At the end of May, the most expensive poker tournament of the year took place at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. The $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl saw 56 players pony up the 300,000 buy-in, which created a prize pool of $16.8 million. More than a third of that prize pool — $6 million — was set aside for the winner.
One player competing for all of that cash was 14-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth, whose only luck that day was bad luck.
In Level 3 of the tournament, action folded to Hellmuth on the button, and he raised to 4,000. Pro Justin Bonomo then three-bet to 16,000 from the small blind. Hellmuth called, and the f lop came down 7♣ 10♣ 9♥.
Bonomo continued for 15,000, Hellmuth raised to 40,000, and Bonomo called to see the Q♥ turn.
After Bonomo checked, Hellmuth slid out a bet of 60,000. Bonomo responded by check-raising all in for 144,000, and Hellmuth snapcalled with the 10♥ 10♠ for the top flopped set.
Much to Hellmuth’s surprise, Bonomo rolled over 8♥ 6♥ for a flopped straight and a heart flush draw. Hellmuth could still win if the board paired on the river, but that didn’t happen, as the useless 3♠ appeared instead.
Hellmuth nursed his short stack for two more levels before busting out to another cooler, this time set over set on the f lop. As for the hand that did the damage, it was a prime example of the benefits that come with three-betting light.
Most players wouldn’t raise with 8-6 suited, especially when out of position. Most players would either fold it straight away or call to see a flop. What Bonomo did is often referred to as “threebetting light,” and it’s a common move by the pros.
By three-betting light, Bonomo is balancing his range. What does that mean exactly? Essentially, he’s showing his opponents that he’s willing to raise a wide variety of hands, whether it be pocket aces or 8-6 suited. When players do this, it becomes difficult to put them on a hand, which makes them harder to play against.
In the Hellmuth versus Bonomo hand, you can’t really blame Hellmuth for getting it in. Even if he had somehow anticipated his opponent three-betting so lightly, the cooler flop ensured that Hellmuth was going to lose a lot of chips.