Today I am going to write about one of the more famous hands in poker. We will look back at the famous hand 10 years later and see what decisions I may have changed. I am going to discuss my thought process in the AA v JJ hand versus Jon Duhamel during the 2010 main event. In this article, I will run thru the hand and give my thought processes on the hand from the lens 10 years later.
To set the stage in the hand, there were 15 players left in the tournament. I had roughly 20 million chips to start the hand and Duhamel covered with probably 30 million? We were 1 and 2 in chips at this point. ICM would state that we should probably be avoiding playing big pots at this point in the tournament. I was fortunate enough to have direct position on Duhamel at the table. It is also noteworthy that the next pay jump wasn’t until 12 people. The big blind was 250k at the moment, I may have the numbers slightly off though.
Duhamel is in the CO and raises to 575k and I make a standard 3bet to 1.55 million on the button with AA. Nothing out of the ordinary yet, although I should be sizing up my 3bet to around 1.8 or 2 million chips looking back. Duhamel responds by 4 betting to about 4 million chips. This is the first, and most interesting, decision in the hand. Duhamel is not incentived to be 4-betting here very often. His 4-betting range should really be AA/KK and polarized with the correct frequency of bluffs. If he is 4-betting, I really think he should be 4-bet folding AK given the stacks in the tournament at the time with ICM. At the time, I thought Duhamel could only stack off with AA/KK but would over 4-bet bluff at the time. At the time I thought Duhamel would be pretty unbalanced here and be bluffing too often since he should have little value. This led me to my decision to just flat the 4-bet, I wanted to give him a chance to hang himself post flop.
10 years later, I still think it is close between flatting and 5-bet shoving the AA. I think I would still flat given that I think Duhamel can only stack off with AA and maybe KK here preflop given the ICM model. On the other hand, shoving preflop has a couple added benefits. First, I can win a large pot now, and deny equity to Duhamel. Second, I allow him to make a big mistake and call off. I would be more incentivized to shove with hands like KK and AK to generate folds and take the pot now. These hands need more protection than AA does.
One of the main benefits of calling preflop is how easy the hand would play postflop. After calling the 4 million, stacks would be 16 million with a 8.5 million chip pot. If Duhamel bets say 3-4 million or any reasonable amount on the flop, I can simply shove all in, deny equity, while gaining a few million extra chips from his continuation bet post flop. 10 years ago, I don’t think population was slow playing AA preflop as much as they do now. My hand would be very disguised and I would still stack many strong hands.
After calling preflop. The flop comes T97. This board may seem very scary, but if you break is down by ranges, it is not too bad. Duhamel should never have TT,99,77 preflop. The only possible hands that could beat me now are the occasional T9s, 97s, j8s or 86s that 4bet pre. Looking back now, the combined likelihood of any of those is probably less than 1%. Duhamel surprises me with a check. With an SPR of 2-1, we have a couple of bet sizing options looking back. I think we can bet around 4-5 million chips setting up an easy river shove. I also think shoving for 2x pot is viable with parts of our range. Hands like JJ and QQ probably benefit from shoving 2x pot to deny equity from Ax hands and overs. With AA specifically, I don’t have a ton of protection issues, so I think my sizing of 5 million is solid.
Once Duhamel called and the turn came a Queen, my poker mind probably wasn’t at the best to think about ranges. At the time I was probably focusing on just my specific hand, AA, and I had a super easy decision. I remember my exact thought process on the turn before I shoved all-in. “Please don’t snap call”. That was the end of the thought process. With almost 20 million in the pot and 11 million behind, my decision was already made in the hand. I just had to prey that he didn’t have QQ. After shoving and not hearing him call right away, I knew I was golden.
Duhamel probably tanked for a solid 6-7 minutes. I wouldn’t be able to tell you how long, I was just staring at the board trying to control my breathing. After a while, I was thinking he had KK. It took me a while to realize just how many outs he had when he turned over JJ. Analyzing his turn call from an objective point of view (haha at me being objective 😀 ). In terms of Chip-EV, I think it is a clear call with JJ. In terms of ICM, it is probably a a bad call. Without running the ICM numbers, I’m fairly confident I want him to fold his hand. The extra 11 million chips is not worth the 20% chance of busting the tournament.
In conclusion, I think the hand was played well by me 10 years ago. I think flatting AA is likely by far the most profitable play, and I can shove with hands like AK and KK/QQ pre flop to deny equity. As far as “after the hand”, I’ll save that for another article.
Best of luck at the tables