Adam Levy
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The Toughest Hand I Ever Played

It happened during the 2010 WSOP Main Event on Day 8. Yes, there was a day 8 that wasn’t the final table! It was by far the most intense hand I have ever played and very well could’ve shaped my tourney, career, and life. I do think from a poker perspective, the hand isn’t that tough but outside factors at play made it extremely hard.

So in any tournament, the deeper you go the more emotionally invested you become. It’s just a fact. Bust out first hand, ehhh oh well. Bust out on the final table bubble and doesn’t matter who you ask, it stings. Of course this doesn’t necessarily have a huge effect on how you play your hand and the best players are able to completely detach from their emotions but this attachment is one of the primary differences between a tournament and a cash game

In tournaments there are so many outside factors to consider that sometimes the actual hand can be the least relevant factor (i.e. a satellite bubble). And this is why I consider my hand to be the toughest hand I’ve ever played.

To set the scene, it’s Day 8 of the 2010 WSOP Main Event and we had played down to the final 27 the night before. I ended with 4.7 million at 60k/120k blinds, a little bit below average but a workable stack. First hand I pick up tens and 3bet against @Pascal LeFrancois. He folds. Two hands later utg opens to 300k with 15mill. Pass flats utg+1 also with 15 mill and it folds to me on the button. I 3bet Queens to 1 mill with 4 mill back. Rob, the utg raiser calls my 3bet and then Pass rips it for 15 mill. He didn’t shove instantaneously but it was quick enough that I could tell that there wasn’t much thought. Also the fact that he put his tournament at risk is another thing to consider. I felt he would either flat my 3bet with Jacks or 4bet and not shove 130bbs all in. Regardless, even if he was shoving with Jacks in his spot, he would take more time considering his options than he did.

@Adam Levy WSOP 2010

So it’s on me, there are 27 left, and realistically I will never have this opportunity again in my life. I am making a sweet $317,000 but am 26 players away from $8 million. If I fold I will still have 34 big blinds left at quite a soft table considering this stage of the tournament. Ultimately I think he has AK, QQ+ and there are 16 combos of AK and 13 combos of QQ, KK, & AA. Here is what my equity looks like against his perceived range:


  Equity %  Wins Hi %  Ties Hi %  Wins Hi Count  Ties Hi Count 
QsQh  40.2071%  38.3477%  3.7189%  19042240  1846678 
AA-QQ,AxKx,AxKy  59.7929% 57.9334%  3.7189%  28767898  1846678 

I’m not doing fantastic against his range, but once we add the blinds, antes, 300k call, plus the 2 million, I’m getting a pretty good price. I would have to call off 4 million to win 6.5 million, which means I am getting 1.625:1. If I call off here it is definitely a +EV call but only by a percent. I really disliked being in a spot where I felt I was flipping at best.

@Pascal LeFrancois WSOP 2010

It is important to note that pre-Black Friday making the WSOP Main Event final table was far more lucrative than it is now, especially for Americans. Depending on how marketable you were and your stack size going into the final table you could get paid anywhere from five figures to seven. Nowadays, a sponsor might want slap a patch on you and you’d be lucky to get five figures for it. It’s a completely different time. I had to factor this in to my reasoning. In a way the WSOP Main Event was a nine-person satellite. I wouldn’t think twice about this spot now but then, it was not a spot I wanted to put myself in. Literally flipping for a few million in equity. That’s a scary thought. So after a few minutes I decided to fold.

Shortly after I flopped a set sb, bb and doubled up. I ran up my stack to 12 million but that was my peak. I finished in 12th place for $635,000, by far my biggest lifetime cash. When I busted, I immediately went over to Pass and asked him what he had. He said Ace-King and I shook his hand and said good luck. Who knows what would’ve happened if I decided to call off there, maybe I win the flip, maybe I don’t, maybe I go on to win the whole damn thing, who knows? Life doesn’t work like that but I’m perfectly okay with the result. If anything I’d like my final hand back, not this one. I still think this was the toughest decision I’ve had to make and a lot of players have told me it was incorrect.

I just wanted to show how critical of a hand it was and how much thought went into it as the stakes were basically as high as it gets. This was the most intense hand I’ve ever played by far and I hope one day everyone gets to experience something like that.



Thanks, Adam, just wanted to read on and on (guess with well-written hand histories, it's like tournaments - "the deeper you go the more emotionally invested you become" :)

And here are some links with 2010 WSOP Day 8 coverage for those who come after me:




Really tough decision!