Pro moves strategy: Play like a pro

It’s heads-up in the biggest buy-in event online ever, the $51k WCOOP Super High Roller, with Ben ‘Ben86’ Tollerene up against José Ángel ‘Cejakas14’ Latorre


  • Event: 2015WCOOP $51K Super High Roller
  • Blinds: 3k/6k/750
  • Stack: 596,730 \
  • Hand: 7 8

The 2015 WCOOP boasted the biggest buy-in event of all time. The $51k Super High Roller attracted 46 players creating a prize pool of $2.3m, with a first prize of $851k. Final table chip leader Mike ‘Timex’ McDonald busted in fifth spot after a cold run of cards, and after Nopaleva went in fourth, the remaining three agreed a deal, leaving $20k and the bracelet up for grabs. David ‘dpeters17’ Peters busted in third, leaving Ben ‘Ben86’ Tollerene and José Ángel ‘Cejakas14’ Latorre with similar stacks when a huge hand was dealt. Could Tollerene make the most of it? PokerStars pro Liv Boeree was calling the action on the Twitch replay.

Tollerene’s odds:

  • PREFLOP: 17.5%
  • FLOP: 24%
  • TURN: 73%
  • RIVER: 100%


Both players are deep stacked, with just under 100 big blinds each when Cejakas14 finds a genuine hand on the button and raises it to 13,500. Ben86 three-bets to 42k and Cejakas14 calls. It’s an aggressive move that gives him a chance to win the pot there and then, or the impetus in the hand that he has to play out of position after the flop.

Flop: 9♣ 10 7♣

It’s an action flop. Cejakas14 flops middle set and Ben86 hits bottom pair and an open-ended straight draw. Ben86 checks and Cejakas14 bets 42k on the super-wet board. Ben86 calls. ‘He just chooses to check the flop’, says Boeree. ‘A lot of people would continuation bet there and I don’t think it’s correct. I think he’s right to check-call there.’

Turn: J

The turn is gin for Ben86 who makes his straight. It’s the worst card that Cejakas could see and the action goes check-check. ‘I’m surprised Cejakas didn’t bet the turn here,’ saus Boeree. ‘It’s unlikely that Ben86 has an Eight and the board is so draw heavy you’d think he’d want to protect his set.’

River 6♠

The way the action has gone it’s almost impossible for either player to have an Eight. By three-betting preflop Ben86 has disguised his hand, with pocket Eights the only conventional way for him to have made the straight.

The question for Ben86 is how to make the most of his good fortune. Most people would make a small value bet here, hoping to get paid. With 169,500 in the pot though, Ben86 decides to go for it all, massively overbetting with a shove for 511k. It’s a great bet that wins him the title if he’s called.

‘Ben so rarely has an Eight in his range’, says Boeree. He three-bet pre – how many Eights is he likely to have? Pocket Eights he definitely can have but it’s not that likely… Ben is sick enough to do this as a bluff and Cejakas knows that. If it’s from a player who never bluffs it’s not a good bet as you’re never getting paid. If anyone’s balanced here, Ben is. Cejakas should never have an Eight as he checked the turn back, and Cejakas knows that Ben knows that.’

Cejakas14 makes the call with his flopped middle set and Ben86 takes the extra $20k and the WCOOP bracelet.

It’s a great play from Ben86 but it would have been interesting to see how the hand would have played out differently if the deal hadn’t been made. When the chop was aggreed, Tollerene took $596,518 and Cejakas got $560,412, leaving $20k and the bracelet to play for. $20k is a lot of money but when you’ve already secured a payday like this it shrinks – as evidenced by Ben86 offering to flip for it as soon as the deal was agreed. Would Cejakas have made the call if they’d been playing for the original payouts, with the huge payjumps at the top?

Irrespective, it’s a great example of how overbetting the river can pay off. A small value bet would be far more likely to be called, but you haven’t got to get an overbet through every time for it to be a hugely profitable play. In the right situations it’s as likely to be called as a smaller value bet.

Here, Cejakas had exactly the sort of hand that Tollerene was hoping he might have, although it’s largely irrelevant – Cejakas can only really beat a bluff.

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From the horse’s mouth

Ben Tollerene was a recent guest on the Poker Life podcast and he talked about the final hand of the $51k High Roller. ‘When the turn goes check-check I think I have the nuts with something like pocket Tens or better, and I can now go all-in with every hand I consider the nuts and as many bluffs as I can fit for my bet size. The bigger my bet the more bluffs I’m allowed to balance into my range.’

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