Did "Blockers" Concept Cost Poker Vlogger Thousands of Dollars on Hustler Casino Live?

Pocket aces doomed Mariano Grandoli during Friday’s Hustler Casino Live stream in a $295,000 pot against Dan “Jungleman” Cates, who rivered a flush. But would the poker vlogger have saved the $85,000 river bet if not for holding an important blocker?

Before we show you the hand in question, Cates told PokerNews that he believes Mariano’s play was game theory optimal (GTO) and that it was the correct decision. And we certainly aren’t about to question the poker strategy of one of the best in the game who just so happens to be a likely future Poker Hall of Famer. That said, here is the hand:

With the blinds at $400/$800, Jungleman opened to $2,600 from the hijack with KQ before Mariano three-bet to $8,500 in the cutoff with AA. A call was made and the flop came out 4QJ, pretty much ensuring there’d be some blood on this hand.

After Cates checked the flop, the preflop aggressor continued with a $13,000 wager and received a call. Following the uneventful 2 on the turn, action again went check-bet-call, this time for $40,000, creating a pot of $125,000.

When the 8 on the river completed Jungleman’s flush, he checked for a third time, hoping to set the trap. His opponent obliged with an all-in shove for $85,000. Cates, who booked a $148,000 win on the session, snap-called and took down the $295,000 pot.

Was it Possible to Get Value on the River?

There was some discussion on social media about Mariano’s decision to bet on the river in position. He could have cut his losses short by just checking. Of course, it’s easy to say for those who saw the hole cards during the live-stream.

Mike Matusow is one of the poker players on X who criticized the jam.

Much of the discussion centered around Mariano, who lost $200,000 overall Friday night, holding the A, a key blocker because having that card made it impossible for Cates to have the nut flush, and also less likely that he had any sort of flush. Those who approved of the play referred to that blocker as their reasoning, and it does seem logical.

But others argued that there weren’t many hands for pocket aces to extract value from. Doug Polk said the attempt at getting maximum value was “too thin.”

“He’s actually not that likely to be beat because he blocks tons of flushes, but there isn’t enough hands to call him,” the Upswing Poker founder argued.

“I def didn’t see that all In coming and I can’t even think of a good reason to make that all in bet there.. you’re either beat or u can maybe extract a little value from top pair… not worth even betting in that spot. Am I missing something?” @CODEiNEROBiNSON questioned.

“Everyone here talking shit like they wouldn’t lose as much. Or they somehow always check back the river 100%. Ya right y’all,” @DougFMoeller tweeted.

Most poker players agreed that Mariano could only extract value from AxQx, KxQx, and maybe AxJx or similar hands. It’s possible that the vlogger would have checked back the river if his pocket aces didn’t include the A. Or, perhaps he just felt it was unlikely his opponent had an over pair to the board beat.

Vote below to share your thoughts on Mariano’s river jam.

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