’s Ambitious Bluff?
Let me know in the comments below.
Ready for more high-stakes heads-up hand analysis? Check out Doug Polk Explains Five $105,976+ Pots He Played vs Daniel Negreanu.
Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!
Note: Ready to join 6,000+ players currently upgrading their No Limit Hold’em skills? Crush your competition with the expert strategies you will learn inside the Upswing Lab training course. Learn more now!