Xuan Liu Struggles Facing a Massive River Overbet

xuan liu struggles

5 minutes

Last Updated: April 21, 2024

The hand I’ll be analyzing today comes from the Lodge live stream and features Xuan Liu and Tito. Both players are regular features at the Lodge and they probably know a little bit about each other’s playing style.

In this hand, blinds are $25/$50, with the $50 big blind ante, and Tito is in the $100 straddle. He is also the effective stack, with $41,575 to start.

Preflop Play

The action folds to Xuan Liu in the cutoff, who looks down at Q8 and raises to $300. It folds to Tito, who finds AJ in the straddle.

After a short think, Tito 3-bets to $900 and Liu quickly makes the call, creating the pot of $1,925 going to the flop.

Preflop Analysis

Liu is in the cutoff with Q8, and she makes a perfectly standard raise. The 3x sizing is fairly standard as well with the big blind ante in play, but given how deep the players are, going a bit bigger, like 3.5x, would be reasonable as well.

When the action folds to Tito, and he looks down at the hand as strong as AJ in the straddle, 3-betting is pretty much mandatory. He’ll likely have a fair number of bluffs in his 3-betting range from the straddle, so he certainly wants to go for it with his big hands.

However, $900, which is three times the original raise, is probably a bit too small. Liu will have a position for the rest of the hand, so Tito should make a bigger raise to make the call less appealing. Something in the $1,200 – $1,500 region seems very reasonable.

Flop Play

The flop comes Q85, giving Xuan Liu the top two pair while Tito picks up the flush draw. First to act, Tito fires a small continuation bet of $600.

Liu goes ahead and raises to $2,000 with her top two. Tito then 3-bets to $7,500, and after a short think, Liu makes the call. The pot grows to $16,925.

Flop Analysis

The board of Q85 is pretty dynamic, and it happens to hit both players pretty hard, announcing some big action ahead.

Tito starts with a rather small c-bet of under one-third of the pot. Small flop continuation bets have become the norm in modern poker, so his play is perfectly standard.

Liu has found an above-average flop for her hand, but it is a dynamic board with straight and flush draws. Her raise to $2,000 thus makes sense, as she wants to build the pot while she is pretty comfortable she has the best hand.

When the action gets back to Tito, he has the option of calling or folding. Drawing to the nuts, he can certainly apply a lot of pressure on the opponent, and that’s the route he takes, 3-betting to $7,500.

xuan liu struggles in a big pot

The sizing is on the bigger side, but since he is out of position, he certainly wouldn’t mind getting the fold from his opponent and picking up the pot without any further action.

As the action gets back to Liu, she is in a bit of a tough spot. Tito’s flop 3-bet represents a rather narrow range. He can have a strong draw or a hand like pocket queens or pocket eights, both of which can easily be in his 3-betting range.

Her hand is strong right now, but quite vulnerable, so jamming is certainly an option. She opts for a less volatile approach, though, looking for a safe turn card, which is perfectly reasonable.

Turn Play

The turn comes 4, creating the board of Q854. Tito now decides to slow down and check, and Xuan follows suit and checks back.

Turn Analysis

The 4 on the turn is one of the scariest cards in the entire deck, completing the flush draw and the only open-ended straight draw.

The card improves Tito to the nuts, but he probably realizes that it is not his opponent’s favorite card. So, he decides to go for a tricky approach and checks. This is definitely a non-standard play, as betting small would be a more conventional approach. But he seems to have a plan for the river.

For Liu, there is absolutely no reason to do anything but check back on this turn. By doing so, she controls the size of the pot and she gets to see the free river and potentially improve.

River Play

The final card off the deck is 5, finishing the board of Q8545. With $16,925 in the middle, Tito decides to go for a huge over-bet, moving all in for $33,275 – more than two times the pot.

Xuan takes a long time to make her decision but eventually tosses in the call and is shown the bad news when Tito turns over the nut flush to win the $83,475 pot.

River Analysis

The 5 is a board-pairing card, making some full houses possible. Tito doesn’t seem worried about the fact, as he makes a huge over-bet, which was probably his plan for most rivers.

It is true that Xuan doesn’t have many full houses in this spot. Pocket queens are out of the question, as she would almost certainly 4-bet that hand before the flop. This leaves pocket eights and a few combos of 8-5, which she would likely play exactly the same.

The shove seems very ambitious, though, as Q-8 and 6-7 might be the only hands that Liu calls with that are actually behind the flush. It’s hard to imagine that she would find a call with a hand like K-Q or Q-J on such a scary-looking board and facing a massive over-bet.

Liu struggles with the decision and eventually makes the call, but given the action and the board texture, fold seems like a more reasonable option. Except for a bluff with some completely random hand, it’s hard to find a hand that Tito does this with that she’s ahead of.

Even if he was bluffing with a hand like A5 on the flop, which would make some sense given the turn action, he gets there on the river. All the most obvious draws got there on the turn as well.

A couple of hands that he could be turning into a big river bluff are 109 and J10, but that’s a very small number of combos, and it would be a very unusual and ambitious way of playing them.

It seems like his big over-bet worked, though, as it threw Liu off as she probably didn’t think he’d do it with the flush once the board pairs, and she was holding blockers for both sets on the flop.

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