It’s still early in 2017 but we might have already seen the best hand of the year.
On Live at the Bike from the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, Doug Polk launches a very strong attack in a hand against Alec Torelli.
Torelli pays every street with a hand that gets worse and worse. It was an astounding battle and it deserves a closer look.
Flop to River
Live at the Bike is an ongoing live stream of cash games played in the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles and if you haven’t watched it yet, it’s really worth checking out.
High roller and YouTube star Doug Polk paid it a visit last month and stayed for a couple of sessions. A couple of interesting players gathered to take him on.
One of them was fellow high-staker Alec Torelli and, as you might expect, the two clashed. Sitting UTG+2 with $10,125 and with blinds of $25/$50 and a straddle of $100, Torelli opens to $325 with
It’s folded to Polk on the button, who has a bigger stack and re-raises to $1,025. That gets everyone else out of the way -- even the player in the big blind who folds A-Q.
Torelli doesn’t budge and calls. That puts $2,225 in the pot and they go to a flop.
Torelli checks and Polk continues with a bet of $1,250. Torelli calls it and brings the pot up to $4,725 with effective stacks now at almost $8,000.
The turn is the Torelli checks again and Polk leads out, now for $3,175. Torelli makes another call and the pot is now at $11,075. Effective stacks are down to $4,675.
The river is the Torelli checks a third time and Polk puts him all-in. There's $15,750 in the pot and Torelli has a couple of things to think about.
Eventually he calls and beats Polk’s hand, which turns out to be The dealer moves more than $20,000 over to Alec Torelli. Watch the hand again in the video below.
This hand is a rare example of a player holding tight to his naked pair and calling three streets despite an overcard on the flop.
It looks like utter madness and you should definitely not try this at home. But there is method in it and Torelli is a world-class player.
Torelli has the fourth-best pocket pair and raises, only to be faced with a re-raise from Polk on the button. This is very significant as Polk’s range is so much wider in this spot than all the other players at the table.
A player on this level knows how to balance his range and add a couple of bluffs to it occasionally. This gives him a better chance of being paid off with his good hands and of hitting virtually any board.
Watch how this raise – although it’s comparatively cheap – has such a strong impact that even A-Q gets folded. Sandwiched between these two players the big blind doesn’t feel comfortable with a hand as strong as that.
Perfect Card to Carry On
Torelli can obviously never fold jacks in this spot. He could put in a 4-bet here but that would have several disadvantages.
He would make all hands worse than his fold and he'd win less than he potentially could, or he would end up playing against a big hand out of position.
By just calling Torelli keeps all the bluffs and semi-bluffs in the hand and he can re-evaluate on the flop.
The flop has an ace, which is a good card for Polk because he has some aces in his range. But there aren’t really too many of them because with A-T or A-J he probably wouldn’t 3-bet pre-flop.
Still, it’s the perfect card to carry on with the bluff to represent an ace. There are also a lot of good turn cards like a five or a nine to give him an open-ender or a ten or a four to give him a gutshot.
On the other side of the table Torelli can’t just give up his jacks to one single bet or he’d be easy game for the loose-aggressive players at the table. The call is the one and only correct move for Torelli.
This is where things become more interesting, although the turn card is a blank if you’ve ever seen one. Torelli checks again and Polk now has to decide whether he wants to go through with his bluff.
Blank If You've Ever Seen One
He would have loved to see some form of improvement for his hand but still chooses to continue with his story.
Torelli is now already in a position where he knows he’s playing for his whole stack. Although he has only invested a quarter of it so far he has to be willing to risk another $7,500 as he can't expect Polk to slow down on the river.
If Torelli knew that Polk would always bet the river, he could still find a fold. But as he doesn’t there’s at least a chance that Polk checks with busted draws or complete air.
Still Hard to Pay Off with Underpair
The king on the river probably doesn't much for anyone. A-K still beats the same hands as before except some rather unlikely hands like A-7 or A-2.
Torelli needs to check again because there’s no hand worse than his that still calls. He just hopes Polk checks behind. Instead, Polk moves all-in representing a strong ace or a set. But that gives Torelli better than 3-1 pot odds.
Torelli had already invested almost half of his stack, pretty much announcing a call on the river. But of course it’s still incredibly hard to pay off with an underpair.
While Polk’s range doesn’t have too many strong hands in it (and it didn’t look very strong because he’s on the button), kudos to Torelli for standing up against the pressure from start to finish.
That would have been difficult even with an ace.
Even Polk himself found it hard to believe Torelli called all the way with the hand he had. Polk concluded that Torelli must have had a read on him.
Torelli has shown us the most ballsy or craziest call of the year and it deserved more than a $20,000 pot.