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Poker Strategy – EPT London Champion Aaron Gustavson

Gustavson Talks About Two Key Hands With Peter Eastgate Where He Check-Raised the River

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Aaron GustavsonAaron “aguskb” Gustavson came into the final table of the 2009 EPT London main event with a sizeable chip lead and hung on to take the title, along with £850,000 and a seat to the EPT Championship in Monte Carlo.

However, the wire-to-wire victory was anything but easy and Gustavson had to hold off several opponents along the way, most notably reigning WSOP main event winner Peter Eastgate.

A the final table, Gustavson and Eastgate squared off twice in pivotal hands that saw the momentum switch. On both of those occasions, Gustavson fired in a river check-raise. The first time he was unsuccessful, but the second time gave him an insurmountable advantage and everything he needed for the win.

In this interview, Gustavson takes us through both hands and explains his thought process.

Hand No. 1 – That Should Have Worked…

Event – Blinds/Antes EPT London 40,000-80,000 with a 5,000 ante
Player Aaron Gustavson Peter Eastgate
Chip Count 6.7 million 3.8 million
Hand 6-5 8-8

Peter Eastgate raised to 190,000 from early position and Aaron Gustavson made the call in the big blind. The flop came out AClub Suit 7Heart Suit 3Club Suit and both players checked.

The turn was the 6Heart Suit and Gustavson checked once again. Eastgate fired out 200,000 and Gustavson called. The river was the 8Heart Suit.

Gustavson checked and Eastgate thought it over for a bit before betting 400,000. Gustavson took his time and then pushed a stack of 1 million over the line.

Eastgate took his time before making the call and showing pocket eights for a rivered set. Gustavson mucked his hand but later confessed to holding 6-5 for a turned pair and busted straight draw.

The Analysis

Peter EastgateThe flop gave me a gutshot and it went check, check. I paired on the turn and check-called planning to take it away on the river, depending on what came. When the eight hit the river, I thought it was the perfect card, considering it was a heart I could represent and it didn’t look like it hit his range too hard. Little did I know he hit his set.

I was a bit unlucky in that regard. I think almost any other river card I can get him to lay his hand down. Unless of course he decides to check it back, but I think he would fire again on the river most times even if he didn’t spike the eight. Not to mention that he doesn’t always have to have a hand there and my pair of sixes has some showdown value when he checks behind

Hand No. 2 – Letting Him Fire One More Time

Event – Blinds/Antes EPT London 80,000-160,000 with a 20,000 ante
Player Aaron Gustavson Peter Eastgate
Chip Count 14.1 million 7.9 million
Hand A-5 K-X

Peter Eastgate raised on the button and Aaron Gustavson called in the big blind. The flop came down QClub Suit 5Spade Suit 2Spade Suit and Eastgate continued with a bet of 370,000.

Gustavson called and the turn was the KClub Suit. Eastgate bet 725,000 and Gustavson once again made the call.

The river was the 5Heart Suit and Gustavson checked. Eastgate fired in a bet of 1,135,000 and Gustavson tanked for a bit. When he made his decision, he raised to 3,300,000. Eastgate agonized over the decision for quite some time with nearly a third of his stack in the pot.

Finally, he let it go, conceding the pot and big chip advantage to Gustavson.

The Analysis

Aaron GustavsonEastgate was definitely my strongest competition at the table and it didn’t help that he was sitting on my left the entire time. I didn’t expect heads-up play to go so quickly, but I knew that we were both more than capable of getting it in light against each other considering how aggressive we are.

I had A-5. He’s very aggressive and willing to bluff a good amount. My plan going into it was to check-call a lot, keep the pots small and let him do the betting for me. To be honest, my pair of fives is probably good their most of the time even without making trips. I mean, he said he had a king and I believe him, but it’s not a hand that’s going to show up all that often.

If it was a blank and he bet, I would’ve been in a tough spot to make the call. I think that leading the river gives away my hand, so I thought I’d let him take another stab at the pot. Check-raising definitely looks bluffier and given our history with that first hand we played, I thought there was a good chance he’d pay me off this time. Instead, he made a good lay down. Fortunately, the pot was big enough to give me a big chip advantage.