Nosebleed online poker has been active in 2021.
The final hand of this series is a particularly weird one (definitely not solver approved) between two of the best players in the world.
Let’s dive in!
The game is NLHE. The action is 6-handed and the blinds are $50/$100 with a $20 ante. In this hand, we only know what LuckyCPS had.
Stefan11222 open-raises on the Button to $200. Zas91 calls in the Small Blind. LuckyCPS calls in the Big Blind with J♣ 8♠.
The effective stack is around $32,000 (320 big blinds deep).
Stefan goes for a very small preflop raise size. Optimally, you’d want to raise a bit bigger to deny some equity, especially when you consider that there’s a $20 ante paid by 6 players. But perhaps Stefan had a reason for going smaller in this case.
Zas91, another strong regular, is now incentivized to have a decently wide calling range because the pot odds he’s getting are so good. In general, without an ante, you are better off having a 3-bet only range from the small blind (especially when there’s a decent amount of rake involved). But with $120 in antes out there, calling with some hands versus this small size seems good.
LuckyCPS is getting absolutely astonishing pot odds in the big blind (6.2 to 1). He should be calling with almost everything. J8-offsuit is definitely well within that calling range.
Note: Want to know 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 9♣ 6♥ 2♦. The pot is $720.
Zas91 and luckyCPS (J♣ 8♠) check over to Stefan11222 who fires a c-bet of $143. Both Zas91 and luckyCPS call.
The poker community’s knowledge of multiway pot strategy is lagging way behind heads-up pot strategy at this point in time. Having said that, using such a small size here doesn’t make much sense from a theoretical perspective. There are a lot of hands in both players’ ranges that have the odds to call against such a minuscule bet.
Let’s consider Stefan’s small bet from both a theoretical and practical point of view.
In theory: Stefan would, ideally, want to force both players to fold their overcard plus backdoor flush draw hands, or at least put said hands in a tough spot. But those hands can easily and profitably call when he bets 20% of the pot. It’s the same as preflop — Stefan used very small sizing to basically force a lot of his opponents’ ranges to continue or risk overfolding.
In practice: This strategy may have some merit in practice because it is probably unintuitive how wide one should defend against a 20% c-bet in a multiway pot. Moreover, it’s rather unlikely that either player will check-raise aggressively enough to deny Stefan’s equity. All-in-all, betting very small might be the optimal approach in this situation.
Despite not having much, LuckyCPS has a marginal decision in this spot because of his stellar pot odds. He only needs (to realize) ~12% equity. He has an overcard, an overcard to the mid-card, and a double backdoor straight draw. Folding and calling here have roughly the same expected value (EV). Having a backdoor flush draw would make it an easy call.
The turn comes the T♥, making the board 9♣ 6♥ 2♦ T♥. The pot is now $1,150.
Zas91 checks, luckyCPS (J♣ 8♠) leads $377. Stefan11222 raises to $1,137. Zas91 re-raises to $3,035. LuckyCPS calls. Stefan11222 re-re-raises to $7,000. Zas91 calls. luckyCPS calls.
That being said, it’s super hard to figure out exactly what that donking range should look like, and it will be very hard to balance out or play the next street. If he does want to implement a donking range, J8 is a great candidate for that because it has a draw to the absolute nuts and an overcard to top pair.
Stefan raises very small, which means his range is merged with few bluffs. This makes sense when you consider that Zas91’s range is still uncapped, and thus Stefan is disincentivized from polarizing himself with a big raise.
LuckyCPS’ call is ludicrous at this point. There is absolutely no rational justification that I can find or think of for this decision. He is behind both player’s ranges and doesn’t have enough equity to call. This is a massive mistake.
Stefan’s re-re-raise is representing the same range that Zas91 is representing.
Zas’s call means that he probably doesn’t believe Stefan and is going for the bluff-catch with 98s or 76s.
LuckyCPS makes an even worse decision than before by calling. Even though he is getting good pot odds, he just doesn’t have the equity or enough implied odds.
LuckyCPS lives up to his name as the river comes 7♣, making the board 9♣ 6♥ 2♦ T♥ 7♣. The pot is $22,150.
Zas91 checks, luckyCPS (J♣ 8♠) leads $3,100, Stefan calls, and Zas91 folds.
LuckyCPS shows J♣ 8♠ and Stefan mucks. LuckyCPS scoops the $28,350 pot.
LuckyCPS’s lead is pretty smart. He is banking on the fact that none of the players would expect him to have the over straight, while Stefan could have it somehow. Because Stefan could have it, it is possible that he might turn his straight into a bluff by shoving all-in and sometimes getting luckyCPS and/or Zas91 to fold the same hand.
It doesn’t happen this time and we will never know what Stefan or Zas had in this hand.
We can see how luckyCPS uses his obvious high skill to maneuver himself from a very bad spot in which he put himself, trying to minimize the overall loss of EV.
Crazy crazy hand, and luckyCPS lived up to his screen name by binking one of two cards that give him the nuts on the river. It happens sometimes. Stefan is experienced enough to know that he played well and that sometimes the chips will fall where they may.
What hand do you think Stefan called with on the river? And what do you think Zas had?
Let me know in the comment section down below!
That’s all for this breakdown and series! I hope you enjoyed it.
Want to read my advanced article on river bluffing next? Check out 3 River Bluffing Tips That Will Help You Smash Cash Games.
Til’ 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!