xuan liu aces

Should Xuan Liu Fold Aces With $105,000 On The Line?

When professional and recreational players get involved in big pots, you often see some unconventional plays.

That’s what happens in today’s hand, which is a clash between high-stakes poker pro Xuan Liu and a recreational player named Tesla. 

Tesla quickly made a name for himself on Lodge Card Club’s stream as a wildly aggressive player.  But it’s worth noting that this particular hand happened early on during his first appearance on the show, so Xuan didn’t know quite what she was up against yet.

The game is $25/$50/$100/$200 with a $50 Big Blind ante and an effective stack of roughly $50,000.

Let’s jump into the action!

Preflop Action

Tesla raises to $900 from the Cutoff with . Xuan 3-bets with  to $2,500 from the Button. Tesla calls.

Simple Preflop Analysis

Tesla makes the correct play to raise with King-Queen offsuit from the Cutoff, but his size is a bit too large. Something like $600 (3x the biggest blind) would be a better size. It’s simply unnecessary to risk the extra $300.

Note: Raising to a big size like this can make sense when you’re in an extremely loose game. When that’s the case, you should also significantly tighten up your range. Want to learn all about adjusting your strategy in loose live games? Listen to the live poker episode of the Upswing Poker Level-Up podcast.

Faced with this raise, Xuan has a mandatory 3-bet with Pocket Aces. Her size should be around 3x the size of Tesla’s original raise (around $2,700).

Facing Xuan’s 3-bet, Tesla makes a marginal call. Folding or 4-bet bluffing would also be reasonable options in his position. I would learn towards folding since the original raise size was so big, but calling is not a big mistake.

Note that the nit game is in play during this hand and Xuan still has her nit button, which means she has a little extra incentive to try to win this pot.

Advanced Preflop Analysis

With the double straddle and a very small ante in play, Tesla should be open-raising with around the top 25-30% of hands from this position. Interestingly, that’s pretty similar to the range of hands he should raise from this position in a normal blind structure. King-Queen offsuit is comfortably a part of that range.

On the Button facing a Cutoff raise, Xuan can employ a few strategies with her range. With so many players behind, I think a 3-bet-only strategy is optimal.

In other words, I would either 3-bet or fold no matter what I was holding in Xuan’s spot. That way, she avoids going multiway or getting squeezed as often.

Her 3-betting range should consist of around the top 13-20% of starting hands. Size-wise, a 3x raise should do the job. Obviously she is right to 3-bet with Pocket Aces.

Against this 3-bet, Tesla should continue (either by calling or 4-betting) with roughly half of his range. King-Queen offsuit is a marginal call at best. Given the smaller 3-bet size that Xuan used, he can also 4-bet bluff as he blocks many strong hands that will continue against the 4-bet (Ace-King, Pocket Kings, Pocket Queens, Ace-Queen suited, and King-Queen suited).

Note: Look up how to play any hand in every common preflop situation in a few seconds. Get instant access to extensive preflop charts (for cash games and tournaments) when you join the Upswing Lab training course and community. Lock your seat now!

The Advanced Solver Ranges for cash games — one of six sets of preflop charts in the Upswing Lab.

Flop Action

The flop comes . The pot is $5,425.

Tesla checks. Xuan bets $2,500. Tesla raises to $6,000. Xuan calls.

Simple Flop Analysis

Tesla starts off the postflop action with a check, as he should with his entire range of hands. This flop is not favorable enough for him to consider a donk betting strategy.

Xuan makes the correct decision to bet. She has a strong overpair and wants to get value from weaker one-pair hands and draws.

Tesla’s check-raise is fine, but calling would be fine too. The goal of his check-raise could be to take the betting lead away from Xuan or get some thin value from worse hands (such as Pocket Jacks or Ace-King).

Facing this raise, Xuan has two viable options: 3-bet or call. Both options are close in value. It all depends on how strong she believes Tesla’s range to be and how he will play it on future streets.

If she thinks Tesla will rarely fold versus aggression, for example, she should 3-bet to try to get the money in as soon as possible. If she thinks Tesla will bluff on future streets, she should set the trap with a call. If she’s not sure about how he will play, I think she should lean towards calling.

Advanced Flop Analysis

On this type of flop, Xuan has the range and nut advantage, mostly due to the presence of Pocket Queens, Kings and Aces in her range (hands Tesla won’t have). Plus, almost her entire 3-betting range hits this board in some way. Conversely, Tesla will often have an underpair like Pocket Nines through Pocket Twos.

In such cases, the 3-bettor (Xuan) should employ a highly aggressive c-betting strategy using a small sizing. Xuan’s half-pot bet is a decent size, especially given how strong but vulnerable Pocket Aces are here.

Faced with this bet, Tesla should employ an aggressive check-raise strategy given that he has a few nutted hands himself (such as Queen-Ten suited, Pocket Tens, and Pocket Sixes). He can balance these value hands with some natural semi-bluffs like King-Jack suited and flush draws.

In addition to these clear value hands and clear bluffs, solvers also like to mix in some more marginal one-pair hands at a low frequency (think Ace-Queen, King-Queen, Queen-Jack suited, Jack-Ten suited, Ten-Nine suited, etc).

Why check-raise with one pair hands? The upside of this play is to prevent the 3-bettor from c-betting with her entire range and then realizing her equity cheaply by checking back on the turn. These hands also act as balancers when draws complete on the turn.

Turn Action

The turn comes the , making the board  . The pot is $17,425.

Tesla checks. Xuan bets $6,000. Tesla raises to $19,000. Xuan calls.

Simple Turn Analysis

Tesla makes a good decision to check for pot control. Betting wouldn’t be a big mistake, but checking is a better play.

Xuan’s decision to bet is fine, but she should use a larger size to setup a reasonably sized all-in on the river. Checking back also would have been a fine play, but I’d definitely lean towards betting against a splashy player like Tesla.

Faced with this bet, Tesla should just call. By raising, he is basically turning his top pair into a bluff. His hand is too good to turn into a bluff, in my opinion. I’d much prefer to call and try to win at showdown against a missed draw or a weaker made hand.

Xuan shouldn’t be in this spot given that she should have either bet larger or checked. But once she reaches this point, she should call vs the check-raise.

Advanced Turn Analysis

The turn  is a great card for Tesla’s range, at least in theory, as he should have been raising with a good amount of hands on the flop that have now improved to trips. When the turn card is good for your range, an aggressive barreling strategy is the best way forward.

Having said that, his specific hand (King-Queen) falls squarely into the checking range. With such a medium-strength hand, he should aim to get to showdown cheaply.

After Tesla checks, Xuan can either bet big for value and protection or check back. The latter has the upside of gather more information about Tesla’s range/hand (since he’ll have to act first on the river).

Betting small doesn’t accomplish much. She is giving good pot odds for Tesla to call with hands like nut flush draws, while not extracting much value from his top pair hands. She should use a more polarized size of half pot or bigger. By betting small, she also opens the door to funky stuff happening (like getting check-raised again).

Tesla’s check-raise is ill-advised. It would only be a good play if he thinks that Xuan wouldn’t use this size with her value hands. I think that is too presumptuous and likely not the best strategy in practice.

Faced with this raise, I like Xuan’s decision to call. 3-betting would be too loose as Tesla is representing a full house or flopped set for value. Since the limits the amount of full houses he can have, I think folding would be too tight.

River Action

The river comes the , making the final board   . The pot is $55,425.

Tesla shoves all-in for $24,400.

Simple River Analysis

Tesla’s all-in on the river is functionally a bluff. He cannot expect a worse hand (like Queen-Jack or Pocket Jacks) to call against this bet, but maybe he can get a hand like Pocket Aces to fold. Was he intentionally bluffing? That’s unknown.

Xuan is put into a brutal spot here and it’s tough to fault her either way. On one hand, the makes it less likely that she is against a full house or better as both Pocket Tens and Pocket Sixes now make quads. On the other hand, Tesla has taken such a strong line that it might be tough to imagine that he’s bluffing.

Advanced River Analysis

The river is a brick. While it completes the backdoor flush draw, it also makes Pocket Sixes much less likely (from 3 combinations to 1).

Tesla’s shove signifies that he has a full house/quads for value or a bluff. While his intention of jamming King-Queen is unclear, it is a bluff as he will never get called by worse and can make better hands fold.

Xuan needs to decide if Tesla is bluffing more than 25% of the time so that she can call profitably. This is a spot that is heavily player-dependent. Given that this was the first time anyone had seen Tesla play poker publicly, it was hard to gauge how he constructed his ranges. I don’t fault Xuan either way.


Xuan folds Pocket Aces. Tesla scoops the $55,425 pot with his inferior holding.

What do you think of Xuan’s fold on the river?

Would you have found the call? Let me know in the comments below.

As usual, if you have any questions or feedback feel free to leave a comment in the section down below.

If you want another high stakes hand analysis from Lodge Card Club’s wild streams, check out Retired Poker Pro Hits Full House vs Billionaire ($322,400 Pot).

Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!

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About the Author
Dan B.

Dan B.

Online grinder aspiring to reach the highest stakes and crush the toughest games. I'm available for quick strategy questions and hourly coaching -- reach out to me at [email protected].

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