Eliot Hudon: How to win the WPT World Championship

Mo Afdhal
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Posted on: November 23, 2023 3:39 pm EST

Christmas is coming, and there’s a surefire way to make sure it’s the best ever: by winning the WPT World Championship. After last year’s runaway success, the WPT has slapped a $40 million guaranteed prize pool on its flagship event in 2023, and that means you could walk away with a first prize bigger than the $4,136,000 Eliot Hudon scooped in 2022. Here’s how he did it, in his own words…

1. It’s a marathon – and you need to be 100%

“I busted on Day 6 of my 2021 WSOP Main Event run [Hudon finished 63rd] and I remember a hand where I didn’t follow through with a bluff on the river. I know this was heavily influenced by my lack of sleep.

I didn’t perform optimally because I was tired. I kept that in mind the whole time during the WPT. And that’s another reason why I like WPT: they make it possible to get some sleep. You don’t finish super late every day and you don’t have to go to bed immediately if you want to get at least seven hours of sleep.

That was a big benefit from busting the WSOP Main Event. It was a mistake, but in the long run, it probably paid off because I managed my whole sleep schedule better when it was time for the WPT.”

Eliot Hudon WPT

2. Plan your approach to tough spots

“If I’m facing aggression, when I’m not sure and my tournament life is on the line, I’ll usually just let go of my hand. I try to not get into crazy big pots or crazy situations and call a super marginal hand on the river.

On the other side of the coin, when I’m the pre-flop aggressor, for example, I usually default to more aggression because people have this tendency to fold.

If I think I’m a better player at the table than other players and I’m not sure if I should play a hand or not, I’ll play it. When I’m not sure if I should be aggressive or not, I’ll be aggressive. If I’m not sure if I need to call or fold, I fold. That’s generally how I approach large field tournaments like the WPT World Championship.”

Eliot Hudon on his way to victory at the WPT World Championship

3. Ride the rollercoaster

“The Day 1 I got through at the WPT World Championship was actually my third bullet. I was already looking at variance calculators after my second bullet, like, man, I’m so f*****g unlucky. Little did I know.

Day 1 of my third bullet was super uneventful. I just bagged 1.5x the starting stack. Day 2 was a pretty big momentum day. I bagged one of the biggest stacks, and I played on the feature table at the end of the day. That’s when I won a big pot. It was pretty much on that feature table and the level before that I started to build up massive momentum.

So, I showed up for Day 3, close to the bubble, thinking that I could just run over the table. And I had a good table too; I thought I could really build my stack at this point. The opposite happened. It was a really bad day and I actually bagged under what I started with.

I had pretty high expectations and obviously, you expect to keep the momentum going. But, as we all know in tournaments, that doesn’t always happen. So, I finished Day 3 on a low, but I was alive.

From the end of Day 3 through to almost all of Day 5, I was just riding a short stack. Day 5 was playing down to six, so, for the whole in-the-money stage until the final six, I never really had a stack. Before the final table Benny, had all the chips. I started the final nine second in chips, but it was nothing compared to Benny, and the rest of us all had pretty much the same stack.”

Eliot Hudon feature table WPT

4. Final table preparation

“We finished Day 5 at 6 a.m. and I’m not good with a lack of sleep. Even though the spot was so massive, it was interesting to see how a lot of us were almost totally detached from the intensity of it, just because of the lack of sleep.

And I think I was one of them, even though I didn’t want to let it show because I didn’t want people to pick up on that and maybe play a hand that they wouldn’t normally. I knew I had to keep pushing.

Then finally, when that was over, we had a day off, which I was very thankful for because I felt like I was one of the ones who would lose the most performance.

Sleep was the best part of preparation for the final table. I also went to get a massage and just rested as much as possible. I like to think that I can perform in those spots. I wasn’t stressed out and I wasn’t too happy. I was just in the zone the whole time, with no expectations, and locked in.

I’m not the biggest on studying, but before the final table, l thought it might have some value. So, I did look at my position at the table. I started second behind Benny, and I looked at what I would do if he opened or shoved. It didn’t take long and I didn’t think I’d be in a position where he open-shoved. As it turns out, he did.”

5. The shove from Benny Glaser

Hand 4 of the final six. Glaser had raised and taken two of the previous hands, and raised and won at showdown with the other. Then, UTG, he open-shoved with ace-jack and Hudon woke up with kings directly to his left. The hand starts at 8:00.

“In that spot, I’m expecting he has some pairs, some ace-x and maybe other stuff like suited Broadways. When he shoved, I knew I had to call, and I just prayed for the best. What went through my mind was, ‘Okay, I’m going to have to call and maybe go out in sixth.’ And coming in second with so many short stacks, that’s not going to happen often.

But I was okay with it. I just stood up and thought, ‘Okay, if I’m the guy who busts in sixth like this, so be it.’ It’s out of my control at this point. And I was still making an amazing payout. This would still have been my biggest payout by far.

I looked at the flop first because I needed to see if there was an ace there. And when I saw that it was a good flop, I stopped looking. My rail was loud enough that I would know what the result would be.”

6. Bink the final hand

Hudon called preflop with 7♣-4♦️ and Glaser checked Q♦️-J♠. Glaser checked the 8❤️-6♣-2♦️ flop and Hudon bet 2m. Glaser called to the 9♦️ turn and then check-raised Hudon’s 8m bet to 28m. Hudon called with his open-ender and 23% equity. The 5 hit the river and Glaser shoved. The hand starts at 31:30.

“On the turn, I was thinking that I could turn my hand into a bluff because he’s going to fold often when he gives up on a bluff. Or, I could even raise on top, which is obviously easier said than done in the moment, but I just felt like he was probably not super strong, or he had a massive equity draw. In reality, I just didn’t know. I didn’t know what the turn play was, but I felt like I could take it down on the river fairly often. Especially if I just binked the miracle five and he shoved in my face!

It’s crazy, but winning changed me by probably 2%. I’m still the same guy. It’s hard to see it differently because it’s like I won the lottery, right? I didn’t win a marathon and outwork everyone. I just played well and got insanely lucky.”

Eliot Hudon WPT

The WPT World Championship festival runs from November 29 to December 23, with the flagship event starting December 12. The Big One for One Drop runs December 18-20. High-stakes cash games play on December 9 and 10, with the Million Dollar Cash Game on December 15. The WPT is livestreaming 14 days of coverage, including high-stakes cash games on December 9 and 10, and the Million Dollar Cash Game on December 15.

Images Courtesy of World Poker Tour