Can you find the right balance at NL10K?

We're back at the highest stakes of poker, the perfect time to put on our donkey shoes! Do we want to play balanced or unbalanced, though?

high stakes poker
LLinusLLove at the $2,100 SCOOP-37-H Final Table in 2017

After we had to make a big decision on the river at NL5K a couple of weeks ago, we're doubling up today, diving into a tricky spot at NL10K with three players involved. Our Hero for today's hand will be borntotilt, a more than solid regular at these kinds of limits.

Apart from that, both ar0ra and elpasoafera are also talented players but mostly active at NL1K and NL2K. The fact they decided to trade punches way above their usual weight class here is a strong sign that some big recreational player is present at this table with big blinds of $100.

Obviously, LLinusLLove is not an unknown anymore as well. Lately, people even rate him a bit higher than high stakes wizard OtB_RedBaron in 3- and 4-handed games because exploits play a much bigger role in those. In contrast, the Baron should still be ahead when 5 or 6 players are involved and there's more emphasis on theoretical background and a particularly well-balanced game.

The mentioned recreational player this table presumably formed around is johhnnyknock. There's nothing else really known about him but we still have to keep in mind that his mere existence at this table will lead to some significant changes in ranges, especially preflop, since the sharks will be trying to get into as many hands with him as possible. But sometimes even duelling with a recreational player won't always go quite as planned:

Diving into the action

While Hero has a positional advantage on the weaker player in this spot, he's simultaneously also at a disadvantage by being stuck in a sandwich against a very strong opponent.

Still, is a reasonable call with odds like these, especially since Hero is closing the action. In the small blind, things would look a bit differently though.

High Roller Analyse hand history
Today's action in detail

What's important to keep in mind now is that LLinusLLove's stealing range on the button will be wider than usual because of the weaker player behind. LLinus will try to get into a pot with him while being in position. Additionally, he's also expecting the Big Blind to 3-bet against him less frequently since that player will be just as keen to get into a pot with the Small Blind.

A good flop for the aggressor


Our preflop aggressor should rejoice at the look of this flop since his opponents rarely will have hit something useful. Still, Hero was lucky enough to pick up an unexpected flush draw and decides to check after the Small Blind did just that first-in.

A donk is not really an option since it comes with the risk of being answered with a raise by LLinus. That in turn could lead to the Small Blind saying his farewell because the pot got too big for him. Of course, Hero would like to avoid that with his flush draw, making his check a very reasonable line here.

After the two checks, LLinus decides to answer with the expected c-bet and the small size indicates again that he is on quite a wide range, especially on this paired flop. Meanwhile, Hero's plan seems to work out since the Small Blind decides to stay in the pot.

Three players on the turnNL High Stakes Analyse

We're still three-handed on the turn. That's something we've rarely seen in our high stakes reviews thus far. But it's not the only novelty witnessed here. Someone chasing is actually able to hit his draw. How often does that happen when you're the one chasing, eh? Anyway, after the Small Blind checks we're now giving you three options to continue this hand:

We could bet and continue playing balanced by picking a small bet size of roughly 1/4 the pot. That would make it more likely that both opponents stay in the hand, increasing our chances for a good payoff.

We could also just check to induce another bet by the preflop aggressor, hoping the Small Blind will call that one as well. Afterwards, we could then crush their hopes and dreams with a hideous check/raise.

The third and final option is to simply donk in an unbalanced manner with a bet size of roughly 3/4 the pot. The aim would be to make a call with a king- or ace-high flush draw unprofitable and to increase the pot to such an extent that it's easier to get the recreational player all-in on the river.

Solution for the last high stakes hand

Auslösung Pokerhand

After Belqi was able to hit a straight on the turn of the aforementioned NL5K hand, a rather inconvenient flush got possible on the river. Your task was to choose between going all-in right away, check/raising all-in or check/calling a bet of up to 1/3 the pot.

The way the hand played out, you definitely want to check as much as possible in a spot like that since you wouldn't be able to move all-in for value with a large part of your range anyway. The focus should be on finding a range with which you can reasonably play check/raise all-in without leaving too much money on the table and just paying off better hands of the opponent.

We do have a straight of course, nonetheless the opponent will rarely still move all-in on such boards with a weaker hand if we check. Therefore, check/calling a bet of up to 1/3 the pot was the right choice for the hand in question.

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