High Stakes Bosses Battle For $34,000 Pot (Analysis)

Online poker sites with high stakes have some of the sickest cash games in the world!

We’re going to get a glimpse into that arena with today’s hand analysis. 

This hand was played by Wiktor “Limitless” Malinowski and Oleg Bychkov at $200/$400 blinds with an effective stack just over $40,000.

Let’s dive right into the action!

Preflop Action

Wiktor opens up the action with a raise to $1,200 from the Small Blind with .

Oleg 3-bets with to $3,600 from the Big Blind.

Wiktor calls.

Preflop Analysis

Wiktor can employ a couple of strategies for playing an unopened pot from the Small Blind.

  1. He could play a mixed strategy comprised of folding, limping (around 30% of hands), and open-raising (around 30% of hands).
  2. Or he could go with a pure strategy, comprised of open-raising the top 40-45% of hands and folding the rest.

Theoretically speaking, the mixed strategy has a tiny bit higher expected value (EV) than the pure strategy. But can be great strategies if executed properly. It just depends on which one you can play better than your opponent.

(If you play low stakes cash games, Upswing Poker recommends going with the pure strategy from the Small Blind. The rake is simply too high in those games for the limp strategy to be worth it.)

Oleg should look to 3-bet with around 15-17% of hands, and his range should be polarized. His 3-betting range will be similar to this:

example BB 3-bet range vs SB open

The numbers below each hand represent the frequency at which that hand 3-bets. For example, Q9o shows 0.333, which means it 3-bets 33% of the time. If a hand shows a 1, it 3-bets 100% of the time.

In summation, the 3-bet range contains the strong hands (99+, ATs+, AQo+) and a smattering of “bluff 3-bets” that have effective blockers and/or good playability when called.

Against the 3-bet, Wiktor should be looking to call with around half of his range. I’d estimate his calling range is something like this:

Now that we have the preflop ranges estimated, let’s see the flop.

Flop Action

The flop comes   and the pot is $7,200.

Wiktor checks with . Oleg c-bets $2,400 with . Wiktor check-raises to $6,480. Oleg calls.

Flop Analysis

The flop gives Oleg top set with Pocket Jacks, but not a whole lot for Wiktor’s .

Despite having a ton of weak hands in his 3-betting range, Oleg still retains a small equity advantage on the flop. That being said, he will retain a much larger percentage of the pot due to having the nut advantage (which at this stack-to-pot ratio (SPR) could be considered overpairs+). He also has position, which makes it easier to realize equity.

A very high-frequency, small c-bet will work perfectly in this kind of scenario. Oleg could even simplify and go for a range bet. This way, he will put a lot of pressure on decent-looking hands such as Ace-Queen, low pocket pairs, and some middling suited Aces that have a backdoor flush draw.

Against this small c-bet, Wiktor should be always folding his Ace-Five suited. It is simply too weak to justify calling or raising with just an overcard, a backdoor flush draw, and a crummy backdoor straight draw.

While Wiktor’s specific hand should be folding, his general approach to the situation should be aggressive in order to deny as much equity as possible from Oleg. Check-raising with some strong top pairs and better, plus some semi-bluffs to balance them, is optimal in this scenario. But is just too weak to continue with.

(Perhaps Wiktor had an exploitative reason in mind when he check-raised.)

Against this raise, Oleg has no reason to fast-play his flopped set since the pot is already getting big, so calling is the best play. There is so little money left to play for in their stacks compared to the pot, thus he can afford to slow-play.

Turn Action

The turn comes the , making the board . The pot is $20,160.

Wiktor checks. Oleg checks.

Turn Analysis

The changes nothing. Wiktor can continue betting with some portion of both his value hands and bluffs.

could be a decent candidate to use as a semi-bluff here given that it blocks Pocket Aces and Ace-Jack. But in any case, Wiktor goes for the check.

Against a check, Oleg should take a stab at the pot frequently. A small size will be most effective since Wiktor will mostly be giving up at this point. Top pairs are, for the most part, strong enough to value-bet. Plus, he has plenty of straight draws that would like to bluff.

With top set specifically, Oleg should check back because:

  1. His hand is not vulnerable — there is no downside to letting Wiktor “catch up”
  2. He blocks a lot of the hands that would call him (such as )
  3. The stack-to-pot ratio is very low — getting the full stack in on the river is still possible, even if he checks the turn

Let’s see what the river brings.

River Action

The river comes the , making the final board . The pot is $20,160.

Wiktor checks. Oleg bets $6,960 with his full house.

River Analysis

The river is another brick. Wiktor should mostly check with his get-to-river range since none of his weaker hands improve on this river. This includes his .

Oleg should use a bigger bet size here, in theory. One-third pot river bets in position are not usually an optimal way to play because it caps the amount of bluffs/value hands that you can use.

That being said, purely from and expected value point of view, it isn’t a significant mistake at equilibrium (though it can be exploited). This type of play could be optimal if Wiktor is going to be overly loose/aggressive against it.

Back to Wiktor now, who actually has a good bluff-catcher at this point. He unblocks all potential bluffs (such as ) and also wins against all of them.

If Oleg is over-bluffing when using this size (has more than 20% bluffs), has a positive expected value as a call. Whether that is the case or not is up for debate and only by playing many many hands against a player can you make those distinctions.


Wiktor hero calls with Ace-high. Oleg scoops the $34,080 pot. A nifty prize!

What do you think of Wiktor’s call on the river?

Do you reckon Oleg is bluffing more than 20% of the time?

Let me know in the comments below.

That’s all for this article guys! I hope you enjoyed this breakdown and as usual, if you have any questions or feedback please let me know in the comment section down below!

Do you think you have what it takes to get to the nosebleeds? Prove it! Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!