Negreanu and Hellmuth Engage in Crazy River Action in High Stakes Duel Hand

Daniel Negreanu

In Round 2 of the High Stakes Duel between Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth, an interesting hand was played by the two legends of our game. The entire round had some crazy hands that I’m looking forward to covering over the coming.

In this hand, do you think Negreanu could have ended the match with if he decided to shove the river? Would Hellmuth have called? Check out this hand with some crazy river action and button clicking!

It began when Hellmuth (104,00) limped with the {6-Hearts}{4-Hearts} and Negreanu (96,000) raised to 900. Hellmuth called and the flop came down {10-Clubs}{6-Diamonds}{3-Clubs}. Negreanu continued for 1,200 and Hellmuth called with middle pair. This is a pretty easy call, so far so good.

On the {j-Hearts} turn, Negreanu bet 3,100, and action was on Hellmuth. I think it would be a little tight for Hellmuth to fold as the board is extremely wet with a lot of potential draws that Negreanu could have. Negreanu’s range is generally value-heavy in this spot due to the preflop action with Hellmuth limping and Negreanu raising to three big blinds.

Make sure you are always aware of the effective stack depth and how this should affect your decisions. Here, Hellmuth did call and again it seemed pretty straightforward.

On the {4-Diamonds} river, Negreanu bet 13,000, a big overbet into the pot of 10,400. So, what do we do here in Hellmuth’s shoes? Fold? Call? Raise to 28,000? Raise all in for 98,800?

Jonathan Little Hand

When your opponent over-bets on the river it is either a very strong hand or a bluff. There are a lot of bluffs on this board due to all of the missed draws. You want to make sure that you balance your raising ranges with some junky hands so that you do not become easily exploitable by your opponents.

"Negreanu has made it very clear that he will not call Hellmuth light when Hellmuth decides to put a lot of money in the pot."

Negreanu could easily have a strong value hand that would beat Hellmuth’s two pair. I think Hellmuth should just call with this particular hand. If Hellmuth thinks that Negreanu would call a raise with overpairs and strong top pairs then it would be reasonable for him to put in a small raise. However, Negreanu has made it very clear that he will not call Hellmuth light when Hellmuth decides to put a lot of money in the pot due to his perception of him being overly tight. I’m not even sure he’d call with pocket aces right here.

If Hellmuth thinks that Negreanu would not pay off with overpairs or a strong top pair hands then he should just call. However, here Hellmuth opted for a raise to 28,000. Hellmuth chooses a small raise size as Negreanu would often fold out value hands that Hellmuth could beat if he were to use a large size.

Negreanu gets a little tricky and clicks it back by making it 43,000 to go. Hellmuth now has to decide whether to call or fold as it would make no sense for him to reraise here. Negreanu’s min-raise will generally signify that he has an extremely strong hand that he is happy to give great pot odds for Hellmuth to call. You should always ask yourself what your opponent is trying to accomplish with any of their decisions at the table including their bet or raise sizes.

If we calculate the pot odds then Hellmuth has to approximately be winning 1 in 6 times (17%) to make this a break-even call. If Hellmuth were to four-bet shove all in then Negreanu could conceivably find a fold as Hellmuth would be extremely weighted towards straights.

I think it’s likely Negreanu has either a set or two pair when he raised here. Indeed, Hellmuth does call and Negreanu tabled the {j-Diamonds}{j-Clubs} for top set. Despite losing that hand, Hellmuth was able to grind it back up and defeated Negreanu in the second match.

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 Sign up to learn poker from Jonathan for free at You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.

  • PokerNews Strategy: @JonathanLittle examines a big hand between @RealKidPoker & @phil_hellmuth.

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