aces up for tom dwan

Tom Dwan’s Aces Up vs a Chinese Billionaire (Analysis)

Perhaps the most infamous young poker player of the modern era, Tom Dwan blew away casual poker fans with his loose-aggressive strategy on televised high stakes cash games from 2008-2011.

Then he went from hero to villain in the eyes of many as he has neglected to finish his 50,000 hand “durrrr challenge” — which he issued — against Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates.

Around 2015, Dwan disappeared from the public poker scene completely, focusing instead on high stakes private games in Asia, and many wondered if he’d ever return. To quote one YouTube commenter:

I like how nowadays Tom Dwan is like a mythical creature like bigfoot or the lochness monster.

Luckily for us, the Triton Poker Series has brought Dwan and his game back into the public eye!

Today’s hand analysis doesn’t feature one of his crazy bluffs. Instead, he flops a big hand and tries to get max value vs. a Chinese billionaire. Let’s dive in.


This hand takes place at a Triton Series high roller cash game. The blinds are 1,000,000/2,000,000 Korean won (KRW) with a 2,000,000 KRW big blind ante. That’s roughly $900/$1,800 in USD, which we’ll use from here on out to simplify things.

To start the hand it folds to Tom Dwan who opens to $5,400 with A♣ 4♣ UTG+2. The action folds to Yu Liang in the SB who calls with T T. The BB calls as well with 9♣ 5♣.

The effective stack size is around $358,000 (199 big blinds).


The pot is $18,000 and the flop is 8♣ 4 A♠. Both blinds check, Tom Dwan bets $9,000, Yu Liang calls, and the BB folds.


The pot is $36,000 and the turn is the 3 making the board 8♣ 4 A♠ 3. Yu Liang checks, Tom bets $23,000, and Yu Liang calls.


The pot is now $82,000 and the river is the 6♣ making the final board 8♣ 4 A♠ 3 6♣. Yu Liang checks, Dwan bets $80,000, and Yu Liang makes the call.


This hand illuminates a couple of interesting poker concepts.

The first is the value of knowing your image. Humans are results-oriented creatures, and sometimes your opponent’s perception of you will make them do crazy things. Tom Dwan certainly has an aggressive image, and it may have been the factor that allowed him to get maximum value with his aces up. Or maybe Yiang just really doesn’t like folding — it’s hard to say.

The second is how to approach spots where you may be getting bluffed. The trick here is to have a sound strategy, understand what part of your range that you need to be calling with, and trust your range work.

If you resort to guessing whether your opponent has it or not, or calling because you don’t want to be bluffed, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Which player would you like to see us analyze here on the Upswing Blog? More Tom Dwan, or someone else? Let us know below.

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To read more, check out “Record-Breaking $438,900 Pot on Live at the Bike (Analysis)“.


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About the Author
Ernest Gorham

Ernest Gorham

California bred writer and poker player you can now find frequenting the London MTT scene.

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