Two Tournament-Defining Hands Alec Torelli Played on Day 5 of the 2023 WSOP Main Event

I’m back in action on Day 5 of the 2023 World Series of Poker Main Event with another “Hand of the Day” breakdown. For those new to the series, here are the earlier installments:

With 441 players remaining out of more than 10,000 runners, we’re now well into the money with a guaranteed payout of $37,500.

The blinds resumed at 10,000/25,000 with a 25,000 big blind ante and I began the day with 1,7000,000 (68 BB), which was an above-average stack. After an uneventful first level, and with the blinds increasing to 15,000/30,000/30,000, I found myself in an unfortunate spot when a pro from California opened in late position to 65,000.

I looked down at AXQX in the big blind and put in a three-bet to 205,000, reluctantly calling when he shoved for 595,000 total. He tables pocket aces, and five cards later, I was down to 1,100,000. With a well-timed bluff, a few preflop steals, and I ground my way back to 2,000,000. Then, the following hand took place.

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Dream Scenario in the Main Event

I raised to 60,000 — my standard raise size — in third position with pocket tens.

A fellow Conscious Poker member called my raise in the hijack. We had been chatty over the last few hours, and I learned that he respects my game. With a slightly shorter stack of 900,000 and our history, I put him on a solid playable hand. The same California pro who I just doubled up then shoved all in for 540,000 from the small blind.

In an online tournament, or perhaps a live event aside from the WSOP Main Event, this would be a rather easy call or reshove. Players move in lighter, especially considering that the preflop call from the hijack is “dead money” as he should never have premium holdings, like queens or better.

Things changed, however, when a fellow pro shoved over my rather tight early position open on Day 5 of the Main Event with less than 400 players left. I took a moment to consider the situation and followed the same process I do in every hand I play — think about their range and weigh my equity against my pot odds.

“Unlike cash games, where each chip is worth the dollar value it represents, in tournament poker one must consider how each decision will affect their overall stack and playability.”

First, his range. Of course, he’s shoving with all hands that beat me, like jacks or better, as well as AXKX. I believe AXQX is a shove as well, and perhaps two nines or eights.

Against that range (8X8X+, AXQX+), I have 45% equity. It’s enough to call, but I’m not loving my spot. I really want him to be shoving a bit wider, such as 6X6X+, AXJX+, and KXQX, which gives me closer to 55% equity.

Being a slight favorite is better no doubt, but still nothing to write home about. Had this been for more of my stack, I’d perhaps consider folding, as I could still navigate my way through a rather soft field with far less variance.

Unlike cash games, where each chip is worth the dollar value it represents, in tournament poker one must consider how each decision will affect their overall stack and playability. I concluded that even if I call and lose, I would still have roughly 1,400,000, or more than 45 big blinds. Plenty to maneuver with.

I opt to reshove all in, forcing the player behind me to fold. To my surprise, the hijack went into the tank. He started talking, first to himself and then to me, in search of a read. I was praying for a fold. The types of hands he overcalled with have 50% equity at worst, such as AXQX or AXKX, otherwise I’m in bad shape if he slowplayed jacks or queens preflop.

He counted out his chips, nearly 1,000,000 total. If he called and won, it would be enough to put a significant dent in my stack. I tried my best to remain stoic while praying for a fold.

He tanked.

And tanked.

And tanked some more.

Finally, he called.

I CASHED FOR $700,000 at the 2023 WSOP Main Event!

The small blind let out a sigh and said, “I guess I need to hit then.”

That was good news for me because it meant my tens were good.

“Me too,” said the hijack. When the cards were turned over, I realized I was in a dream spot. They both had AXKX offsuit!

Somehow, I found myself in a three-way all in on Day 5 of the Main Event as a 2:1 favorite to win the hand!

Alec Torelli
Alec Torelli gets it in with pocket tens!

I stood up, unable to contain the emotion. They say you need to win your all ins to make a deep run in a tournament. Well, this was the first time I had been in an all-in scenario (albeit not for my entire stack) in two days, and I sure as hell was hoping to hold. It was peak poker drama, and it all came down to the next five cards.

The flop was JX4X2X with two clubs. I needed to fade an ace and a king, as well as a backdoor straight and flush draw. Still ahead, but a long way to go. The turn was a red 4X pairing the board. No help to my opponents.

WPT Global

One card away, I was bouncing up and down. I was so close…

I see a black face. My heart froze for a split second, only to realize it was a queen!

I was suddenly in a commanding position, the chip leader at my table with nearly 3,500,000 in chips. Fortunately, we went on break shortly after, and I was able to reset my nerves and get recentered for the rest of the day.

I may have won that hand, but the battle had just begun. I zigged and zagged my way up to 4,000,000 shortly thereafter when another crucial hand came up.

Another Big Hand

Alec Torelli
Alec Torelli making a run in the WSOP Main Event.

A solid pro raised the hijack, and I flatted the button with KXQX offsuit. People love to three-bet here, but I feel that’s a mistake, as it’s better to avoid getting blown off your hand if the villian four-bets, as well as retain your equity against hands you dominate.

The flop came down KJ5. He check-called my 95,000 bet, and given how the flop played out and the way he acted, I was almost certain I was good. I put him on QXQXJXJX, or perhaps ace-high, like AXQX or AX10X.

When the turn came a blank 6X, he checked again. I already knew what I was about to do. I feigned weakness while pretending to tank, knowing I was going to bet. I looked at his stack, around 700,000. I wanted to bet an amount that could induce him to shove. I motioned out 140,000, a small, weakish bet on this textured of a board.

“It’s a rare, yet surreal sensation after playing a long day of poker that I go to sleep content. I leave it all on the table. No regrets.”

After some deliberation, he moved all in and I snap-called as planned. He shows QX10X offsuit, and I needed to fade eight outs on the next card.

When my hand held, I was up to over 5,000,000 in chips. Subtle decisions like these moved the needle for me over the next eight hours, and I cruised through the rest of the day. I made mistakes of course, but they were small, and fortunately, I quickly recovered.

It’s a rare, yet surreal sensation after playing a long day of poker that I go to sleep content. I leave it all on the table. No regrets. I don’t always get to this level of presence, but I played some of my best poker as we moved down the stretch, narrowing our way to 150 players before wrapping up for the night.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d come back even stronger the next day. As they say though, all good things come to an end. Stay tuned for the next installment as I break down a crucial hand from Day 6 of the WSOP Main Event.

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Alec Torelli has been playing high-stakes poker professionally since 2006. With over $2.2 million 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.

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