Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine

Final Table Takedown: Bryan Piccioli Ramps Up the Aggression and Applies Pressure at the Final Table

Final Table Takedown: Bryan Piccioli Ramps Up the Aggression and Applies Pressure at the Final Table

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Jul 13, 2011


Bryan PiccioliBryan Piccioli is a 21-year-old poker pro from Buffalo, New York, currently residing in New York City. Specializing mainly in online multitable tournaments, he has recently begun expanding his horizons into the live-tournament arena. His biggest score came in February of this year when he chopped the Full Tilt Online Poker Series $2,100 two-day event for $282,245. He also has made some good runs in live $10,000 tournaments, including the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, EPT Monte Carlo, and WPT Foxwoods events. Piccioli has more than $3.7 million in online- and live-tournament career cashes.

Event Full Tilt Poker no-limit hold’em
Buy-in $150
Players in the Event 4,474
First Place $119,752
Finish Third

Hand No. 1

The villain raises to 68,000 from early position.

Craig Tapscott: What do you know about the villain at this point?

Bryan Piccioli: He’s definitely a competent player. I know that he has won a big online tournament in the past, so I know that he can handle the pressure of a big final table.

CT: You came to this final table as the chip leader. What’s the plan?

BP: When I have a big chip lead at the start of the final table, I want to apply a lot of pressure to the other stacks that are above average. I know that they can’t really put a lot of their stack at risk in marginal spots, because of the other short stacks.
Bryan Piccioli reraises to 156,565 with the 10Heart Suit 8Heart Suit from the hijack position.

BP: These are the kinds of hands that I like to three-bet in this spot — suited connectors and hands that flop well when I’m in position. My three-bet size here is to a little less than five big blinds, which is somewhat small, in retrospect. But his open was just a min-raise, and I think it accomplishes the same thing as a bigger three-bet. With this sizing, an opponent is going to flat-call a lot, and you will have position and the initiative on the flop.

The villain calls.

Flop: 10Spade Suit 7Club Suit 2Diamond Suit (pot: 379,130)

The villain checks.

BP: I now have top pair on quite a dry flop. Determining the bet-sizing on the flop is really important, in my opinion.

Piccioli bets 98,565.

CT: Why so small?

BP: You’re right, this is pretty small compared to what I would continuation-bet normally in a spot like this. I really don’t want to get check-raised here. Sometimes I even check these flops back.

CT: Really? Explain.

BP: Well, it might sound crazy to three-bet light with a hand like 10-8 suited after flopping top pair, which is pretty much the best-case scenario. The bad thing about checking back the flop here is that there are a lot of scare cards on the turn that hit my opponent’s range. I think by betting quite small here, about 25 percent of the pot, it gets my opponent to just check-call or check-fold the majority of his range. You shouldn’t be getting check-raised on flops like this too often.

The villain calls.

Turn: 8Spade Suit (pot: 576,260)

The villain checks. Piccioli bets 265,265.

BP: I decide to put out a decent-sized bet this time, a bit less than half the pot. I know at this point that if he calls, the pot is at about 1.1 million on the river, and his stack would be around 875,000. This sets up a nice-size river jam, depending on what the river card is.

The villain calls.

CT: What hand range are you putting him on?

BP: His range here consists mainly of one-pair hands. It could be hands like 7-6 suited, 9-7 suited, 9-8 suited, 10-9, J-10, Q-10, K-10, A-10, and pocket pairs like 8-8, 9-9, and maybe even J-J. The turn also brings a second spade, so he could’ve picked up a flush draw with his suited-connector hands.

River: QHeart Suit (pot: 1,106,790)

The villain checks.

CT: How do you feel about this river card?

BP: There are a lot worse rivers, but this river could be a potential scare card for him and we may not get paid off big now. If he’s check-calling the flop and the turn with a lot of one-pair hands, he’s not likely to call an all-in bet with almost 900,000 still in his stack on the river, mainly because if he folds, he’d still be in the top five in chips. When he’s check-calling with these one-pair hands, he’s hoping that a decent percentage of the time, I’m barreling with hands such as A-Q, K-Q, Q-J, and so on — and I would get there on the river with those hands.

CT: So, how can you squeeze value out of your hand at this point?

BP: I decided to go for a somewhat small value-bet instead of jamming.

Piccioli bets 345,685.

BP: This bet leaves him with about 530,000 if he calls and is wrong. At this point, he can still afford to try to make a hero-call on me and be in decent contention at the final table. I think that in these spots, it’s best to leave your opponent some chips behind, because he’s way more likely to pay off a value-bet really light than pay off an all-in bet.

The villain tanks and then calls, and reveals the 5Diamond Suit 5Heart Suit. Piccioli wins the pot of 1,798,160.

Hand No. 2

CT: What are the final-table dynamics between you and the villain?

BP: The villain in this hand is very aggressive, and my image is also pretty crazy. This happens pretty frequently when you get two active players playing deep-stacked poker three-handed at the end of a tournament. In this scenario, fireworks are sure to be set off.

Bryan Piccioli raises to 230,230 from the small blind with the AClub Suit 10Diamond Suit.

BP: Usually, I’m not a very big fan of A-10, especially when it’s offsuit. But in a spot like this, I was very happy with the blind-versus-blind situation in a three-handed format with the dynamics that I had going with the villain. From the small blind, I usually raise about 2.3 to 2.5 times the big blind, but we are very deep. In these instances, I like making a little bit bigger raise to discourage him from resisting too much.

The villain reraises to 629,963 from the big blind.

BP: This is a pretty big three-bet, considering that he’s in position; it’s a reraise of almost triple my bet, which was pretty uncommon for him. I wasn’t sure if it meant strength or weakness. One thing I did know is that folding was out of the question. My A-10 offsuit is just too good a hand to consider folding to a single three-bet, given the dynamics at this point. The options here were: call, go all in, or four-bet to induce a bluff-shove.

CT: So, in this spot, folding is absolutely out of the question?

BP: Yes. I think flat-calling is, as well. As I explained earlier, A-10 is a hand that I hate playing when deep-stacked and out of position, especially in a three-bet pot when my opponent is the aggressor. So, I immediately ruled out folding and flat-calling as options. This left jam or four-bet to induce a shove.

CT: What’s the main factor that your decision comes down to?

BP: Pretty much what it came down to was how high a percentage of the time I thought this guy would five-bet all in as a bluff. After thinking back to the first hand of the final table, when he called a massive overbet-shove on an A-6-6-5-3 board containing three clubs with just 10-10, I knew that he wasn’t afraid to put his stack on the line in a marginal spot. He had three-bet me on more than one occasion, and vice versa. To me, everything led to the fact that inducing was the better option here. Yes, I know that A-10 offsuit is not the best hand to do this with, and probably is at the very bottom of my four-bet/calling range, but I think it was the better option, given our history.

Piccioli reraises to 1,234,567. The villain shoves all in.

BP: At this point, I’m not ecstatic about the whole thing. I would’ve been perfectly content with a fold, but I made this four-bet to try to induce him to bluff, so of course I snap-call.

Piccioli calls. The villain reveals the KHeart Suit KDiamond Suit.

BP: Oops! Even in this instance, where he basically has the nuts, I still have almost 30 percent equity.

Flop: QHeart Suit 8Diamond Suit 5Heart Suit (pot: 9,376,224)

Turn: JSpade Suit (pot: 9,376,224)

River: 8Heart Suit (pot: 9,376,224)

The villain wins the pot of 9,376,224.

CT: Any regrets on how this hand played out after thinking it over again?

BP: Maybe just shove all in instead of trying to induce. With the other player sitting with less than 3 million in chips, the villain probably won’t five-bet all in light as often as I originally thought. ♠