In the ongoing Strategy Snapshot series, PL.com looks at a key hand from a major live tournament and breaks it down from a strategy standpoint.
Players: Michael Banducci
Tournament: World Series of Poker Circuit at Harvey's Tahoe
Situation: Day 2/Six-Handed (12 players left altogether).
Blinds: $1,500/$3,000 with a $400 ante
For this hand we join the World Series of Poker Circuit championship event at Harvey's Tahoe. As a bonus, this article draws on an exclusive PokerListings.com chat with Jesus Ferguson in which the Son of God himself dissects his play for us.
The hand takes place on Day 2 of the tournament, with 12 players left divided into two tables. Michael Banducci has $300,000. He raises to $9,000 with QQ from the cut-off. The button folds and so does the big blind.
Ferguson, sitting on a stack of $150,000, re-raises the pot to $22,000 with A♠ K♦. Jesus offers some insight into his modus operandi here: "I was in the big blind and [Banducci] raised. He was the monster chip leader and he had been playing a lot of hands. I wasn't giving him a whole lot of respect but at the same time I wasn't going out of my way to get into a confrontation with him.
"He had close to $300,000 and I had about $150,000. I had just re-raised him and he was certainly aware that I might be playing back at him with a lot of hands. So I re-raised him again in this hand.
"I'm actually kind of hoping he's going to re-raise and I'm thinking he might re-raise me light here. He'd been playing a lot of hands and I had just re-raised him so he might feel like he's being pushed around a bit. So I do think he might do this with A-Q or some of the weaker pairs. I'm not expecting junk but having raised in the cut-off, A-Q or A-J figures to be good."
With the action back on Banducci, he makes a fourth raise to $65,000. As Jesus said, he's re-raised Banducci very recently. Banducci most likely thinks Jesus is starting to three-bet him light. He thus makes a fourth raise. Banducci definitely thinks his hand is best here and he is trying to extract value.
Jesus, on the other hand, suspects Banducci may be four-betting him light:
"So he re-popped me another $40,000, which I didn't really mind at that point. I'm still thinking my A-K is good and I can get him to lay down some pairs. I had about $120,000 more or so and I'm at least going to call so there would be about the same amount in the pot. So I just moved all-in. I felt there was a good chance he was going to fold."
With the four-bet from Banducci, there's just shy of $90,000 in the pot. If Jesus were to call here, it would leave him with $85,000, with over $130,000 in the pot.
He can't just call here and be pushed off his hand on a blank flop. A-K is a hand that does best when it sees all five community cards. So Jesus decides to commit the rest of his chips to the pot now.
Banducci tanks. He probably believes his hand is good, but he can't be too confident. When someone five-bets you all-in, you're never really confident unless you're holding two aces. But with over $200,000 in the pot and only another $85,000 to call, Banducci makes the call with his queens.
When the cards are turned over, it turns out to be a race. This vindicates Banducci's call. He's getting better than 2-1 on an even-money race.
"I think he made the right call. Me with A-K, I'm not as worried about aces or kings. But he has to be much more worried about aces or kings because as far as he knows there's six possible pairs of aces and six pairs of kings. Because I have A-K I know there are only three pairs of aces and three pairs of kings. But I could have A-K there.
"If he didn't already have $60,000 invested in the hand I assume he would have folded queens. It wasn't an easy call by any means but in that situation I think he made the right decision."
When Banducci's hand is turned over, though, Jesus is not overjoyed. "It turns out he had two queens so I really didn't want to get in with A-K there."
Why Jesus doesn't want to get it in with A-K is simple. He obviously feels he has an edge at almost any table he sits down at.
This means he can outplay his opponents over time. He can find a better situation to get all his chips in the middle than a coin flip.
But now his whole tournament life is on the line in a 50-50 situation.
Luckily for Jesus, the board comes down A♥ 6♣ 2♦ and he only needs to dodge one of the two remaining queens to double-up. And with the board bricking out 6♠ 9♦, Jesus indeed rakes the $300,000 chip pot.
Thanks to this double-up, Jesus is catapulted into first place. He walks on water to the final table and ends up capturing his third WSOPC title and $203,751!