How are you? My name is Lex Veldhuis and today I will share with you another memory of my time on the Big Game poker show. We're going to break down the three biggest pots I played against Vanessa Rousso.
Vanessa and I have run into each other a few times and often played some really awful hands. Let's look at them in detail.
Place and time of action – 2010, Las Vegas, $100,000 cash game.
Many people asked if we really played for real money and what percentage of shares I sold. Yes, for real money, and I played one hundred percent of myself, which I was very proud of. At that time, I acted very aggressively, and I did not want to report to anyone or explain my decisions to anyone.
First hand. Vanessa Rousso is preparing to enter the auction.
Everyone folds, I make a standard call in the BB.
I catch a good flop and play a big donk bet.
From the point of view of strategy, this decision can already be considered egregious. I have fewer strong hands on this texture than Vanessa, so I have to check often. The strongest hands also need to be checked in order to check-raise them. My hand is the perfect candidate for a check-raise. Another disadvantage of the lead is that on such a dynamic board, many turns will not please me, it will be difficult to play.
I like her call. Possibly the best post-flop decision of the entire hand!
On the turn, I find myself in a difficult position and almost have to keep betting. My hand is too weak to check-raise, check-calling looks terrible and ties my hands on the river. I like the increased sizing I chose: the texture is very dynamic, and Vanessa can have backdoor hearts, and other hands that hit.
I don't think it makes sense for Vanessa to raise, because she will only knock out my weak hands and isolate against strong ones. She calls and it's the right choice.
On the river, I bet $18,400 into a $23,200 pot and Vanessa promptly calls.
When you get called this fast, quite often you will be ahead with . I think it's a completely standard bet, I beat a lot of hands that will go to showdown due to not hitting any draws. Vanessa will call with any king and many .
However, I think she could have played even better and considered a raise. I have few strong hands on this board and very few full houses considering the lead on the flop. And she can have bluffs with missed draws.
I don't like my play at all. For some reason, I got stuck on the bet-bet-bet line. Well, live a century – learn a century, and luck was not on my side.
The next hand is just disgusting to me. We both played terribly, and almost all of our decisions were bad. Let's get it over with quickly.
I open with the wrong hand to raise. However, my open is still better than Vanessa's call.
In my opinion, the worst strategy you can come up with against a hyper-aggressive opponent is to start playing hands that are weaker than marginal hands. By entering the pot with 95s, she hopes to steal the pot from me post-flop, but this is unlikely, given my style of play: I tirelessly bet all the streets.
The texture is bad for me, and Vanessa's range hits it perfectly – even the weakest hands like and picked up a straight draw, she has a lot , and almost all suited connectors made a pair+draw. All in all, I shouldn't bet, but I'm not just c-betting, I'm over-betting $4,800, bloating the pot against a strong range. If you have a set, then it is better to reduce the sizing. So far I'm playing this hand very poorly.
It's funny, of course, that the awful sizing I chose should have knocked Vanessa's hand out of the pot, but she called. There is not even a single spade on the board! She can't count on the help of a backdoor and calls with just a weak straight draw to a nine.
Remember when I said we were wrong on every street? This bet is pretty terrible. It seems that now I have top pair, and it's time to bet. Maybe it wasn't that bad in this dynamic, but if you step away from the aggressive dynamics of the hands I played and think about the situation in terms of theory, this bet does not make any sense. I force her to fold and and leave only the strongest hands in her range. One mistake after another leads to the fact that on the river I will find myself in a huge pot with a completely unsuitable hand.
However, even though Vanessa turned an open-ender, she should fold to such a bet. Even if she manages to hit her straight, there are too many nines in her range and it will be difficult to get paid. And she has no opportunity to bluff because of my second barrel.
And yet she calls.
At this point, she may still have hands weaker than mine – a flush draw, , . However, it was unpleasant to hear the call. On almost any river I'll have to check and hope to see it check through – but Vanessa can turn her weakest hands into a bluff.
My check on the river is the first correct decision in the hand for both players. The only option left for me to get value was to call a bluff. If I bet, all weaker hands will fold for sure.
What a terrible hand! It just hurts to watch.
Vanessa bets $25,000 facing my check.
At this point, the weakest hands in her range are hands with a pair and a gutshot like and . In theory, they should be bluffed, but dynamically against me, she would probably check them with a decent chance of winning at showdown. At the table, it seemed to me that there was too much value in her bet on the river. She just lacks natural bluffs. May be, ? Still, there are too few of them. Assuming that there would be many hands in my range that would be more suitable for calling, I folded the hand. does not block anything important and is not suitable for catching a bluff. In general, I like the pass even now.
Overall, I think we should both forget about this hand. But then why am I talking about it for YouTube?
The last hand for today is interesting because other players also took part in it. When several different ranges collide, finding the truth can be difficult.
Daniel Negreanu raises with A4s. Behind him Scott Seiver with the same hand can choose to call or raise, and chose to call. Todd Brunson also calls – not his style to 3-betting KQo, although it is also fine to do so.
I have two sixes in the small blind.
The ideal situation for calling, pocket pairs play well in multiway pots. I call without bloating the pot with deep stacks out of position.
For the same reasons, Vanessa should have called with a pair of eights, but she unexpectedly announces a full pot squeeze.
I don't like her decision at all. It doesn't block any strong hands in opponents' ranges, and the playability of a medium pair in an oversized pot leaves a lot to be desired. There aren't many three-card flops below an eight, so she'll have to hit a set to feel good post-flop.
When she made this raise, I was absolutely sure that the pairs – could beexcluded. I well remember thinking that her reraise would help to understand how strong Negreanu and Seiver's hands are.
There are three players behind Negreanu. He will never call with something strong! Aces, kings, queens, , even jacks, as it seemed to me, are excluded. Voluntarily going into a multiway pot with a big pair is extremely unwise.
So when he calls a 3-bet, I give him a pretty weak range.
Scott Seiver could have called with a monster to trap the most aggressive player at the table, me, but now he has to prove himself, because there is already a lot of money in the pot. If he calls, he doesn't have anything strong either. He calls.
Todd Brunson makes a good pass with KQo and the action is on me.
And I announce a 4-bet.
– "What are you doing?" Negreanu asks with a smile.
You can see the weakness of his hand from his reaction. Everything I said about the weakness of Negreanu and Seiver's ranges is true, but it is no less true about my range! I would never call with a monster after a raise and two calls, creating a real danger of seeing the flop with five of us. Of all the participants in the hand, my range looks the weakest here! My hand is almost always weaker than and . Obviously, I'm overplaying it for the sake of the $16,000 lying in the center of the table.
Action on Vanessa. I thought that she had pairs from tens to aces and a bunch of overcard combinations in her range. As you remember, for every six combinations there are 16 combinations or so I was optimistic about my chances. She'll fold some of the overcards, I'll flip a coin with the others, and the dead money in the pot will make up for my losses against the strongest pockets.
I had no idea that she would go all-in with .
I fell into a classic trap: when I saw dead money, I decided to try and take it without thinking about how weak my own line looked. I think Vanessa could very well call even with QJs, since her hand will never be dominated. I'll have a bunch of medium pockets and sometimes some A5s, so Vanessa has an easy call not only with , but also with weaker hands. The dead money in the pot helps her too.
Yes, I still don't like her pre-flop reraise, but my 4-bet is much worse.
Negreanu folds pretty quickly, and Seiver suddenly thinks for a long time. I don't think he did it to get on Vanessa's or my nerves. I think he was well aware of how weak my range was, and seriously considered the possibility of participating in a three way pot.
Before he folds, he says he'd be happy to call my shove if we were heads up. Well, it would have been a big mistake for him to call because I have too many pocket pairs and hands like A8s in my range, but Vanessa made it easy for him.
The flop infuriates Negreanu as he caught the nuts.
“I had a feeling I needed to be in” he mutters through his teeth.
And on the turn I'm left with no outs.
In the case that I lost the pot, we agreed with Daniel that he would lend me money to continue the game. Still, I usually do not take $400-500k in cash with me on trips!
The way he handed me the chips right at the table caused many to suspect that I was not playing on my own. Alas, I did not sell shares for this game – not the smartest decision in terms of bankroll management, but pride left me no choice. I have to say, while the show didn't work out well for me, the action I created got me a lot of invitations to other high stakes private games.
As you can see, both Vanessa and I made a lot of mistakes in these hands. 12 years ago it seemed to me that she played much worse than me, but now I don’t think so. The hand with was ok more or less, not counting the lead on the flop, but with made a mistake on all streets except the river, and with the ideal solution would be to just call. Apparently, my decision was affected by the fact that from the starting $100,000 in my stack there was only $40,000, and I really wanted to double up at any cost. You don’t have to play like that, especially at high stakes!