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Welcome to the Jungle, ‘Durrrr’

by Daragh Thomas |  Published: Nov 01, 2010


Early last year Tom “durrrr” Dwan issued a challenge to the rest of the poker community. He would put up $1.5 million dollars to his opponents $500,000. They would then play 50,000 hands of either no-limit hold’em, or pot-limit Omaha, with blinds of at least $200-$400. Whoever was ahead at the end of the 50,000 hands would then win the stake, as well as whatever money they won throughout the challenge.

Patrick Antonius took up the challenge and now Tom is playing Daniel “Jungleman” Cates, who has a reputation as one of the best modern heads-up players around. He is relatively new to the scene, having had a meteoric rise through the stakes over the last two years. Before the match the betting had durrrr as a favourite, but after just under 7,000 hands, Jungleman is $690,000 in profit, making him the new favourite.

They have played several interesting hands already, the one I’m going to discuss is actually very unusual for a number of reasons. For one thing there is no action on the flop or turn, and all of the interesting action takes place on the river.

They are playing $200-$400 no-limit hold’em. Jungleman opens the button, making it $1,200, durrrr three-bets to $3,600. Jungleman calls. To this point durrrr has been three-betting preflop considerably less than Jungleman. Although durrrr has been three-betting less than Jungleman, both the players’ ranges are pretty wide here.

The flop is K♣ 10♥ 2♥ and goes check, check. Usually when the preflop aggressor checks in durrrr’s spot he has some showdown value (assuming he is competent). This can mean anything from a weak king, a ten, a lower pair, to possibly ace high. It can also be someone giving up, although that is relatively rare.

The turn is the 5♥. Again it goes check, check. Again the player in durrrr’s position will usually not check here unless he has some showdown value (which means he has a good chance of winning a showdown unimproved). He is quite likely to bet a wide range of hands here since he is very unlikely to get raised. (A raise from the player in Jungleman’s position would be very weird since he checked the flop back.)

The river is the 7♥. Durrrr leads out for $4,800. Jungleman makes it $15,600. Durrrr then makes it $32,600. Tom’s initial bet could mean anything, from a pure value bet with a high heart, thin value with a medium or low heart, or a bluff with a hand with no showdown value. A half-pot bet is reasonably likely to get called, so he is probably unlikely to be turning pairs into bluffs, since they might win a showdown anyway. Given his action on the previous streets this initial bet doesn’t look very likely to be a bluff. (Although at hands played at these stakes the players will often surprise you. If they didn’t they would be more readily beatable!)

Before we go any further it’s also important to note that neither player probably has the K♥ since that would have been bet for value earlier in the hand (given the king on the board). So when Jungleman raises it looks like he either has the nuts (the Ah or nothing. This type of range is said to be polarised, comprising both very strong and very weak hands, but nothing in between. It is usually profitable to bluff against a polarised range, since it is quite hard to have the nuts in hold’em, and usually at least half of your opponents range can never call you.

So durrrr’s range when he raises Jungleman is also very polarised, he would just call if he could beat a bluff and felt Jungleman was likely to be bluffing a lot. There would be no value in durrrr raising the Q♥ here, since Jungleman would be unlikely to call with worse. That explains what happens next, where Jungleman flat calls with the nut-flush. This is the type of situation you see often at low stakes, where a player flat calls with the nuts closing the action, and it’s usually a pretty bad mistake. Here it’s fine though, Jungleman would be well aware that durrrr will not call any further bets without the nuts, and since he has it, durrrr can’t.

He traded in the tiny chance of durrrr mis-clicking for the information of getting to see his hand. I would imagine this is because he was intrigued as to what hand durrrr could have (9♠-3♠) after such a weird line.

Phil Galfond, another successful high stakes regular, who is also a personal friend of durrrr, was watching the match and sharing his thoughts. He commented that durrrr seemed to be giving up on a lot of pots, something that may come to haunt him as the match progresses. In the hand above he may have been better off trying to take the pot down at an earlier, cheaper juncture than the river. ♠

Daragh Thomas has made a living from poker over the last three years. He also coaches other players and writes extensively on the poker forum, under the name hectorjelly.