Over the past three years, Ronnie Bardah has accumulated more than half a million dollars in tournament winnings. He is most notably recognized for his deep run in the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event, during which he received ample coverage by ESPN because of his charming and engaging personality. Bardah competed in the 2011 PokerStars.net NAPT Mohegan Sun Main Event and talked to PokerNews about a hand he played during Day 2 of the tournament.
Blinds: 800/1,600 with a 100 ante
Preflop Action: Bardah raised from the hijack with to 3,500. Jeff Papola called from the small blind, and the big blind called, as well.
Talk about your preflop decision to raise.
Before the hand, I was hovering around 20 to 30 big blinds. Not that I was super short, but I didn't have a big enough stack to open a lot. At that point, my image was pretty tight. When I opened a pot, I usually took down the blinds. I didn't really get three-bet. It folded to me, and I looked down at one ace. I didn't even look at the other card. I felt like if I saw a six or a three or a five, I would probably just fold. If I looked at one ace, and I didn't look at the other card, I wouldn't give off any vibes. I would still feel strong. It's cool to do that sometimes, it's more fun for me. If everyone folds, it doesn't matter.
What did you think about the two callers you got from the blinds?
I hadn't opened very much in the last four or five rounds, so they probably thought that if they flopped something, they could take all my chips. So no, it didn't surprise me. They're looking to take my chips just like I'm trying to take theirs.
Flop Action: The flop came . The action checked around.
Yeah, I looked as soon as they both called. The big blind was a guy who was all over the place. In my opinion, he was the most inexperienced player at the table. He'd call with any two preflop. He was really tricky. It's tough to figure out players who don't really know what they're doing. He would check-raise a lot of flops, he would bet out and fire, or even check-call with air. I didn't want to get check-raised, because I thought I'd be put in a really bad spot. I felt like I could check behind and keep the pot small.
If you had much less showdown value such as ace-high or king-queen, would you have continuation bet the flop?
It's possible. A lot of times, I do things based off aura reads. I felt like the big blind was interested in the hand more than Jeff. I thought he possibly had a nine, some kind of draw, or something he'd check-raise me with. That's why I felt like checking behind.
Turn Action: The turn was the . Papola bet 5,200, and Bardah called.
When I check back the flop, I can easily have a pretty good ace-high. So, when he leads the turn, I feel like he's either bluffing the ace, or betting for value. I decided to just call to let him hang himself if he is bluffing. A lot of people would argue to raise the turn because I have such a big hand, but at the same time, if I raise and he doesn't have anything, he's going to fold. If I just call, he might fire again.
River Action: The river was the . Papola bet 10,600. Bardah called. Papola showed , and Bardah showed for two pair.
When he bet and I called the turn, he must have thought I was calling with an ace. Now he bet the river, I thought it was definitely possible he could have ace-jack, ace-nine, and ace-ten. I thought he'd most likely three-bet me preflop with ace-queen or ace-king. Since I think he has ace-nine and ace-ten a lot, and I shove and am wrong, I'm out. If I just call the river and he has me beat, I'll still have eight or nine big blinds, which is enough to get myself back into the tournament.
He had the one hand that I could beat that he would play this way and also call my all-in on the river. In the end, I did miss out on value, but I think in the long run, I think calling is a better play than raising the river. I thought the only hands I had beat on the river that I would get value from would be ace-queen or ace-king, but I thought he'd three-bet with those hands. He would have probably three-bet his hand against anyone else at the table, but since I was playing so tight, he probably didn't want to commit himself in case I four-bet jammed.
That happens a lot in tournaments where someone might bet half your stack, or a lot on the river, and you're pretty sure you have the best hand, but you're not 100 percent sure. It's almost like a coin flip. I think it's better to just call. Staying in the tournament is crucial. Even though I did happen to miss value, I don't regret my play at all.