TIPS FROM THE PROS
August 14, 2006
On Friday, Allen Cunningham completed
another amazing World Series of Poker. He
made three final tables in the 2006 WSOP,
won one bracelet, and finished 4th in the
Main Event. This comes on the heels of his
2005 WSOP performance, when he was named
Player of Year after making four final
tables and winning a bracelet.
During this year's WSOP, I wrote a blog
for Full Tilt Poker and, during the Main
Event, I decided to focus my coverage on
Allen. For four days, I observed his play
and, in that time, I came to see some of the
qualities that make him so great. For this
tip, I thought I would share some of what I
have learned about the best WSOP player over
the past two years.
Big Pot - Big Hand
The pros often say they're not going to
play big pots without big hands, but Allen
applies this principle better than most.
Over the two days leading to the final table
(about 18 hours of play), Allen played a
total of four big pots. In two of them, he
had sets. In one, he had the nut flush and,
in the last, he had pocket Aces and was
all-in pre-flop against pocket Kings.
When he had something like top pair,
Allen played far more cautiously. He'd
simply call bets or check one street so that
he could control the size of the pot. When
the big money went in, Allen had a hand that
would hold up.
The WSOP Main Event is a grueling two
weeks. During that time, there are bound to
be big shifts in fortune and Cunningham saw
his change several times. On days 2 and 3,
he was among the hip leaders. But a bad
stretch of cards brought him close to the
felt on day 4 and again on day 5. At one
point on day 5, Allen had to survive a race
to stay in the tournament.
When his chips got low, Allen didn't
panic. He didn't push his chips in the pot
with dreadful cards. While he had enough
chips to survive a few rounds with the
blinds, he waited for a hand that could win
Of course, it took some luck to survive
when his stack got low, but by being calm
and patient, Allen gave himself the best
possible chance to see another day.
Always the Observer
At the table, Allen is quiet, but
friendly. He doesn't say anything during the
course of a hand and he never shows his
cards unless a hand goes to showdown. In the
Main Event, Allen's opponents regularly
showed their bluffs or tabled big hands that
were uncalled. This gave Allen a distinct
advantage that he could exploit. He was
gaining knowledge on how they played their
big hands and their bluffs, while his
opponents were learning next to nothing
Allen was always focused on his
opponents, even when he wasn't in a hand.
When a big confrontation occurred at his
table, he studied the players' actions,
picking up information that he could use
It's been an incredible year for Allen
Cunningham. When ESPN broadcasts his play in
the coming weeks, you'll get to see just how
well he played in this year's WSOP.