Today’s topic will dissect a hand I played recently that involves Pocket Aces at the Colossus WSOP Event in Las Vegas. Before you think this is some horror story bad-beat rant and move on to the next post, I can tell you it is not. The hand actually played out in a fairly rudimentary fashion, but there are a few great lessons to take away from it, especially as they relate to large tournament play. Sometimes hands play out for you the way you think they should, but you can always learn from what the other players involved in the hand did correctly or what they did wrong.
I had recently moved to a new table, in fact in a different room and was spending my initial few orbits trying to learn the players at the table. This one was totally different dynamically from my last table which had a bunch of tighter, more by the book players. This table had a couple of local Vegas pros that I recognized, several very large chip stacks and a lot of table chatter. The player in the #1 seat was taking a bunch of prop-bets as he was playing and I soon found out that he had a massive Last-Player-Standing pot going on. It was $250 to buy into it and he was updating and tracking it on Facebook while he was playing. He literally had about 2-3 players every few minutes coming up to him and handing him money. There was also another pro sitting across from me who was the table comedian. He had something to say about every 10 seconds that might be about poker and it might be about food or cars or the weather or any other topic under the sun. His goal was to simply yap a lot and not only distract other players, but also glean whatever information he could from them at the same time and he was very good at it. He was also an extremely loose-aggressive player who played a lot of hands. Suffice to say, this table had a lot of things going on.
I had splashed around in a couple of pots here and there and made some position raises as well as limped from my SB etc. More than trying to get into hands to mix things up, I was trying to see how the other players reacted to my play. I realized very quickly that some of the pros and better players at the table would simply make raises to try and steal hands that I was in rather than actually play their cards. These were some pretty good players, so I knew that if I made a position raise from the Button, it would not only be called by either the SB or BB, but many times raised and/or they would lead out of position with a bet, just based on principle. I folded to their aggression a couple of times in these situation as I really didn’t feel that it was necessary to mix it up with these guys at this stage of the tournament unless I had a real hand. My plays were more about gathering information than they were about trying to win chips.
So it was that I was dealt A-A on the Button. The action folded to the hyper-aggressive player in front of me and he made a basic raise to $550 ($200/$100 blinds)
I had the other pro coming after me in the SB, so for my first thought was how much should I raise and still make sure I get action from the hyper-aggressive player. If I raise too much with my conservative table image, I am likely to just get folds all around which is certainly NOT what I want with pocket Aces. Especially in large-field tournaments it is important to maximize profits on your big hands. If you don’t you will eventually end up in a short-stacked position if you go card-dead for an extended period or simply cannot find spots to get your chips in.
So, with this in mind, I make it $1050 to go. This kind of looks like a simple steal from the Button which is exactly the way I want it to look. My plan is to isolate with the hyper-aggressive player and obviously have him dominated with my Aces. In a perfect world, everyone else folds, he calls and then hits a piece of the flop and I can get him to put all his chips in and double me up. Of course poker hands seldom go how you plan them to go…….
The pro to my left in the #1 seat jammed all-in from the SB. I was surprised by this play due to the conservative image I had been projecting, but it also told me that my hand disguised as simply a Button raise attempting to steal had worked. I was a little disappointed when the initial raiser folded. (He later told me he folded Q-Q and the pro pushed him off his hand. I think he was full of crap, but you never know) I of course, made the call with my Aces and found myself up against pocket Tens.
My hand held up, nearly wiping out the pro, completely crippling him and he busted-out the next hand. I wasn’t sorry to see him go as he was an excellent player, he just made a bad read at a bad time with me. I truly think if he had been paying better attention rather than worrying about all the prop bets he had going, he might have seen me coming with that hand. It probably didn’t make much difference to me, as if he hadn’t pushed, I think I could have stacked the initial raiser as well the way the flop came down.
In any case, there are a couple of lessons here and one is that if you are going to play in a tournament, focus on that tournament, not your ipad and social networking. Secondly, it is always a good idea to spend some time learning the players at your table before you get involved in big hands with them. The plays I made prior to playing my Aces gave me some really good information as to what I might be up against and it is tough to play big hands like that cold without any information about the guys playing against you. My show of conservative play obviously contributed to the player trying to jam from the SB. Which brings me to the third lesson: in large tournament in particular sometimes it is easier to get paid off if you just plain don’t play tricky. Everyone is expecting you to trick them. So, do the opposite and trick them by not being tricky! It can get you paid off with minimal effort on your part.
Contact Chris Wilcox at: firstname.lastname@example.org