Since the WSOP Main Event is just around the corner, today I am going to share with you the first 10 hands I played in the 2014 WSOP Main Event. While I didn’t make an extremely deep run, I did end up cashing for $22,678. I actually recorded every significant hand I played in this tournament (54 hands) and made them into the book, Cashing the WSOP Main Event. If you like this blog post, you will love The Main Event. As you read through the 10 hands, quiz yourself and see if you would you have made the same play I did. If you disagree with any of my plays, let me know in the comment section at the bottom of this page. Good luck! If for some reason you cannot easily see the suit images because they are too small, press the “Ctrl” key and the “+” symbol at the same time. That will make all the text in your browser a bit larger. You can later press “Ctrl” and “-” to make your font smaller. Hand 1 H 6♦-5♠ S 31,000 B 50/100 P Button Everyone folds to me on the button. What did I decide to do? Fold Call 100 Raise to 300 Raise to 600 I raise to 300. BB 50 year old maybe aggressive calls. Early in a tournament, I am very prone to raise with a fairly wide range from late position, mainly to test the waters and figure out how my opponents are likely to react. If I face significant resistance, I know to slow down and if my opponents let me run them over, I know I can steal aggressively in the future. 7♣-7♦-4♥ BB checks. Pot = 650 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 200 Bet 400 Bet 800 I bet 400. BB raises to 1,400. Pot = 2450 What did I decide to do? Fold Call 1,000 more Reraise to 3,400 Reraise to 6,000 I reraise to 3,400. BB quickly calls. Talk about testing the waters! Any time the board is paired, you can expect some aggressive opponents to do their best to represent trips. While my opponent’s check-raise is likely strong, I thought he could easily be bluffing and would fold to a reraise unless he had a 7. When he called my reraise to 3,400 reraise, I was quite unhappy with my straight draw. It is important to note that I could easily be drawing dead or nearly dead when my opponent has 7-4, 7-7, 4-4, 8-7 or 7-3. When he calls my 3,400, I am done with the hand. My plan is certainly to give up if I miss. If I complete my straight on the turn, I will check behind, opting to call if my opponent bets on the river. If my opponent checks to me on both the turn and the river and I have a straight, I will value bet. Notice I am already applying significant aggression without actually risking my entire stack. 7♣-7♦-4♥ K♥ BB checks. Pot = 7,450 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 2,000 Bet 4,000 Bet 6,500 I check. I am sticking to the plan. 7♣-7♦-4♥ K♥ 9♦ BB bets 4,100. Pot = 11,550 What did I decide to do? Fold Call 4,100 Raise to 8,800 Raise to 14,000 I fold. Since I have almost the worst possible hand, calling is not an option. Raising would also be insane, given my opponent likely has trips. Hand 2 H K♦-J♦ S 25,000 B 100/200 P CO 2nd TAG kid raises to 450. LoJ calls. What did I decide to do? Fold Call 450 Reraise to 1,400 Reraise to 2,400 I call. Button and SB call. Both reraising and calling are fine options. Especially with hands that flop well, such as big suited cards, I am very prone to call and see what develops. Even if I had K♦-J♠, I would probably call. I am not a big fan of reraising in multiway pots early in the tournament when I can see the flop cheaply. K♠-T♥-6♦ Everyone checks to me. Pot = 2,450 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 600 Bet 1,400 Bet 2,300 I bet 1,400. SB, 2nd,and LoJ call. Button folds. I think a value bet is certainly in order when my opponents check to me. When the SB, 2nd, and LoJ call, I realize I could realistically be behind at the moment and if I happen to be ahead, I can easily, and likely will be, outdrawn by the river. My plan is to probably bet again if the turn is a K, 5, 4, 3, or 2 and check behind on all other cards. Notice that I make a point to develop a plan for future betting rounds on the flop. If you are mindlessly auto piloting, you will find that you are often confused or lost as the hand progresses. If you think ahead, your decisions will be much easier. K♠-T♥-6♦ Q♠ Everyone checks to me. Pot = 8,050 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 3,000 Bet 4,500 Bet 7,600 I check. Because I could have been behind on the flop and I now lose to A-J, Q-T, and Q-9, I see no reason to bet. Once the turn checks through, if someone makes a reasonable bet on the river, I might make a crying call, depending on the read I get and the exact river card. K♠-T♥-6♦ Q♠ 8♥ Everyone checks to me. Pot = 8,050 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 3,000 Bet 4,500 Bet 7,600 I check. I beat SB’s Q♥-J♠ and LoJ’s 7♠-7♣. When everyone checks through on the turn, I expect to win a huge percentage of the time, as most players would bet with a better hand on the river. That being said, I don’t think there is a ton of value in betting as the only hands likely to call a bet are top pair and better. Since I lose to most decent Ks and I could conceivably be beat, I don’t think there is much value in a river bet. If I decided to bet, I would probably bet tiny, hoping to induce a light call from perhaps a Q. It is interesting to note that the LoJ called the flop with 7-7, which is a terrible hand on K-T-6. I suppose he thought he was set mining, which is often a terrible play after the flop, mainly because he cannot count on realizing any sort of implied odds in a multiway pot. Notice that if he gets lucky and peels a 7, I will only pay him off on one street if the river is a safe card. If he takes an aggressive line when he hits by leading or check raising the turn, he will usually scare off all hands worse than two pair, which is most of everyone’s range. He almost certainly has little to no implied odds, making his flop call terrible. Hand 3 H A♣-9♦ S 31,000 B 100/200 P Button Everyone folds to me on the button. What did I decide to do? Fold Call 200 Raise to 525 Raise to 800 I raise to 525. BB LAG French calls. Notice this is the same player from the 6♦-5♠ hand. In my eyes, he has gone from being classified as a 50 year old possibly aggressive guy to a LAG French guy. Within a few orbits, I have made a much better classification of my opponent. In general, a random French guy is splashy preflop and doesn’t like to fold reasonable hands after the flop. J♠-7♣-6♦ BB checks. Pot = 1,150 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 600 Bet 900 Bet 1,300 I bet 600. BB calls. This is a standard continuation bet. I would make this bet with my entire range because it allows me to continue building a pot when I have a strong hand and also allows me to get to the showdown relatively cheaply when I opt to not bet the turn. J♠-7♣-6♦ A♥ BB checks. Pot = 2,350 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 800 Bet 1,200 Bet 1,900 I check. I probably thought my opponent would at least consider folding to a bet if an A, K, or Q fell on the turn. This makes betting a bad idea because I don’t want my opponent to fold. This should lead me to check behind, hoping to get one sizable street of value on the river, either by calling if he bets or betting when he checks. J♠-7♣-6♦ A♥ A♦ BB checks. Pot = 2,350 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 800 Bet 1,200 Bet 1,900 I bet 1,900. BB calls. I win. I seriously doubt I needed to make trips to have the best hand on the river. I would probably make this same large bet size on most rivers, hoping to look like I am trying to push my opponent off his hand. You will find most “sticky” players who don’t like folding made hands or guys who think you frequently bluff will be fairly prone to call large river bets with a wide range, at least until you prove to them that you are mostly betting large on the river with premium holdings. Hand 4 H 7♥-6♥ S 34,000 B 100/200 P Button CO splashy, likely weak limps. What did I decide to do? Fold Call 200 Raise to 700 Raise to 1,000 I call. SB LAG French guy and BB calls. Both raising and limping before the flop are fine when you have a hand that flops well. I generally don’t want to discourage my opponents from limping in with a wide range earlier in the day so I prefer limping behind, at least initially. As the limps become more valuable, I will tend to raise more often. If I were to raise, I would make it around 800. A♠-4♥-2♥ SB bets 600. BB folds. CO calls. Pot = 1,400 What did I decide to do? Fold Call 600 Raise to 1,900 Raise to 3,000 I call. With a weak flush draw, calling is probably ideal because if I raise and someone continues, I am likely either against a made hand that is top pair or better or a strong draw that has me crushed. By calling, I keep the pot small and give myself the opportunity to get away on various bad turn cards while also making the pot large if I make my flush and everyone checks to me. A♠-4♥-2♥ T♥ SB bets 1,500. CO folds. Pot = 3,500 What did I decide to do? Fold Call 1,500 Raise to 3,000 Raise to 4,200 I call. When the small blind continues betting on the turn, he almost certainly has an A or a better made hand. Since there is no real reason he could not have a flush and he may fold most marginal made hands if I raise, I think calling is by far the best option. Whenever a raise will frequently keep your opponent in with a range consisting of mostly hands that beat you without getting value from too many hands you beat, a raise is usually bad. Notice if he has two pair or trips, he will call the turn but will likely fold on the river if I continue betting whereas if he has a flush, he will likely call the turn then also call on the river. Raising the turn sets me up to be in a reverse freeroll situation whenever he has a better flush. A♠-4♥-2♥ T♥ 2♠ SB bets 2,500. Pot = 7,500 What did I decide to do? Fold Call 2,500 Raise to 5,500 Raise to 7,000 I call. I lose to his 4♠-2♣. I don’t think there is much merit at all in either folding or raising the river. I still beat numerous worse made hands and, because my hand is severely under represented, I should expect my opponent to value bet many worse made hands. Raising doesn’t seem good because my opponent will call with any flush or full house and fold most hands worse than a flush. Calling is the only option that makes sense. Some readers are probably screaming “By calling the turn, you let him outdraw you!” While this is true, notice my opponent would have likely lost the same amount whether or not he improved to a full house on the river. Given I am going to have the best hand on the river around 91% of the time when facing two pair on the turn, I am more than happy to allow my opponent to see the river card. Assuming a 2,500 bet goes into the pot on most rivers, I will profit around 2,000 chips on average, which is huge. I figured out this amount by taking the total amount going into the pot on the river, 5,000, multiplying it by my equity, .91, then subtracting the amount I have to put in, 2500. Raising the turn perhaps allows my opponent to get off the hook, costing me this substantial bet. Hand 5 H A♣-Q♦ S 25,000 B 100/200 P 2nd UTG splashy guy limps. What did I decide to do? Fold Call 200 Raise to 800 Raise to 1,200 I limp. Button world class TAG kid raises to 1,000. UTG calls. Pot = 2,500 What did I decide to do? Fold Call 800 more Reraise to 2,800 Reraise to 4,500 I call. While I normally like to raise limpers, I am a bit cautious versus early position limpers because they often intend to limp-reraise. I also don’t mind limping in and letting numerous other players limp behind with marginal A-x hands I have dominated. As long as you play well after the flop, limping is probably the best play. When the world class TAG kid raises, I think he could have a fairly wide range of decent hands, such as pairs, big cards, suited connectors, and the occasional bluff. I do not want to reraise because playing a huge pot out of position with a hand that could be dominated, especially when a lot of money goes in the pot, is rarely a good thing. K♣-8♣-4♣ UTG checks. Pot = 3,300 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 1,300 Bet 2,500 Bet 5,500 I check. Button bets 2,200. UTG folds. Pot = 5,500 What did I decide to do? Fold Call 2,200 Raise to 5,300 Raise to 7,800 I raise to 5,300. Button reraises to 12,000. Pot = 20,600 What did I decide to do? Fold Call 6,700 more Reraise to 18,700 Go all-in for 12,000 more I go all-in. Button quickly calls with Q♣-T♣. I win when the river brings the beautiful 6♣. Check-calling with strong, obvious draws out of position is usually not a good idea because you will have a difficult time extracting value if you complete your draw and will likely face a turn bet when you miss. This should lead you to check-raise, hoping to maximize fold equity. When he made it 12,000, I did not think he was bluffing but I thought he could conceivably make the same play with A♥-A♦, K♥-J♣, or 7♣-6♣ and fold if I pushed all-in. Perhaps my push was overly optimistic but in the moment, I thought I had a touch of fold equity, which may or may not have been true. I am sure some of you are thinking “Clearly he had a premium hand he wasn’t planning to fold.” While that would certainly be true of weak opponents, my opponent is incredibly good at poker, meaning he knows he should have some bluffs in all of his ranges. If he is ever bluffing, I think my push is acceptable. While I was certainly not trying to build a huge pot early in the tournament, once I check-raised the flop, I was completely priced into the hand. I recognize that I mentioned in the Introduction that my goal was to not risk my stack early in the event. Notice that check-calling the flop makes it quite difficult for me to get paid off when I hit and check-raising puts too much of my stack in the pot to fold. When you are out of position with a strong draw that has almost no implied odds when you hit, it is usually best to take the aggressive line, allowing you to maximize fold equity, even if it risks your stack. Hand 6 H A♦-A♥ S 51,000 B 100/200 P SB LoJ same world class TAG kid (10,000) raises to 550. Button splashy (45,000) calls. What did I decide to do? Fold Call 550 Reraise to 2,100 Reraise to 3,600 I reraise to 2,100. LoJ folds. Button calls. While I have not been too aggressive lately, it is still mandatory for me to reraise with A-A for value, even out of position. It is important to try to develop an aggressive preflop image early in the tournament to increase the likelihood you get paid off when you actually pick up a strong hand. Luckily, the button called. J♠-4♠-3♦ Pot = 4,950 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 1,800 Bet 2,700 Bet 4,400 I bet 1,800. Button raises to 3,500. Pot = 10,250 What did I decide to do? Fold Call 1,700 more Reraise to 5,500 Reraise to 8,000 I call. My flop continuation bet is fairly standard. Interestingly enough, no one noticed my opponent’s illegal raise size to 3,500 at the time, which is usually a sign of intense strength. When my opponent raised to 3,500, I thought he had either a strong made hand, most likely a J or better, or a strong draw. Against that range, calling is by far the best option because if I reraise, he may fold his marginal top pair hands, meaning he will only continue with made hands I lose to and draws that are getting the proper pot odds to continue in the pot. It is mandatory that I play my hand in a manner that keeps worse made hands in. J♠-4♠-3♦ 9♣ Pot = 11,950 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 3,500 Bet 5,000 Bet 6,600 I check. Button bets 4,000. Pot = 15,950 What did I decide to do? Fold Call 4,000 Raise to 8,800 Raise to 13,000 I call. As on the flop, I do not want to check-raise my opponent off his worse made hands. While check-raising may push my opponent off his draws at this point, it also allows him to play perfectly with all of his made hands, continuing when I am crushed and folding when I am ahead. J♠-4♠-3♦ 9♣ J♣ Pot = 19,950 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 4,000 Bet 5,900 Bet 8,800 We both check. I beat A♠-3♠. (note: BB Folded A♣-K♣) Any J is a particularly bad river for me because I now lose to all hands that had top pair on the flop, meaning I only realistically beat busted flush draws by the river. Seeing how most players aren’t trying to blast off early in the WSOP main event, my plan was to check-fold. Luckily my opponent did not want to fire the last barrel. It is worth noting that the BB tanked forever before folding preflop. His fold was likely too tight with A♣-K♣, but he understood that I have not been overly wild before the flop, meaning I almost certainly have a strong hand unless I am all of a sudden getting out of line. I think he took that concept too far, but this goes to show you that it is very difficult to get action with your premium hands when you do not reraise too often before the flop. Hand 7 H Q♣-9♣ S 61,000 B 150/300 P CO UTG world class TAG kid (7,000) raises to 600. LoJ (40,000) and HJ call. What did I decide to do? Fold Call 600 Reraise to 1,900 Reraise to 3,000 I call. SB (60,000) and BB call. Since there are numerous players in the pot against whom I have large implied odds, I don’t mind calling and seeing a flop in position with a hand that has a huge amount of potential. However, if only the UTG kid raised and everyone folded to me, I would definitely fold due to his small stack size the complete lack of implied odds. Always be aware of your opponents’ stack sizes as they can change easy calls into obvious folds. A♦-A♣-J♣ Everyone checks to me. Pot = 3,600 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 1,200 Bet 2,100 Bet 3,000 I check. If I bet, no one is ever folding an A. That means if I bet and one of my five opponents has an A, which is somewhat likely, I am purely putting money in behind in a spot where one of my flush card outs is not live. That is not a situation I want to be in. Checking behind allows me to get a better idea about whether or not one of my opponents has an A and also lets me draw to my flush for free. A♦-A♣-J♣ 7♣ SB bets 1,500. Only LoJ calls. Pot = 6,600 What did I decide to do? Fold Call 1,500 Raise to 3,900 Raise to 4,900 I call. Facing a bet and a call, I am fairly sure I am against some combination of A’s, strong flush draws, and flushes. Maybe someone has an overplayed J. If I raise, I imagine the only hands that will give me significant action on both the turn and river will have me beat. This leads me to call to see what develops. If the SB bets on the river and the LoJ raises, I am planning to fold. A♦-A♣-J♣ 7♣ 5♥ SB and LoJ check. Pot = 8,100 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 2,300 Bet 4,800 Bet 7,000 I bet 4,800. SB calls. LoJ folds. I win. When both of my opponents check to me, I think value betting is mandatory. If I get check-raised, I will usually fold unless I get the vibe that my opponent is bluffing. I picked fairly large bet size in order to extract a large amount of value from an A while making it much tougher for one of my opponents to bluff check-raise, given the check-raise would have to be quite large. Hand 8 H T♠-7♦ S 72,000 B 150/300 P SB Everyone folds to me. What did I decide to do? Fold Call 150 more Raise to 850 Raise to 1,150 I raise to 850 for the 2nd time in a row from SB. BB TP 50 year old (35,000) calls. He hasn’t messed around against me so far. Whenever my opponent in the big blind is tight and passive, I make a point to pillage his blinds whenever possible, at least until he starts fighting back. I would likely raise almost any two cards in this situation. T♦-9♥-6♥ Pot = 1,700 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 600 Bet 1,000 Bet 1,400 I bet 1,000. BB raises to 3,000. Pot = 5,700 What did I decide to do? Fold Call 2,000 more Reraise to 5,500 Reraise to 9,000 I call. My flop bet is fairly standard with a reasonably strong hand. I would have probably bet this flop with any two cards. When my opponent raises, I made what I think is my first major error of the tournament by calling. I had no reason at all to believe that my opponent was bluffing, or even semi-bluffing. His range is almost certainly top pair or better and perhaps strong draws. Against that range, my top pair with a gutshot is trash, especially out of position. I leveled myself into thinking my opponent was capable of attempting a risky bluff when in reality, he simply was not. T♦-9♥-6♥ 4♠ Pot = 7,700 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 3,000 Bet 4,200 Bet 7,000 I check. BB bets 4,000. Pot = 11,700 What did I decide to do? Fold Call 4,000 Raise to 8,000 Raise to 12,000 I call. I compounded my error by continuing in the pot when the turn brought an innocuous card. I should have folded to this bet as well. T♦-9♥-6♥ 4♠ A♦ Pot = 15,700 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 2,000 Bet 5,000 Bet 8,000 We both check. I lose to T♣-9♦. Luckily the scary river card saved me from making an additional blunder. I imagine if the river was a low card, I would have called one more time. This leak, assuming my opponents are capable of attempting to bluff me in excellent bluffing spots, occasionally plagues me when playing with amateur competition. It is worth noting that my play in this hand would be completely standard against a strong, aggressive opponent. I am working hard on eradicating this leak from my game. I must accept that some people simply are not going to try to run a bluff, even if the situation is excellent and I have been pushing them around for a while. Hand 9 H 8♠-7♣ S 66,000 B 150/300 P Button Everyone folds to me. What did I decide to do? Fold Call 300 Raise to 700 Raise to 1,500 I raise to 700. SB TP (40,000) and BB splashy LAG 50 year old French calls. As you can see, I tend to raise a wide range from the button. 6♠-5♠-4♥ SB and BB check. Pot = 2,100 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 700 Bet 1,300 Bet 2,100 I bet 1,300. SB calls. BB raises to 4,000. Pot = 8,700 What did I decide to do? Fold Call 2,700 more Reraise to 8,000 Reraise to 12,300 I reraise to 12,300. SB folds. BB quickly calls. This flop is nice! My continuation bet is completely normal, as I would tend to bet with most reasonable holdings on this board. There is no point at all in slow playing because it is quite easy for one of my opponents to have a decently strong hand on this flop as they did not reraise before the flop. When the BB raises, I am thrilled because he probably has some sort of strong made hand. While a reraise may chase him away, given he is a splashy French guy, I think he will stick with me, especially since he has already seen me play a draw in an overly aggressive manner. When he calls my reraise to 12,300, I put him on a range of only premium made hands, perhaps two pair and better, and good draws. 6♠-5♠-4♥ J♣ BB checks. Pot = 28,000 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 8,000 Bet 16,000 Bet 24,000 I bet 16,000. BB quickly calls. The turn is equally beautiful as the flop. I make a bet for value, expecting him to continue with his entire flop range. Be careful to not bet too large in this situation. The worst thing you can do is bet so large that your opponent hero folds various two pair or weak drawing hands. 6♠-5♠-4♥ J♣ 3♦ BB leads 20,000. Pot = 80,000 What did I decide to do? I don’t think I need to ask you what I should do in this situation. I go all-in for 17,000 more. BB quickly calls and I beat 7♦-6♦. When he leads into me, I assume he must be bluffing because leading with anything else is almost certainly terrible. Since my only options are to minraise or call, and I have the nuts, I put in the minraise. When he quickly called, I assumed he also had 8-7 but to my surprise, he had the 2nd nuts. If I found myself in my opponent’s shoes on the river, I would have check-called to induce bluffs from busted draws. As played, he forced me to play perfectly. If I had a 7, I would call and if I had a worse hand, I would fold. It is as simple as that. My opponent took the exact worst possible line on the river. That’s lucky for me! Never forget, you have to get lucky to win a tournament. This is a form of luck people often fail to consider. Somehow, four hours into the event, this pot made me the chip leader. Hand 10 H 6♥-5♥ S 140,000 B 150/300/25 P LoJ Everyone folds to me. What did I decide to do? Fold Call 300 Raise to 700 Raise to 1,400 I raise to 700. Button new to table unknown 50 year old (60,000) reraises to 2,100. Both blinds fold. Pot = 3,475 What did I decide to do? Fold Call 1,400 more Reraise to 5,500 Reraise to 7,000 I call. Both calling and folding are fine options. Due to the relatively deep stacks, I am fairly prone to see a flop with a hand that has a ton of postflop potential. When calling in similar situations, you must be careful to not give your opponent too much action when you flop one pair. You must be cautious when playing out of position because a lot of things can go wrong and very few things can go right. Reraising as a semi-bluff and simply folding are also both reasonable preflop options, depending on how I expect my opponent to react. K♦-8♠-4♥ Pot = 4,875 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 1,800 Bet 2,400 Bet 4,000 We both check. My plan was to check-raise this flop. Whenever you have a gutshot and a back door flush draw in a situation where your opponent can only continue versus a check-raise with top pair or better, check raising is a powerful play, especially if you expect your opponent to continuation bet the flop with most of his range. If I had a reason to believe that my opponent was overly tight and would only continuation bet with top pair or better, I would plan to check-fold. K♦-8♠-4♥ 2♠ Pot = 4,875 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 1,900 Bet 2,600 Bet 5,000 I bet 1,900. Button calls. When the Button checks behind on the flop, I usually assume he has a hand worse than a K. Whenever I think my opponent has worse than top pair, I am not afraid to fire out two sizable bets, hoping to get my opponent off his entire range by the river. K♦-8♠-4♥ 2♠ K♠ Pot = 8,675 What did I decide to do? Check Bet 3,600 Bet 7,200 Bet 9,000 I bet 9,000. Button calls with A♠-Q♥. I lose. My river bet is mandatory given I thought my opponent had worse than top pair. I thought a hefty 9,000 bet would make him fold most of his range but apparently I was blatantly incorrect. Perhaps a smaller bet would have looked more value-heavy to my opponent. Most likely, he assumed I was a LAG kid who would blindly attack weakness. His adjustment was to check behind on the flop and call down on any safe run out. With A-Q, this probably isn’t the best idea because I would probably turn all small pairs into bluffs. Luckily for him, it worked out this time. Congrats on making it to the bottom of this blog post! This was a long one. I hope you enjoyed it. If you want to study all 54 hands I played in the 2015 WSOP Main Event, be sure to check out Cashing the WSOP Main Event. If you are playing in the WSOP main event this year, let me know in the comments section below. Be sure to say Hi if you see me! Good luck! .
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