Here's a recap of the action:
About an hour into the level, I'd pegged the UTG player as a very loose fish, mixing it up between loose-aggressive and loose-passive.
The other player involved had just arrived at the table, so I had no information about him.
Eight-handed, with the blinds at $25/$50, the UTG player opened for $500 (lol). The player UTG+2 said "How much is that?" to the dealer and instantly made it $1,500 to go upon receiving the answer. I woke up with A♣ A♦ immediately behind him. Effective stacks are $15k.
My first option is to just call the $1,500. A couple of readers preferred this option. This play disguises my hand and is intended to get a weaker hand, usually an overpair, to stack off on the flop.
A four-bet preflop looks extremely strong, and I don't want hands like QQ-KK to be able to make a huge lay-down. I also want to give A-K a chance to flop top pair or top two pair. On the downside, I will almost be guaranteeing at least three-way action to the flop.
In a tournament with shorter stacks, I probably would have just called the bet. In this case, with everyone having about $13,500 behind the $1,500 bet, I felt that I would be giving too much in the way of implied odds to my opponents if they happen to out-flop my hand.
The next option is to make an extremely small raise to around $2,500 or $3,000. This will likely get the action down to heads-up going to the flop, or at least charge both opponents a heftier price to try to out-flop me.
The drawback to making this bet is that I believe it makes my hand pretty transparent. It says that I am willing to come over the top of two players who have shown extreme strength, but that I do not want to price them out and that I want action.
Another choice is to make a larger four-bet to somewhere around $4,500-$5,000. One reader suggested this bet. This option forces opponents to pay a huge price to see a flop. It also ensures that if they do just see a flop, they will be getting the rest of their chips in on all favorable flops for their hand.
The problem with this bet is that it will force my opponents to make a decision that will probably be for all of their chips. There is a good chance that my opponents will fold A-K here, and may be able to get away from QQ as well.
The last option is to just move in. This is an interesting bet in that it would be hard for an opponent to think that you would make such a huge move with AA. A couple people I've talked to said that they would try to represent A-K with this bet, but I don't think many players would put me on A-K for such a huge amount of chips.
Obviously, the drawback here is that you are throwing down the gauntlet for 300 big blinds in the very first level of the biggest poker tournament in European history. Your opponents will likely be running for the hills.
Result: I four-bet to $4,200 and my opponents folded pretty quickly. In retrospect, I do not like my bet... and I'm not just being results-oriented and regretting it because they folded.
I have spoken to a lot of the best players in the world about this hand and a majority of them said that they would probably just call to disguise their hand.
It runs the risk of letting an opponent flop a set to bust you (unless it's an extremely unfavorable flop), but they believe that this is more than made up for by the times that you will be able to stack an overpair on the flop that would have folded to a four-bet pre-flop.
To be honest, I still don't know what the best play is in that spot. It is by far one of the most interesting spots I have been in during my poker career, and I will continue to discuss this hand with great poker minds for a long time to come.
What I do know is that it seems like I used up all of my luck making the nuts in the first few levels of the tournament. I "fought the good fight" without being able to make a hand for the better part of two days after my early rush of cards.
Eventually I couldn't get away with any more blind-stealing or big bluffs, and lost a coin flip with 120 players remaining late on Day 2, just 40 short of the money.
I'd like to congratulate my friends Mike "Martine23" Martin and Isaac "westmenloAA" Baron, who finished fourth and fifth in this event, respectively.
-- Matt Stout
"All In At 420"
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