Podcast Breakdown: Episode 63

The Hand History

Location: Aria High Roller

Stake: 500/1000

Preflop: Brian Rast accidentally Limps UTG (dead small), Daniel raises to 3000 in the CO, Tom Marchese calls OTB, BB folds, Rast calls. All stacks around 100bb

Flop (10k) 5h 2h 2d

Rast checks, Daniel bets 6000, Marchese folds, Rast calls

Turn (22k) 5d

Rast checks, Daniel checks

River (22k) 4h

Rast bets 12k, Daniel Folds


To hear it in Daniel's own words click here.

This week we were lucky enough to have arguably the most famous person in poker on our show, Daniel Negreanu. He shared with us an interesting spot from an Aria 25k high roller. He didn't give us the exact stack sizes, but all players in the hand were about 100 BB deep, and this was in the early stages of the tournament.


Preflop, opening queens is a no brainer and there is no real other option worth considering here. We didn't ask Daniel this, but assume that if he's opening to 3x with Queens, he's doing it with all the hands in his opening range in the CO.

He noted that when Brian called, Daniel had a strong physical read that he had a marginal hand, that he was unhappy to have accidentally limped thinking he was a blind. For this reason, I took pairs and other stronger hands out of Rast's range.

Brian Rast's Range

Image provided by PokerCruncher Expert for Mac

Image provided by PokerCruncher Expert for Mac

I also elected to only give him a few three betting candidates, some low suited aces and suited kings, and some worse suited connectors. Daniel said it was obvious to the rest of the table that Brian made a mistake and wasn't particularly happy about it so a top player like Brian Rast was likely very aware of his image and as a result will be 3betting much less than if he were actually in the big blind.

The Flop

On the flop, Daniel was right that this is one of the best possible flops for his hand, and against Brian's range alone, he has approximately 85% equity. I think Daniel choosing to bet a little over half pot is a great sizing that he could balance with many bluffs with such a range advantage. If this weren't a tournament, I would probably like betting even smaller to induce bluffs and lighter calls/floats and plan on calling down on most runouts if raised.

On many flops like this, if the person in the big blind/under the gun were to flop a full house or trips, they might raise some percentage of the time. But given how much of a range advantage Daniel has, I think Rast will likely call with his entire defending range here, which probably looks something like this:

Brian Rast's Flop Defending Range

I included all flush draws, fives, twos, all gutshots, and some backdoor flush and straight draws. Daniel's queens now have 68% equity against this defending range.

The Turn

On the turn, it's a really bad card for Negreanu's range, another 5. Against the range I gave Brian on the flop, Daniel now only has 50% equity. Testing a few other gross cards like the 3 and 4 of hearts, Daniel is right, any five on the turn is the best possible card for his opponent. On the podcast we discussed the merits of checking back versus betting. If Daniel were to bet, it would be to bet call and call off almost any river. Given he was in an early stage in a tournament, we quickly dismissed this option and agreed what he did in game, checking back and keeping the pot small on a bad runout was best.

The River

On the river, again the worst possible card came out for Daniel's range, the 4 of hearts. Both the 3 and 4 of hearts are about as equally as bad, but the 4 is slightly worse. There are many ways to run both good and bad, and having the worst/best possible card for one's range come out on the turn and then river is certainly one of them! Now against Brian's defending range he has only 22% equity.

When Brian bets 13k into 20.5k, Daniel needs to have the best hand a little more than 26% of the time to have a profitable call. Even if Brian is betting every single one of his bluffs, missed backdoor straight/flush draws and missed gutshots, Daniel doesn't have enough equity to call a bet with his queens. And this would be the same if he had aces or a low flush, as Daniel noted on the podcast.

As a general rule, folding the top of one's range on the worst possible runout is usually a profitable play, even against opponents capable of bluffing.

Physical and Timing Tells Matter!

It's interesting how this river decision could become a lot more difficult if Daniel wasn't paying close to attention to how Brian called preflop. Without any overpairs on the flop to turn into a bluff on the river, Daniel has an easy fold on the river even if Rast is bluffing all of his possible bluff combos. An important reminder from an elite player that no matter what stake you're playing, staying focused at the table can help you make really exploitative plays.

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