On his YouTube channel, Saula Costa gave his professional opinion on three high-stakes hands. He was using PokerTracker to replay each street and action, breaking down every check, call, bet, and raise. Each of these nosebleed hands went to showdown.

Hand 1: Linus Loeliger vs. A Zgirouski at $100/$200

Today guys, we're going to be taking a look at three really sick hands played at high stakes on February 2024.

The very first hand here, we have no other than Linus Loeliger. Supposedly, allegedly considered by many to be the best Texas Holdem player in the world.

In this hand here, he's playing against Zgirouski, who has on the big blind and let's see what happens.

We will take Zgirouski's perspective

Linus starts up the betting here with the 2.2x open from the cutoff, really standard. Zgirouski is going to make the call here, that's also very straightforward.

Flop ($980 in the pot):

Linus starts off with a 20% pot bet. I really like this bet sizing, I think it makes perfect sense. On monotone textures, low boards, you basically don't need to bet too large to put pressure on a lot of your opponent's hands. So really small bet here, I think is really good.

We see here that Zgirouski decided to check-raise with his flush to a very large sizing in my opinion. He went for a 70% check-raise size.

You can see the pot odds he's giving to Linus is 30%, which means that his check-raise is exactly 75% check-raise size. I think that's a bit too big to be honest for a monotone texture like this.

I'm going to put a print here of what is the appropriate bet sizing from GTO Wizard AI in this spot to see what's the appropriate check-raise size.

But to me, it does seem like slightly too big of a sizing here for Zgirouski. I would go something like $700 myself, I think that's enough to put pressure on non-Spade one pair hands.

But he goes with that and then against that size, I think Linus should probably already start folding some . So without a Spade, I think becomes indifferent against the bet size.

Turn ($3,450 in the pot):

Linus could have some in his flop check-raise range, I would imagine that's a part of equilibrium.

It does seem to me like could be a reasonable hand he would check-raise on the flop with. And then of course now it becomes trips on the turn.

That being said, I don't think Zgirouski is extremely strong on a board like this because he basically doesn't have full houses. He never has , he never has , and he shouldn't have suited check-raising flop for this size.

So he basically doesn't have full houses. I don't think he has suited from pre-flop. Maybe he has it, I guess that could be the case.

He does have one combo of quads, but he's not always going to be fast-playing on the flop. So basically, he's very capped in the flushes region, whereas Linus could have all the full houses. This is important for this hand.

Zgirouski decides to continue betting his flush, he bets 2/3 size. I think that's okay, I think a smaller bet would also be fine in this spot. Basically try to put pressure on the non-Spade region, perhaps the with low kickers, something like kicker through kicker. Linus is not supposed to have a raising range here I believe, so pretty much continue by calling only.

Poker Range Charts: Here’s What You Need to Know

River ($8,625, effective stack $22,581):

And this is where Zgirouski surprised me with his play. He actually decided to check. To me, this felt like, this hand still seems decently strong enough to go for a block bet size on the river. When you have hands like this that are not super strong but still can get some value from worse hands, that's the perfect spot for you to go with blocking bets on the river. So that's what I expected Zgirouski to do here, but he decided to check.

Maybe he thought that, "Okay, I need to check this because my range is substantially weaker than my opponent's given that I lack those full houses".

But to be honest, I would have block-bet myself here with this hand. He can still get plenty of calls from Linus with a . All the with a , with a , lower flushes, , etc. So I would have bet small myself here and I would imagine GTO probably likes to bet small with this hand in this spot a decent amount of the time. He decides to check though.

And Linus did what Linus does, and a lot of high-stakes players like to do; he just goes all-in here for 2.6x the pot.

Ballsy play here from Linus, but I do think that it is correct with certain regions of his range, particularly because he can have full houses and Zgirouski cannot have them.

So if you have a situation where you're completely uncapped, you have strong hands your opponent cannot have, then it's very likely that at least sometimes it's optimal for you to go all-in.

In terms of bluffs Linus is going to have here, I would imagine they are mainly missed flush draws. So basically : , , , and offsuit. I think he's going to have those here, and then maybe, that's pretty much it.

And now Zgirouski is in a very tough situation. He just has a bluff catcher. He doesn't beat value bets. Linus is never taking this line with a hand worse than Queen-high flush. I don't think he's even doing this with Ace-x flush. So it's basically full houses or bluffs.

So Zgirouski has a pure bluff catcher. He only beats bluffs. So he's got to think whether Linus is capable of over-bluffing this or not. If he wants to make an exploitative call or if he wants to play balanced, he just throws the RNG and calls at a frequency to make him unexploitable.

That being said, it's extremely hard to figure out what's the frequency that you need to call in these spots, because it requires you to have a full awareness of the entire range you get to that spot. So how frequently you check-raise the flop, how frequently you bet the turn, how frequently you check the river, so that you can know effectively how much you should call with your bluff catchers in the spot.

I don't think anyone in the world does this kind of calculation in-game. So it's basically most of the time an exploitative decision. You know, "Oh, I think Linus is super aggressive, I'm going to call" or, "I think he doesn't have enough bluffs, I'm going to fold". And then sometimes people are just going to throw the RNG, make up a random number in their mind, you know, like 50/50, and then make the call or the fold.

Zgirouski did decide to go for the call this time and unfortunately for him, he lost this $54,000 pot to .

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Hand 2: Barak Wisbrod vs. Matthew Bergart $100/$200

Matthew has on the button, which is a really strong hand heads-up. And they're playing 28,000 effective here, which is 140 big blinds.

In this hand, Matthew starts off with the standard 2.2x open, pretty much everyone does that size these days. And then Barak comes up with the 12 big blind 3-bet pre-flop. Typically we see more often a 10 big blind 3-bet pre-flop in heads-up, but maybe he added a little bit of money because they are 140 big blinds deep.

Matthew has a pretty easy call with this , nothing else to do.

Flop ($4,800):

And this is already where things start to get interesting. Because in my mind, and to be honest, I'm not very sharp with heads-up spots and ranges, but in my mind, this board does not hit Barak's range all that well.

Because if we take a look at a big blind 3-bet range in heads-up, I'm going to put a print here for you guys, I think that the bulk of the range is pairs of course, and then suited high cards, and then also offsuit high cards. But these very low cards, I don't think Barak is going to have all that many of those to really hit this board.

So I don't think he's going to be 3-betting and at reasonable frequencies. I don't think he's going to have or suited. Well, maybe he has that heads-up, but anyway, I think Matthew has more of those hands.

I think Matthew has , , full frequency. He has suited, suited, suited full frequency. He has suited, he has hands like all the and , like suited, suited, suited, maybe even suited.

So I think basically Matthew has more of these low cards here to connect with this board. And then if that's the case, if one range has a lot of those cards, the other range doesn't have all that much and has a lot of high cards, I would imagine that the optimal strategy for Barak is to have a decent amount of checks and then when betting, favor a slightly bigger size.

But that's not what Barak did here. He went for the 30% pot bet on this flop.

So if Barak did this, he's probably right here.

He did bet small, and the way I look at this bet size, it doesn't seem to me like it puts pressure on all that many hands. I guess the hands that this bet size puts pressure on are exactly the type of hand that Matthew has here – some kind of high card with not much backdoor equity. I think those are the hands that are going to be indifferent against this bet size.

Maybe is a pure call, I have no idea to be honest. Could put a print there for you guys to see, but it does seem to me like the bet sizing aims to put pressure on this exact type of hand class – high cards without that much backdoor equity, because those are going to be indifferent against such a small bet.

Matthew ends up making the call.

Turn ($7,680):

Again, it seems to me like a card that favors Matthew a little bit, right? So Matthew is going to have all those , maybe even a hand like suited sometimes at equilibrium, maybe he calls that pre-flop.

So it seems to me that it's a pretty decent card for Matthew and not that great of a card for Barak, although he still has plenty of strong hands like strong through . I think he's going to be betting here a lot, and then he starts to slow play with some Pocket Queens, Kings, Aces – mostly Aces and Kings I think, because those block the check-back range for Matthew. And then he's going to have some other slow plays as well.

Barak decides to check here, and Matthew I think has a very straightforward check with this , right? I would imagine this is a pure check behind here. He has plenty of 7-highs, 8-highs, 9-highs, 10-highs, flush draws, combos to bluff this.

It doesn't seem to me like this should ever be a bet on the turn.

So Matthew goes for the check.

River ($7,680, effective stack $24,276):

Again, it seems to me a slightly better card for Matthew.

He's going to have pretty much all the suited, maybe not suited. I think suited is not supposed to call pre-flop against a 3-bet, but everything else he does have here. And he shouldn't bet all his on the turn, right? That wouldn't be optimal, at least I don't think it is. So, he does get here with plenty of combinations.

So it does seem to me like a pretty decent card for Matthew in this spot and not too amazing for Barak.

But Barak once again still decides to put money into the pot. He bets exactly 3/4 pot size here.

So what are Barak's value hands here? I think he can value bet Kings and Aces, as we discussed. Those would be the hands he checks the turn with most likely. So he can have those hands, although I think Aces and Kings are again very good checks on the river, because they again block the check-backs from Matthew.

And then some other thinner value bets as well. So Aces and Kings maybe sometimes, but those feel like decent checks again on the river. But he can certainly be value-betting those Aces and Kings. Then he could be value betting a himself of course, and I would say maybe a strong , although that seems a bit thin. But I don't know, not very sharp with heads-up.

But I would say maybe , could go for a thin value, I don't know. Maybe not for this size, right? Yeah, it seems a little bit too thin for me when Matthew is completely uncapped.

But I would say Ace-high is probably a much better bluff catcher than King-high, because maybe some King-highs bluff here from Barak's perspective. But to my surprise, Matthew did not consider calling, or well, if he did, he did not go for it, because he just jammed all-in with his .

And this is where we can start talking about some bluff raise or bluff check-raise characteristics for the river.

Typically speaking, you want to have your hand have two properties:

1. You want to unblock bet folds
2. You want to block bet calls

If you can have both these properties, then it's for sure an amazing bluff candidate. If you can have one of these properties, then it's probably going to be a mixed strategy raise for you.

So why do you want to unblock bet folds? Well, you need fold equity, right? So if you have a hand that removes hands that your opponent is going to be bet-folding with, then you're reducing your fold equity. So you want to unblock bet folds. You need to picture what hands your opponent is going to be bet-folding with, and you want to avoid having those cards in order to bluff raise.

And if you can potentially block some bet calls, that's amazing, because again, it decreases or increases your fold equity.

Effective River Bluff Raise Heuristics:

There are some very simple heuristics you can use to find bluff raises and bluff check-raises on the river that are extremely effective.

The first one is using Ace-high combinations. Ace-highs are great and are part of a solver in quite a lot of the time in those situations, because typically speaking, your opponent is not supposed to be bluffing with Ace-high on the river. Therefore, if you hold an Ace, you're not blocking too many of his bet folds, because he's not bluffing with Ace-high. So Ace-high combinations are really, really great for using as bluff check-raises and bluff raises on the river.

And then also sharing a card with the board, essentially having a pair that shares a card with the board. In this case here, it would be 4x. The reason for this is again, you have a card that is not going to interact with your opponent's bet-fold range, unless your opponent has a thin value region that folds that has those cards, which in this case could be the , . But I don't think he's supposed to be value-betting , for this size.

Therefore, becomes a very interesting bluff candidate, because it does not block bet folds, and it could potentially sometimes even block some bet calls, right? So sharing a card with the board, having an Ace, are two great heuristics. And when you combine the two, for example if you have , it does seem to me like is a pretty decent bluff candidate in this spot for Matthew.

So in his shoes, I would choose Ace-high and before I would choose King-high to bluff here.

But hey, that's just me, what do I know, right? These guys are playing super high stakes, so Matthew probably had a reason for his play here.

Barak found a call, building this $56,000 pot, and he showed up with for the full house. And Matthew lost this huge, huge pot.

A really sick hand, showing how high-stakes players are willing to go for very aggressive plays when they think it's the right opportunity to do so. And Matthew showed a lot of heart here in my opinion, so well done to him.

Unfortunate, but he can get it next time.

Hand 3: Taisto Jantero vs. Ignacio Moron $200/$400

These guys, they play and they have been playing high stakes for a lot of years, and you can find them pretty much every day at the high stakes tables on GGPoker and other sites.

Taisto, in my opinion, is one of the best players in the world right now – extremely aggressive, and extremely knowledgeable. So I'm really a fan of this guy. I think his poker game is really, really good. And Ignacio is also a very good player, but I would put Taisto still a little bit above him to be honest, with his strategy.

So Taisto has here from the cutoff, a 2.2x is pretty standard in this spot. And against this bet size, Ignacio is going to be defending quite a lot of hands.

Flop ($1,960):

Ignacio checks, as he should do with all his hands, and Taisto still places a 25% pot C-bet on the flop. These monotone disconnected textures of course should always be bet small. And I don't think you're supposed to bet like 100% of your range or super high frequency with your range, because a lot of hands in your range have low equity, right?

So I think he should definitely develop a checking range here, and probably most of the hands in his range are supposed to be mixed. I wouldn't imagine that he has a lot of pure bets on the flop, if any pure bets.

So you should basically throw the RNG and mix every single hand in his range here. That's my expectation.

He does bet small, and Ignacio finds a click raise.

Pretty interesting strategy here, which I think is really good in monotone textures. Maybe not necessarily a click, could be maybe slightly bigger, but any small check-raise here I think makes quite a lot of sense. Because this is a completely disconnected monotone texture, so your bet sizing is supposed to be a tool to generate indifference in some regions of hands from your opponent's range.

That's what the bet sizing is for. And basically, this bet sizing puts pressure on a lot of the trash high cards, right? You don't need to size too big to put pressure on the region of trash high cards with no , right? So hands like , hands like , hands like , you know, you can put a lot of pressure on those hands with a very small size here.

So I really like Ignacio's play here. I think a very small check-raise size is appropriate in this spot. Not sure if click exactly, but a very small raise I think is appropriate here.

, you know, having two overs and the backdoor straight draw, I think it's probably a pure call here. Definitely not a super high EV call, but it does seem to me like it's supposed to be a pure call here on the flop.

Turn ($3,920):

This is an interesting card where I start to diverge a little bit from Ignacio's thought process here. Because he finds a 3/4 pot bet size on this turn.

I was surprised to see this bet sizing here, because it doesn't seem like this bet size benefits too many hands from his range, right? He has a lot of sets, he has some , and he has some two pairs. It's basically his value region, right? So sets from the flop, two pairs, and then some .

Like all of those hands do not want to bet big here. They don't want to bet 3/4 pot. The only hands that I think can afford to bet this size are flushes and maybe flushes. But at all, I think that's going to be a huge portion of his range. He's going to have a lot of those hands that really want to bet smaller, which reduces , , no or, , no. It seems to me like he has a lot of hands that want to bet small here.

So I would expect the solver to size down more often than not here. Maybe this bet size is still a thing in Solver Land with and region, but it does seem to me like a smaller size would be a bit better here. But again, I'm not 100% sure. That's why I always bring the prints here for you guys, so you can have the maximum amount of accurate information.

Against this bet size, really sick spot for Taisto here with Queen-Jack, to be honest. I have no idea what to do with this hand.

Always folding seems fine to me, always calling, mixing calls and folds, you know, it seems like a really sick spot.

I think most people probably just fold here. But you know, I think at this level, players are just finding excuses to continue. So I don't mind finding the call here, I think it's probably fine.

I think from Taisto's perspective and his entire range, and , you know, naked one pair hands are supposed to be indifferent here. That's what I would imagine anyway. Really sick spot to construct your range here, and to figure out how much you should call with your pairs and stuff like that. Really, really sick spot.

Taisto does find a call.

River ($9,800, effective stack $39,915):

That's again a really, really sick card in my opinion. Because from my perspective, the way I would perceive Ignacio's play here, I wouldn't imagine he's putting all that many sets into his turn 3/4 pot bet size, which means that when they get to this river, Ignacio has very, very few full houses, and Taisto has a decent amount of those.

Taisto has basically all , , , , and even maybe might call on the turn.

So basically, Taisto has a decent amount of full houses, and Ignacio has very, very few, almost none. Therefore, we're going to see, if players are thinking in this way, we're going to see Ignacio checking, and then Taisto doing this – he places a massive all-in bet for 4x pot here, which is a really, really sick, you know, play.

But it does make sense, right? He probably should have an all-in range here. I don't think it's the only size he should have, but he should have an all-in range here, because he has full houses, Ignacio gnas has very few. He can leverage that by going all-in. So I think all-in does make sense from his range.

And as far as should he put into that bet sizing or another bet sizing, to be honest, I'm not completely sure. It does not seem to me as the best bluff candidate to put in the all-in bet sizing.

But to my surprise here, Ignacio found the call, and he showed up with pocket fours. So he had the set, betting 3/4 pot on the turn, got to the river. Perhaps he thought that that card would be better for Taisto, and he knows Taisto is a very aggressive player, so he probably anticipated that Taisto could play all-in bets here with his bluffs. So he puts in the sneaky check on the river, and he gets max value from Taisto's Queen-Jack, and he scoops this $89,000 pot.

Really sick hands, guys.