It’s been quite a summer for Jeff Papola . The 25-year-old has dominated six-handed no-limit hold’em tournaments at the World Series of Poker , finishing runner-up in event No. 26 before winning event No. 32 .Those two finishes have earned the Pace University Law student a total of $1,058,511, bringing his lifetime winnings to nearly $2.4 million. In addition to the money he has made, Papola now sits in third place in the Card Player Player of the Year race behind Tom Marchese and Sorel Mizzi .We sat down with Papola during his bracelet run to discuss poker strategy in a key hand that propelled him to his second-place finish in event No. 26.The HandWith two tables left in the six-handed tournament, Jeff Papola raised to 32,000 from under the gun, and Alexander Ivarsson called in the small blind. Justin Smith called from the big blind, and the flop came down K J 5 .The blinds checked to Papola, who bet 48,000. Ivarsson raised to 125,000, and Smith folded. Papola then moved all in for a total of 352,000.Ivarsson called and showed K 6 , but he was dominated by Papola’s K Q . The turn and river fell 9 and A , and Papola doubled up to 812,000. Ivarsson took a hit down to 600,000.The InterviewJR: What made you decide on the min-raise preflop?JP: Well, my stack was kind of short. My hand had some value, obviously, but I wouldn’t have minded to just take down the blinds at that point, either. I could have made it the standard three-times raise, but at the time I figured that I could accomplish the same thing while risking less of my stack.JR: A min-raise used to be a sign of strength. What does it look like now?JP: I think it looks weak, to be honest. The only reason I did it is because at this particular table, I hadn’t really been giving up on too many pots, and I was counting on everyone noticing that. Because of my stack size, anybody who tries to pick on me by three-betting is basically committing themselves to call my shove, so I don’t think I was going to get blown off my hand by anything unless it had me crushed.Also, by min-raising, I’m keeping the pot really small. If I get called, then I can make a smaller continuation-bet and still have enough behind to fold and survive should I run into a monster.JR: Ivarsson defended his small blind with a weak, suited king. That doesn’t seem like a hand you want to be calling raises with from a short stack.JP: Actually, he thought he was on the button. (Laughing)JR: Really?JP: Yeah, he sort of made a mis-click. After the hand, he was upset and commented that he would have never made the call preflop had he known he was in the blinds.So he thought he was in position, which I guess makes his call a little better, but I’m not so sure I would do the same. The problem is that you can get into a lot of trouble when you flop a king in that situation. With that sort of hand, you are looking to flop a much stronger hand or a draw. Because of my stack size, he’s pretty much forced to pay off a better king.JR: Well, once he called, what do you think of his flop decisions?JP: That was another mistake. I think that once he’s made the preflop call, his best line is to just call my flop bet and see what I do on the turn. The problem with raising me is that I’m never getting it in with worse. He can’t be raising me for value, so he’s essentially turning his hand into a bluff.JR: If you were in his position, what hands would you be defending your blinds with against a short-stacked preflop raise?JP: Besides the obvious monsters, I’m looking for hands that can flop big such as Q-J and Q-10 suited. I know he’s European and likes to play a lot of hands, so maybe he can even open that up a bit. The point is that you don’t want to be calling raises from short-stacks with dominated kings and aces.The other thing to remember is that you have to play well post-flop. You have to know which flops help you and which flops can get you into trouble. If I were him, I would have just check-called the flop to see what happened. It probably would have gone check, check on the turn, and who knows what could have happened when the ace hit the river. He could have made a play that may or may not have been successful, but at least it gives him a better chance at the pot where he won’t be losing 30 big blinds in a spot where he’s always behind.
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