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What’s up #EliteMafia! I hope everyone has had a great week and is staying safe and healthy during this crazy time in our lives. Jesse Weller has been doing a fantastic job with hand analysis in his recent articles, if you have not read them yet, I suggest you do. His articles led me to go back in time and revisit a hand I played in 2011, one that I have thought about many times since then.
This was before what poker the community refers to as Black Friday, which occurred on April 15, 2011 when the United States Department of Justice issued an indictment against the three largest online poker websites in the country, shutting them down immediately. One of the best ways to learn before all of this was in forums because some of the best players in the world at the time would provide FREE analysis on hand history, which was really helpful in improving your game. I took full advantage of this once I decided to take poker a bit more seriously, and the results followed.
Before we jump into the actual hand, let’s go over some of the important information that we have at hand to make the decision. This was Day 2 of a $200 6-max mini FTOPS event 40 (Full Tilt Online Poker Series) and we were already in the money with 125 left out of 3,274 entries. The top prize was six figures (looked for the exact number but could not find it, sorry) and current cash line was $576.
Let’s take a look below to see how the hand starts to play out. Please note, I have bolded myself (Armando) and the player that was involved in the hand who I will refer to as the “Villain”.
Full Tilt Poker Game #29192835849: MiniFTOPS Event #40 (2-Day) (209629767), Table 196 – 1000/2000 Ante 250 – No Limit Hold’em – 14:48:04 ET – 2011/03/20
Seat 1: Armando2833 (218,271)
Seat 2: I The King I (VILLAIN) (309,052)
Seat 3: donkeyslayer84 (478,088)
Seat 4: pedobear91 (119,987)
Seat 5: mzungu (104,539)
Seat 6: JMaryN (115,875)
Armando2833 antes 250
I The King I antes 250
donkeyslayer84 antes 250
pedobear91 antes 250
mzungu antes 250
JMaryN antes 250
mzungu posts the small blind of 1,000
JMaryN posts the big blind of 2,000
The button is in seat #4
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Armando2833 [Qs Qd]
Armando2833 raises to 5,000
I The King I has 15 seconds left to act
I The King I raises to 12,000
mzungu has 15 seconds left to act
Armando2833 has 15 seconds left to act…..
I had been playing with the Villain for some time now and he had been very active, three-betting a lot pre-flop. Unfortunately, he was not getting a ton of action, therefore he did not have to show his hands, leaving us with little information about his three-betting range. My image was pretty tight at this table as I was not opening a ton of hands, I three-bet a very low percentage of hands, and only four-bet once (not against Villain). Essentially, I was picking and choosing my spots wisely and never getting out of line. Not once did I get caught bluffing either at this table.
As you can see from the table I was in, everyone is pretty deep as far stack sizes are concerned. Nobody at the table had less than 50 big blinds and I myself had 109 big blinds. Needless to say, this tournament had a great structure and it played very deep.
I get dealt QQ and make it 5,000 (2.5X), which at the time was a standard raise. Villain three-bets me to 12,000 and now I am faced with a decision. Let’s take a look at the options at hand.
Fold – this is not an option for me here at all. QQ is just too strong of a hand to fold here after just a three-bet, especially six handed and versus a player who has been very aggressive thus far. There are just two hands beating me at this time, AA and KK, and the chances of him having either of these hands are slim.
Flat Call – Flatting here is a strong option for a couple of reasons. For starters, you disguise the strength of your hand. In addition, you already have a made hand and can reevaluate the situation on the flop based on the board and your opponents betting. If he is holding hands such as – JJ, TT, or 99 – you are likely getting more money out of him with a good flop, potentially playing for stacks in a situation where you are a big favorite. If you are up against AQ or AK, your opponent is likely going to toss a continuation bet, which then a check raise will take place by me on a non-ace or king board and I would be able to increase my stack by a decent percentage by taking it down right then and there. If an ace or a king peel on the flop, well then, I can see what my opponent does and figure out what to do from there.
Four Bet – Considering the table dynamics at the time – my image of being tight, villains’ image of being very aggressive, stack sizes, and being 6-handed – a four-bet is also an option here. For starters, I could get him to fold hands that could potentially flop well against mine that he will likely not call a four-bet with. Secondly, considering how aggressive he has been, I could be inducing more chips from an inferior hand if he elects to call and play a flop with me.
What happened next…
Armando2833 raises to 28,999
I The King I has 15 seconds left to act
I The King I has requested TIME
I The King I raises to 66,666
Armando2833 has 15 seconds left to act
Armando2833 has requested TIME…..
I decided to go with a four-bet here because I felt that my range was well ahead of his range almost always in this spot when taking all of the information we have at hand into consideration. My sizing was a bit off, because I could have made it smaller, something like 25K seems more reasonable, though that is just nitpicking.
Villain tanked for a while before five-betting me, which is not something I expected at all. At this point I am thinking two things, he either has AA, KK, AK or JJ in his hand, OR he is aware that I am a tight player and could get away from a strong hand in this spot to a five-bet. Considering how overly aggressive he had been, despite no showdowns, it was tough to fully expect Villain to have the top of his range in this spot, especially with how deep his stack was at the time. If my read was off and he does have the top of his five-bet range, I am ahead against two of his four possible hands I put him on, one of which I am flipping against and the other I am dominating.
What did I do?
Armando2833 raises to 218,021, and is all in
I The King I calls 151,355
I went into the tank here for quite some time and eventually decided to jam it in because I felt strong about my hand and about being ahead here. He quickly called and I thought I was dead before seeing that he had AK. As expected, I was ahead, but it was a flip and we had a nail biter on our hands here.
Armando2833 shows [Qs Qd]
I The King I shows [Ac Kd]
*** FLOP *** [5s 4h Jc]
*** TURN *** [5s 4h Jc] [2d]
*** RIVER *** [5s 4h Jc 2d] [Kc]
Armando2833 shows a pair of Queens
I The King I shows a pair of Kings
I The King I wins the pot (440,542) with a pair of Kings
The river crushed my dreams and it was a hand I thought about a ton after it occurred. As I mentioned at the start of the article, I posted this hand on a forum and got some pretty good insight. After receiving feedback from several of the top players at the time, Villain was no random and was actually a very aggressive player that would have no trouble five-betting light in this spot, especially against a player with a tight image like mine. My read was somewhat right in the sense that he would five-bet light here, but unfortunately, I ran into the top of his range.
If I had a chance to replay this hand, I would have flatted instead of four-betting here, not because of the result, but because after thinking long and hard about it, I had a deep enough stack here to just make a call and play against Villain post flop. Risking 109 big blinds on a potential flip is high variance any way you put it, especially in a tournament with such a great structure, and after two days of play. Not that I feel like I completely misplayed this hand by any means, but I could have definitely played it better.
Hopefully this article provides you with the thinking process that is involved in a hand, every step of the way, and all of the information to look for when coming up with a final decision.
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