Poker Tips from Pros: Jason Wheeler's Pro Take on Amateur Tourney

Jason Wheeler courtesy of WPT
Jason Wheeler: Photo: WPT

Jason Wheeler is in the form of his life.

A few weeks ago Wheeler set up camp in his beloved city of Amsterdam and blew away the competition in the Holland Casino.

He won the World Poker Tour (WPT) High Roller for $140,317 and then made the final table of the WPT Main Event, finishing sixth for $46,201.

From Amsterdam he moved on to Vegas for the 2015 WSOP and Wheeler has his eyes on maintaining that flow.

He made the final table of Event #2: $5,000 No-Limit Texas Hold’em, finishing fifth for $112,339. It’s all good from here on in.

When I needed someone to review my hand histories from Event #1, the $565 Casino Employees Event, whom better to ask?

Here are seven hands, Wheeler’s comments and a few of my own thrown in for good measure. I hope you learn something new.


  • Event: WSOP Event #1: $565 Casino Employee Event
  • Buy-in: $565
  • Starting Stack: 5,000
  • Blind Levels: 40 minutes
Don't let nerves make you rush your decision.

Hand #1

Level 1: 25/50

This is the third hand of play. We're six handed and a player in the hijack seat, whom I have played with before and think is decent, raises to 125.

I have A J on the button and decide to call. The big blind also calls.

Flop: K T 7

We all check.

Turn: A

The original raiser bets 150 and only I call.

River: J

The original raiser checks to me. I think I am ahead and decide to bet 375 for value from a weaker ace. He folds.

Jason Wheeler: I like the way you have played the hand but I think a check is slightly better on the river.

If you think he has a weaker ace, or air, then he's not likely to call with worse when any queen makes a straight.

Lee Davy: On reflection I agree with Jason’s viewpoint. As a side note, I remember making my decision quickly.

I act this way occasionally and I think it's nerves. Later on in the event I took my time and felt comfortable doing so.

Don’t let nerves force you to rush your decision.

Hand #2

After the AJhh hand I pick up AJss and AJo.

I raise with both, picking up the blinds and antes in one hand and then folding to a check-raise on a K88 flop in the other.

So by the time it folds around to me in the HJ and I see A K. I am by far the most active player at the table. Only the button calls. He has been playing loose.

Flop: K T 2

I c-bet to 150 and he raises to 400. I put him on a range of deuces, tens, king-ten and all the Broadway straight combos. I call.

Turn: T

I check and he quickly bets 700. I think if he has trips or a boat here he takes a little longer to make his decision. I call.

River: 2

Showdown information is vital for future ranges

I check and he checks behind. I show the [Ah] [Kh], and he mucks.

I made a rookie mistake. I showed my hand very quickly when I should have tried to see if he would have shown his hand to gain more information.

I finish the level with 6,500 and I’m feeling good. There are two weak players at the table and I have my eye on playing pots with them.

Jason Wheeler: You've played the hand correctly but you are right -- you need to try and see his hand as that gives you vital information that can be used later in the event.

Your range assessment is probably too narrow. I would have thrown some straight air balls in his range and some low pairs that were trying to set mine.

Lee Davy: On listening to Jason’s analysis of my range definition I can see how I am a little inexperienced in this area and have work to do. I realized straight away that I made a mistake when I showed my hand quickly.

During a recent interview with Dominik Nitsche he told me that showdown information is absolutely vital when creating future ranges for opponents. I should have paid more attention to that advice.

Hand #3

Level 2: 50/100

We're now eight-handed and for the first 30 minutes of this level I play very few hands. I did open [Qs] [7c] on the button and then folded to a flop lead on a connected low board. But apart from that I am not getting involved.

Then one of the weaker players raises to 325 from early position. He has been limping into every pot so I assume he has a narrow, and strong, range.

Folding in these spots will help.

I call on the button with 7 6. The small blind (the second weaker player at the table) also calls.

Flop: K Q 6

The small blinds leads for 1,125 and the original raiser folds. I realize that he has overbet the pot.

I go through his possible range: I rule out kings and queens as I believe he would squeeze with these hands. I have a blocker for the sixes, so I rule out pocket sixes.

KQ makes sense, as does the nut flush draw. I don’t think the Broadway combos would bet so big.

I heavily weight towards KQ, thinking he is betting big to get the diamond draws to fold. I decide to call but I’m not comfortable about it.

Turn: 3

He instantly bets 2,750 and with only 4,000 behind I fold. After I am eliminated he tells me that he had a pair of sixes and I believe him.

I was prepared to get it in on the turn had I turned a diamond. I guess I could have also folded the flop, but this seems a bit weak.

In hindsight though I could have folded because my flush outs weren’t the nuts.

Jason Wheeler Feedback: As sick as it sounds I think you have to fold the flop. When determining his range we can rule out KK and QQ.

This means his range narrows to KQ, 66 or flush draws that have you dominated. Your hand fares very badly against his range and it’s therefore a fold.

Lee Davy: I agree with Jason’s assessment. The difference between professional players and a recreational player like me is the pros won’t get too attached to their hand.

In this instance Jason looks at the flop, looks at his hand and then proceeds to determine a range for his opponent. Whereas I look at the flop, look at my hand, and think: ‘what a great hand,’ and then get attached to it.

Being able to fold in these spots would make me a much better player.

Hand #4

I open the cutoff to 250 with A 8 and both blinds call.

The flop is Q 7 4. I c-bet to 350 and get called by the small blind.

Ayaz Mahmood
Loose opens can be mood changers.

We both check the 3 turn and I fold when he leads at the sight of the Q on the river.

I hated this hand. I think the open was a little loose and I don’t like c-betting the flop.

I should have just checked behind because there is a good chance that one of them would have stuck around with a big spade.

I end the level with 3,450. My mood has changed. I’m not feeling good anymore.

Jason Wheeler: We haven’t reached the antes yet so you should fold this hand pre-flop.

You're also correct about the flop. You should not be betting here.

Hand #5

Level 3: 75/150

I open the button holding K Q and the weak player in the small blind calls.

The flop is 4 4 2 and we both check. The turn is the J and he leads for 800. I fold.

In my experience c-bets on these types of flops, playing live with weaker players, never seem to get through. That’s why I checked behind.

I was concerned about my stack size and didn’t want to lose anymore chips.

Poker player
Don't let past hands spoil future decisions.

Jason Wheeler Feedback: I think you let intuition, or past hands, get in the way of the right play here. You have to bet this flop more than you check it.

If you're going to check you have to be prepared to make moves on later streets. On the jack turn lead you might want to consider jamming all-in here, but I guess this didn’t cross your mind.

I’m not saying you should, but it needs to be a consideration. You have blockers to him having hit the jack and his range usually doesn’t have so many jacks to begin with, while yours can.

Lee Davy: I learned a lot from Jason in this hand. My thinking is not this advanced. I do have a tendency to allow past hands to affect my future decisions.

This is not a good habit, particularly when every player is different. His viewpoint on jamming the turn is one that never crossed my mind.

As a recreational player who is only playing a handful of poker tournaments this year, jamming on a pure bluff doesn’t cross my mind as I'm scared of being eliminated.

This is a major flaw in my thinking and one that damages my game.

Hand #6

A weak player limps from under the gun and I raise to 500 (from 3,125) from the button holding pocket queens.

He calls. The flop is A K T. He quickly leads for 900 and I fold.

Once again I was concerned about my stack size. I knew he would be tied to a weak AX hand, and even if I called,and hit my gin card, I'm not getting paid.

Jason Wheeler Feedback: This hand is fine.

Another bad beat story for your friends.

Hand #7

Straight after Hand #6 I pick up pocket kings in the cutoff and open to 325.

The small blind three-bets to 700. I put my last 2,400 over the line and he calls.

He shows pocket jacks and rivers a jack to knock me out.

Jason Wheeler Feedback: A standard spot played correctly with another bad beat story to tell your friends.

In terms of overall strategy adjustments I think you probably don’t consider raising in enough spots where you are thinking it’s probably a call or fold situation.

Lee Davy: Jason is right. I'm not thinking of using the raise as much as I should.

The reason that I avoid this type of play is because in most scenarios a raise could result in me playing for stacks. I'm thinking more in terms of ‘preservation’ than ‘aggression.'

This is the result of only playing in a few events, wanting to do well for my backer, and the financial pressure of wanting to cash. None of these help my game.

That said, if I was deeper stacked then I would raise in more spots. And yes… I did tell my bad beat story to my friends.

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