With $5,300,000 on the table, this bomb of a poker hand went down.
The one was played by Nik Airball and Wesley, two regular players on the Hustler Casino Live stream with very deep pockets looking to gamble it up!
The blinds are $100/$200/$400 with a $200 big blind ante. The effective stack between the two is roughly $800,000, meaning they’re playing 2,000 blinds deep with the straddle on.
Without any further ado, let’s dive into the action!
Airball opens the action with a $1,000 raise on the Button with . Wesley calls in the Straddle with .
There’s a key preflop note I have to talk about first: the straddle and Big Blind ante essentially cancel each other out. The former forces tighter play from the Button (because there’s an extra player to get through) while the latter incentivizes looser play (because there’s an extra $200 in the pot).
So, Airball should probably raise with around the top 40-50% of hands (a typical Button range) in this spot.
Four-Three suited is right there at the bottom of this 40-50% range, so it’s a fine raise. His raise size (2.5x) is also good, putting enough pressure on the Big Blind and straddle’s middling hands.
In the straddle, Wesley should look to defend with a wide range of hands given the pot odds that he is getting. He has to call $600 to win $1,900, which is better than 3-to-1 odds. He should continue both by 3-betting (with around the top 13% of hands) and calling (with the next 50% of best hands).
Wesley has a strong hand with Ace-Two suited and really can’t go wrong either way. His call is good, but mixing in 3-bets with this hand would also be fine.
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The flop comes and the pot is $2,500.
Wesley ( ) checks. Airball ( ) bets $1,000. Wesley check-raises to $7,000. Airball calls.
This flop favors Airball’s range, which is not unusual given that he has the stronger preflop range going in. The three broadway cards interact better with his range given that Wesley should be 3-betting with a lot of the strongest broadway cards.
Having said that, Wesley should have the nut advantage on this board (i.e. he has more flushes in his range) which counteracts the effect of the overall range advantage.
Given these two factors, Airball should employ a somewhat aggressive c-betting strategy using small bets in order to extract value and force Wesley to fast-play his flopped flushes.
Back to Wesley now who flopped the stone-cold nuts. He should be looking to check-raise here, especially given that they are playing super deep which incentivizes him to start building the pot ASAP.
The size Wesley used, though, is not optimal. This big size will cause him to lose action against a lot of much weaker hands that would otherwise call. Hands such as AK, KQ, AJ, QQ, Ax with a weak flush draw, Qx, and similar hands can consider folding vs this large size.
That said, maybe Wesley has a good reason for sizing up here against this opponent.
Facing such a huge raise, no hand in Airball’s range wants to 3-bet since his strongest hands have Wesley dead. He should look to continue with a tight range, made up of strong hands such as two pair or better and nut flush draws. His low flush is a definite +EV (expected value) call.
The turn comes the , making the board . The pot is $16,500.
Wesley bets $30,000 with the nut flush. Airball calls with his low flush.
The turn doesn’t change the situation in any meaningful way. This is still a “strong hands only” spot — Wesley can only have a flush or a bluff and Airball can only have two pair+ or the nut flush draw. The turn does not change the distribution of these hands for either player.
Once Wesley started with such a polarizing strategy, he should continue betting a size that makes sense for a polarized range on the turn, aka an overbet. The strategy is pretty simple here: He wants to bet very big with nut flushes and nut flush draws. The goal here is to put Airball in a very tough spot with his two pairs and straights that don’t block any flushes.
Airball should not be loving life, even with a flush, given the heavy action that he is facing. But Airball’s hand is still too strong of a hand to fold just yet. He should be looking to continue only with very strong hands such as flushes, and straights.
Well played by both players on the turn.
Further reading: This is When (And Why) World-Class Players Overbet the Turn
The river comes the , making the board . The pot is $76,500.
Wesley bets $200,000.
The river doesn’t change any of the ranges, so the situation remains the same. Wesley should have either the nut flush or the nut flush blocker and Airball is stuck with a bluff catcher.
In this kind of scenario, very large bets are the optimal way to go in Wesley’s shoes. An overbet allows him to extract maximum value out of his nut flushes.
This is fairly esoteric, but worth mentioning: Given that Airball could have the straight flush with , Wesley can’t shove for value as he’d run into it too often given that the stacks are so deep.
But Wesley can still go for around 200-300% of the pot to maximize value against the lower flushes. And that’s exactly what he does with his 250% pot-sized bet.
What Airball needs to do here is to estimate whether or not Wesley will have a bluff at a high enough frequency to make a call +EV. Based on his pot odds, he needs to win more than 42% of the time when he calls. Thus, he needs to figure out if Wesley’s betting range contains more than 42% bluffs.
It’s hard to say what he should do in theory here since this line is never taken (remember, the flop raise should’ve been much smaller). Regardless, this hand is close between calling and folding.
Airball calls. Wesley scoops the $476,500 pot with his Ace-high flush/
An awesome hand and an awesome game overall. Due to how deep these two guys were playing, we got to witness an absolutely huge amount of money swinging from one person to the next. Overall, both players took decent lines. There was no big blunder made, at least from a theoretical perspective.
One could argue that Wesley simply won’t be bluffing often enough on the river for Airball to justify a call. But maybe he is.
Do you think Wesley bluffs this river often enough for Airball to call profitably?
Let me know in the comments below.
That’s all for this breakdown! If you’d like me to analyze another hand, leave a link below and I’ll check it out!
Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!