This hand comes from the High Stakes Duel on PokerGo where Phil Hellmuth battled Daniel Negreanu for $50,000 in a heads-up sit-in-go format! This was a great match, with two poker legends battling it out and executing very different strategies. Both players are known for their reading abilities, but in the more recent past, Negreanu has gone head first into the new-school GTO strategies whereas Hellmuth has stuck to what has made him one of the best in the world for so long, his white-magic card reading capabilities.

The Game: $50,000 Heads-Up Sit-in-Go
Where: The PokerGO Studio at Aria
Stack Size: 36 Big Blinds

Editor’s note: This video comes from Jonathan Little’s YouTube Channel. If you would like to stay up to date with more video content such as this, including hand breakdowns from Negreanu vs Polk, Tom Dwan, Bryn Kenney and more, click here.

The hand begins with Hellmuth limping preflop with T8o and Negreanu checking his option from the big blind. Although T8o isn’t a great hand, with about 36 big blind effective, you have to fight hard heads-up, so this type of hand is mandatory to play.

Playing the Flop

The Pot: 2000
The Flop: T-7♠-6
Effective Stack: 36,000

Flop Analysis

This is a board that connects fairly well with both player’s ranges. The big blind, Negreanu, will have more nutted hands, but also more really weak hands. After Negreanu checks, Hellmuth bets the minimum (1K) for value and Negreanu goes for a large check-raise. This is a great strategy that you can implement when you’re out of position with more nutted hands than your opponent. You can check-raise with a polarized range, consisting of your best made hands and a smattering of draws, and it will put the button’s limping range into a pretty rough spot.

Hellmuth bets 1k, Negreanu raises to 5k, and Hellmuth calls the check-raise with top-pair and a gutshot straight draw.

Playing the Turn

The Pot: 12,000
The Turn: (T-7♠-6) –K♠
Effective Stack: 31,000

Turn Analysis

The turn brings the (T-7♠-6) –K♠, which is not a great card for either player’s range.

After Negreanu checks on this card, Hellmuth has a very clear marginal made hand, which should check back very frequently. If Phil were to bet, Negreanu would typically never fold a better hand and rarely call with a worse hand, so betting isn’t ideal in this situation.

Negreanu checks, Hellmuth checks behind and let’s see a river!

Playing the River

The Pot: 12,000
The River: (T-7♠-6–K♠) – 5
Effective Stack: 31,000

River Analysis

The river brings the (T-7♠-6–K♠) – 5 and is really where this hand gets interesting!

So many available draws come in and Negreanu bets 7,000 into a 12,000 pot, putting Hellmuth’s middle-pair into a pretty rough spot. In spots like this, you want to think about how easy it is for your opponent to be over-bluffing or under-bluffing. If you think they’ll have too many bluffs in their overall range, then you should call. If you think they won’t have enough bluffs in their range, then you should fold.

Running this hand through a GTO solver, we can see that T8o should call about 75% of the time so a GTO player, would just randomize and call that often. However, Hellmuth could care less about the GTO output of this spot! He’s a player who’s going to go with his instincts, and that is what makes him great!


Phil Hellmuth Makes a Big Fold and Goes on To Win The Match

In this hand, Hellmuth saved 7,000 chips! Although it’s a small amount, these decisions add up heavily throughout a heads-up match like this. A few hours later in the match, Hellmuth ended up winning after playing many other hands where he showed off his reading ability very well!

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