I recently had the highest stakes online cash game of my life and I want to share a few hands with you.
In the very first hand of the session, I was dealt deuces in the big blind. This is an easy call against a middle-position raise. The game, as you can see, has a big blind ante, the amount of the ante is bigger than the big blind, so you need to defend very widely.
Everyone folds to me, I call.
A very good flop for my range and good enough for my hand – there's even a straight flush draw! Villain's range has a lot of overcards against which I'm ahead. I do not ever lead on monotonous boards really, so I always start with a check. He bets $1,675, a small continuation bet. A simple decision for me to call.
This card shouldn't change anything at all. The big blind probably gets to lead on it sometimes, but with deuces, I'm not interested in a lead. I check. Opponent checks next.
After his check, I have almost no doubt we are ahead.
And on the river, I even improve to a straight.
For some reason, I'm terribly nervous taking part in this game. Having a $10,000 pot in the center of the table is not the same as $1,000 or $100. I try not to think about money and count the bets as a percentage of the pot – 25% or 75%, you have to choose. I think the deuces are strong enough to draw with a normal size, so I bet 75% – $7,537.
Villain calls and takes the pot of $25,125 with .
I played one hand and I'm already losing $12,000! Normal start! And I was also lucky that the river didn't hit the three of clubs. He may have considered raising on the river, but perhaps calling is the most common decision in his place.
I didn't get any further big cards and made a lot of folds, which is expensive in a game with big antes. It's okay, just bad luck with the distribution of cards. But at least those few pots in which I took part in developed quite well.
The cutoff raises to 2.2bb. I have KTo in the small blind, and the recreational player in the big blind is who the table is targeting. We want to go into pots with him as often as possible, and given the large antes, calling with KTo is becoming absolutely standard.
The guy in the big blind also calls, as expected.
We flop pretty well – eight outs for the perfect super nuts! Donk betting can be a good option, but I prefer to collect information about the opponent's hands. The guy in the big blind is very willing to call any bet, so a strong regular in the cutoff will play very straightforward post-flop. He will forego random bluffs and will not disguise strong hands.
I don't plan to fold anyway, but if everyone checks the flop, I'll know for sure that the cutoff is already out of the hand. Perhaps this will help in some situations.
Everyone checks. Pray for a good turn and write off the cutoff player: he will believe any story my bets tell.
Unfortunately, I did not catch on fourth street. That being said, I want to see the river, and the cutoff can be considered out of the hand unless he has or . The recreational player will also be light at times, so my bet has fold equity. However, I have no doubt that he will call with any pair.
The question is how to lose the minimum against him and at the same time increase the pot enough to win a big pot when our outs come in.
I decide to make a relatively normal large bet, $5,850. It doesn't make sense to polarize insanely with an overbet, I'll still get called by any board pair – that's how he played the whole time. My heartbeat is accelerating, but we hope for the best!
The amateur calls, the regular folds.
The perfect river comes, the best possible one. How can we not lose value now?
I was watching the table before I sat down and noticed that my opponent doesn't like raising very much. Provoking bets against him does not work, you have to inflate the pot yourself. He will of course shove with and against any action on my part, but will not push against standard sizing.
I think any bet other than a severe overbet would be a blunder and only waste the strength of our hand. Overbet he will call with , and, of course, with any lady, because that is top pair!
I declined the all-in, but put in an unusually large overbet of $39,000, twice the pot. I'm not completely sure that this is the correct sizing. Of course, I would like to know more about the opponent. He folded pretty quickly. Maybe caught a nine with or folded a five.
However, I rather like my sizing.
And I get aces.
My usual limits are NL5k and NL10k. And here I was in a game ten times more expensive. The seat to my left is free – the table is falling apart. This hand should be one of the last.
The player in first position raises to $2,300. I 3-bet $8,125, which is the standard size for big antes. Everyone folds to the raiser and he calls.
I'm praying for a dry board where I can stack some jacks or top pairs. What about ?
Far from ideal. Immediately there is a feeling of impending disaster. With my hand you can bet, you can check, but we are deprived of both opportunities, as our opponent leads for $5,062.
My hand can never raise. There are hands in his donk range without straight outs against aces, such as JTs with backdoor flush draws. And there are hands against which I already have very few outs – , , . Call only!
The card is so-so, because it adds equity to some previously hopeless bluffs, strengthens , , and .
This is where things get even weirder: my opponent bets $14,437, half the pot. And I know that there should not be such a sizing in their strategy tree.
He has two paths. First, attack my overpairs. To do this, you need to sharply polarize and move in the direction of all-in. Secondly, to put pressure on my , for which a second barrel of small size is suitable. Instead, he bets half! What's the point?
I need to call still. I don't want to raise him with which he can catch a jack and pay me on the river. And yet his line is extremely similar to or who are trying to get the most for themselves. I had a strong feeling that his range was mostly made up of these hands, rather than draws and the nuts. So I decided to take an atypical line and raised to $37,000!
He called and the pot went over $100,000. Pray for a safe river!
And that's what we get. Put yourself in my place! Especially when the Villain doesn't check quickly, but starts thinking, thinking... And I can't figure out what I should do against an all-in. He doesn't have that many flushes though. ? I don't believe for a second that he would bet half the pot on the turn with this hand. , go all-in on the turn or play differently before. ? It is also not clear, why bet half the pot on the turn with this hand, there is no point in this!
He thought for a long time, giving me time to come to many decisions. It's bad that I'm blocking – a hand with which his line as a whole makes some sense. Will he turn or into a bluff? In general, when the opponent chooses a line that should not be in the strategy tree, it becomes hard to read.
Finally, he checked and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was sure that the pot was mine, but it does not seem that another bet is possible for me. Firstly, there is a small chance of running into a trap or a strangely played set, and secondly, will he really call all-in with ? Don't think so.
I check next and...
...I beat a pair of fives.
I do not think that his line makes much sense. However, I had a very hard time against it!
Immediately the table fell apart, but after a while, the game assembled again. I played about 50 hands, only got to the river in two of them, and lost about $50,000 in the blinds and antes! And here is the last round of the session.
This was the last big hand, not because I hit and ran early, but because it was already one in the morning, and I usually try to finish at midnight because at six in the morning, the child wakes me up. For the sake of this game, I decided to stay for an hour, but no longer.
And here we come to the biggest pot I've ever played online!
The cutoff raises to $2,200 and I call with . This time the recreational player is in the big blind. In this situation, I rarely 3-bet – it's profitable for me to lure him into the pot. He calls.
Great, great flop! Now we need information for an amateur. He played in a rather insane style but with very readable sizings. We've played 100-150 hands already, I've seen a lot of crazy bluffs, even crazier call downs, and some tricky traps, and also saw a lot of non-standard sizings. I made a separate list of his sizings to understand their meaning.
Amateur checks, regular checks, it's up to me. It's probably a good check next, as a small bet is pretty pointless. However, my task is to launch a new round of action and give an opportunity for the amateur to go for it. So I bet $2,241 and he check-raises to $11,827 just as I wanted. The regular folds.
Please a spade! Or nine! A cooler will work too. Let's just avoid the hard decisions – because he knows how to drive an opponent into a difficult position, you can trust me. Well, at the very least, I'm hoping to get information from his sizings – some of which I already figured out.
Here, it's a completely different matter!
Now it must be said that he bluffed very actively, but he always did it only with small sizings. And then he instantly hit the 75% pot button and bet $23,966 when I had the super nuts.
You all know very well that in this situation we should call and never raise. However, I am one hundred percent convinced that he has a hand that he considers very strong. With bluffs, he always played differently. But what is it – ? ? ? , ? Who knows, any of these hands are possible. And I see a huge risk that if I call and the river comes a fourth of spades or some other dangerous card, he might retreat. So I make a terribly fishy move like the last micro stakes donk and make a small raise ($52,000) with the nuts to get him all in.
He goes all-in instantly. Sure enough, when I saw his hand, it turned out to be a dead cooler, from which I would have collected the maximum anyway.
In some way, it’s even a shame that such a cooler occurred against the fish, and not against one of the regulars.
Whatever the case, I'm terribly happy to have won the biggest pot of my cash game career.