In the high-octane world of poker, where fortunes pivot on a razor’s edge, one hand can redefine the course of the game.
Today, we immerse ourselves in the heart-pounding action of a momentous poker showdown between poker vlogger Rampage and a high stakes regular who goes by Handz.
Hold on tight as we witness an epic showdown with over a million dollars at stake! Get ready to dissect one of the boldest bluffs ever pulled off live on camera. The blinds at $500/$1,000/$2,000 and a $2,000 big blind ante – the pressure is on, and the action is about to explode!
Let’s dive in!
Note: If you like podcasts, you’re in luck because the Upswing Poker Level-Up podcast returns today for it’s third season! Check it out on the Upswing Poker YouTube channel or wherever you get your podcasts. Click here for the latest episode.
Rampage opens up the action by raising to $9,000 with from the Small Blind. Handz calls with from the Big Blind. Pav over-calls with from the third blind.
Rampage makes a good raise with A7-suited. He should be playing a raise or fold strategy (never calling) from the Small Blind with two players left to act behind him. He should be raising with a quite wide range — around the top 30-40% of hands — and A7-suited is more than good enough.
Rampage’s $9,000 raise size (4.5x the straddle) is good. This relatively large size allows him to extract solid value with his strong hands and put pressure on the middling part of the other players’ ranges. He doesn’t want to play multiway since he is out of position against both players, and a small raise size would make that bad scenario more likely.
Handz has a premium hand with Pocket Queens and should 3-bet for value. Just calling with this type of hand is a pretty big mistake. He’s make more money (on average) by re-raising, which allows him to build the pot with his strong hand and deny equity from Rampage’s marginal hands (which will fold when faced with the 3-bet).
Pav makes a marginal call with K8-offsuit. He is getting pretty good pot odds to call, needing to realize around 25% equity. Being in position against both players will help him have an easier time doing so.
Note: Discover how to play any hand in every common preflop situation in less than 10 seconds. Get instant access to extensive preflop charts (for cash games and tournaments) when you join the Upswing Lab training course and community. Lock your seat now!
The flop comes . The pot is $29,000.
Rampage checks. Handz checks. Pav bets $15,000. Rampage raises to $50,000. Handz calls. Pav folds.
When it comes to his overall strategy here, Rampage has two good potential options:
Without having access to a multiway solver, it’s hard to tell which strategy is better.
Either way, Rampage’s check with A7-suited is not going to be a clear mistake. Personally, I’m glad he checked because it led to the amazing series of events that follows.
Handz’ check is fine given the extreme connectedness of the flop. His hand is strong right now, but not nutted when there are 3 flopped straights already possible and a flush that is looming to complete.
Pav’s stab is fine as he is drawing to a 4-straight on both the 9 and the Ace. Sizing-wise, I think 50% to 80% of the pot is fine given the connectedness of the board.
Rampage’s decision to check-raise is a strong play. He knows that he should be the only player that can hold the nut straight (Ace-King) at this point — since his opponents would likely 3-bet with that hand before the flop. This means that the other players will not re-raise him with the weaker straights, which in turn allows him to realize his gutshot equity (almost) always.
Is this play something that you must do to win? Not unless you plan on doing what he does on the following streets.
Now, all of that being said, is not the best hand selection to bluff-raise with. Besides all the combo draws that he can have (like , , , , etc), he can add hands such as . Beyond having much better equity, these hands also have much better blockers, by eliminating some combinations from the opponent’s range.
Handz’ call is clearly fine. The hand already feels weird for him — facing a bet and raise — but folding is out of the question.
Pav’s fold is good. It’s very clear that he is beat and he doesn’t have enough equity to continue. He could even be drawing dead to a chop if Rampage has the flopped straight.
The turn comes the , making the board . The pot is $144,000.
Rampage bets $175,000. Handz calls.
The turn brings another flush draw, but otherwise doesn’t change the board texture significantly. No new nut combinations have been created, so the hand strengths stay roughly the same.
Rampage now picks up a combo draw with his . He is still representing and for value and I think his overbet is the right play.
I prefer an overbet over a smaller size for two reasons:
- There is a lot of money left behind, and he wants to give himself a chance to win the max when he has or ; and
- He has a combo draw with a decent chance of becoming the nuts on the river.
Handz’s call is good as he is still drawing to the nuts and is ahead of Rampage’s bluffs. If Rampage does have him beat, he has 10 outs to improve to the best hand, and he may win the max if that happens.
The river comes the , making the final board . The pot is $494,000.
Rampage bets $618,000, putting Handz all-in. Handz folds.
The river doesn’t change anything. The nut distribution is still the same and no other hands have improved.
When this is the case, Rampage should be either going all-in or giving up.
The first data point that comes to mind here is the blocker effect. is not a bad hand to have, but it’s not a great hand either. Let me explain why.
- Let’s first start with the good part: it’s unblocking Handz’s diamond combo draws.
- Now let’s go to the bad part: it’s unblocking Handz’s nutted range which comprises and .
Overall, these two factors pretty much cancel each other out, so it’s not going to be a perfect bluff candidate.
What are better candidates here? Kx of clubs hands. Those unblock both the Ace-high diamond combo draws and block the straight. That said, Rampage may not play those hands this way, so in practice this hand may be one of his better bluff candidates.
Handz is in an extremely tough spot in which both calling and folding seem like reasonable options. He is facing a huge bet, both in relative and absolute terms, with a pure bluff-catcher — he may have top set, but Rampage would only make this play with a straight or a bluff.
Handz needs to figure out two things:
- If Rampage is capable of not only bluffing but over-bluffing in this scenario.
- The blocker effects of his hand – which in this case are neutral as it doesn’t block any straight or any potential bluffs.
Do you think Rampage is bluffing often enough here for Handz to profitably call?
Let me know in the comments below.
Personally, I think it’s very likely that Rampage is going to under-bluff in this scenario since his missed diamond draws will likely give up. And there will not be enough of these Ax of clubs and Kx of clubs hands that will actually end up firing over $600,000 as a bluff. But I’m just speculating, so take it with a grain of salt.
That’s all for this breakdown my friends! I hope you enjoyed it and that you learned something new from it.
If you want more hand analysis, check out Angel Investor vs High Stakes Poker Pro: $294,000 Pot Analysis.
Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!