Million dollar pots don’t happen often.
But in today’s hand, a player gets put to the test on the river with over €1,000,000 on the line.
Online poker legend Mikita Badziakouski (aka fish2013) clashes with live poker legend Antanas Guoga (aka Tony G). The two players’ aggressive styles caused the pot to balloon to over €1,000,000 and become one of the largest hands in televised poker history.
Without any further ado, let’s just right into the hand from the Triton Series cash game!
The blinds are €2,000/€4,000 with an €8,000 straddle and a total ante of €4,000.
Tony G (€1.4 million stack) opens up the action with a €22,000 raise from the Small Blind with K♦ 9♠. Ike Haxton (€577k stack) defends with J♦ T♠ from the Big Blind, and Mikita (€1.1 million stack) defends with Q♣ 7♠ from the straddle.
The pot is €70,000 heading into the flop.
Note: Keep in mind that I did not reference any preflop solutions for this section because this is a very unique preflop situation (straddle plus antes with deep stacks).
Given that there’s so much money into the pot already, Tony G has some incentive to limp in order to keep the pot as small as possible out of position. Having said that, playing a raise-only strategy is also completely fine.
If Tony G is playing a raise-only strategy, then raising with K9 offsuit is probably fine. Size-wise, a pot-sized raise is probably the optimal size to use, as it puts the right amount of pressure on a big enough part of the Straddlers range by giving them either just not enough or just enough pot odds to call.
A pot-sized raise here would be 30,000 euros and Tony only made it 22,000. His preflop size gives the Straddler and the Big Blind way too good of a price to continue with almost all hands. The Straddler needs 27% equity, for example, and he would be playing in position, which means he would over-realize equity with a lot of hands.
Ike’s call is marginal, but probably fine. He needs ~32% equity, which JTo will usually have, but he also has a player behind, making it close to a breakeven decision.
Mikita’s call is mandatory. He needs only 20% equity with the added bonus of playing the rest of the hand with the advantage of position.
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The flop dealt is K♥ J♠ 7♣. The pot is €70,000.
Tony G (K♦ 9♠) bets €20,000 and both Haxton (J♦ T♠) and Mikita call (Q♣ 7♠), making the pot €130,000.
Tony G should probably check with his whole range. He is playing out of position against 2 players, after all.
It would be hard to balance a betting range in Tony G’s situation. Having said that, making a small c-bet is +EV (expected value) as well, but checking is probably superior.
Ike is in a less than ideal situation here, being the turkey in a turkey sandwich with a second pair. That being said, Mikita should have a super wide range coming from preflop and Tony could potentially have a ton of semi-bluffs (such as AQ, AT, QT, Q9, T9, T8, 98 and even some double backdoor hands such as A♥ 4♥, A♠ 5♠, etc). Calling here is likely +EV.
Mikita’s call is pretty standard too now that he’s getting insanely good pot odds. He needs to realize only 15% equity in order to make a breakeven call.
The turn comes the 2♦, making the board K♥ J♠ 7♣ 2♦. The pot is now €130,000.
Tony G fires a €70,000 bet, Ike folds and Mikita calls, making the pot €270,000.
Once again, Tony G is walking on a tight rope here with this bet. Checking might be better, but betting does have merit.
He likely figured he is ahead a lot of the time, which is correct given that with stronger hands his opponent’s would have either raised preflop or on the flop. He also probably recognizes that there are still a lot of draws out there, especially on the blankest card of them all.
Ike’s fold is understandable and likely best given that Tony G is representing a lot of strength and there is still a player left behind him to act. He probably realizes that it’s going to be exceedingly hard to realize his equity.
Mikita is faced with a challenging decision too. He needs to figure out if Tony is bluffing enough when taking this line since his hand is a pure bluff-catcher at this point.
He may think that he will be able to also make some bluff raises on the river when draws, such as open-enders, complete. This sort of situation is very player-read driven, thus I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say that his call is probably okay.
River comes the 8♦, making the board now K♥ J♠ 7♣ 2♦ 8♦. The pot is €270,000.
Tony G bets €120,000, Mikita thinks for a bit and raises to €400,000.
This is another very thin value bet from Tony G. It’s made even thinner consider that one of the few draws that Mikita can have, T9, has hit a straight on the river. That said, his hand does have the added benefit of blocking a quarter of those combinations.
Mikita is facing a rather simple decision with his hand in theory: fold. He has a pure bluff-catcher at this point. In practice the decision breaks down to his assessment of Tony’s bluffing frequency. From a blocker standpoint, Q7 is not the greatest bluff-catcher in the world because it’s blocking some of Tony’s potential bluffs, such as AQ, QT and Q9.
The blocker effects of his hand also make it an unfavourable bluff-raise candidate. He would much rather have a hand such as 97 here to block Tony’s T9 combination (even K9 in this case).
Mikita probably assessed that Tony would make a lot of big folds in this situation, otherwise his decision doesn’t make sense.
Tony G’s call is very player dependent as well. Mikita is only repping T9 here and he is blocking four of the sixteen possible combinations of that hand. His call here is likely based on the read that Mikita would be bluff-raising more than his fair share. Given the showdown that took place, we can conclude that his read was accurate, and he was greatly compensated for it.
Tony G thinks for under 15 seconds and calls, scooping the €1,200,000 pot. After Mikita mucks, Tony creates a gold TV moment shouting:
“I’m the BEST!” The BEST! The BEST!”
Would You Have Played This One Any Differently?
Let me know in the comments below!
Tony might not be the most GTO-oriented player out there, but he compensates by being great at exploiting other player’s imbalances. That makes him a dangerous opponent to have at your table.
Oh, he’s also not afraid of swinging a million dollars down in a session.
That’s all for now! I hope you enjoyed this breakdown, and if you have any questions or feedback don’t hesitate to let me know in the comment section down below!
Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!
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