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Daniel Negreanu’s funky overbet bluff explained

If the antics over at CoinPoker weren’t enough to tickle your tastebuds then how about a revisit of the beloved ‘High Stakes Poker’ franchise, with all of the usual suspects! Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Patrik Antonius, Doyle Brunson and other notables have all returned to the set for the ninth season of the show, brought back to life on PokerGO alongside sponsorship from PokerKing, an Asian online poker app. 

Here's the hand in question:

Preflop: A touch loose

Daniel Negreanu
Daniel Negreanu

Diving into the action, each player has to put up a minimum of $100,000 for their seat, with the blinds set at $200/400 with a $200 ante. Daniel elects to open the HJ with 6 4 to $1,600 and immediately after raising looks sheepish at the prospect of facing Phil Ivey’s imposing presence out of position. Fortune favours Daniel this time as Phil has napkins and has to fold but Phil’s bemused expression does appear to warn that he isn’t buying what Daniel is selling. Whilst players like Ivey no longer compete at the top of the game from a purely theoretical standpoint, his timeless expertise in dynamics, tells and other psychological factors means he remains one of the most feared opponents in high stakes live poker. 

Kim Hultman, of ‘LetsGiveItASpin’ slots streaming notoriety, peels the BTN with Q J . 2021 Main Event champion Koray Aldemir folds his trash in the SB and poker hall of famer Doyle ‘Texas Dolly’ Brunson completes the BB with 9 8 .

Daniel’s 4x open with 64s is a touch loose, at 250bb effective the value of his postflop draws and equity reduces significantly with his lower suited holding. Hultman’s peel seems fine, allowing hands he dominates to complete behind and having position throughout, whilst Doyle receives odds of over 5:1 ($1,200 into the pot of $6,400) meaning he is obliged to come along for the ride. 

Flop: Almost a check

Doyle Brunson
Doyle Brunson

The flop comes 10 9 6 and action checks to Daniel who continues with around a quarter pot sizing. Both players quickly continue. Daniel’s decision to bet the flop has some merit, he blocks strong hands like 66 and players often struggle to defend enough of their holdings on monotone textures. However hands such as middle and bottom pair are rarely incentivised to bet multiway, especially as both opponents have loads of natural continues (calls and raises) on this board. Both Hultman and Brunson call. Once Hultman calls I actually quite like Doyle’s hand as a check raise on the flop. Daniel’s sizing can almost be classified as a check and Hultman isn’t really incentivised to allow Daniel to realise his equity should he have a strong holding. Doyle benefits from blocking all sorts of strong holdings including straights, flushes, the rare straight flush, two pair and 99.

Doyle can also take advantage of his extremely tight image, Daniel has the stronger range of the two opponents but will be in a sandwich with a player behind who could still conceivably hold a strong hand. He will likely be forced to fold all of his Tx and overpairs without a spade, giving Texas Dolly lots of better hands to target immediate folds from.

Turn: Not particularly sure what he’s representing

With the turn card coming the A you would be forgiven for assuming that Negreanu is forced to shut down here. His flop stab went up in flames and one or both players are highly likely to have a spade in their holding. Daniel instead elects to bet half pot, a sizing of indifference that implies he isn’t particularly sure what he’s representing. Wouldn’t he want to go larger with the Ks here, charging worse flushes? His sets, straights, overpairs and 2 pair shrivel in value and even the Qs is going to struggle to get 3 streets of value here with both opponents sharing lots of nut flushes. Doyle completing the big blind is likely to have all sorts of offsuit Kx, whilst Hultman on the button could conceivably show up with KQ, KJ and KT offsuit preflop alongside all of the suited Kx hands that were trapping the flop. 

River: Bomb it to create fold equity

Kim Hultman
Kim Hultman

After Hultman comes along and Doyle quickly folds, we see the dealer fan a 6 , pairing the board. Like a dog that won’t let go of the ball, Daniel isn’t letting go of this one without a fight and starts cutting out a meaty bet. It’s unlikely he’s going to want to bet the turn multiway on a 4 flush texture with a set or two pair whereas a recreational player in Hultman could have a hand like 99 or TT here and improve to a boat. Thus when he slides a bet of $36,000 into the $21,900 pot it’s such a large bet he may not even bet nut flushes and shouldn’t have ever improved to a full house, leaving a question mark as to what he’s trying to represent. 

Theory aside I think Daniel’s play is more geared around the assumption that his opponent is money scared or unlikely to station for a considerable dollar sum. With the rise in players such as Michael Addamo, who effortlessly runs opponents over in his sleep, I think Daniel is attempting to do the same. By the river he realises his opponent has a medium strength flush the majority of the time and in turn realises he has to bomb it to create fold equity, despite representing nothing! 

I think as a whole the hand can be a good example of where higher stakes and more experienced players can go overboard with their ‘dominance’ at the table to players taking a shot or players that are visibly affected by the stakes. Watching the video back on Hultman’s river decision is quite interesting. There is an instant discomfort once he sees the size of the bet. I believe the tanking after that isn’t really much thought at all except from ‘well I can’t call such a large bet with the 3rd nut flush’. He doesn’t appear to be breaking down the hand at all but more lamenting to himself at how he ended up in this situation, which gives Daniel’s unorthodox line some merit considering how easily he decided to let go of the hand.

What are your thoughts on Negreanu’s play? Let us know in the comments below!

George Sandford

George is a professional 4/5 card PLO cash game player. He plays on GGPoker as Kacicka.

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George Sandford
2022-03-01 06:37:02

@Daniel Arluison

Significant number of antes in play so I think peeling QJo is ok on the button here. 3betting bloating a pot vs continuing range that dominates us a lot whereas Daniel opening Q8s+ QTo and then Doyle in BB isn’t going to squeeze anywhere near the correct frequency but will overcall hands QJo dominates nicely. Think 3b is fine too if aggressive players behind but with the lineup slightly prefer peel.

Postflop building a massive pot here with a non nutted draw 3 ways is risky as Daniel doesn’t really continue air here, so what are we targeting to fold with the raise? Maybe KQ KJ and apparently 64dd but the rest of his raise we are bloating the pot unnecessarily

Craig Leonard
2022-02-28 13:06:41

What a great hand, started a bluff and continued, I think the check call on river told Daniel that they may have flush but not nut flush, so he went for it and paid off, that’s why Daniel is an elite player who can put these plays in his game and it pays off

GG poker Nickname: CLeonard

Daniel Arluison
2022-02-28 12:28:50

There are two decisions that I was not impressed by Hultman in this hand (and it is NOT the fact he folded on the river).

First, I would prefer a 3bet on button with QJo. When you are 250bb deep, you want to build a large pot, especially in position. By 3betting you also can fold when facing resistance. QJo does not have that satisfaction when hitting a pair on flop, you have to wonder whether your opponent has you outkicked.

Second, why is Hultman passive on the flop? Even against AA without a spade, you are a favourite with an open-ended straight draw, flush draw, and possibility of hitting two pair. Hultman needs to turn on the aggression factor here and put pressure on top pair and flush draw hands.

The turn decision is fine, as Hultman should pot control by calling DNegs bet, rather than face the possibility of getting 3bet and expecting DNegs to put a big bet on river.

Overall, if you are going to play a marginal hand like QJo you should either be aggressive or simply fold preflop, because it can get you into trouble!

What do you think?

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