Alec Torelli: Life after a deep Main Event run

Paul Oresteen
Posted on: November 11, 2023 09:30 PST

Alec Torelli’s been around the top of the game for nearly 20 years and he finally had the run he’d been dreaming of in the 2023 World Series of Poker Main Event. He came just within grasp of the final table with an 11th place finish and faces a future in poker playing under the shadow of his own success.

Torelli is stepping out from under that shadow at World Poker Tour's bestbet Scramble this weekend. But his talkative and upbeat presence at the table doesn't point to any regret still lingering from the summer.

“I often feel like there’s something I could have done better but I really took the summer off before that tournament for preparation,” Torelli said. “I got in better shape; I really focused on my workout, my stamina and my mindset.”

“No regrets really. Obviously, there’s some things I could have done differently in the moment but in an eight-day tournament you’re always going to make mistakes,” he added. “It’s a balance of trying to get better and being accepting of yourself and your imperfections.”

His deep run came eight years after his last significant tournament score. In an environment where tournament poker strategy ages like dog years, Torelli put in the work to give himself the best chance possible. “I used visualization to really prep myself for that moment and the challenges I would face if I made a deep run,” Torelli said. “I don’t normally take this level of preparation for just one tournament because it’s extreme to do. But I felt really connected to this opportunity in the Main.”

WPT bestbet Scramble

Trickle down strategies

Torelli’s game didn’t wander that far in the years he spent focusing on cash games away from tournaments. “It’s (tournament poker) changed a lot, but I’ve kept up with it well by playing high stakes cash games,” said Torelli. “I think strategy changes first in the high stakes cash scene and then it trickles down into the collective consciousness. I think I’ve kept up with that pretty well and made adjustments to tournament play specifically.”

Torelli is flexing both muscles this week by playing $50/$100 on the bestbet Live stream and building a stack in the $5,000 WPT bestbet Scramble. He’s looking for his first WPT cash since 2011.

“It’s like being a tennis player and having to switch between grass, clay and hard court,” he continued. “You’re still playing tennis but it’s quite different in terms of strategy and adjusting your play. I think poker overall has gotten tougher; tournaments and cash games have progressed in the same direction. So, your’re seeing similar plays in similar spots. In poker, there’s a small group of players that are ahead of the curve and they’re finding the edges first.”

Playing under pressure

Following up a deep WSOP Main Event run is something that many players never duplicate again. It’s an outlier event in terms of how success can affect a player’s career and the pressure they feel from the exposure.

But it’s not a pressure that Torelli feels. “If there’s any pressure in poker, it’s on a daily basis and it’s to be at a level that I’m proud of on any given day,” he said. “It’s hard to live up to what I hope for because anything more than one or two mistakes is when I get upset. That drives me more than the external result of making a final table.”

“It was surreal to put in that much work for something that has a lot of chance and then see it manifest into something that actually worked out really well for me,” Torelli said.