Getting a better hand to fold and a worse hand to put in chips… that’s a dream scenario that few poker players have gotten to live out.
But you’re about to see exactly that.
This hand and the accompanying (paraphrased) analysis is from Darren Elias’ . It’s a great example of how strong players narrow down ranges and eliminate cards from opposing ranges.
If you’d prefer watching the video from the course rather than reading this article,
Let’s dive into it.
Early in the tournament, with around 150bb effective stack, Darren opens UTG with . An unknown recreational player calls in Middle Position, a loose recreational player on the Button calls, a tighter professional player squeezes to 11bb from the Small Blind, and everyone calls.
Since Darren is playing this hand early on in a re-entry tournament, King-Ten Suited is a pretty standard call against the 3-bet. Big 3-bet multiway pots versus weaker players are a great way to build a chip stack in the early stages of a tournament, and we can propel our stack in a positive direction early if we hit the flop.
We can also leverage postflop mistakes from weaker opponents, who will make bigger errors as the pot gets bigger. Darren’s hand plays well multiway, so he decides on a call, and the recreational players in position call as well. Four ways to a flop, let’s go!
Since Darren is playing this hand early on in a re-entry tournament, King-Ten Suited is a pretty standard call against the 3-bet.
Big 3-bet multiway pots versus weaker players are a great way to build a chip stack in the early stages of a tournament, and we can propel our stack in a positive direction early if we hit the flop.
We can also leverage postflop mistakes from weaker opponents, who will make bigger errors as the pot gets bigger.
Darren’s hand plays well multiway, so he decides on a call, and the recreational players in position call as well. Four ways to a flop, let’s go!
The flop comes . The pot is 46.5bb.
The professional in the Small Blind c-bets 16.5bb, Darren calls with , Middle Position folds and the loose recreational on the Button calls.
Darren flops top pair with a good kicker and a backdoor flush draw. However, he can’t be overly confident facing a 3-bet preflop and a c-bet postflop from the professional in the Small Blind.
The Small Blind is betting into 3 players still to act, making his flop bet that much stronger. If this player had 3-bet from the Button then c-bet into the field after action checked to him, his range would likely be a bit wider and contain more bluffs.
Darren also blocks hands like Ace-King which the Small Blind could 3-bet then stab the flop with, weighting his range more towards value hands than bluffs.
However, Darren’s hand is far too strong to fold to a flop bet here, so we see a turn with 3 players after the Button calls.
The turn is the , making the board . The pot is 96bb, with approximately 120bb effective stacks.
The professional in the Small Blind tanks for a minute, then checks. Darren bets 25bb, the recreational on the Button calls, and Small Blind calls.
The turn is where we really start to gather some information on our opponent’s ranges, and can begin to narrow them rapidly.
The Small Blind is a tighter professional who will be 3-betting a bit tighter than some professionals would. When the turn brings another low card, this player-type may be inclined to go on the defensive and check-call with his overpairs, concerned that either Darren or the player on the Button may have hit a set.
This is an interesting situation for Darren when deciding between a check or a bet on the turn. By checking we can pot control, but if we bet and the Button calls, it puts more pressure on the Small Blind’s overpairs. Since the Button is a loose recreational player who can definitely call a turn bet with worse hands, we can leverage this additional player and put the Small Blind in a grueling spot with a bet.
Going with his read of the situation, Darren bets around ¼ pot. While on the smaller side, this bet size actually applies a lot of pressure to both opponents, since the will be under 1 on the river if both players call.
Darren’s best case scenario on the turn would be for the recreational on the Button to call with worse, and for the tighter professional to get out of the way.
Tighter recreational and professional players alike are a great target for this situation, where you can leverage multiway dynamics to get them to fold, even when you’re pretty sure they have a better hand than you.
The river is the , making the board . The pot is 144bb, with approximately 95bb effective stacks.
The pro in the Small Blind checks, Darren checks, The loose recreational on the Button bets 50bb, Small Blind tanks, then folds.
While the Ace on the river may seem like a scare card, it’s really not in any of our opponent’s ranges too much. Small Blind can’t really have much Ace-King as played, and there are only 3 combos of Pocket Aces, which were likely the best hand anyway. Discounting a random Ace-Five Suited holding that a tighter professional likely wouldn’t play this way with anyway, the Small Blind probably isn’t too happy with this river card.
Outside of Ace-Ten, Darren can’t exactly have a lot of Aces in his range either, given his flop and turn action.
The recreational on the Button is the hardest to range, since he is a stickier player who can show up with some random Ace-Seven and Ace-Four hands that hit two pair. Knowing Small Blind has him beat at this point, and being unsure of how wide the Button’s range is, Darren decides not to turn his hand into a bluff, and checks. This is when things get really interesting.
The Button bets just over half his remaining stack, about ⅓ pot. The Small Blind tanks for 3-4 minutes before folding, confirming Darren’s read that he likely had an overpair before the river.
With the loose recreational on the Button putting on the pressure and getting the Small Blind out of the way, we are in a much better situation. We know that the Button is a looser recreational with an aptitude for putting chips into the pot, and with these players there is always a “random nonsense factor,” meaning a small percentage of the time they will show up with weird bluffs that had no business being in the pot in the first place. Getting 4 to 1 on a call, Darren decides he’s beating random hands enough of the time, and flicks in the call!
You can imagine the Small Blind’s disgust when the Button flips over Queen-Ten, which he decided to turn into a bluff on the river. Darren scoops a massive pot early in the tournament, in a situation where he was able to leverage a multiway scenario to get a better hand to fold, and a worse hand to put the chips in.
Next time you’re at the tables, try to identify your opponent’s tendencies from the very first hand you play. As you can see in this hand, knowing what types of opponents he was facing allowed Darren to narrow down ranges, get a feel for how strong his hand was, and make the call on the river to secure a big chipstack early on in the tournament.
Video Version Featuring Darren Elias
This video is one of many in-depth hand breakdowns in Darren Elias and Nick Petrangelo’s new tournament course: Road to Victory! Check out the course below.
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