Pro Hand Analysis with Daniel Negreanu

Pro Hand Analysis with Daniel Negreanu
Photo: Neil Stoddart
With eight players remaining in the $100,000 WPT Alpha8 High Roller at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic in December of 2015, Daniel Negreanu picked up the best hand in hold'em pocket aces. At a table as loaded with talent as that one was, you have to use every trick in your tool box to gain an edge, zigging when your opponents expect you to zag, and that's exactly what Negreanu did on his way to winning a healthy pot. Negreanu shared his thoughts about this intriguing hand with us, lending some insight into his thought process on every street.

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Nick Petrangelo 1,595,000
Daniel Negreanu 1,400,000


Pot Size: 315,000
Action: With the blinds at 25,000/50,000 and a 5,000 ante, Petrangelo made a standard 2.5x opening raise to 125,000 from under the gun. The action folded around to Negreanu, who opted to smooth call with AcAh. 
Negreanu's Analysis: "When I make a play like that, it's to balance my range. I don't reraise from the big blind almost ever, so if I do, people can give me credit for having a really big hand. So when I do have a really big hand, sometimes that means I have to slowplay it and try to get aggressive players to bluff off all their chips to me. If I reraise in this spot, Nick's just going to fold, but if I call, I increase my chances of maximizing my profit on the hand."

FLOP (Kc3h2c)

Pot: 595,000
Action: Negreanu checked, Petrangelo bet 140,000, and Negreanu called.
Negreanu's Analysis: "When you're in the big blind and you called a raise before the flop, you're going to check, no matter what you have. You're never going to bet. And if I check-raise, what's he going to do? Fold. He's got to throw his hand away unless he has a king or better, but if he's got a king or better, he's going to bet again on the turn. So it makes more sense to let him try to bluff me one more time on the turn. If I check-raise him here, then I lose my customer."


Pot: 595,000
Action: Negreanu checked, and Petrangelo checked behind.
Negreanu's Analysis: "I think he thinks that when I called on the flop there was a good chance I had something like K-J or K-Q. I'm not calling with nothing. I'm not going to call with 9-10, so him checking behind me is respect for my call on the flop." 

RIVER (3c)

Pot: 815,000
Action: Negreanu led out with a bet of 110,000, Petrangelo called, Negreanu showed his aces, and Petrangelo folded.
Negreanu's Analysis: "I'm not really worried about getting raised. He checked back the turn, meaning he can't have a full house, right? Because if he had two pair or a set, he would have bet on the turn. So when he checked back the turn and the river comes that card, I know I've got the best hand and I know he's not going to raise me. If I check, I don't think he's going to bite one more time. So I figure, 'Well, if he's got a king or if he's got pocket tens, he might get curious and look me up.'"


As it does with most things, size matters in poker. Negreanu put a lot of thought into the amount he bet on the river, and it paid off when Petrangelo made the call with an inferior hand.

"When I bet 110,000 on the river, I wanted to make it easy for him to call with a really weak hand," Negreanu said. "If wants to be a hero and call with A-Q, A-J, or pocket sevens, I don't want to push him too hard. Also, with a bet that small, I'm kind of hoping that he raises me because I think I'm way ahead of his range. Sometimes when you make that little feeler bet on the river, people see it as weakness and they pounce on it with a bluff. If he'd raised, I definitely would have called. There was no way I was folding. A big raise would have actually made it easier to call because it's what we call a 'bull ride play.' You've either got the nuts, or you've got nothing. Well, in this case there's no way he had the nuts, so it's got to be nothing."
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