With $34.5 million in live earnings (seventh on poker’s all-time money list) and an additional $6.6 million won in online tournaments, David “dpeters17” Peters is widely considered one of the greatest no limit hold’em tournament players of all time.
With a career spanning more than 15 years, he’s still at the very top of the game. Earlier this year (June 2021) Peters won his second consecutive U.S. Poker Open Championship, winning three events for a combined $832,950 and the series trophy.
Peters continues to crush online too, battling in the highest stakes online tournaments running. This is where BBZ coach Jargo “bungakat” Alaväli recently found himself squaring off against Peters.
In this article, we’re going to take a close look at a hand bungakat and Peters played against each other. It’s one of the many hands featured in our BBZ & bungakat: River Decisions video, which you can currently pick up for just $9.99.
Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond (a.k.a. BBZ) breaks down the hand from both player’s perspectives, so let’s get to it.
The hand begins with David Peters opening to 2.2x off a 70-big-blind stack from UTG+1. The lojack calls and it folds around to bungakat in the big blind with 91 big blinds.
Bungakat has 4 ♥ 4 ♦ and makes the call. The flop is great for his hand as it falls K ♣ 4 ♣ 5 ♦ , giving him bottom set.
He checks to Peters who makes a 2.03x continuation bet. The lojack gets out of the way and it’s back on bungakat.
What would you do here?
In BBZ’s opinion, you should be check-raising 95% of the time. “The reason I’d call 5% is that I want to have sets in my check-call range, to deal with really large bets [on future streets]. But I would mostly want to raise and get all the money in. That’s the correct play at 70 big blinds effective.”
Of all the sets that bungakat could have, the bottom set is the one that he should look to play the most aggressively, according to BBZ. If the 5 on the flop was an 8 or a 9 instead–a card that interacts with more of Peters’ opening range–then BBZ would change his strategy and instead raise 100% of the time.
Now let’s think about what Peters could have.
Ask yourself the question: where do his bluffs come from? “They probably come from one-club hands that are broadway,” says BBZ. “If he opened Q J -offsuit, that’s the type of hand that would probably stab here if he had a club.”
But what about bungakat’s bluffs?
If bungakat held a queen-high flush draw, BBZ would just call, as it’s a high-card draw that could sometimes beat bluffs at showdown. If he had the ace-high flush draw, however, then he would check-raise. “It seems kind of obvious, particularly if you also have a gutshot,” he says. “But I’d also check-raise more with 8 ♣ 6 ♣ , 9 ♣ 8 ♣ and even 7 ♣ 3 ♣ .”
Why do we check-raise flush draws here?
With ranges being wide on the flop, there’s more advantage to check-raising your flush draws. You could either win the pot there and then, or you build a pot for when you drill your draw on the turn.
If the turn doesn’t bring a third a club, though, it’s very likely we’ll then have to face a large, potentially pot-size bet. “Most of your flush draws will be counterfeit to a pot-size bet,” says BBZ. “They won’t be able to defend by calling and you’re going to end up converting a decent fraction of those into 2-bets (i.e. raises) on the turn.”
The variations that 2-bet on the turn will mostly be those which can’t call profitably, i.e. those without the additional gutshot outs. While flush draws with gutshots can still call, a flush draw like 9 ♣ 8 ♣ –which doesn’t have a straight draw and doesn’t block our opponent’s bluffs–is more inclined to raise, whereas a flush draw like J ♣ 9 ♣ should probably fold as it blocks our opponent’s bluffs.
This means that on the turn we’re really hoping to dodge all the aforementioned clubs that we could be bluffing with. If one of them arrived on the turn, it would remove some of these potential bluffs from our range, narrowing it down for our opponent.
Now back to the actual hand.
With a set of fours, bungakat is going to raise. But what size should he go for? That all comes down to equity volatility, as BBZ explains:
“Equity volatility means that if the board is going to change a lot as the hand progresses, then you bet bigger immediately. If the board is going to be static, then you go smaller. If the board is A A 7 -rainbow and you’re thinking about check-raising, you check-raise small. But when the board is K ♣ 4 ♣ 5 ♦ two-tone, you check-raise on the larger side.”
In the actual hand, bungakat raises to 7x. “This is a little on the small side,” BBZ suggests. “You probably want to go 8.5x to 10x here.”
Onto the turn.
The turn is the 7 ♠ , which bricks flush draws but puts three to a straight on board. What hands should bungakat barrel with here?
Sets, like the one he has, are definitely in his barreling range. But so are some flush draws, according to BBZ. “On this turn, you barrel a large fraction of your flush draws and fold if he shoves,” he says.
Bungakat bets 14.59x into a pot of 22.1x. While this size seems slightly small for both players in hindsight (they prefer 16x or 17x), it still works geometrically as if Peters calls he will have less than the pot behind.
“I structure my thought process in buckets,” says BBZ. “Anything below a nine is a good card, anything above a ten is a bad card. You can just divide it in half.”
In this instance, low cards are good because the opening range doesn’t improve on the low cards. High cards are bad because the opening range does improve on the high cards.
“A lot of gutshots, open-enders, two pairs etc. improve on a 10 or J turn, but it’s completely stripped on a 7 ,” says BBZ. “So I’d be pushing this card aggressively.”
Peters calls the turn bet and the river is the 9 ♠ , which falls into the low card/good card bucket. For both bungakat and BBZ, this makes it a card you should barrel.
Bungakat shoves, setting Peters all in, and he makes the call.
Now let’s switch to David Peters’ point of view.
He has 5 ♠ 6 ♠ so the flop gives him middle pair with a backdoor straight draw. When he gets check-raised on the flop, he naturally calls as bungakat could be check-raising with the flush draws and bluffs we’ve already mentioned.
The 7 ♠ turn gives him an open-ended straight draw to go along with his pair, so he can comfortably call again on the turn. But the 9 ♠ river leaves him with just fourth pair and he makes a gutsy call all-in.
Why did Peters call?
“His call makes sense as a blocker-oriented call,” explains BBZ. “He blocks 86, 54, K5, 63, and sets of fives. So if he thinks your range is narrow for value betting, it’s a very good call.”
Obviously, we have no idea what stats and history Peters was drawing from to make his decision, but there was certainly something that persuaded him to make the call.
“The problem is you don’t have a lot of bluffs [at this stage of the hand],” BBZ continues. Even some of bungakat’s busted club draws that would have check-raised the flop, like Q ♣ 9 ♣ and Q ♣ 7 ♣ , have now made a pair.
But there are definitely still some bluffs in bungakat’s range, and Peters knows it. Hands like Q ♣ 8 ♣ , Q ♣ 6 ♣ , and Q ♣ 3 ♣ are some that BBZ mentions would play this way.
“He’s probably correct in assuming that your value range is narrow and for that reason 5 ♠ 6 ♠ has some properties that make it more attractive to call with than Kx,” says BBZ. “The caveat to that is that you have been stripped of a large fraction of your bluffs across this runout. You might be bluffing with hands that beat his hand.”
Peters’ call caused quite a stir among bungakat’s Twitch audience, but both BBZ and bungakat agree that it’s a testament to Peters’ skill that he could pull it off.
“His call is good. It’s not an easy call to make,” says BBZ. “It’s not perfect, there are trade-offs, but it’s still reasonable.”
For more interesting hands and tough river decisions, check out the full 65-minute BBZ & bungakat: River Decisions video today.