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  • tvstensby

    March 8, 2021 at 1:35 am

    My initial thought when reading the hand history was that this was a “defensive”, slightly unambitious, move by Hellmuth. Rather than trying to get Polk involved with a wider range Hellmuth makes a polarizing jam.

    Hellmuth should expect that Polk is able to assess his jamming range fairly accurately. The value from Hellmuth’s perspective is then capturing what is in the pot already rather than hoping that Polk makes a calling error.

    When facing a better opponent focusing on realizing the equity you already have can make sense. It is (probably) not GTO to do so and I am also unsure if Hellmuth sees Polk as a better post flop player. However I think it could be wise from Hellmuth to play parts of his range this way.

    The nut flush draws are one category of hands that could play this way and during the table talk Hellmuth uses that as an example of what he could have. If Hellmuth wants to be balanced doing the same with his nut straights makes sense.

    I played around with an equity calculator to understand Polk’s fold. He needs 45% equity to call the jam.

    • Versus top straights and nut flush draws Polk has only 32% equity and the fold is clear.
    • Versus top straights, sets and nut flush draws Polk has 41.4% equity (getting closer).
    • Versus top straights, nut flush draws and 13 combos of weaker draws (KsTs, Qs8s, 8s7s, 7s6s, AsQx, 77) Polk has 45.4% equity (break even)
    • Versus top straights, sets, nut flush draws and 13 combos of weaker draws Polk has 49.6% equity (a reasonable call).

    Given that Polk folds he must have put Hellmuth on a range without enough bluffs/semi-bluffs. If Hellmuth actually makes this move with a wider range, then it was a good play. If not then it might be better to play his nut hands differently.

    At the end of the day I think that capturing the money already in the pot is a reasonable play. Even for high stakes players that one might expect to be more tricky and ambitious.