Two of online poker’s biggest winners in 2022 — Linus “LLinusLLove” Loeliger and Ignacio “Nacho124441” Morón — have battled in some epic poker hands.
Let’s take a look at one big pot they played in a 3-handed game of $50/$100 No Limit Hold’em.
Each player has roughly $14,000 (140 big blinds) in his stack as cards are dealt.
Let’s get right into it!
Nacho124441 raises to $240 on the Button with . Linus calls from the Big Blind with .
On the Button, Nacho should be open-raising with the top 40-50% of all starting hands. 9-8 suited is a definitively profitable hand to raise.
His opening size is also on point. 2.4bb is a good size that is going to put some pressure on a lot of the Big Blind’s marginal hands, not allowing them to realize their equity too cheaply.
Linus should be defending with around the top 50% of hands against this size. 8-5 suited is somewhat borderline, but a profitable call nonetheless.
Let’s take a flop.
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The flop comes . The pot is $530.
Linus () checks. Nacho () makes c-bets $263.50. Linus check-raises to $1001. Nacho calls.
Both players connect with open-ended straight draws plus backdoor flush draws, with Nacho having the advantage of a higher draw.
Linus should never donk bet here, so his decision to check is correct. He always should check because he is at a big range disadvantage due to the lack of overpairs and strong top pairs in his range (plus he a lot more trashy hands in his range than Nacho).
For the same reasons, Nacho should c-bet very aggressively on this flop. Virtually all bet sizes can work on this type of flop. Here are a few valid strategies to use on flops like this in position:
- Capitalize on your range advantage and bet big.
- Bet a medium size, as Nacho did here, and bet with a medium frequency.
- Go for a small size and bet with almost your entire range.
9-8 suited happens to fit perfectly into the betting range for all 3 of those strategies.
Back over to Linus…
Against a half-pot c-bet, Linus should continue with any pair, any draw, and a bunch of backdoor draw + overcard hands such as KJ-offsuit, K8-suited, and K5-suited with a backdoor flush draw.
Here’s what Linus’s check-raising strategy should look like:
- Value: Two pairs and sets
- Gutshots (T-9 offsuit, T-8 offsuit, 4-3 suited, and 5-3 suited)
- Open-enders (9-8 offsuit and 8-5 suited)
- A couple of strong backdoor hands (such as and )
In total, Linus should be check-raising as a bluff with twice as many combinations than he’d check-raise for value (see: bluff-to-value ratio).
Linus correctly used a big check-raise size (~4x the c-bet). A big size is optimal because he is raising with a polarized range.
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Against this raise, Nacho should continue with all pairs (except underpairs), all draws, and some strong backdoor hands such as and , and K-T suited with a backdoor flush draw.
The turn comes the , making the board . The pot is $2,532.
Linus () bets $3,541. Nacho () calls.
The turn is neutral, meaning. It doesn’t help either player more than the other.
Linus should continue barreling at a medium frequency. The vast majority of his two pairs and sets should bet along with a portion of his bluffs. He cannot continue betting with all of the missed draws because then he’d be bluffing too often.
What bluffs should Linus check with? The lowest equity ones (5-3 suited, 4-3 suited, etc) since they have the smallest chance of improving to the best hand.
Open-enders like 9-8 and 8-5 are great candidates for double barreling, and unsurprisingly Linus makes the correct decision to do so.
Let’s consider what size Linus should use. He is once again betting with a polarized range and the stacks behind are still quite deep. Because of these factors, he should be overbetting to setup a roughly pot-sized river shove.
Nacho’s call is profitable. He has a lot of equity, some implied odds, as well as the possibility of bluffing if checked to on the river.
The river comes the , making the board . The pot is $9,615.
Linus () shoves $9,551. Nacho () calls with the effective nuts, scooping the $28,719 pot.
The river is a card that slightly favors Nacho, who can have hands that smash this river like Q-T and A-K.
Does this mean that Linus should give up now? No.
Linus can and should still go all-in for value with most of his two pairs (7-6, Q-6, Q-7) and sets (77 and 66), plus the rivered straight (9-8 offsuit) he has in his range.
In theory, this range needs to be balanced by also shoving with bluffs. And the best hands with which to bluff are those that block the value range and unblock the folding range of Nacho.
8-5 suited is a perfect bluffing hand because it blocks 9-8 while unblocking the biggest part of the folding range (which is AA, KK, A7, and T9).
Nacho obviously has an easy call with his exact hand, which has rivered what is effectively the nut straight. But let’s consider the rest of his range, which is in a fairly tough spot.
According to the solver, hands such as AQ and KQ become mixed-frequency calls, while AA and KK are folded 100% of the time.
This is an interesting concept to understand. Raw hand strength is not as important as the blocker effects when playing against very tight ranges, so the solver prefers blocking Linus’s strongest two pairs (Q-6 and Q-7). AA and KK don’t block those two pairs, so the solver folds those while calling KQ/AQ some of the time.
A perfectly played hand from both sides. Every single decision by both players was solver-approved, and the bet/raise sized were well-chosen.
This is how most hands look at the highest level of the game. Always impressive to see two top players go at it!
That’s all for this article! I hope you enjoyed it and that you learned from it!
As usual, if you have any questions or a hand you’d like to see analyzed, drop it in the comments below.
If you want more high stakes hand analysis, check out How Phil Hellmuth Lost His $1.6 Million Match Against A Top Pro (Analysis).
Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!
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