All In vs. Daniel Negreanu. Would You Call?

All In vs. Daniel Negreanu. Would You Call?

Today’s hand from the European Poker Tour in Monte Carlo is one of those that sticks with you long after the cards are dealt. (At the end of this post, I’ll show you exactly how I review every hand of poker and how you can use this simple strategy to win more money off your opponents).

I was up against one of my childhood hero’s Daniel Negreanu, whom I had battled with throughout the day.

We had been seated at a previous table earlier that afternoon, and got into a big confrontation in a 3-bet pot, where I (barely) got the best of it. So when we got moved to the featured table together, and I was seated to his immediate left, I knew we were destined for fireworks!

Daniel Negreanu and Alec Torelli at EPT9Daniel has one of the most creative, unconventional styles in poker. And it works precisely because he takes lines that nobody expects.

In today’s hand, in typical Daniel fashion, he used his magic like only he can do, combining charm and excellent planning to talk me into a fold! Damn you, Daniel!

Nothing but credit to him here, as I was so confident I was making a correct, monster laydown.

Oh well, at least I have a story to tell.


P.S. For the curious few, here’s a breakdown of exactly why I folded. This post game analysis is part of my regular
review process after each session. You can get your hands on my entire blueprint here. 

For me to correctly call the river, Daniel has to be bluffing 25% of the time.

That means that 25% of the time, Daniel has to do all of the following:

1. Lead into a field of 4 players on a Qd 5c 2c board, and call a raise with a hand that is worse than mine.

2. Still have a worse hand than mine after leading a Jc turn.

3. Continue bluffing on an Ad river, after knowing that I’m likely to call with any hand that calls the turn (what hands can I possibly have that raise the flop, and then call a bet on the turn when the flush card comes that would fold the river? I would snap fold KK on the turn because it’s in bad shape vs. his range, so my river range is confined to sets and flushes).

Even if Daniel is bluffing 100% of the time when he has bluffs, he can only successfully bluff with specifically the Ac in his hand. Otherwise, he cannot be certain that I don’t have the nut flush when raising the flop, which would constitute a large part of my holdings.

Let’s take a look at the hands which Daniel can have that contain the Ac.

AA: 2 Combos (Ac As, Ac Ah)
AK: 4 combos (Ac Kd, Ac Ks, Ac Kh, Ac Kc)
AJ: 3 combos (Ac Js, Ac Jd, Ac Jh)
Nut Flush: 8 Combos (AQc, ATc – A6c, A4c, A3c – we already counted AKc above)

He can’t have ATo or worse, because he folds those preflop from UTG+2.

Thus, the percentage of the time that I win, specifically when Daniel has the Ace of clubs is still rather small 6/17 = 35%.

So, you say, I need 25% equity to call and I have 35% equity.

Well, not exactly.

My above equity is only vs. the hands which contain the Ace of clubs. What about the other hands?

Daniel can have no other bluffs, but still have plenty of other hands that beat me.

Here are some of the possibilities:

QQ: 3 combos (Qc Qs, Qc Qh, Qs Qh)
AA: 1 combo (Ah As)
Strong Flushes: 6 combos (KTc, KQc, QTc, T9c, T8c, 98c). This conservatively assumes that Daniel never has lower flushes, which if he ever does, gives more credence to folding.

All of these hands beat me, meaning my equity vs. his other value betting hands is 0.

Now it’s time to calculate my total equity vs. all of his possible holdings. (I’ll show you exactly how to do this here).

The percentage of the time I win is 6/(17+10) or 6/27 or 22%.

Since the odds I’m getting are 20,000/7,000, or 2.85:1, I need ~26% equity to correctly call, which means this is a slightly losing call.

Again, 22% is close to 26% but there is one key flaw in our assumption.
The math assumes that Daniel takes this ambitious line out of position 100% of the time he has the Ace of clubs.
This is simply not true. Most of the time he simply folds the flop, thus we can conservatively divide his bluffs in half, since he doesn’t get to the river with most of them!

Conversely, the opposite is true. Almost every time he has a strong hand for value, he would play it this way, meaning that all of his strong hands are likely in his range.
Thus, our real equity is closer to 11%, making this a clear fold.
Lastly given the nature of tournaments, where preserving chips is more important than gaining, and the fact that in early levels in a soft field there is much greater opportunity later on, I still believe folding to be the correct, long term play in my spot, despite folding the winner.

Now, in this specific situation, perhaps Daniel’s eager chatter should have inclined me to call (in a vacuum), but then again, the fact that he pulled it off is what makes the hand one for the ages!

Props Daniel.

P.S. Did you like this analysis? Be sure to check out my premier training program ‘The Four Steps to Beating Anyone at Poker,’ where I walk you through exactly how to think through each hand of poker to win more money, grow your confidence and move up in stakes.


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Leave a Reply to Brett Lobbato Cancel reply

  • Brett Lobbato

    Hey Alec,
    Great hand, love it. I guess I don’t think Daniel is opening as many suited aces in early position. If he is he is making GTO mistake. I think your analysis including small suited aces is a little ambitious since he is only at 65 bb to start the hand. This allows for him to have more value hands(flushes) by the river than I would assign him. I give him only A10s+ not the A6 etc. This allows me to assign him as little as 5 value combos AA(2) AcXc(3) I then assign him at least 12 value hands he’s betting (all worse than yours) on the river. For me he can only lead the turn with Ac in his hand, cuz he picked up more equity. So that limits his possible sets, which we don’t think he has anyway. So in my mind can he be VALUE BETTING at least 25% of hands that you beat and throw in a few AcX hands that he turns into bluffs on the river given his stack size. For me, the answer is yes. Of course I write in comment sections and you battle the best in the world

    Thanks again

    • Alec

      Hey Brett,

      Thanks for the (modest) comment. Daniel’s range is an interesting debate for sure, and there’s so much conflicting opinion on this hand. That’s what makes it fun!

      For what it’s worth, Daniel said I should fold here, but that may be him leveling us all 🙂


  • Max

    Ciao Alec,

    as you have explained in detail the fold and ‘ the choice migliore.La question I want you to not ‘ mathematical in nature : In the choice made on the river are not affected in some way by the fact that the player you had in front of the pit Negreanu ? Thanks

    • Alec

      I’m confused. Not really though I don’t think.

  • Tom

    When you sit down at a poker table you know 2 things! 1)I am probably not the best player at this table and 2) even so, at some point I am going to have to risk it all to win it all! I don’t care who you are facing, I play that hand 10 times out of 10! Poker is a game of skill but also numbers! A set is usually a monster hand, even against a legend! You let him get in your head and lay down a winner! And in the low % chance he beats you, you make him beat you, not yourself! You can give me a million #s and I still make that call without hesitation!

  • Lucas Vienna

    I think Daniel’s range is realistically, but optimistically (i.e. most realistic bluffs, least value):
    AcAs, AcAh, AcKd, AcKs, AcKh, AcKc, AcJs, AcJd, AcJh, KhQc, KsQc, KcQh, KcQs, KcQh, AcQc, AcTc, Ac4c, Ac3c, QcQs, QcQh, KcTc, KcQc, QcTc.
    I don’t think he opens A6s-A9s UTG+1 and I don’t think he would donk the turn with QsQh (i.e. without a club), I also don’t think he would donk the turn with AhAs (for the same reason)
    The KQ with a club hands could plausibly play the turn this way, but would only make sense to turn into a bluff if he knew your range on the river was exceptionally tight (it does appear to be, somewhat). If that were the case though, they would be pretty good bluff candidates, though he has other weaker hands to do it with.

    • Alec

      Good thoughts man, thanks for the feedback.

    • Alec

      Thanks for the in depth comment Lucas!

  • Lucas Vienna

    You have 44% vs that range and I think it would be very unlikely for Daniel to have all of those bluffs in his reverse-float, donk range to be honest. That line is so out of date though, I’m not sure how a range for it would be constructed, to be honest (especially vs another pro).
    An exploitative fold might therefore be okay here but I think you will possibly be overfolding in this spot. Given the positions, you presumably don’t have a wide array of suited connectors here, so 55 is pretty near the top of your range along with big flushes (AcTc, KcQc, AcXc, KcTc, QcTc). Hard to say what the bottom of your range looks like though. If, for the sake of argument, you raise your entire continuing range here (not unreasonable, given the sizing you have used), then you have plenty of hands like the KQ with a club that can fold the river, as well as 22, before needing to fold 55 here to not be exploited.