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!
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!
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.