Whether it's a cash game or a tournament, the object isn't to win the most pots. No, the object is to win the most money.

Maximizing the value of your hand, the pros call it. But sometimes, even the pros mess that up. Sometimes, even the pros miss a big kill.

Just ask David Grey, largely a cash game pro who's also a solid tournament player representing FullTiltPoker.com.

With the blinds at $50-$100 at the World Poker Tour Championship at Las Vegas' Bellagio in April, the under-the-gun player raised to $400. He might've been making a move to steal, or he might've had a real hand. As it turned out, he had A-K offsuit.

Action folded to Grey in the big blind. He looked down to find pocket aces. Grey elected to just call.

The flop came A-7-3, rainbow, giving Grey a set of aces and giving his opponent top pair/top kicker.

Grey checked, hoping to trap his opponent, who bet $700. Grey called.

The turn came another 7.

“I had aces full,” Grey says. “He might've had nothing, or maybe he has kings. I wanted to give him a chance to make a hand. I called on the flop, but I could have anything in the blind. Maybe I have 4-5. With A-3-7 out there, I could have a double-straight draw.”

Both players checked. The river came the 4 of spades. Grey bet $1,500, a solid play at a pot worth $2,350. His opponent called. Grey took down a pot worth more than $5,000, a nice payoff.

“However,” Grey says, “the moral of the story is, had I played my hand so much faster, I would've won so much more money. I could've made a small reraise before the flop, representing a good hand. He would know I had a good hand, maybe a nice-sized pair.

“Now, when the ace comes on the flop, he thinks he's got me. Because if you have A-K and the flop comes A-7-3, he'd figure either I have A-K with him or I have kings or queens, because you don't just give your opponent the other two aces. It's hard to have all four aces out there between two hands and the cards on the board. It just doesn't happen all that often.”

But wait. There's more. Grey believed he missed a chance to take a lot more chips on other streets.

“I could've led on the flop, and he might've made a big raise on the flop, and I might've just called him,” Grey says. “Then, when the 7 came off [on the turn], I could've checked and he might've made a big bet.

“I won like $2,500 on that hand, but I could have won more.”

© 2006, Chicago Tribune.

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