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Fun hand from the WSOP Main Event

by Jonathan Little |  Published: Jul 10, '17


The World Series of Poker Main Event is upon us, so today I wanted to share a key hand I played in the 2014 WSOP Main Event that propelled me into cashing for $22,678.

On Day 3, I had 100,000 chips (we started the tournament with 30,000 chips) at 2,000/4,000 blinds with a 500. I was fortunate enough to wake up with A-A on the button. Everyone folded around to me and I made my standard raise to two big blinds, 8,000.

I would use this exact same raise size with all of the hands I planned to play, mainly because when I am bluffing, I want to lose the absolute minimum and when I have a premium hand, it will be easy enough to get my entire somewhat short stack in by the river.

The player in the small blind folded and the player in the big blind, an overly loose, aggressive South American player 3-bet to 19,000.  While I could certainly 4-bet if I was confident he had a premium hand that he would not fold to additional aggression, I think a much better play is to call, forcing him to stay in the pot with his entire 3-betting range. In exchange for occasionally getting outdrawn, I give my opponent an additional opportunity to bluff off some chips after the flop. Especially when you have a shallow stack, it is important to get maximum value from your premium hands. The risk of getting outdrawn is worth the potential reward of doubling up or winning a sizable pot.

The flop came 9-8-5. My opponent checked. I decided to bet 16,000 into the 44,500 pot.

While I thought I had the best hand at the moment, there are numerous dicey turn cards that could decrease my hand’s value, mainly a 7 or 6. I also thought that if I bet small enough, my opponent would call or raise with his entire range, meaning he would be putting money in with a wide range of hands that are drawing nearly dead. Notice if I bet large, perhaps 36,000 into the 44,500 pot, my opponent would likely fold all of his unpaired hands, which would be a disaster for me. Notice that the unpaired hands are the ones I really want to keep in. My opponent called my 16,000 bet.

The turn was the (9-8-5)-5. My opponent checked and I decided to bet 21,000 into the 76,500 pot. As on the flop, my hand is almost certainly ahead at the moment and I want to do everything in my power to continue growing the pot while also inducing my opponent to stay in with a wide range that I crush.

Much to my surprise, my opponent instantly went all-in for 41,000 more.

I fully expected to see a fairly strong hand from him, likely top pair or better, and more realistically, an over-pair or trip fives. Despite his likely strong range, I thought my A-A was still in reasonable enough shape, given the amazing pot odds.

I made the call and was shocked (and relieved) to see my opponent show 10-3, for absolutely nothing.

In the Main Event, despite the hefty $10,000 buy-in, you should expect to see some interesting plays. Some players will play blatantly tight and straightforward while others will play like insane maniacs. As long as you are paying attention to what is happening at your table, you can get out of line and make adjustments to take advantage of your opponents’ mistakes. With a bit of luck, their chips will fall into your lap.

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Jonathan Little is a two-time World Poker Tour champion with more than $6 million in tournament winnings.

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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