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I had the time of my life playing the record-breaking 2023 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event. It’s bittersweet finishing in 11th place. The pain of being so close to the dream of making the Final Table is slowly offset by gratitude for the great run. Looking back on my 20-year poker journey, I feel like the Main Event was the most incredible moment of them all.
I created this fun vlog which documents my entire Main Event run.
Today, I’m sharing the first segment of this WSOP “Hand of the Day” series, where I break down a key hand from each day of the Main Event. I’ll walk you through my step-by-step thought process, how I thought through the hands, read my opponents, and navigated the rollercoaster ride of tournament poker.
For those who want a deeper dive, I’m putting together a full breakdown of my entire Main Event run, a tournament course, and a live workshop on tournament poker, which you can learn more about at Conscious Poker. Enter your email there to receive a free “Hand of the Day” video breakdown of a key hand from my 2023 Main Event.
Before we get to the hand, I feel it’s important to stress the importance of being rested and focused for every session. I had made the mistake in the past of trying to ‘maximize EV’ by ‘playing as many events as possible’, only to find myself burnt out by the time the Main rolled around.
This year, I did things differently. Following the European Poker Tour finals in Monaco, I spent the summer in Italy prepping exclusively for the Main. I played online and ran sims, talked poker with friends, worked out and meditated daily, and visualized the spots and challenges I’d face during the Main.
When I landed in Vegas from Europe on July 3rd, I checked in and took a day off before playing on the 5th. I’m convinced my pregame prep, which began in May and progressed throughout the summer, had a big impact on my overall result. I’m excited to incorporate more of this level of preparation into my game to compete in big events, especially those where long days, intense focus, and lasting stamina are required.
I’ll speak more on this in future blogs, but for now, let’s get to the action!
Hand of the Day – Day 1C
Effective Stacks: 50K
Notes: Table is mostly passive. Very few three-bets preflop, and check-raises postflop. This allows me to open more hands, especially in position.
I open to 900 in the hijack with the K♣5♣. The cutoff and small blind, both recreational players, call.
Flop: K♠6♦5♠. Checks to me, I bet 2,500, cutoff folds and the small blind calls.
Analysis: I flop huge, but with a flush and straight draw present, I see no reason to bet small here. If my opponents have a draw or top pair, they will call any size bet. More, they aren’t likely to be aware that my betting range is narrow and strong, especially when choosing a large sizing, so there’s no reason to get cute with a small bet.
Turn: 10♦. Villain checks, I bet 5,500, he calls.
Analysis: More draws are present. If the villain has a King, he’s calling a second bullet. If he has a draw, I want to charge maximally with a vulnerable two pair. A large bet sizing is key here.
River: 3♥. Villain checks once more, and I fire 13,500.
Analysis: Keep it simple. If the Villain has a draw, he will fold to any sizing. If he has a king, he will call almost any sizing because ‘all the draws missed.’
I see players get ahead of themselves in spots like these, with advanced thinking like, “what is my range?” “How do I keep it balanced?” “What size would my bluffs bet?” etc. None of that matters in this particular spot (and most spots in soft, live tournament poker).
The only question one should be asking here is: “What is the maximum amount I’m confident my opponent will call with a king?”
The reason you don’t want to get greedy is that the value of locking up a call is greater than the risk of the Villain folding for a slightly bigger sizing.
This is why I chose 13,500 instead of 20,000. I’m nearly certain the villain will call the former, but perhaps he will fold to the latter. In tournament poker, in particular, one needs to win chips, so locking up the call with your value hands is essential.
Ultimately, the villain called, and I scooped myself a nice pot.
More to Come
I hope you enjoyed this “Hand of the Day”! Stay tuned for the next segment where I’ll break down the most interesting hand I played on Day 2.
One last thought about the 2023 Main Event: I wouldn’t have made it without the support of my fans. The amount of positivity I received during those eight days was absolutely inspiring. So, if we still haven’t connected, I hope you’ll reach out to me on social at @AlecTorelli and say hi on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. I love meeting new people!
Alec Torelli has been playing high-stakes poker professionally since 2006. With over $1,500,000 in tournament winnings and millions more in both live and online cash games, Alec is one of the most respected poker players in the industry today. He has been featured on ESPN, CBS Sports, Travel Channel, Fox Sports, Cigar Aficionado, PokerNews, and many more.
In 2015, Alec founded Conscious Poker to teach poker players how to improve their game, move up in limits, and achieve their poker goals. Since then, Alec has coached nearly a hundred players both in person and virtually, and thousands more have taken his programs to take their game to the next level.