• A Key Hand in New Orleans

    Date: 2006.06.26 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    It’s a mad, mad world on Bourbon Street in New Orleans right now! But there’s no joking here; there’s still an unthinkable measure of destruction in New Orleans, with thousands of destroyed houses and cars still just sort of lying there, existing. So, when “Celebrity Poker Showdown” was set to shoot in New Orleans, the organizers decided to have all of the celebrities choose New Orleans-based charities, and the prize pool was increased to $1 million. In addition to donating all that cash to these charities, “Showdown” also posted each charity’s telephone number on the telecast during the show.

    In the first three shows of “Showdown” (shown on Bravo every Wednesday night at 9, with the finale on July 5), my co-host Dave Foley correctly predicted the winner (though he’s famous for failing to pick them). He correctly picked Jason Alexander (“Seinfeld”), Michael Ian Black (“The Pleasure of Your Company”), and Ida Siconolfi (the bravotv.com winner) to win their heats and go on to the “Showdown” finals, and got it right all three shows. This past week’s show (June 21) featured Mario Cantone (“Sex and the City”), Jordan Peele (“MADtv”), Keegan-Michael Key (“MADtv”), Jenna Fischer (“The Office”), and Rocco DiSpirito (“The Restaurant”), and what a show it was! Foley picked Cantone and I picked Fischer.

    Fischer went out in second place and had this to say, “In analyzing my own game, I think I could have played more aggressively early on, but on the other hand I didn’t have many strong hands. In one key hand when we were three-handed, I had Ac-Kc and raised it up before the flop, making it $1,200 to go from the small blind against Cantone, who was in the big blind with 3-3. The flop came down Qd-Jc-7h, and I moved all-in. I was pretty happy about the way I played that hand.”

    Actually, I thought Fischer played that hand brilliantly, and put some serious heat on Cantone in the process. For Cantone, it was certainly a tough call to make, seeing as he bet his last $5,000, and there was only $2,400 in the pot. In fact, that kind of power move works a high percentage of the time (although not necessarily against celebrities). Let’s give Cantone credit for making a great call here with his 3-3 — he wound up winning the pot — and for making the show so much more entertaining with his singing and chatter!

    With the blinds at $300-$600, the defining pot of this heat came up when Cantone limped in with Q-Q in the small blind against Key’s 9s-5s in the big blind. Mario made a nice play by just calling before the flop, thereby keeping Key in the pot. The flop then came down 8s-6h-2h, Cantone bet $600, Key made it $1,200 to go with his inside straight draw, and Cantone just called. The turn card was the queen of spades, Cantone moved all-in for $10,800, and Keegan called. One can argue that Cantone, with the best-possible hand (he held three queens) bet too much. With only $3,600 in the pot at that point, Cantone should have bet less, to try to lure Key into calling or raising.

    One can also argue that Key should have folded for a $10,800 bet into only a $3,600 pot. He wasn’t getting the right odds to make the call: he could win $14,400 ($10,800 plus $3,600) but had to call $10,800 to do it. That meant he was getting laid only about 7-to-5 ($14,400 to $10,800). Key figured to win the pot with 12 cards (nine spades and three sevens) out of the remaining 44 unknown cards in the deck, so he was about a 2-1/2-to-1 (32-to-12) underdog. Key now says, “I was trying to guesstimate the odds, but Mario wouldn’t give me a moment to think (Cantone was indeed talking nonstop, in highly entertaining fashion). I had a straight draw and a flush draw, and I knew I could win with a lot of cards.”

    The last card was the seven of diamonds, and neither player knew what had happened (Key had made a straight). Key says, “When the seven hit, at first I didn’t know I’d won the pot, and I was feeling a bit stunned; but then they announced I’d hit a straight, and I was still stunned, but elated.”

    Mario, who was quite open about being gay on our show, cleverly remarked to us on air, “The irony of me going broke with three queens. In fact, I’m sick of us gay people (three queens) getting beat up by straight people (Keegan made a straight)!”

    Key then went on to beat Jenna Fischer and win the heat. (Finally, Foley had failed to pick a winner, but so had I.) The fifth “Showdown” show, out of six total, is aired Wednesday, June 28, at 9 p.m., and features Macy Gray (Grammy Award-winning singer), Joy Behar (“The View”), Christopher Meloni (“Law & Order: SVU”), Andy Dick (“Bad Boy” and actor), and Robin Tunney (“Prison Break”).

    Making a big call on a drawing hand is a matter of:
    A) Getting the right odds
    B) The way you feel at that moment
    C) Who your opponent is
    D) What music you’re listening to at the time

    Answer: A

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