This is one of the most watched hands of poker of all time.
The action kicks off with Gus Hansen opening the pot from early position, only to get 3-bet by Daniel Negreanu immediately after.
Going heads up to the flop of 965 rainbow, both players flop sets. Daniel Negreanu has him dominated with 66, while Gus Hansen holds 55.
The action heats up when Gus check raises Daniel on the flop, building the foundation for a massive pot. Daniel calls the bet, and they go to the turn.
Miraculously, Gus hits quads!
Hansen bets again, and Negreanu calls.The river brings an 8, making a one card straight possible. On a final board of 96558, Gus Hansen checks, laying the trap for Negreanu.
Daniel bites and makes a huge bet. Gus thinks for a moment and check raises all in.
Watch as two poker superstars battle it out in one of the biggest televised hands in history.
It’s tempting to chalk this up to a cooler or use absolute logic like, ‘you can’t fold a full house.’
But I think if you analyze the situation, one can make a strong case for folding.
To be fair, I sympathize with Daniel’s logic when he says ‘why would Gus check when it looks like I have aces or kings and he knows I’m going to check behind?’
That very well may be true, but Gus also knows that probably Daniel will fold aces or kings if Gus bets, so the only way to get money is to hope Daniel bets himself.
In other words, if Daniel has a hand he can call a bet with, he has a hand he can bet himself.
Of course, much depends on Gus’ mood at the moment. If Hansen playing at all reasonably, there’s never a worse hand he’s check-raising all-in on the river with for value. (If Gus had 65s for example, he would simply bet the river instead of check-raise. There’s also only one combination of 65s since Daniel holds 66).
As crazy as it sounds, the only hands Gus Hansen is check-raising for value on the river with are 99 and 55.
There are three combinations of 99 and one combination of 55, making four combinations total of hands he can check raise for value. On the river Daniel has to call $165,000 to win a pot of $400,000, giving him roughly 2.4:1.
To determine if Daniel has the right price to call, he would need to have 30% equity. In other words, Gus would have to be bluffing at least 1/3 of the time for Negreanu to call profitably.
The question I’m asking myself in Daniel’s shoes is, is Gus ever bluffing here?
The truth is that it’s hard to say. He shouldn’t be, because Daniel’s hand looks like an absolute monster.
Daniel 3-bet preflop, called a check-raise on the flop, a bet on the turn and decided to bet the river. Negreanu is never betting the river with a straight given the action. He’d simply check that and hope to win at showdown. This polarizes his betting range between bluffs or full houses.Generally speaking when ranges are polarized, it means a player is most likely bluffing. But in Daniel’s case, that’s simply not true. What bluffs could Daniel possibly have? There aren’t any! All his hands with showdown value – like over pairs and straights, would check the river and hope to win. He’s never turning a hand into a bluff here; there’s no reason for it.
When Daniel bets this river, he’s representing a ton of strength. 99, 66, 55, 65s and 88 are all likely holdings for Daniel. It would be suicidal for Gus to try and check-raise bluff him such a strong range of holdings, which makes me think Gus should never be bluffing here.
Even though there are only four hands with which Gus should be shoving for value, I just don’t see any bluffs he could reasonably have.
Then again, Gus has been known to be unreasonable.
I know it’s easy to say in retrospect, and things are much different when you bet a car and get raised a house, but I think the correct play is to fold.
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