For decades, wealthy people have loved to dabble in high-stakes poker games.
One such billionaire poker enthusiast is Stanley Tang, the founder of the delivery app DoorDash, who is worth an estimated $2.2 billion dollars. He recently played a session on Hustler Casino Live, where he attempted a bold $20,350 bluff.
It might be easier to bluff a couple of stacks of high society when you’re a billionaire, but was it a good play?
Watch the video below to see the hand. Keep reading for a written recap and my analysis.
The blinds are $50/$100 with a $100 BB ante.
George opens from UTG+1 to $600 with 5♥ 5♠. Nick Vertucci (co-owner of the Hustler Casino Live) calls with A♥ Q♠ from the Hijack and Stanley Tang flats behind him from the Cutoff with Q♦ J♦. The rest of the players fold.
George’s open-raise is too wide with Pocket Fives from his position, at least from a theoretical perspective, and his sizing is way off. If there are many strong players at the table, Pocket Fives will simply not realize equity well enough because there are so many players behind that can 3-bet.
That said, in a live game with splashy players, open-raising 55 from early position can be fine due to the weaker level of competition. However, George’s decision to raise to 6 big blinds is perplexing. Larger preflop sizes should be accompanied by tighter ranges, so it’s tough to reconcile raising from early position with a marginal hand for such a big size.
With Ace-Queen offsuit, Nick has a strong enough hand to continue, even versus the large raise. The question is if he should call or 3-bet. Both options are very close in expected value (EV). Considering the size of the open, I’d lean towards 3-betting.
Stanley’s call with Q♦ J♦ is almost certainly a losing play versus this raise size. His pot odds are simply not good enough to call. Furthermore, there are a lot of reverse implied odds situations that he might find himself in postflop, like if he hits a dominated top pair against a hand like AQ. 3-betting is a much more reasonable route with QJs, but folding is on the table as well. My instinct leans towards folding because of the large size, but it’s tough to say for sure what’s right.
(What do you think is the right play preflop for Stanley? Let me know in the comments below.)
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The flop comes A♠ T♦ 9♥. The pot is $2,050.
George checks. Nick decides to fire a bet of $1,100. Stanley calls and George folds.
George makes the correct decision to check with his underpair. Given that all the player’s ranges are tight in this situation, it’s best for him to check at a very high frequency — even with his entire range — to keep his range uncapped. Otherwise, he would be very easy to play against.
Even though Nick has flopped a strong top pair with Ace-Queen, his bet doesn’t make a lot of sense for his range. He should check at a high frequency to keep his range uncapped, and AQ should usually be in that checking range. This hand could get pretty dicey for him otherwise (which is what ends up happening).
That being said, Nick’s bet has merit. He will get to extract value from draws and weaker Ax — and there are a lot of those in both George and Stanley’s ranges. Betting also denies equity from hands like 98s, which will almost certainly fold.
Stanley’s call with his open-ended straight draw is good. Raising is also an option here, but the EV is probably very close either way. One factor that makes calling more attractive is the fact that he can call a bet on the turn as well if the bet size is not too large.
Faced with a bet and a call, George has a super easy fold with Pocket Fives.
The turn comes the 3♦, making the board A♠ T♦ 9♥ 3♦. The pot is now $4,250.
Nick checks. Stanley fires a $4,300 bet and Nick calls.
Nick’s check doesn’t make much sense at this point. He is still way ahead of Stanley’s range given that the 3♦ turn should never help either player. Checking here is sub-optimal because it gives Stanley the option to realize his equity for free with hands such as KQ, KJ, QJ, and 87s. Of course, in theory, Stanley would balance his range by sometimes betting and sometimes checking back those hands.
That being said, one could make the argument that checking in Nick’s shoes is superior if he thinks that his opponent will over-bluff and/or value-bet too thinly with hands such as A4s, A6s, etc. But later in the hand, Nick verbally indicates that he didn’t expect Stanley would over-bluff, which directly conflicts with the action Nick chose on the turn.
(This is not to berate Nick whatsoever. I am writing this analysis with no time constraint or monetary pressure, whereas he was in the middle of the action in a live-streamed game with a time bank and big amounts of money at stake.)
Stanley makes the correct play by betting with his combo draw. You should basically always bluff with these super-strong draws, and his slight overbet sizing is very good. At this point, his betting range should be very polarized given that he has a nut advantage after Nick checks. Specifically, his betting range is polarized to either two-pair (or better) or a bluff, so an overbet is appropriate.
Nick’s call is also correct in theory as he is blocking some two-pairs and should have enough equity against a balanced range.
The river comes 6♣, making the board A♠ T♦ 9♥ 3♦ 6♣. The pot is $12,850.
Nick checks. Stanley thinks briefly and puts Nick all-in for $20,350. Nick ponders for a long time and finally lays it down.
Nick’s check is good. The river doesn’t give him any extra advantage for his range. At this point, he is either beat by a stronger hand or is beating a bluff (in theory). There is no thin value to be had with a lead.
Stanley’s all-in bet is exactly the best size to use in this case. The overbet jam allows Stanley to apply maximum pressure on Nick’s capped range while simultaneously giving himself a chance to extract maximum value with his strong hands.
As far as hand selection goes, Queen-Jack is the perfect candidate with which to bluff since it’s blocking the best top pairs that Nick could be calling with, namely AQ and AJ.
In theory, Nick should be sometimes calling and sometimes folding with his exact holding. In practice, if he thinks that Stanley’s range for this bet size contains less than 38% bluffs*, then he should always be folding with his Ace-Queen.
*The formula for this is: Risk / (Risk + Opponent’s bet + Pot size)
Not a bad play for an amateur.
Stanley eventually shows Nick the bad news (at his request) and is bewildered to see that he did get bluffed. Poker is one hell of a ride with thrills and many disheartening moments as well, and that’s why we all love this amazing strategy game.
What Do You Think of Nick and Stanley’s Play in This Hand?
Let me know in the comments below.
Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!
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