Articles by Annie Duke

First Big Bellagio Win (long)

On Monday the April 5th I entered the $2500 buy-in Limit Hold’em Tournament at the Bellagio. My brother, Howard Lederer, had just won the first event–the $2500 buy-in No Limit Hold’em. He won on Sunday night which was really exciting since he had won the same event the year before!

On Monday I entered the tournament with my plane scheduled for 8 am the next morning to head back to Portland. Of course, if I made the final table I would have to reschedule since that would start at 3 pm the next day. Throughout the day Jack McClelland kept joking with me that I would be missing my plane.

I started with a very bad table–there were a lot of really excellent limit hold’em and tournament players including Todd Brunson, Thor Hansen, David Chiu and Allen Cunningham–all truly great players. Very early on I got knocked down from my 5K starting chips to 900! On the hand before the first break I was in the big blind with my 900 in chips and looked down at AA! What incredible luck! I tripled up right then and when I got back from the break I never looked back.

By the time dinner break came around at 9pm I had 45K in chips. Average stack at that point was about 20K. I was feeling pretty good with about 45 players left. I was even thinking maybe I would be missing that flight afterall.

When I got back from dinner I got extemely lucky on a hand. A guy in late position raised and I called in the blind with KJo. The board came JTX and I check raised. A blank hit on the turn and I bet out. He raised me and I called. The river was a K giving me top two pair. I bet out and he called. I really needed that King as I was against AJ! I was in terrible shape with one card to come. Boy did I get lucky!

That got me to over 60K in chips. When we broke down to two tables I lost a very strange hand. A maniac kind of guy raised in late position with A4. I looked down at AQ and reraised. Then he raised me back! Needless to say he hit a four and won the hand. I was very surprised by the four bet out of position. But maybe that was my pay back for hitting the King on the river when I needed three outs.

When we made it down to 10 players we redrew to one table. I was down to about 40K again when we redrew. I bluffed a huge pot against a very tight player with 8 high and then hit a couple of hands and we were down to the final table. I had 98K in chips and felt pretty good about my 4th place position since all three of the big stacks were directly to my right. I also felt that it was a relatively inexperienced final table which I knew would work to my advantage.

Needless to say, I missed my 8 am flight and slept till 2:15 pm. I was really well rested when I came down to play–feeling really good about my chances. I immediately lost a unlucky hand though. The player in the 1 seat raised and a loose, aggressive player reraised. I looked at QQ in the small blind and called. The player in the 1 seat called as well.

The board came J76. What a great flop for QQ! Except the only problem was I was against 77 and JJ! Both players had flopped sets. Luckily it came two bets to me on the flop and I figured out I was beat right there. But that hand still knocked me down to 30K.

The players to my right were, thankfully, very tight so I was able to build my stack back up to around 100K without ever really showing a hand. And then I had a very lucky hand go my way. I raised before the flop with A6. The player in the big blind called. He was the big stack. The flop came K76 one club. He bet and I raised and he reraised! I called. The turn was the Jack of clubs giving me a flush draw. He bet. I knew I wasn’t folding so I decided to semi-bluff here and raise to put pressure on top pair. He called quickly and i knew I was going to have to hit my hand to win. Luckily a 5 of clubs hit the river giving me the nut flush! He checked, I bet, and he called and I won the pot. He was none to happy to say the least.

Although I definitely got lucky on the hand I am still happy with how I played it. My raise on the turn makes it very hard for top pair to call there as I am representing a huge hand. It just turned out that I was against a stubborn top pair and had to hit. Luckily I did!

After that I was chip leader. We got down to 5 handed and I knocked two players out back to back. The first I had QQ vs AQ and knocked out the 2 seat. The second was a stranger hand. I was in the big blind with Q9o. I raised and the BB reraised me. I called. The board came 863. I checked and he bet his last 3 chips. I called thinking that I was losing this hand for sure but had to call despite losing since it was still mathematically correct. But he turned over JT! My queen-high held up and we were down to three players. I was by far the chip leader at this point.

By the time I got head up with Daniel Quach I had a massive chip lead–something like 700K to his 100K. He battled back though when he raised my big blind and I called with A6o. The flop came AQX and 7 on the turn. Daniel had Q7 for two pair and I didn’t improve on the river. I knocked him back down below 200K again without really having to turn too many hands over. But then the following hand happened:

I raised with J8 on the button. Daniel called. The board came 233 two hearts. He checked, I bet, he raised, I reraised and he called. The turn was the 5. He checked, I bet and he raised. I flat called worried now that he might have a full house to my flush. The river brough another 5. He bet and I called. He showed the 54! That was a tough beat to mentally recover from. I have come in second in a lot of tournaments taking beats like that so I really had to keep myself together and buckle down. He had the slight chip lead at that point.

A few hands later I raised with the Q9o on the button and he called in the big blind. The board came AT6. He checked, I bet and he raised. I had noticed that he was playing the flop fast a lot when he was bluffing so I called planning to take it away on the turn. The turn brought an 8 which was a really nice card for me as I now had a gut shot straight draw which gave me outs if my bluff did not work. He bet as I expected he would, I raised, and he folded! My plan worked! That was a very big pot and really swung the momentum back in my direction.

After that I had the rush of my life. Four times in a row that I was in the big blind Daniel raised and I had AQ. I reraised each time and each time flopped top pair. After that rush he was down below 100K again. He raised his button again and I reraised in the big blind with AT suited. He called. The board came AQT all spades. I bet and he called. The turn was a 7 and he went all in. He had T7 for bottom two. My top two pair help up and I won the tournament.

I immediately jumped into my brother’s arms. Howard had been sweating me the whole time and it made it all the sweeter that my big brother and mentor was there to watch my big win. It was very emotional for me. I went back and shook Daniel’s hand, gave him a hug, hugged everyone around me and collected my bracelet and my $157K!

It was a great day. Good thing I missed my flight that morning!

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