• A 43-Bracelet Table

    Date: 2007.05.14 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    Last week, I played NBC’s “Poker after Dark” (PAD) with T.J. Cloutier, Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson, Layne “Back-to-back” Flack, Eric Seidel, and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson. What a lineup!

    It featured 43 bracelets — (Doyle and I at 10 apiece, Seidel at seven, Cloutier at six, and Ferguson and Flack at five each) — some serious bling!

    First Flack went out, then Ferguson; followed by Seidel; then I put a bad beat on Cloutier. But before we get to that hand, let’s talk about the hand (or two) that I misplayed. With the blinds at $800-$1,600, I opened for $4,500 with Ad-Qd on the button, Cloutier folded and then Doyle raised it up, making it $10,000 more to go. I sort of felt like he had A-J, or A-10 or something weaker; but I just wasn’t sure enough. And, I hate A-Q. I asked Brunson how much he had left, and he said “about $20,000.” I studied a long time, remembering that Brunson hadn’t come over the top of me in a long time. Finally, I decided to fold. As it turns out, Doyle had 8-2 off suit (nice play Dolly!), and if I had reraised him (all in), then I would have won the pot right then and there. Sigh. I didn’t have a strong read, so there’s no use in crying over split milk. However, if I had moved all-in, then Brunson would have been forced to fold, and I would have had a healthy chip lead. Not too mention that Brunson would have been left with only $20,000.

    It is noteworthy for this article that I mention that we started with $20,000 apiece in this “heat.” The very next hand, Brunson made it $5,000 to go from the small blind, and I called with 7-7 in the big blind. The flop was 10-10-2, and Doyle bet my last $25,000. I folded, and he told me later that he had A-9 off suit. He bluffed me two hands in a row!

    I do not mind this lay down too much; it is the Ad-Qd lay down that still bothers me. In retrospect, I should have remembered that Brunson moves all-in for big bets when he’s bluffing. I knew that from the World Poker Tour (WPT’s) “Book Author” final table a few years back where Brunson pushed in $400,000 into a $200,000 pot, on a pure bluff. In any case, I hung in there, and doubled up when I picked up what I was waiting for, K-K.

    With the blinds at $1,500-$3,000, I picked up Ah-6h in the big blind, and Cloutier opened for $7,000 on the button. An alarm bell went off in my head. Cloutier had “Min raised” it (minimum raise would have been $6,000), and it smelled like he had a huge hand. I thought, “Could Cloutier have K-K or Q-Q?” It seemed likely. Still, I called, trying to hit an ace, and the flop was Kh-3d-2h (I flopped the nut flush draw), and we both checked. The next card was the 8d, and I checked. Cloutier now bet $10,000, and he had only $6,600 left. What to do? On the flop I would have moved all in with my heart flush draw.

    But now what? I thought about it a good long while and decided that Cloutier either had three kings, or A-K, or a hand like Q-J suited. I thought that he may have moved all-in on the flop with Q-Q, J-J, 10-10, 9-9 or 8-8. So, in my assessment, Cloutier was either super strong, or super weak. Finally, I raised Cloutier’s last $6,600, and he “insta-called,” (always a bad sign) flipping over his A-A. I really wasn’t expecting a heart on the river, but “Bam” the Qh came off and I completed the nut flush!

    The reason that I raised it up $6,600 more against Cloutier, was that I wanted to give him a chance to fold his hand, if he had A-10, or A-9, or A-7, or Q-J or something weak like that. I was trying to win the pot right then and there, without having to see the last card.

    As it turns out, I was wrong and Cloutier had a strong hand. This brings up an interesting question though: If I knew what Cloutier’s exact two hole cards, then would I have called his $10,000 bet on the turn? Well, let’s see, there was $24,800 in the pot ($7,000 plus $7,000 plus $800 plus $10,000), plus I win his last $6,600 if I make my hand. So I’m investing $10,000 to win $31,400 (3.1-to-1). As it turns out, I could win with 9 hearts on the river, compared with 35 wins for Cloutier. So I was a 35-to-9 underdog (4-to-1). So I wouldn’t make that call, never mind that raise, if I knew what Cloutier’s hole cards were. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky then good!

    With that card, it was down to the ten time bracelet winners for the title, “Texas Dolly” vs. the “Poker Brat.” And Brunson went on to win. Congrats Dolly, but I’ll be back!

    (This show will air later this year on NBC at 2 a.m.)

    With one card to come, generally you have this many cards to complete your flush:
    A) 9
    B) 8
    C) 7
    D) 6

    Answer: A

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