Elite Poker Player Sets The Trap In High Stakes Game (Analysis)

I have a cool hand to share with you today!

The stakes are $200/$400 (with a $100 ante). This one took place on the online felt between one of the world’s greatest cash game players (Linus Loeliger) and one of the world’s greatest tournament players (Michael Addamo).

Let’s dive into the action.


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Preflop

Addamo raises to $880 with Kd 6d from Middle Position. Linus calls with 5s 3s from the Button. BTC200K-FORSURE (an unknown player) calls from the Big Blind with an unknown hand.

The effective stack between the Addamo and Linus is around $35,000 (87.5bb).

Simple Preflop Analysis

Addamo makes the correct raise with King-Six suited. It is a mediocre hand, but with the ante in play, he has extra incentive to raise. It’s worth noting that this is one of the weaker hands with which he should raise (King-Two suited and Queen-Six suited should be folded).

Faced with this raise, Linus makes a very loose call with Five-Three suited. While this call is too loose in theory, he is one of the best players in the world, so I’m sure he made this call for exploitative reasons.

We never find out what BTC200K-FORSURE was holding, so I can’t comment on his play.

Advanced Preflop Analysis

Given the ante in play, Addamo should be open-raising with a wider range than in a regular 6-max game. Normally, you’d want to raise with around the top 20% of hands from this position. With an ante, that increases to around the top 25% of hands with the ante.

King-Six suited is towards the bottom of that 25% range. His raise size is good. Anything between 2bb and 3bb should work well as it gives him good pot odds on his raise.

Linus’s call with a low suited gapper is probably a bit spewy, at least in theory. It will be an uphill battle to make this hand profitable. I think it’s fairly likely he sees the relatively unknown player in the Big Blind as a weak player. So, he called with this hand in order to play a pot in position against that weak player. But that’s just speculation on my part.

The theoretically correct strategy for Linus in this spot would be to mix between cold-calling and 3-betting with the top ~15% or so of hands. With this strategy, the strongest possible hands (like Pocket Queens or better, Ace-Queen suited, and Ace-King) would always 3-bet. The other hands should mix calling and 3-betting at varying frequencies.

BTC200K should play quite loosely from the Big Blind because he is getting such great pot odds. He only needs to win the pot 14% of the time to break even on a call (he must call $480 to play for a pot of $3,440).

Flop

The flop comes Jh 5d 2d. The pot is $3,440.

BTC200K checks. Addamo checks with Kd 6d. Linus bets $800 with 5s 3s. BTC200K folds. Addamo raises to $3,600. Linus 3-bets to $6,898. Addamo calls.

Simple Flop Analysis

Since we don’t know what BTC200K had, we can’t analyze his check and fold.

Addamo checks with his second nut flush draw, which is a good play. Betting wouldn’t be a bad play, but his check is theoretically sound. It’s important to check with some flush draws, especially when out of position, to make your checking range more diverse. This makes you tougher to play against.

Faced with this check, Linus makes the correct decision to bet small. His hand needs some protection and would benefit from getting folds, even if he currently has the best hand.

Addamo makes a great decision to check-raise with his flush draw. It will put Linus into a very difficult spot with his weak, one-pair hands.

Linus’ decision to re-raise is very unconventional. It probably isn’t correct in theory, but I assume that he had a good reason to play this way.

Advanced Flop Analysis

BTC200K has the weakest range by far, so checking is the best option for him with his entire range. 

Despite the fact that he has a flush draw, Addamo should also probably check his entire range here. The rest of the players combined will have more nutted hands than he does.

Linus is incentivized now to bet for a very small size here with a lot of medium-strength hands and semi-bluffs. The idea here is that by risking a little bit of money, he accomplishes a few things:

Addamo should be check-raising here, so his decision is correct. This range should consist of overpairs, strong top pairs, overcards with backdoor draws, and flush draws. This strategy is optimal because he doesn’t want to let Linus realize his equity for so cheap.

Linus makes a rather unconventional play here and 3-bets. We don’t usually see 3-bets as part of an optimal strategy for the in-position player, especially on boards such as this one and at a high stack depth (almost 100bb deep).

But if we want to look at why Linus might have decided that this is the best strategy, we need to understand when such a play would be optimal. This line with 53-suited would be best if Addamo:

  • Is too bluff-heavy with high equity hands that will call the raise
  • Is too bluff-heavy with weak semi-bluffs that will fold against the 3-bet
  • Will fold some strong hands such as overpairs with a diamond that block his bluffs

There may be one more reason why Linus might prefer 3-betting with this hand: Equity realization. If he thinks that he will be able to navigate the future inflection points more accurately, then it can make sense to choose this line.

As far as blocker selection goes, having the 5 is a good choice as it blocks the set of 5’s that Addamo is representing while it unblocks his bluffs. Also, Linus still has outs to make good two pairs and trips in case Addamo has a strong but vulnerable hand.

Addamo’s call is good here. He is getting great pot odds, only needing to win the pot around 19% of the time once he calls. An easy feat with a high flush draw.

Turn

The turn comes the Ad, making the board Jh 5d 2d Ad. The pot is $17,236.

Addamo checks. Linus checks.

Simple Turn Analysis

An action turn gives Addamo the nut flush while severely downgrading Linus’ pair of fives.

Despite having the nut flush, Addamo’s decision to check is correct. He is trapping and letting Linus bluff or bet worse hands for value.

Linus makes the best possible play by checking back. His hand is weak and it will be hard for him to get many hands to fold.

Advanced Turn Analysis

A great card for Addamo and a horrible card for Linus. 

Addamo’s range now improves to contain the top set. Plus, his bluffs have improved to a flush.

Linus won’t have many flushes at this point since 3-betting with anything other than the nut flush draw on the flop doesn’t make much sense. And since the Ad came on the turn, there is no way he had the Ace-high flush draw on the flop.

Both players played this street correctly in my opinion.

River

The river comes the Qc, making the final board  Jh 5d 2d Ad Qc. The pot is $17,236.

Addamo checks. Linus shoves all-in for an effective bet of $27,007. Addamo calls and scoops the $71,252 pot.

Simple River Analysis

Addamo makes a good decision to check with the nuts, although betting would have been fine as well. His decision to check works perfectly as Linus takes the bait.

Faced with this check, Linus makes the correct bluff. It will be hard for him to have any worse hands that arrive at the river, so there is no chance he can win by checking.

Obviously, Addamo makes the correct call with the nuts. Not much to say there.

Advanced River Analysis

The Qc is a total brick. The effective nuts do not change.

Addamo realizes that Linus has a capped range from which it’s going to be very hard to extract value. This happens because Addamo’s range has improved so much on the turn. 

In theory, we would probably expect Addamo to mix between checking and betting with this hand. In practice, if he thinks that Linus might be the type of player to overly attack a capped range, or simply has a weak range, then trapping would be the superior action. 

Linus’ 3-bet on the flop was quite suspicious to begin with, especially against a shorter than 100bb stack. In this case, it makes even more sense for Adammo to give Linus some rope to put some more money into the pot with a high probability of him holding a weak hand.

When Linus faces a check on the river, he is never winning if he checks back. On top of that, he is very likely at the bottom of his range in a spot where it is very hard for him to have bluffs. This makes it a prime situation for turning his hand into a bluff, so his play is good (but he probably never should have been in this spot to begin with).

What do you think of how this hand was played?

In these battles of elite players, there will be a lot of back-and-forth exploitation going on. Sometimes one player gets the upper hand, sometimes the other one.

That’s all for this article! I hope you enjoyed it and that you learned from it! 

What do you think of Linus’ 3-bet on the flop? What do you think of Addamo’s trap on the river? I am curious to hear your opinion!

Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!


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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.

Results

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!

Carryovers: $15,964 Pick 5 at Monmouth, $3,828 Super High 5 at Ellis

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares horses to bet in a pair of Saturday carryovers at Monmouth Park and Ellis Park.

Monmouth Park, Race 1: $15,964 Pick 5 carryover (12:40 p.m. ET)

The 50-cent Early Pick 5 at Monmouth Park has tossed up an enticing non-jackpot carryover worth $15,964 for Saturday’s card.

A competitive sequence is on tap, with each of the five races containing at least eight horses before scratches. But a possible single can be found in Race 3, a maiden special weight for two-year-old fillies racing one mile on turf.

Since 2021, four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown has gone 3-for-8 (38%) debuting juveniles in turf routes at Monmouth, which includes a 2-for-4 (50%) record with fillies. Brown is debuting a couple of fillies in Saturday’s field, and the most promising appears to be #11 Spendalot (7-2), who sold for $650,000 as a yearling.

A daughter of successful stallion More Than Ready (who has sired many high-class turf runners) out of Siempre Mia (previously the dam of Consumer Spending, a three-time graded stakes winner on grass), Spendalot is bred to shine on turf. She enters off a lengthy string of workouts (including half a mile over the Saratoga training track turf course) and appears well-spotted to win on debut.

We’ll single Spendalot in the middle leg of the Pick 5.

Ellis Park, Race 2: $3,828 Super High 5 carryover (1:17 p.m. ET)

Saturday’s second race at Ellis Park features a $3,828 carryover in the $1 Super High 5. Winning a share won’t be easy, because Race 2 is a six-furlong maiden special weight for two-year-old fillies featuring 12 horses in the main body of the field plus two on the also-eligible list.

There are many viable contenders, but if you want to use a live longshot, try #2 Gloriette (15-1). In her debut sprinting 4 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland, the daughter of Munnings finished sixth behind runaway winner Youalmosthadme, who came back to beat males in the Kentucky Juvenile S.

Gloriette subsequently improved in a five-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs, finishing fourth behind V V’s Dream while earning a respectable 78 Brisnet Speed rating. V V’s Dream came back to run second in the Debutante S. at Ellis Park.

The par winning Brisnet Speed rating for Saturday’s conditions is 78, so Gloriette has already run fast enough to win a race like this. Perhaps she’ll find the competition easier and vie for a top-five finish alongside the fast-working #1 Wampus Kitten (9-2), the promising Ellis Park maiden special weight runner-up #5 Bella Haze (7-2), and the Brad Cox-trained second-time starter #7 Sweet Mimi (6-1).

Good luck!