Tommy Le, winner of the 2017 WSOP $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event, talked about his opponent’s behavior in a pivotal hand where he had a set of Kings and folded to a raise on the flop. I transcribed this hand from www.PokerGo.com, where you can subscribe month-to-month to watch poker events and footage, including WSOP events. Also thanks to poker player Skip Parker for sending me an email drawing my attention to this hand.
Here’s a transcript of the interview that happened right after the PLO event ended:
Tatjana: I’d like you to lead me through the Kings hand. Would you like to lead me through that hand?
Tommy: Basically, limper limps on the button. I have Kings. I think they were double-suited. So I raise the pot. Scott had me covered a little bit. We were two of the biggest stacks. And I knew, when I raise pot, I saw Scott look at my stack, and I think he was trying to calculate if he could re-pot me back and get the majority of his chips in.
So he opted to call. I wasn’t really sure if had Aces, but I knew he had a big hand. Like, he didn’t hesitate and he called pretty quick. So I knew it was one of those hands where… the hand plays itself.
So he calls. Button folds. Flop comes A-K-9 rainbow. I make a standard bet. Like a third of the pot, think it was. And then he kind of like, when I bet, he didn’t really hesitate to raise. It took him a few seconds to make it 600, I think I bet 165, he made it 600, think it was. When he made it 600, I knew if he had AK he would probably call. 9s, same. Maybe raise. But I think he would have to think a little more than insta-raise.
So when he did an insta-raise I felt like he either had, maybe, K-Q, J-T. But even that, he might call. Or like an A-K, guess he could raise the A-K, but my first instinct is to call. I have second set, so I should call there like 99% of the time.
But then when I was tanking, I saw him breathe. I remember looking at him, my instinct was just to call, I was trying to figure out what I’d do on the turn if I call. I remember looking at him and he made this weird breathing gesture. He was breathing really hard. And we all know Scott’s a pro, right? This is not his first rodeo. For him to make that play, I felt like he was baiting me in. And the more I looked at him, the more he got nervous. So right there, I was like 99% sure he had Aces. So obviously I laid the hand down.
Here’s a rundown of the behavior Le talks about:
- After his pre-flop pot-sized raise, he says he thought he saw his opponent, Scott Clements, look at his (Tommy’s) stack. Tommy interpreted this as Scott considering a reraise, so he thought Scott probably had a strong hand.
- A quick call pre-flop of the pot-sized raise, which Tommy also interpreted as strength.
- A pretty quick raise on the flop. In so many words, Tommy thought this was polarizing and combined with the fact Scott wouldn’t be raising medium-strength/weak hands here, makes very strong hands very likely.
- An over-exaggerated breathing from Scott. Considering Scott is an experienced player and unlikely to be genuinely nervous, Tommy thought this was likely to be a deceptive act.
These are all very great points and likely to be meaningful, but I do question, considering Scott Clements is an experienced player, how reliable these behaviors are. I wonder if Tommy was mainly making this fold for fundamental strategy reasons, and maybe being a bit cautious/conservative in not calling on the flop. And if that’s true, perhaps Tommy was over-emphasizing the importance of the tells to not seem overly cautious/conservative.
In any case, if you were on the fence in a spot like this, using tells like this for tough/borderline decisions is great. And having several clues be present is more meaningful and potentially helpful than just having one or two of them. Helps make the read stronger.
If you’d like to see this hand, you could sign up for PokerGo.com and watch the PLO event footage; this hand’s at about the 24 minute mark. Also, the commentators, Doug Polk and David Tuchman, discuss the hand from a strategic perspective at around 105 minutes.