A Monster at the Aussie Millions by Gus Hansen

Hand 133 – Crucial hand 7 – Biggest Hand So Far – Busting the Defending Champ

Blinds: 4000/8000/1000, My position: SB, My hand: Ac Qs, My Chip Stack: 389,000

Defending champ Lee Nelson has been moved to the table. He opens in middle position for 24,000 and I decide to just call with my Ac Qs in the SB. The BB folds. The flop comes:

Qh Qc 4c

I think it is fair to call it an above average flop!

I check and as expected Lee bets 44,000 into a 64,000 pot. Having flopped three Queens with top kicker, or as some would say “a Monster”, I have a couple of different options:

  1. Calling, trying to trap Mr. Nelson would be more tempting with no flush draw on the board. Another draw-back is that calling simply fails to put more money in the pot. For it to be a real trap, I would have to check the turn as well and could thereby easily give Mr. Nelson two free cards. I don’t like it!
  2. The mini-raise – doubling his 44,000 bet to about 100,000. Trying to keep Lee in the loop but forcing him to put a little more money in the pot. It might also be interpreted as a cheap steal-attempt thereby inducing Mr. Nelson to make a move. I like it!
  3. Standard raise – to about 150,000. Put even more money in the pot but might force Lee out of some marginal hands. Has some merit!

As you can see I prefer the mini-raise.

After some deliberation I make it 100k. Now it is Lee’s turn to think. Surprisingly fast he goes all-in putting a total of 326,000 towards the middle. Pretty happy about the development I don’t hesitate to call. After all – I am holding the third nuts – or more likely “the nuts” since Lee would have played it a little slower if he was holding either Q4 or 44.

There is now 716,000 in the pot, so the next two cards are very crucial for the outcome of this tournament. The defending champ is all-in and I am left with less than 50,000 in front of me. Whoever wins this pot will be well on the way to the final table and the other guy headed – or more or less headed – to the sideline.

Lee: Kc 9c
Me: Ac Qs

Winning percentage before the turn:
Lee: 23.1 %
Me: 76.9 %

Turn: Jh

No club but now he has a gut-shot as well. His winning percentage stays the same.

River: 3h

Nice – I win the 700,000+ pot.

So what really happened here? How did we get 700k in the middle at this stage at the tournament?
Let us take it from the top:
Lee’s opening raise from middle position with Kc 9c – a play that has my utmost sympathy.
My call in the blind with AQo is definitely not mandatory and I would generally lean towards the re-raise. Being out of position, facing a tough opponent with a big chip-stack, I opted for the more conservative call.
Checking the flop – Very straight forward as Lee will most likely take a stab with any two cards.
Flop bet by Lee – Good solid play! Continuation bets is a big part of winning tournament strategy and should be performed a very high percentage of the time – especially this time where he actually has a flush draw to back it up!
My mini-raise – described earlier in the hand.
Lee’s all-in move – OOPS. I do not agree with this play.

A much better option would be to just call and see what develops. Lee is in position and has the luxury of awaiting my next move. If I had an air ball there is a very good chance that I would give up and he would be able to take it away with a medium-sized bet on the turn. On the other hand if I had a Queen I would probably move all in on the turn and Lee would be able to get away from the hand without losing all his money. Not to forget, if a club comes on the turn we would get all the money in with me having the drawing hand.

As you can see Lee would have gained a lot of information by flat-calling. Not only would he have a better idea about the strength of my hand but he would also get to see whether a club showed up or not!

Furthermore, contrary to what people think I am actually a very tight player :-). At least in some situations… Very rarely do I check-raise a big stack on the flop with absolutely nothing. I was in a comfortable position and not especially looking for a spot to pull off a big bluff. Analyzing the hand again and again I have come to the conclusion that my most likely holding is a random Queen, with the Ace high flush draw next in line. None of which the Kc 9c fare well against.

I am not quite sure why Lee opted to move all-in but I have a strong feeling that my reputation played a big part in his decision-making.

Gus Hansen