What is Negreanu’s Mystery Hand in this High Stakes Duel Hand Against Hellmuth?


Last week, I analyzed a big hand between Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth from Round 2 of the High Stakes Duel II. Continuing on that, Hellmuth must have had some thinking to do in this new hand from the match when Negreanu raised preflop with a mystery hand and wouldn’t stop betting!

Sometimes when you’re against a world-class poker player, you need to expect the unexpected, and this hand was no exception. Let’s get into it.

With the blinds at 500/1,000/1,1000, Negreanu (123,600) was in the small blind with a mystery hand and raised to 2,200. Hellmuth (74,300) called with the {k-Spades}{3-Diamonds} in the big blind and the flop came down {k-Diamonds}{q-Hearts}{7-Clubs}. Hellmuth checked to pair and then just called when Negreanu continued for 1,700.

The {3-Hearts} turn gave Hellmuth two pair and action was on him. Should he lead? Hellmuth often wants to lead on turn cards that are good for his range, but this particular board favored Negreanu’s range more than Hellmuth’s as he was the preflop aggressor and followed up with a continuation-bet on the flop. When defending from the big blind you will often have the range advantage on boards that contain low cards, but here there are two paint cards on board. The preflop raiser will often connect more frequently with boards containing higher cards than the player who just calls.

Hellmuth checked it and Negreanu bet 8,000. What should Hellmuth do in this spot? Fold? Call? Put in a small raise like 20,000? Or should he stack up all his chips and move all in for 73,400?

Hellmuth vs. Negreanu

This is a spot where Hellmuth can mix between calling and raising. He needs to identify what range of hands Negreanu would bet for this size in order to figure out his best action on the turn. Negreanu could conceivably have a lot of bluffs in his range here. If you believe your opponent has a marginal made hand and is likely to fold by the river to continued aggression, do not be afraid to bet larger with your bluffs.

Here, Hellmuth just called and the {8-Hearts} completed the board on the river. Hellmuth checked for the third time and Negreanu went with a full pot-sized bet of 24,000. It was a polarizing bet size, which usually indicates either a very strong made hand or complete air. For that reason, Hellmuth should rarely raise as Negreanu’s worse hands will fold and nearly all of his better hands will call or raise.

Hellmuth just called, which was reasonable, and he won the pot as Negreanu showed the {6-Clubs}{4-Clubs} bluff. To be fair, I liked Negreanu’s play even though it didn’t work out. Speaking of which, the entire High Stakes Duel didn’t work out for Negreanu as Hellmuth swept him 3-0!

For more on this hand, check out my breakdown in the following video:

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $7,000,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at JonathanLittlePoker.com. Sign up to learn poker from Jonathan for free at PokerCoaching.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.





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