Back in Time: Analyzing a Key Hand from the 2023 WSOP Main Event

alec torelli wsop hand breakdown

3 minutes

Last Updated: June 14, 2024

It’s that season again. All eyes are on the WSOP, in particular the Main Event. As I prepare once more for the epic battle ahead, I’m reviewing my notes from my 11th-place finish last year.

As my readers know, I document every hand I play (60+ poker hands per day over 8 days) and study them diligently.

In the meantime, I want to share a crucial hand I played on Day 5, which propelled me forward.

My goal is to focus on actionable takeaways that you can implement to help you make better decisions during your next poker session.

Poker Hand Breakdown

The blinds are 15,000/30,000 with a 30,000 big blind ante. The cutoff, with a stack of 800,000, opens to 60,000.

I call on the button with KQ and a stack of 900,000. The big blind calls, covering us both, and we go three-way to the flop.

Analysis: I love flatting here because my hand plays well post-flop, and I disguise its strength. 3-betting essentially turns my hand into a bluff.

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Since it’s marginal and high variance to call a 4-Bet jam, I’m often forced to fold out my equity. Calling keeps all of the Villain’s weaker hands in, many of which I dominate, including KJ, KT, K9, QJ, and QT.

Flop: KJ5

The big blind checks and the cutoff bets 95,000. With a top pair and a solid kicker, I call. The big blind folds.

Analysis: By just calling, I once again make my hand look weak, confusing my opponent. Raising might fold out hands that I dominate while isolating myself against stronger hands or strong draws. In short, raising takes away the Villain’s bluffs and Jx hands, which are where I get most of my value from.

Turn: 6

The cutoff checks, and I decide to bet 140,000.

Analysis: My bet sizing on the turn is designed to achieve multiple goals. First, it allows me to extract value from weaker hands and draws.

Second, the size is small enough to keep my opponent’s range wide, which induces mistakes. Third, it puts pressure on my opponent without overcommitting my stack.

After my 140,000 bet, the cutoff shoves all in. I immediately make the call, and he reveals Q10, an open-ended straight draw.

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Analysis: My turn bet did exactly what I intended—it induced a bluff jam from my opponent with a draw by appearing vulnerable.

This strategic bet sizing exploited my opponent's actions, making him believe I might fold to a shove, whereas a larger bet might have caused him to fold his bluffs, fearing I was pot-committed.

The key to executing this play correctly is betting proportionally to your opponent’s remaining stack, not merely the pot.

The river is a harmless 7, and I double up.

Key Takeaways

  1. Preflop Decision: Consider flatting in position with hands that play well and dominate your opponents, especially with a middling stack size. Only 3-bet bluffs or hands with which you want to induce a shove.
  2. Flop Play: Something I always tell clients is, ‘You make money by making your hand look weak when it’s strong and strong when it’s weak’. Play your hand the opposite of what your opponent would expect to confuse them into making mistakes.
  3. Bet Sizing: Thoughtful bet sizing can induce your opponent to fall into your trap. When you are strong, bet an amount that both protects your hand but also can make it look weak, thereby inducing further action.
  4. Hand Reading: Recognizing the draw-heavy nature of the board KJ56 and understanding your opponent’s tendencies are critical. By the turn, many hands can be drawing to straights or flushes, and it's crucial to price those draws out or induce them to bluff.

This hand highlights the importance of strategic bet sizing and understanding your opponent's tendencies. By thinking through each decision and considering how your opponent might react, you can make more informed and profitable decisions at the table.

For more in-depth hand analyses and advanced poker strategies to help you make more deep runs in tournaments, check out our comprehensive training materials available at

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