Poker will run six days a week on NBC in 2007 at 2 am. The show, “Poker after Dark,” features a format with six known players vying in a $20,000 buy-in winner-take-all sit-and-go. Each hour-long show will run every day but Sunday. It will be a great show to learn from, with no commentary whatsoever. Obviously some will be better to watch than others, like the one that I played in recently featuring Mike “the mouth” Matusow, Tony G, Phil Ivey, Andy Bloch, and Sammy Farha.
Unfortunately, I didn’t play my best in any of the three that I played in. In fact, Doyle Brunson and I talked about the fact that it was tough to get up for these things, without history or a ton of money at stake, although there certainly was pride on the line. Early on, Matusow was down to $6,000 and feeling a bit down.
I leaned over to my right and whispered, “Mikey, I had pocket kings when you threw away pocket fives earlier.” This seemed to fire Matusow up, and he went on to win a few pots with his improved attitude and confidence. I tried to fire him up and he has done the same for me many times in the past when we were sitting together at the same table.
With Matusow up to $9,000 and the blinds at $200-$400, Farha called $400, Matusow called $400, and then I made it $2,200 to go from the small blind with Ac-8c. I was trying to simply win the pot before the flop and pick up that $1,600 lying out there, and I was certain that I had Farha beat. Now Matusow studied awhile and called the $1,800 raise. Immediately, I felt like Matusow had a small pair or perhaps K-Q. The flop was 9h-5s-3d, and I bet out $1,200 on a pure bluff. Matusow called, and the next card was the 9s. At this point I should have given up, but instead I looked at Matusow’s chips, realized that he had only $6,300 left, and moved him all-in. Matusow called me instantly, whoops! He rolled over pocket threes for a full house, and I thought to myself, “Phil, how bad did you play this hand?”
I don’t mind the raise before the flop, or even the bet on the flop, although it was a bit weak. But why move all-in? I said, “I pump the mouth up with my chat and now he takes my chips!” With only $4,000 left I decided that I needed a bit more motivation and focus. So I offered Farha a side bet. I said, “Sammy, I’ll take 20-to-1 that I win this thing for $10,000 (I would win $200,000).” Sammy said, “Phil, I’ll tell you what I’ll do: I’ll lay you 12-to-1.” I decided that that wasn’t good enough, but I did take 14-to-1 from Bloch for $3,000 to win $42,000.
Now I redoubled my effort and doubled through Bloch when my A-K beat his A-10. After winning that pot I was back in the hunt! A few rounds later Tony opened for $2,200 and I moved all-in for $4,300 more with A-Q. After not playing a hand for a few rounds, I knew that Tony knew that I had a hand. Tony felt like he was priced in and he called the $4,000 raise with pocket deuces. I do not like his call. I mean, the best he could be in this situation was even money (if I had a hand like A-Q). On the other hand, he was getting laid 2-to-1 on the call ($2,200 plus $2,200 plus the blinds), so it wasn’t a bad call, just a bit weak. The flop was K-7-5, then a jack, and now I needed a 10, a queen or an ace on the river to have a decent sized stack and great chance at the win. There were three aces, three queens, and four 10s so that I had 10 wins, to Tony G’s 34 wins. Alas, the river was a jack, and I hit the door.
In 2007, look for some exciting poker action on “Poker after Dark,” just do not look for me in the winners circle!