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Run it Twice -- Alec Torelli

Torelli Walks Us Through A No-Limit Hold'em Cash-Game Hand

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Alec Torelli
Alec Torelli, also known as “Traheho” online, came up the ranks as a cash-game pro but quickly caught the tournament bug after winning the Full Tilt Online Poker Series III main event for more than $288,000. Since then, he’s accumulated almost $1.4 million in winnings, and even more in cash games.

Torelli sat down with Card Player to talk about an interesting no-limit hold’em hand he played at Bellagio.

The Game
Game: No-limit hold’em
Blinds: $25-$50
Ante: $100 on Big Blind
Table: Nine-handed

Key Concepts:

  • Don’t be afraid to go with your read

Run It Twice — Review of the Hand

Kristy Arnett: Tell me how the game has been going up to this point.

Alec Torelli: I had just started playing this session, but I knew a lot of people at my table, and they knew me from previous sessions. Even though the game just started, they knew that I had a tendency to play a lot of hands and that I was pretty aggressive. I’d only played a few rounds up to this point, but I was involved in a lot of pots, and seemed to be playing pretty loose. I really wasn’t, I had some pretty big hands, but from everyone else’s perspective, I was playing pretty crazy.

Preflop and Flop Action: Hero raises in the cutoff to $300 with KHeart Suit 2Heart Suit. Villain calls on the button, as do the small and big blinds, bringing the pot to $1,300. The flop comes 8Heart Suit 6Heart Suit 5Club Suit. Small blind, big blind, and Hero check. Villain bets $800. Small and big blind fold, and Hero calls. The pot is now $2,900.

KA: Why did you decide to check here instead of continuation-betting?

AT: I was going to bet a normal continuation here, since I have a flush draw, but I felt like with both the blinds calling, and the button calling, that flop hit a lot of their hands, and no one really folds in live poker to a continuation-bet. I just checked to try to see a free card. Also because, if I check, no one will put me on a flush if I hit it, because they would all think I would bet the flop. I thought it was kind of deceptive, because most of the time when I check the flop there, I’m just going to fold. The guy on the button who bet is kind of a tricky player, but I feel like I have a good read on him and how he plays some of his hands.

Turn Action: The turn is the 2Club Suit. The board now reads 8Heart Suit 6Heart Suit 5Club Suit 2Club Suit. Hero checks, and Villain bets $2,000. Hero calls. The pot is now $6,900.

AT: If I didn’t hit the deuce, I might fold here, but I decided to stick around because he could be betting a lot of worse hands like 10-9, or any suited 7 of hearts, or like J-10 of hearts. So, a lot of times he’s going to be betting a worse hand, and if he does have a better hand, I still have a pretty good amount of outs. I was likely checking the river again if I hit my hand to disguise it.

River Action: The river was the ADiamond Suit. The board now reads 8Heart Suit 6Heart Suit 5Club Suit 2Club Suit ADiamond Suit. Hero checks and Villain goes all in for $11,500. Hero calls. Villain shows 6Spade Suit 4Spade Suit for a pair of sixes. Villain wins the pot of $29,900.

KA: Why did you decide to call?

AT: He’s not the type of player who would ever make a really thin overbet for value. I don’t think he would do this with two pair or a set, unless he had top set. I really thought he was bluffing. I thought he missed hearts, or that he missed clubs, or that he was on a total bluff with like Q-J. I thought for a long a time, and I just thought he was tyring to get me to fold J-J. I just didn’t think he was betting that much money with anything but a bluff or 9-7 for the nuts and maybe 7-4. Still, even with the nuts, I thought he’d bet like $5,000 to try and get paid off. I just couldn’t see a single hand he’d bet $11,000 with besides a bluff, so I called. It was kind of depressing. I made the right read in a huge pot, but it was unfortunate that he was bluffing, but with a better hand.

KA: Do you think that the river ace kind of helped you determine that he was bluffing, because it seems like that is a card that a lot of players will bluff on. Since you were calling down, he’d think that you wouldn’t have an ace and you might put him on a hand like A-6 or A-8.

AT: Yep, that’s exactly what I was thinking. Basically, I didn’t think he’d put me on an ace, and that he was trying to represent at least two pair to be able to bet on that card. I just didn’t think he would make that bet with a hand like that.

KA: What would have done differently looking back now? Do you think you would have check-raised on the flop or turn?

AT: Well, I really didn’t want to check-raise at any point, because if he’s betting the flop with a big draw, two pair, a set, or a straight, he’s never folding. I also feel like he’d call at least one bet anyway, so if I check-raised his flop bet of $800 to $3,000, he’s going to flat there with a wide range of his hands, which puts me in a really tough spot on the turn. It would make it really hard for me to continue if I missed my hand, especially since we were kind of deep. If he had only $5,000, I might just check-raise the flop and get it in with the flush draw. I don’t know if I really dislike the way I played it. The only questionable part, of course, is on the river. I could have folded. I just really thought he was bluffing, and he was. I would like to think that since he was essentially bluffing with this hand, that he would bluff with a missed straight draw, a missed flush draw, or just complete air. So, I don’t really hate my play.

KA: Even though you didn’t win the pot, but you made the right read, how important is it to not be results-oriented and to keep honing in on your instincts at the table by going with your read?

AT: It’s really important, especially because it’s how you sort of calibrate and learn how you decide if your plays are correct. When you call and you get information one way or the other, it’s good to learn from it. It’s important to go with your read because in the times when you don’t know what to do, it’s your instinct that is most likely going to lead you to the right decision.