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Final-Table Takedown -- David Williams

David Williams Leanrs to Value Patience the Hard Way

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Jul 01, 2010


David WilliamsBefore discovering poker, David Williams was an avid Magic: The Gathering competitor. He first splashed onto the poker scene in a big way in 2004 with a runner-up finish for $3.5 million in the World Series of Poker main event. That same year, he raked in $573,800 for a second-place finish to Daniel Negreanu at the WPT Borgata Poker Open. In 2006, he captured a coveted WSOP gold bracelet in a $1,500 seven-card stud event. He has a total of $7,844,089 in lifetime tournament winnings.

Event: 2010 World Poker Tour (WPT) Championship
Players in the Event: 195
Buy-in: $25,000
First Prize: $1,530,537

Hand No. 1

Key Concepts: Putting your opponent on a hand range and acting accordingly; not making hasty decisions

David Williams raises to 80,000 from under the gun with the 10Club Suit 10Heart Suit. Scotty Nguyen calls from the cutoff.

Craig Tapscott: You’re known as a very aggressive player. So, at this point of the tournament, what was your table image?

David Williams: I had not been raising a lot of hands at this point, especially from under the gun. So, when I raised, I was showing a lot of strength.

CT: When Scotty called, did you get any kind of read on his hand?

DW: Scotty had been playing fairly tight. I did notice a lot of thought from him about whether to reraise me or not before he settled on a call. But I knew that he had a strong hand, which I could narrow down to A-Q+ and pairs 7-7+.

David WilliamsFlop: 9Heart Suit 8Club Suit 6Diamond Suit (pot: 225,000)
Williams bets 100,000.

DW: The size of my bet when I made it was so that I could get away if raised. I knew that Scotty would not call me with A-Q or A-K on this flop, especially since there was no flush draw.

Nguyen raises to 300,000. Williams moves all in. Nguyen calls, revealing the 9Club Suit 9Diamond Suit.

DW: When Scotty raised, I made a hasty decision and moved in quickly. Right away, I knew that I’d made a mistake. There is no hand in poker that he is raising me in this situation that I’m beating. If he had 7-7, he would just call me to keep the pot small, as he had not been semibluffing me. And I don’t beat any other pair; any other pair is larger than my tens, or he’s flopped a set.

CT: You seemed to override your initial plan after he raised. It happens to the best of players in the heat of the moment. Where did your wires get crossed?

DW: I should have taken my time and thought of why he was raising and what hands he would do that with that I beat, which was none. I basically went against what I had been doing in every hand up to that point in the tournament, which was taking my time and processing every bit of information given to me before making any play.

Turn: 3Diamond Suit (pot: 2,657,000)
River: 2Heart Suit (pot: 2,657,000)
Nguyen wins the pot of 2,657,000.

Hand No. 2

Key Concepts: Pot control; disguising the strength of your hand

Eric Baldwin raises to 240,000 from the cutoff. Williams calls from the button with the AClub Suit KHeart Suit.

CT: Now you seem to be back in a patient groove, as most amateur players (and most professionals) would salivate at the chance to raise in this spot. What’s your plan with such a big hand at a shorthanded table?

DW: I felt there were many benefits to playing the hand this way. First, I might induce one of the blinds to try to make a squeeze play, and I would have a very good hand to pick him off with. I also felt that I would be able to keep the pot small with a drawing hand. I could three-bet him, but if he called, it would be very hard to play the flop if I didn’t connect, and the pot was now inflated. I also felt there was a huge benefit to how disguised my hand was.

David WilliamsFlop: 3Heart Suit 2Heart Suit 2Diamond Suit (pot: 680,000)

DW: The flop was a fairly good one for my hand.

CT: How so?

DW: Well, I’m beating most hands in his preflop raising range, and it is highly unlikely that his hand contains a deuce or a trey. So, unless he has a pocket pair, I’m pretty sure that I am ahead.

CT: Did you have a solid read on Baldwin’s style at this point in the event?
DW: Actually, Baldwin was playing great, and I felt that he was my toughest competition at the table. He was mixing it up, and I didn’t have that much of a read on him. But it seems that he felt the same about me, as we didn’t play very many pots against each other in the entire tournament, until heads-up play.

Baldwin bets 375,000. Williams calls.

DW: I decided to just call, to continue to control the size of the pot. I also felt that a raise would only enable him to fold hands that I was beating, and I didn’t think he would fold any hands that were beating me.

CT: So many players just love to bet, bet, bet. Can you share in detail the concept of pot control, and how you use it as a powerful tool in your strategy box?

DW: In tournaments, you have to conserve chips while at the same time try to accumulate them. So, you want to be careful not to make mistakes, and also to extract as many chips as you can when you are ahead. There are situations when you have a hand that is strong, such as this one, but it’s not a monster, and your opponent most likely doesn’t have much. If you bet or raise, he doesn’t have much to call you with that you can beat, and you give him the opportunity to get tricky and try to outplay you. In these spots, there is a huge risk in inflating the pot, because you can put yourself in a weird spot in which you have to play a big pot in a marginal situation without a strong enough hand. So, it’s best to keep the pot at a size where you can call and not be put to the test by a worse hand. I read some good advice that kind of applies here: Play big pots with your big hands and small ones with small hands.

Turn: 5Diamond Suit (pot: 1,430,000)

DW: The turn was a great card for me, as it also gave me a straight draw if I was beat, in addition to my two overcards.

Baldwin checks.

DW: When he checked, I was fairly certain that I was winning, and felt that by not betting, I would allow him to have a chance to bluff on the river.

Williams checks.
River: KSpade Suit (pot: 1,430,000)

DW: The river was an absolutely perfect card for me. It gave me the best hand, so now my call was even easier. It also allowed him to possibly represent the hand that I was holding.

Baldwin bets 740,000. Williams calls. Williams flips over the AClub Suit KHeart Suit, and Baldwin mucks. Williams wins the pot of 2,910,000.

CT: What’s your thinking in not putting in a value-raise on the river?

DW: I guess that I could have raised him for value, and perhaps I should have. But I felt that he most likely didn’t have anything he could call with, and I didn’t want to trap myself if he somehow had a very big hand. Spade Suit