A Black Day in New Orleans
Here are a few hands from the second heat of the June 7 “Celebrity Poker Showdown” on Bravo (which I co-host along with comedian Dave Foley). Shot in New Orleans, all of our celebrities donated their prize money ($1 million total) to charities dedicated to the New Orleans area. Show No. 1, which I wrote about last week, showed me that many of the celebrities have learned how to play a solid game of no-limit Hold ’em. Jason Alexander (“Seinfeld”) beat out Bryan Cranston (“Malcolm in the Middle”) for the first heat win. (Foley, famous for never picking a winner, actually picked the winner, Alexander! I had picked Cranston.)
Our five celebrity guests on show No. 2 were Greg Behrendt (“He’s Just Not That into You”), Andrea Martin (in soon to be released movies “Young Triffie’s Been Made Away with” and “Black Christmas”), Kim Coles (“Living Single’), Jorge Garcia (“Lost”) and Michael Ian Black (director of the upcoming movie “The Pleasure of your Company”). We both picked Black, but Foley made me pick someone else, so I chose Coles.
In the second hand of the tournament, with the blinds at $100-$200, Black raised it up to $600 to go with A-K, and Coles called with A-2. The flop was 5s-4d-4c, Black bet $1,000, and Coles made it $2,000 to go. Coles had a straight draw, and made a nice bluff against Black, who folded his A-K for the $1,000 bluff raise.
In the third hand, Black raised it again, making it another $600 to go, this time with 8-8; Garcia called with A-Q, and Martin called with Q-J in the big blind. After a flop of K-K-7, Black bet $1,000, Garcia called, and Martin folded. When a four came off on the turn, Black checked and Garcia checked. On the river, a nine came off, Black checked, and Garcia bet $2,000. To me, this bet was pretty weird. If Garcia was bluffing, why bet with a hand that was strong enough to win on its own merits? And if Garcia was betting because he thought he had the best hand, why value-bet A-Q high when your opponent most likely cannot call you unless he has you beat?
Here’s the rest of the story: Black went into the tank for more than two minutes, and I announced that I believed he had an easy call. After all, Garcia seemed pretty weak when he merely called the bet on the flop and checked on the fourth card. I also announced that if Black did make the call, then I thought he would go on to win the table.
About taking so long to call Garcia’s bet, Black says now, “The audience was screaming, we were on the third hand, the players were kibitzing and doing comedy, and I had just lost the hand before with A-K! No wonder it took me awhile to call. In a side game somewhere else, I would have called faster.”
I did notice that Black seemed distracted while he was debating calling the bet or folding. In any case, he did make the call and went on to post the most dominating performance in all of the six “Showdown” shows I co-hosted (and remember that I saw 100 percent of the hole cards).
It helped Black later to pick up K-K versus Martin’s J-J to bust her; then, on the next hand, Black’s Qs-7h busted Coles’ As-Ac (the look of shock and remorse on Black’s face after he had laid a bad beat on Coles this hand was priceless!); then, in the very next hand, Black’s J-10 busted Garcia’s A-8 (the A-8 was a 3-to-2 favorite before the flop). For the first time in CPS history, three players went broke in three consecutive hands. But beyond that lucky streak, Black made several key calls and well-timed bluffs.
A key hand came up when Black was heads up against Behrendt, with the blinds at $400-$800. (By the way, in what made for some pretty good television, Black and Behrendt were having a spirited verbal war throughout the tournament!) On the button, Behrendt raised it up the minimum amount to $1,600 to go with K-5, and Black called the $800 raise with Qd-10d. The flop was 9c-5h-3d, Black checked, Behrendt bet out $1,000 with his pair of fives, and Black check-raised, making it another $4,000 to go. Black was out on a limb, making a stone-cold bluff, and now Behrendt had his chance. All he had to do was move all-in, which would have forced Black to fold, and he would have had $16,000 in chips to Black’s $34,000, and the game would have been on! It’s not as if Behrendt had a huge hand, but he did have second pair with a huge kicker, which could beat a lot of the hands that Black might have had. Behrendt should have moved all-in, or at least called, but instead he folded. A few minutes later Black won it all in style with the Ah-Kh, versus Behrendt’s K-Q (amazingly, Foley’s pick wins again!).
In the third show, our celebrities are Jennifer “J-Till” Tilly (“Bound”), Brett Butler (“Grace under Fire”), Fred Savage (“The Wonder Years”), Doug E. Doug (“Cosby,” “Cool Runnings”), and Ida Siconolfi (Internet qualifier). Expect more great poker and entertainment from actress and semi-pro poker player — and World Series of Poker winner — J-Till!
A-8 is this much of a favorite versus J-10 before the flop:
A) 2 -to-1
B) 3 -to-1
D) 4 -to-1