Patrik Antonius Takes On The WSOP Champ (Analysis)

High Stakes Poker has returned. The show’s 9th season has featured some of the biggest names in poker, including Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Tom Dwan, and many others.

One of the most interesting hands happened in the first episode when poker legend Patrik Antonius squared off against 2021 WSOP Main Event Champion Koray Aldemir in an $80,800 pot.

The stakes are $200/$400 with a $400 big blind ante, and the effective stack size is $95,000.

Without any further ado, let’s run through the hand and break down what happened.

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Preflop

Koray raises to $1,000 with AJ from the Lojack. Patrik 3-bets to $4,000 with KQ from the Small Blind. Koray calls.

Preflop Analysis

Koray should be opening with (roughly) the top 18% of hands from the Lojack, and A J♣ is definitely part of that range. His raise size of around 2.5 big blinds (bb) is appropriate.

Faced with the raise, Patrik’s 3-bet is also correct both size-wise and hand selection-wise with such a strong preflop holding. He is looking to 3-bet with a merged range consisting of about 6% of the strongest preflop hands. King-Queen suited is strong enough to do so.

Against a 4x 3-bet, Koray should defend with around roughly 50% of the opening range. Ace-Jack offsuit should be folded every time here since it is often dominated and he will have many stronger hands to continue with.

Flop

The flop comes J♠ T 3♠. The pot is $8,800.

Patrik c-bets $6,000 with his open-ended straight draw. Koray calls with his top pair top kicker.

Flop Analysis

The Small Blind’s range is much stronger on the Jack-high boards in this positional matchup, which means highly aggressive strategies are called for.

On this specific flop, Patrik has a large range advantage with around 60% equity to Koray’s 40%. This is due to a few reasons:

  • Patrik has Pocket Aces and Kings in his range, which Koray doesn’t have
  • Patrik has more Pocket Queens than Koray (because Koray should be 4-betting some of them)
  • Even Patrik’s minority of missed hands are strong draws (high equity)

For these reasons, combined with the fact that the board is connected, the correct strategy for Patrik is to c-bet with his entire range for a medium-to-large size (50-80% of the pot). This bet will force Koray to fold a lot of his range while also lowering the expected value (EV) of the calling hands (more so than if Patrik used a smaller size).

Koray should absolutely call with his top pair top kicker at this point. Raising for value would be too thin.

Turn

The turn comes the 9, making the board J♠ T 3♠ 9. The pot is $20,800.

Patrik checks with his straight. Koray checks back.

(Remember, Patrik and Koray have K♣ Q♣ and A J♣, respectively.)

Turn Analysis

Patrik got his dream card, for his hand that is.

The 9 is actually a terrible card for his whole range because it gives Koray more nutted hands than it gives him. It also benefits Koray’s range in relative terms (the number of nutted combos divided by the total combos in Koray’s range).

On top of that, they are very deep, having an SPR (stack-to-pot ratio) of 4. For these reasons, Patrik makes the high-level decision to check. What a great play!

Koray also makes a great decision to check back. His hand has implied odds on the river — e.g. should he hit two pair on an Ace, Patrik will likely put in at least one more bet with the many Ace-King combos in his range.

Additionally, while top pair is still a strong hand, it has shriveled up quite a bit on this board runout. This further incentivizes Koray to check.

River

The river comes the A, completing the J♠ T 3♠ 9 Aboard. The pot is $20,800.

Patrik bets $30,000 and Koray calls. Patrik scoops the $80,800 pot.

River Analysis

The Ace is the best card in the deck for Patrik’s range since it improves all of his missed hands to top pair. It also improves AA, AJ-suited, and AT-suited to top set and top 2 pair, respectively.

That being said, those top pairs cannot value-bet, even for a small size, because Koray’s range is also very strong.

The only good option here for Patrik is to press the action to the maximum with an overbet, maybe even an all-in. His value hands should be KQ, JJ, TT, and 99 while his bluffs should be KJ-suited and QJ-suited.

Faced with the overbet, Koray should actually be folding here with his Ace-Jack both from a theoretical perspective and also a practical one. Patrik is a great player, but it is extremely hard to find those KJ-suited and QJ-suited bluffs in practice. And even if Patrik does play those hands this way, Koray would barely be getting good enough pot odds to call.

Final Thoughts

I found Patrik’s decision-making to be really impressive given that the game has evolved a good amount since he first emerged onto the super high stakes scene. It is clear to me that he has been working on his game in the last few years.

That’s all for this analysis guys! I hope you found it insightful and that you learned something new. If you have any hands that you’d like me to analyze let me know in the comment section down below!

Here’s what I recommend reading next: How to Exploit Loose Poker Players Preflop.

Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!

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