If you've ever seen at least one episode of the show High Stakes Poker there's a good chance Eli Elezra was in it. He's a veteran cash game player with a WPT title and three WSOP bracelets to his name. He's one of those few old school professional players who were able to stay successful in the modern age of poker.
While Eli's game isn't always in line with what conventional wisdom would lead us to believe is best, he's certainly a competent player and the amount of experience he has made him very dangerous at the tables. Let's take a look at some of the famous hands involving Eli Elezra and try to figure out some of the elements of his game that made him so successful over the years.
Years of Experience
As it's often the case when we analyze one of those live cash game hands the preflop decision might seem questionable, but since live poker is played at a very slow pace it can take literally days for a player to see the same preflop holding twice.
Because of that game dynamics become much more important than strict hand selection. It's hard to determine if a preflop call with 96s was right in this particular spot even accounting for the dynamics so we'll have to trust Eli on that one.
Once the flop hits the board the uncertainty ends and we can witness incredibly experienced player at work. Viffer's sizing was extremely exploitable and Elezra doesn't really allow him to get away with it while still keeping his range fairly ambiguous. He's not representing much given the board texture and he could be doing that with a wide variety of hands given Viffer's small bet.
Eli doesn't make a mistake of slowing down on the turn just because he's blocking a bunch of value draws. 9s pairing the board is one of the worst cards for his perceived value range and he'd still continue betting with his backdoors so David is somewhat likely to play back at him with a relatively wide range. After Viffer elects to raise the turn, Elezra correctly recognizes that re-raising makes absolutely no sense for any hand in his range, especially in position.
This multi-way spot involving Tom Dwan and the late Alan Meltzer showcases how a read can inform an interesting and unorthodox play. Preflop action in this hand was fairly standard especially given the straddle and Dwan's image at the table.
As for the flop, normally it wouldn't make much sense for Eli to raise with a medium strength hand, but at the end of the video we learn that Meltzer's reaction to Dwan's bet made Elezra think that 'durrrr' is more likely to have air in this spot than a real hand so trying to fold out Meltzer's equity share was far less risky than it would be otherwise.
Way Ahead/Way Behind
A great example of making a correct adjustment to an over aggressive opponent. Again, the preflop played could be viewed as marginal, but K8s flops fairly well especially against an aggressive player that you want to make solid top and second pair type hands against. K
93r board is as dry as they come so making a call vs. cbet seems like the only sensible option with top pair. 3c on the turn is a stone cold brick, it doesn't enable any backdoor draws and it actually decreases the chance of Gus Hansen having a strong holding.
With two threes and two kings between Eli's hand and the board, the number of value combinations in Gus's range is extremely limited and given his table image he's most likely unbalanced towards air when going for a second and third barrel.
The old school pros might not be able to hang with the cool GTO kids when it comes to understanding the nuances of range vs. range interactions, but they are certainly amazing and seizing the opportunity when it presents itself.
In this extremely interesting hand, 2008 WSOP Main Event winner Peter Eastgate made a really big mistake by putting a wrong chip in the pot which resulted in a huge unintended overbet. Elezra pounced on the opportunity and made a giant semi-bluff in a spot that he most certainly never played before.
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