By Andrew “LuckyChewy” Lichtenberger
The World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio has been a favorite stop on the poker calendar during my entire poker career. From the world class championship tournament structures to the first class poker room and massive prize pool, this event is a can’t miss for serious poker players and fans.
Aside from the unparalleled setting and opportunity to make a life changing score, the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic is known to feature several of the best poker players on the planet. I took a look back at the most recent edition of the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic from Season XVIII to prepare for this year’s event. The final hand won by Alex Foxen to capture his first WPT Title illustrates the level of skill required to be the last player standing with the Mike Sexton Champions Cup.
A Heads Up Clash
In the deciding hand of the tournament we see Alex limps in on the Button with a stack of approximately 85 big blinds holding , and Toby Joyce checks his action with roughly 17 big blinds holding Jh9c. The flop comes down and Toby checks to Alex, who bets 1 big blind. Toby raises to 2.75 big blinds. Alex then makes a slightly more than minimum raise to 5bb which Toby flat calls.
A continuation bet on the flop is to be expected from Alex using a lot of hands he would limp here, as the ranges are wide for both players heads up and the board is relatively disconnected. The presence of two low cards on the flop can in some ways be better for Toby in the Big Blind, but since the price to limp in initially is so good for Alex there will be plenty of low card holdings in both players’ ranges. The raise from Toby begins to narrow things down further and when Alex 3-bets we can zero in on the possible holdings even more specifically.
Alex’s 3-bet on the flop is interesting because of the shallow stack to pot ratio at this point in the hand. Generally speaking there’s not going to be any major action killing cards to come on this board texture that will prevent this pot from getting all-in on the remaining streets. It’s also the case that many of Toby’s holdings are either combinations containing a Jack or weaker draws, so the need for Alex to protect his hand vs high equity draws isn’t really an issue here. The flop 3-bet can however be an effective and cheap way for Alex to play back against the weaker portion of Toby’s range, depending on his assessment of Toby’s level of aggression in similar situations.
The turn brings the Kc creating a flush draw and after Toby checks Alex moves in for his remaining 11bb. Toby faces quite the interesting decision in this spot. While he does in fact hold a top pair with a Jack, he has to be struggling to imagine what worse hands Alex can have in this spot when shoving all-in. Unless he thinks Alex is doing something fairly unprecedented and bluffing with a random hand, to call this shove Toby would need to be against a hand that started with a draw on the flop or picked equity on the turn such as a straight or flush draw. Hands including Q9, QT or 67 are possible candidates that could fit that description, however aren’t particularly likely due to the flop 3-bet from Alex. Given such a low stack to pot ratio 67 is unlikely for Alex as he can’t call a jam on most flops, especially with a hand that was already interfering with the most likely bluffs in Toby’s range. The other possible bluffs in this spot, Q9 and QT, are just very loose flop plays and very unlikely in the spot given the preflop action.
This decision is still not as clear as saying Toby should fold the turn given that when he has a Jack in his hand it’s that much less likely Alex also holds a Jack. When deciding to make a call in this spot the first order of operations should be to consider what worse hands than ours Alex can have based on the action in the hand. Alex played extremely aggressively over the course of the final table, and it is very likely that aggression played into Toby’s thought process quite a bit when deciding to take this betting line. While top pair vs top pair on a dry board in a heads-up limped pot with 20BBs isn’t always classified as a cooler, it’s the specific way in which the hand played out that makes it seem like there was potential for Toby to get away from his holdings.
Andrew “LuckyChewy” Lichtenberger has been a professional poker player for 15 years and has amassed more than $11 million dollars in tournaments, ranking him in the top 100 all-time earning list. He is a WPT Alpha 8 Champion, WSOP bracelet winner, and has made the final table of the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic three times. For more in-depth strategy from LuckyChewy and Team LearnWPT visit learnwpt.com/gto or follow on Twitter @learnwpt.