The text below is based on the video above.
Sebastian Gaehl found himself in quite a juicy spot at the 2023 Triton Poker Vietnam Super High Roller Main Event.
While the field for the $100,000 buy-in event was filled with the usual elite-level players, Gaehl got a seat to the direct left of Phil Nagy, who is known as a loose-recreational player.
Nagy put Gaehl to the test in the following hand, however, breaking out one of poker’s rarest moves — the double check-raise — in one of the highest buy-in tournaments on the 2023 calendar.
Read on as Upswing Poker’s own high-stakes crusher Darren Elias breaks down the hand.
Player stack sizes and positions:
- David Peters is UTG (187,000 chips)
- Phil Nagy is in the HJ (397,000) chips
- Sebastian Gaehl is in the CO (305,000 chips)
- Anson Ewe is in the BB (496,000 chips)
Peters opens to 6,000 UTG with , Nagy calls in the HJ with , Gaehl calls in the CO with , Ewe calls in the BB with .
Peters’ open, Nagy’s call, and Gaehl’s call are standard. Ewe’s call with in the BB potentially puts him in some uncomfortable spots postflop, but considering his fantastic pot odds, calling is standard. He just has to be careful postflop when up against 3 players.
Ewe checks, Peters checks, Nagy checks, and Gaehl bets 7,000. Ewe calls, Peters folds, and Nagy check-raises to 35,000. Gaehl calls, and Ewe folds.
The checks on the flop from Ewe, Peters, and Nagy are standard. Gaehl’s 1/4-pot bet is a great size for a multiway flop, as solvers favor small bet sizes in many multiway spots. Ewe calls with his top pair, but as alluded to in the preflop analysis, this is already a bit of an uncomfortable spot for him even with top pair.
Peters folds and action goes to Nagy, who puts in a 5x check-raise with his middling pair. Gaehl should just call in this spot, which he does.
In the upcoming Upswing Poker tournament course Road To Victory, Elias and Nick Petrangelo separate players into five different player types and talk about how to maximize value against each.
Elias puts Nagy into Category 4 (loose-recreational player), and in this spot Gaehl needs to think about what kind of player he’s up against. As Elias puts it:
When playing against these Type 4 players, there’s always going to be the chance that they’re doing something random like this.
I call it the random nonsense factor. Any time we’re playing against loose recreational players, they’re going to have hands in their ranges that we’re going to have a difficult time putting in there.
So pocket nines here with no spade; if you gave a good player a hundred guesses at Nagy’s holdings here in the HJ, when he calls and then check-raises this flop, probably not going to be in there.
However, we do know what kind of player he is, and that he will have a class of hands like this, that are sort of random hands that don’t make sense.
Elias recommends keeping your play straightforward against these player types, which Gaehl does by calling Nagy’s flop check-raise.
Nagy checks, Gaehl bets 30,000, Nagy check-raises to 105,000, Gaehl folds.
The turn isn’t great for Gaehl, as both a flush and a straight complete. Gaehl is likely expecting Nagy to bet, but instead Nagy checks.
Gaehl’s best options are:
- Check back the turn, with the plan to call a bet on any non-spade river. If checked to on the river, Gaehl can value bet.
- Bet the turn and don’t fold to a raise against this Type 4 (loose-recreational) player.
Elias’ thoughts on Nagy’s turn check-raise:
Really creative, aggressive play from Nagy, and something you will see out of Type 4 players.
These loose-recreational players will invent bluffing lines with hands that don’t necessarily make sense intuitively. How we’re going to respond to this check-raise is, we need to weigh the possibilities of what’s going on in Nagy’s range, and in his head.
If Gaehl calls, both he and Nagy will head to the river with a stack-to-pot ratio (SPR) of less than 1. As Elias puts it:
You have to ask yourself what is more likely; there are kind of two scenarios going on.
One, Nagy check-raised the flop with a flush draw, and then chose to check-raise again with a fairly shallow SPR, and has really got you in the trap, and has played a flush strangely for value. I guess sometimes we see T9 too, a flush or a straight.
The second possibility: he is doing something weird and random with an odd bluffing hand. This is something we have to consider with Type 4 players.
Another factor for Gaehl to consider is the strength of his own hand in this spot. Even against a strong player, Gaehl’s set of eights is likely too good to fold in this spot. Gaehl still might have the best hand, and can also draw to a full house on the river. Against a Type 4 player, it’s a slam-dunk call.
Gaehl folds, however, and Nagy’s unconventional bluff gets through.
What do you think of Gaehl’s fold with a set?
Let us know in the comments below.
Darren Elias joins the Upswing Poker team as one of the most successful poker tournament players in the history of the game.
He holds the record for most World Poker Tour titles (four and counting), and has more than $11 million in live tournament earnings to his name. He’s also fresh off a $313,000 win against the world’s best players at the US Poker Open.
His next video (and accompanying article) comes out next week on this blog and the Upswing Poker YouTube channel.
If you missed Darren’s first video/article, check it out here: Should Tom Dwan Fold Pocket Queens In This $1 Million Buy-In Hand?
Elias has teamed up with fellow Upswing Coach and elite tournament pro Nick Petrangelo for an upcoming course, which is a must-watch for all serious tournament players.
The new course, titled The Road To Victory: The Ultimate Tournament Course, includes learning materials for players of all experience levels, with Elias and Petrangelo providing insights based on years of high-stakes play both live and online.
This course offers something different from the usual solver-heavy poker training materials, focusing more on exploits, the tournament journey from early stages to the final table, ICM, and maximizing profit against the real players at the table.
Get the strategies you need to consistently make it to the money, avoid unnecessary bust outs, and find the path to victory through each stage of a tournament