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How Did this Super Bizarre Min-Three-Bet Poker Hand Between Two Top Pros Happen?

Mikita Badziakouski & Adrian Mateos

I've written a lot of articles on poker hands, and I can tell you that when it comes to the high roller live tournaments you do not often see a minimum three-bet. It certainly caught my attention and inspired me to cover it in this week's PokerNews strategy column.

This hand took place during a $25,500 Super High Roller poker tournament from the partypoker Millions at Dusk Til Dawn in the UK. Mikita Badziakouski took on Adrian Mateos with many interesting decision points from both players across all of the streets. After committing over 80 percent of his stack on the river can Badziakouski find the crazy hero fold?

With the blinds at 30,000/60,000/60,000, Badziakouski (1.25 million) raised to 125,000 from the button with the {a-Diamonds}{j-Clubs} and Mateos (1.5 million) defended his big blind holding the {k-Diamonds}{7-Spades}. Perfectly fine and standard so far.

The {7-Diamonds}{7-Hearts}{j-Diamonds} flop saw Mateos check trip sevens and Badziakouski, who flopped two pair jacks and sevens, bet just 75,000 into the pot of 340,000. On boards that you will bet infrequently, you usually want to use a larger bet size. When you lack the “nut advantage” you typically want to use a smaller sizing.

What a lot of players would do here in Mateos’ shoes is move all in, but that’s a mistake as he would lose a lot of value if he shoved and Badziakouski did not have a strong hand. Basically, Badziakouski would have an easy fold in the instance where he doesn’t have much of a hand,

Instead, he will want to check-raise with a decent among of his range including jacks and better, premium draws that are happy to get it in, and junky draws that can check-raise and fold to a shove. Indeed, Mateos did check-raise to 210,000, which gave Badziakouski amazing pot odds to call if he were on a draw.

Jonathan Little Breaks it down.

Not to be outdone, Badziakouski clicked it back with a three-bet to just 345,000, which was a min-raise. He did this to try and induce Mateos to shove. Remember, Badziakouski effectively had a nut hand. While he does lose to a seven, he beats all other hacks and all the draws.

For Mateos, his decision should be based on what he specifically thinks about Badziakouski’s range of hands that would min-three-bet him. If it contains a lot of nonsense like the {q-Hearts}{10-Hearts}, he should just call to give Mateos every opportunity to continue bluffing. On the flip side, if he believes Badziakouski’s range to be premium he should shove.

Mateos elected to just call, presumably to keep Badziakouski in with any weak hands. On the {k-Clubs} turn, Mateos improved to a full house. This was definitely a spot to check for Mateos as he had the effective nuts and with such a small stack-to-pot ratio it was likely he could get the money in on the river.

Mateos checked and action was on Badziakouski. The king on the turn was a bad card for him and Badziakouski checked it back to bring about the {9-Spades} on the river. Mateos was first to act but what should he do? Slow play and check? Bet 250,000? Or move all in for 770,000 and put Badziakouski all in?

"You also want to have hands in your checking range that makes it difficult for your opponent to call if you do decide to bet."

This is a spot where you want to have some checks in your range you know are never folding. You also want to have hands in your checking range that makes it difficult for your opponent to call if you do decide to bet. However, when you block a lot of the value cards that your opponent would call with as Mateos does here with both a seven and king, then you want to give your opponent every opportunity to bluff.

Make sure you protect your checking range by mixing in some nutted hands so that your opponents cannot exploit you. Balancing your ranges leaves your opponents guessing the strength of your hand.

Mateos coyly checked and Badziakouski had to decide what to do. Whenever weird things happen in a poker hand you should aim to be more cautious, and the min-raising that took place on the flop in this hand was certainly weird. Despite that, Badziakouski bet 590,000 and left himself just 180,000 behind.

Mateos should shove here as he will be losing value from hands that Badziakouski would call with having already invested 82 percent of his stack. That’s exactly what Mateos does and Badziakouski is sick. He knows Mateos would never check-jam without a strong hand, but nonetheless, he had too much committed and only three big blinds behind. He called off and that was all she wrote for Badziakouski

For more on this hand, check out my breakdown in the following video with footage courtesy of partypoker:

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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