Day 4 of the 2016 Aussie Millions Main Event — a tournament that attracted 732 players and created a $5,124,507 prize pool — saw the final 40 players return to play down to the final table of seven. One man in contention was Australia’s Dylan Honeyman, who was looking to improve upon his 21st-place finish three years before.
Honeyman got things started in a big way when he got involved in a big hand against Adam Reynolds. It happened in Level 20 (6,000/12,000/2,000) when Honeyman raised to 26,000 from middle position and was met by a three-bet to 66,000 from Reynolds on the button. The blinds both folded, Honeyman just called, and the flop came down .
Honeyman checked, Reynolds bet 78,000, and Honeyman paused for a few beats before check-raising all in. Reynolds wasted little time in calling off for 270,000 or so and discovered the bad news.
Both players held big pocket pairs, but Honeyman had the best of it. Reynolds began to get out of his chair and watched the dealer burn and turn the . Reynolds outs were swapped as he needed a king to make a straight, but it wasn’t in the cards as the blanked on the river. Reynolds was eliminated in the hand while Honeyman chipped up to 1 million.
Having personally witnessed the hand play out, I couldn’t help but wonder how things might have went had Honeyman either four-bet or shoved preflop, which I think many players would have done with pocket kings. Could Reynolds have gotten away? It’s certainly possible.
I wanted to know why Honeyman didn’t take that route, so I waited for a break to pick his brain.
“I wanted to keep all of his bluffs in preflop,” Honeyman told me. “He was three-betting me on the button. He looks like he was a competent player. I didn’t really know the guy, but I thought he could have some bluffs in there and I wanted to make sure he kept those.”
Makes sense. Reynolds could have been three-betting fairly light in position, and if that had been the case, a four-bet would have scared him off. Holding kings, Honeyman definitely didn’t want a fold.
“I didn’t want to shove or four-bet,” Honeyman continued. “I wanted to get his continuation bet as well. The stack sizes were perfect for me to shove over the c-bet. Hopefully there’s no ace on the flop and it’s all good.”
What Honeyman recognized was the fact that if he just called and then checked the flop, Reynolds was more than likely going to fire out a continuation bet. That allowed the pot to swell before Honeyman shoved. If Reynolds didn’t have a big hand, Honeyman’s play was going to net him another bet, which he’d have missed out on had he four-bet preflop.
Some of you are no doubt thinking, “I’d have raised because kings are nothing but ace magnets.” Indeed, had an ace come on the flop Honeyman would have been in a bad spot, as he freely admits. However, it was a risk he was willing to take in the hope of winning a bigger pot. If an ace came, he could fold. If it didn’t, he was going with his kings.
It’s frustrating when you hold pocket kings and an ace flops, but the fear of that happening is no reason to get it in preflop when there are clearly better options. In this hand, taking position and stack sizes into account, Honeyman thought things through and decided just calling was his best option.
Obviously it led to him getting max value thanks to Reynolds holding a big hand, but even if he hadn’t, Honeyman would have won a decent pot as a result of the line he took.
The next time you find yourself holding a big pocket pair and facing a three-bet, follow in Honeyman’s footsteps and consider all your options. There’s definitely more than one way to play it.
For the record, Honeyman went on to finish fifth in the tournament for $238,023, his largest cash to date.