Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 27: Great Laydown or Bad Fold on Poker Night in America?
At the end of April, I had the opportunity to play in the Poker Night in America $25/$50 no-limit hold’em cash game at SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia. Over the next few weeks, I will be exploring various hands I played in the game, which took place over two days and featured a lineup that included Shaun Deeb, Phil Hellmuth, Darren Elias, Alec Torelli, Dan Shak, Tom Schneider, and Andy Frankenberger, among others.
Let me start by admitting this game was way out of my league. It was by far the biggest cash game I’ve ever played, and by no means was I practicing sound bankroll management when I agreed to bring two $5,000 minimum buy-ins, one for each day. This was merely an opportunity for me to check something off my bucket list — to play poker on TV against some of the biggest names in the game.
Fortunately things went better than I expected. I went on a heater on the first day, which included a double early on. It happened when Frank Olivieri, the owner of Philly’s famed Pat’s Steaks, Dan Shak, and Alec Torelli each put in $100 preflop and I looked down at on the button. I made it $400 to go, Olivieri called with , Shak folded his , and Torelli came along with .
The flop gave me top set, and I continued for $700 after it checked to me. Olivieri called with top pair, and Torelli eyed up our shorter stacks before moving all in with bottom set. I snap-called off for $5,550 total and Olivieri got out of the way.
“Wow, set over set. What a sick beat,” Hellmuth chimed. He then pointed out Torelli could hit running hearts. Needless to say, I my heart skipped a beat when the dealer burned and turned the .
“I threw away two hearts by the way,” Hellmuth added.
A fourth heart on the river would have been devastating, but fortunately for me the harmless peeled off. Not only did I win the biggest pot of my life, I suddenly had playing chips and some newfound confidence. It showed too as I continued to build my stack, which included winning a hand off Hellmuth with jack-deuce (I’ll write about that in a future article).
Late in the evening I happened to be involved in what everyone there agreed was one of the game’s most memorable hands. It began with Torelli raising to $150 holding , I called with , and Deeb three-bet to $600 from the hijack. Action folded back to Torelli, who called, and I decided to call the additional $450. Once again I flopped the nuts when it came down . Torelli paused for a few moments before betting $1,100, and I decided to raise to $3,500. Deeb folded, and much to the surprise of the entire table, Torelli snap-folded his set face up.
“Now you’re playing the game,” Hellmuth complimented him. “There’s only five or six people on the planet that understand how good your play was right there. Half the players at this table think you made a bad play.”
I actually think Torelli made a good laydown, and I wasn’t surprised to see him make it. I put Torelli on either a set or pair/straight combo, and to me his bet was simply testing the waters. He was fishing for information. In hindsight, I probably should have flatted, but at the time I thought it’d look too suspicious, and truth be told, I was scared of giving them a free card. In reality, by betting I basically turned my cards face up and let both Deeb (who was more than likely going to fold anyway) and Torelli off easy.
Things could have played out differently had Torelli opted to gamble, but he knew I had him beat. Granted, maybe he didn’t know I had the nuts, but even if I had pocket tens or jacks he was crushed. I’d been playing fairly tight the entire day and had developed a solid image, so all of those hands were within my wheelhouse.
I could have played a $30,000 pot in that hand — against some of the other players at the table, I probably would have — but as it was I ended up winning a couple thousand (which was all right in my book). I really wish we could have rabbit hunted on that hand, but that wasn’t an option. I’ll never know what might have been, but at least I had a chance to talk to Torelli about the hand. Here were his thoughts:
“I think preflop was pretty standard because we were 200-250 big blinds deep. It was a great spot to set mine and I might have the best hand. I just think when you call it changes a lot about the hand. How you were playing — even anyone’s image to call in that spot — the hands that they could have are so narrow.
On a board like , I think Shaun is going to check the flop 100% of the time, so I think betting becomes a better strategy with all my hands. Shaun is going to check with aces through queens, but if I bet I can get value from those hands. Giving a free card is such a bad spot because so many cards, like a king, queen, eight or seven, kill my action. So it’s a good spot for me to bet, even if I’m bluffing, because it puts a lot of pressure on one-pair hands.
I think when you raise me there, there are so few hands you could be bluffing with. I’m not bluffing that often. The board has smashed everybody and I’m leading into two people. It’s not a spot most people bluff, so you to raise me there, you can’t really have a bluff. is like the only bluff you have, and I think for you to raise me there with that hand would be a little insane.
You’re never bluffing, and against all your hands you’re never bluffing with I just don’t beat anything. It could seem impressive to fold really quickly there, but if you think about it, it’s clearly a fold. I think folding [quickly] there was kind of for show and a flashy play, but if you think through the hand it’s a spot in that particular game where I felt I was beat.”
Torelli, who is a frequent contributor right here at PokerNews Strategy, used sound logic to reach his conclusion, and he made the correct play. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not he was tempted to put in the additional $2,400 to try and pair the board.
“I would call with two jacks because I would think there’s a small chance I’m ahead, and if I’m not then at least if you had and the board pairs I’m in a good spot. Whereas if I have nines, I could be dead to jacks and tens, so the board pairing wouldn’t help me. It was such a bad spot with nines.
I’d rather have and then peel. If the board pairs, I can bet. If I have two nines, I bluff the board pairing a lot. If I have , I can hit a king and bust you, or if the board pairs I can bluff it. But I’m not confident enough you have . You could have a set, and then I’m risking that play and betting into the nuts. I’m just not sure you have , ya know?
It’s hard [for you] to win more money against me. I think that calling with your hand is better. Even though if you call, I’ll still want to check-fold. It’s hard for you to win money, which is why I bet. It puts me in an easier spot to play my hand.”
I went on to cash out for $20,775 on the first day (a profit of $15,775), but ended up giving half back on Day 2, which featured a much tougher line-up and me playing off my A-game (more on that in a future article as well). All told I profited $7,850 against some tough competition. Poker Night in America’s Nolan Dalla had some kind words to say about my appearance, and even said I’ll "certainly be invited back." I look forward to that.
For those interest in seeing Torelli’s laydown, check out the video below at around the 1:46:00 mark. You can also watch my entire appearance on the archived live stream, and this fall it will air on CBS Sports Network (I don’t know the exact date yet).
In this Series
- 1 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 1: Making Reads and Trusting Them
- 2 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 2: Playing in Poker Charity Events
- 3 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 3: Throttle Back Before You End Up Punting
- 4 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 4: Punish the Satellite Bubble
- 5 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 5: What is Proper Accumulator Strategy?
- 6 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 6: A Chip and a Chair Story with “SirWatts”
- 7 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 7: 15 Things About Poker I Wish I’d Known Sooner
- 8 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 8: Examining the Largest Overlay in Poker History
- 9 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 9: Differences Between Rebuys and Reentries
- 10 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 10: Five Must-Read Poker Books of 2014
- 11 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 11: When Will You Finally Break Through?
- 12 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 12: Dealing with a Target on Your Back
- 13 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 13: Knowing When to Call It Quits
- 14 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 14: Embarking on a Year-Long Weight Loss Journey
- 15 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 15: Navigating Multiple Decision Points in a Poker Hand
- 16 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 16: Chris Moorman Tells Me How Badly I Play Poker
- 17 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 17: Richard “nutsinho” Lyndaker on Getting It in Marginal
- 18 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 18: Getting Inside the Head of Poker Pro Brian Rast
- 19 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 19: Stupid Calls & Lucky Draws in MSPT WI Championship
- 20 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 20: Talking Ante-Only Strategy with Greg “FossilMan” Raymer
- 21 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 21: Contributing to Jonathan Little’s New Book
- 22 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 22: Consequences of Acting Out of Turn & Tossing in Chips
- 23 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 23: When It Comes to Chops, Do What’s In Your Best Interest
- 24 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 24: Accepting Bad Beats & Lessons in Selling Action
- 25 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 25: Heinz’ Ace-High Call Shows Why He's a World Champ
- 26 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 26: Is Keeping the Short Stack Alive Collusion?
- 27 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 27: Great Laydown or Bad Fold on Poker Night in America?
- 28 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 28: Calling Hellmuth with Jack-Deuce Offsuit
- 29 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 29: The Philosophy of "No-Chop" Chad
- 30 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 30: Preparing to Play the World Series of Poker
- 31 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 31: Staying on Your Grind at the World Series of Poker
- 32 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 32: The Perilous Decision to Call Off with Ace-Queen
- 33 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 33: Using Poker Skills in Reality TV Competitions
- 34 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 34: Esfandiari Explains How to Recover from Bad Beats
- 35 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 35: Tilly vs. Brunson in Super High Roller Cash Game Hand
- 36 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol 36: Unconventional Play Leads to Good WSOP Main Event Start
- 37 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 37: Lessons in Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low w/ Evan Jarvis
- 38 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 38: Things to Say and Do When You Bust a Poker Tournament
- 39 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 39: How Much Did I Have to Raise to Get You to Fold?
- 40 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 40: Practicing Patience in My Deep PPC Poker Tour Run
- 41 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 41: Analyzing a Questionable SHRPO Main Event Hand
- 42 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 42: Analyzing the Play of Neymar Jr. at EPT Barcelona
- 43 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 43: The Value of a Reliable Poker Reputation
- 44 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 44: John “KasinoKrime” Beauprez Rips My PLO Game Apart
- 45 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 45: Satellite Dilemmas -- To Call or Not to Call
- 46 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 46: Seiver Leverages the River in Super High Roller Bowl
- 47 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 47: What Untraditional Moves in Poker Might Mean
- 48 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 48: Thinking About the Future with Sam Grizzle
- 49 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 49: WCOOP Champ “Coenaldinho7” Offers Up His Biggest Hands
- 50 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 50: The Peril of Shoving Weak Aces
- 51 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 51: The Importance of Not Giving Up in Poker Tournaments
- 52 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 52: Does Asking “Check” Actually Constitute a Check?
- 53 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 53: Thomas Cannuli Impresses Even After Main Event Bustout
- 54 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 54: Dealers Aren’t Always Right
- 55 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 55: Don’t Get Married to Pocket Aces
- 56 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 56: Bazeley’s Survival Instinct Leads to Continued Success
- 57 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 57: Playing “Deuces Wild” on the European Poker Tour
- 58 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 58: The Wildest Hand in European Poker Tour History
- 59 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 59: Death, Zombies & Spending Time w/Phil Hellmuth
- 60 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 60: How the Unstoppable Fedor Holz Managed to Win Again
- 61 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 61: Lessons To Be Learned When You Hit the Big Stage
- 62 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 62: Steve O’Dwyer Explains the “Oreo Cookie Tell”
- 63 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 63: What Would Happen to a Chip Stack If a November Niner Died?
- 64 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 64: Forgetting One Chip -- Should It Still Be an All-In Bet?
- 65 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 65: Todd “sharkslayerrr” Breyfogle on Bankroll Management
- 66 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 66: Cash Game Pro Daniel Arfin Offers Sound Bankroll Advice
- 67 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 67: Honeyman Plays Kings to Keep in Opponent’s Bluff Range
- 68 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 68: Why Do I Even Bother Drinking at the Poker Table?
- 69 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 69: Is Your Favorite Poker Pro Left- or Right-Handed?
- 70 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 70: In Order to Live You Have to Be Willing to Die
- 71 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 71: How to Amass a Big Stack Early in a Poker Tournament
- 72 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 72: Answering User-Submitted Poker Scenarios
- 73 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 73: Saying Goodbye with a Top Five List
- 74 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 74: We're Back, Baby!
- 75 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 75: Jivkov on Exploiting Capped Ranges
- 76 Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 76: Matt Bretzfield Gets Tricky With Aces
- 77 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 77: Joseph Cheong Gets Crazy with a Pair of Ladies
- 78 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 78: Wyoming Poker Action & Wild South Dakota Hand
- 79 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 79: Calling Controversy at WinStar
- 80 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 80: Going for Value with Matt Hunt
- 81 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 81: Bracelet Winner Ryan Leng on Bad Call
- 82 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 82: Romeopro33 Recounts XL Eclipse Victory
- 83 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 83: Men The Master Doesn't Get Paid
- 84 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 84: Harman Hits Back-to-Back Miracle Turns
- 85 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 85: Jamie Kerstetter on Dealing with Bounties
- 86 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 86: Matt Stout Develops a Limp Dynamic
- 87 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 87: Matt Alexander Caught in Between w/ Two Red Aces
- 88 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 88: John Beauprez on Why He Folded a Set of Jacks
- 89 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 89: Alex Aqel Lets Opponent Hang Himself with Aces
- 90 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 90: David Peters Makes Beastly Call Against Will Givens
- 91 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 91: Poker Lessons from a Game of Risk
- 92 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 92: My Upstuck Diagnosis by the CLC Squad
- 93 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 93: Alex Foxen Coolers Nick Petrangelo in SHRB
- 94 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 94: My $25,000 PSPC Experience at 2019 PCA
- 95 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 95: The Equity of Leveraging Time Extensions
- 96 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 96: Dan O'Brien on Developing Healthy Routines
- 97 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 97: Big Hands From the WSOP-C Potawatomi
- 98 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 98: Simon Deadman Rips Apart My NLH Tourney Play
- 99 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 99: Shoving 10-6 Smack Dab Into Pocket Aces
- 100 Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 100: The Revived Re-Entries Debate