The MILLIONS North America Main Event was huge. The prizes were incredible, the players were the type that you remember watching for a long time. Hey, even the stacks were eye-watering at the business end of the tournament.
We take a look at one of the most exciting hands of what was a thrilling final table.
With blinds at 5,000,000/10,000,000/5,000,000, Ruberto raised to 25,000,000 on the button with , into Black’s big blind. Perfectly fine so far, especially at a three handed table any Ace-high is going to be good for an open-raise from the button. Black found in the big blind and elected to 3-bet to 85,000,000. With a hand like pocket jacks, you definitely want to lean more towards 3-betting, as of course you are far ahead of your opponent’s range and want to start extracting value, and you’ll be playing out of position and ideally want the betting lead. Also, Ruberto has many hands that raise on the button that Black has dominated but will continue facing a raise.
First let’s look at Ruberto’s RFI range on the button, 3-handed.
Example Button RFI Range
This equates to around 45% of hands, which I think is a reasonable assumption given his position and the fact that they are 3-handed. He could raise even more hands, but this is a good enough baseline.
Equity vs Button Range
The above image shows our range against Ruberto’s open, and it’s easy to see why a 3-bet is in order.
- Given the stack sizes (noted at the top), Black can 3-bet a linear* range as Ruberto is 2nd in chips and is incentivised not to get into tangles with Black due to ICM.
- A linear (or merged) range describes a range that consists of bluffs, middling value, and the strongest hands. Whereas, a polarized range would only be bluffs or nutted hands, with nothing in between.
Here is an example range of hands that I have assigned as 3-bets for Black, given that Ruberto is under some ICM pressure.
Example 3-Bet Range BB vs Button
You’ll notice hands such as small pairs and low suited connectors are in the range, and the reason 3-betting these hands works well is because of Fold Equity. Black can take the pot down straight away with a 3-bet, where as unless he hits a set or two pair for example, he’s going to find it hard to continue against aggression down the streets. Having hands like these in a 3-betting range also gives us a wide board coverage, allowing us to have strong hands on all board textures.
Ruberto must, of course, continue at least some of the time, as folding all but his nutted hands would make him far too exploitable, so let’s take a look at his continuing range facing a re-raise.
Continuation Range vs 3-Bet
I think this is a fair assumption of hands we can expect Ruberto to continue with, so we’ll dive back into the action with Ruberto calling the 3-bet from Black. The call is a little on the looser side, given the number of hands he can have that play much better down the streets, especially with the Reverse Implied Odds involved as even an Ace-high board couldn’t leave him feeling too comfortable.
The final three players at MILLIONS North America's Main Event gather for the photographers
Black flopped massive, making the nuts with top set while Ruberto had little but an over-card and a potential backdoor straight draw. Black elected to check his option to Ruberto, which I quite like. With the absolute Nutella’s on such a dry board, mixing in a strategy of checking and betting works well as you can also mix in some of his smaller pairs and over-card hands. Ruberto will have plenty of suited 67, 65, 9T, KQ type hands as well that would work well as flop bets but might fold to a c-bet, so giving him some rope is a good tactic. Ruberto did indeed bite, betting 25,000,000 into the 180,000,000 pot. A very small bet size, but if you are going to bet here then adopting a small sizing strategy works well. It simply doesn’t make too much sense betting large on such a dry texture, and this small sizing gives him a good price on his bluffs whilst also allowing him to extract value from his opponents Ace-high holdings and weak pairs when Ruberto does actually have a hand.
Interestingly, Black puts in a large check-raise to 135,000,000. Ruberto is now in a tough spot, as would Black ever check-raise a nutted hand here? It’s such a dry board, and after initially telling a story of weakness, Ruberto could be forgiven for thinking Black is trying to steal the pot. Having said that, Ruberto had one of the worst hands he could have here and could find better hands to continue with. He disagreed though and elected to call, what do I know?
The turn card gives Ruberto a gut-shot straight draw, and Black checks the action over to him. It looked like he’d given up on the pot, as he’d check-raised a small bet on the flop and would certainly have some give-ups in his range. It makes sense to mix in his strongest hands here, because if he only ever checked with his give-ups, Ruberto could bluff 100% of the time when checked to, which is exactly what he did.
Ruberto was left with a pot-sized bet behind, and with his over card and gut-shot straight draw decided to move all-in. Having a 7 in his hand of course blocked Black from having the nuts, so if you are going to get to the turn here with A7, it’s probably not the worst hand for him to have bluffed with. Unfortunately for him, Black was never going to fold top set and snapped him off. Disaster for Ruberto, who’d gone from a comfortable 2nd in chips to busting out as the hit the river.
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