Andy Roddick Wins!
One Friday night in December, I answered my cell phone and heard an excited Andy Roddick say, “Phil, I made it all the way to the final table!” With almost 250 players signed up for this charity poker tournament, the Andy Roddick Foundation kicked off its annual fundraiser in a big way. The buy-in was a modest $500, with all the money going to abused and disadvantaged children (for more, go to andyroddick.com). Roddick had asked me to come to the tournament, in Hollywood, Fla., at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to play and emcee. Unfortunately, I had a scheduling conflict, but the star power there was right out of Hollywood. Tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams, and Andre Agassi, baseball great Alex Rodriguez, Nicky Hilton, Mandy Moore, and 2006 World Champion of Poker Jamie Gold were among the celebrities in attendance. If you were eliminated early, then no problem: there were musical acts, a fundraiser auction, and an after party.
I feel bad for Roddick as he has had to face Roger Federer seven times in the semi-finals or finals of a major. I mean, in any other era Roddick would have had at least four or five grand slam titles. I’m not wishing anything bad on Federer, but doesn’t he ever get injured, or lose his motivation? I guess not!
In August, I wrote a column about Michael Jordan winning the Trent Tucker Charity poker tournament in Minneapolis with more than 100 players; could Roddick win his own tournament? When Roddick made it down to the final two players, and yes he really can play Hold ’em well, he put his opponent all-in twice when Roddick was a 2-1/2-to-1 favorite. In both cases his opponent had “one over” (one over card to a pocket pair). The first time his opponent had K-9 to Roddick’s 10-10, and hit a king. The second time his opponent had A-4 to Roddick’s 7-7, and hit an ace.
With the blinds at $3,000-$6,000, the following hand came up between Roddick and his lone opponent. Roddick made it $20,000 to go with 6-6, his opponent raised it up to $55,000 to go with J-10, Roddick moved him all-in for $110,000 total, and his opponent called. The hands were flipped up and the tournament director announced, “Andy is a small favorite to win the pot, and the tournament with his pocket sixes versus his opponents J-10. The flop is Q-J-2, and now the J-10 is a huge favorite to win the pot and take the chip lead. Andy will now need a six to win the pot. The turn card is a … six! Andy has won the tournament and a seat to the World Poker Tour’s Celebrity Invitational!”
Let’s take a closer look at the play of this hand. It was a natural and easy $20,000 opening raise for Roddick to make with 6-6. As to the $35,000 reraise with J-10; it is not the kind of move that I like. I mean, why get involved with J-10, when you could wait another minute or two for a stronger hand? Also, Roddick plays a solid game of poker, and it was probable that he had the J-10 beat when he raised it up. If you want to call with J-10, then that’s OK, but do not reraise. In fact, had Roddick’s opponent called before the flop, and then ended up moving all-in on the flop; it was likely that Roddick would have folded his hand (after all, the flop was Q-J-2). As to Roddick’s all-in move, I think that it is just fine. Roddick later told me, “I thought that I had the best hand, and that he had two over cards, it just seemed like the right time to move all-in.” Indeed it was.
Now Roddick tells me he is ready to play in the World Poker Tour Celebrity Invitational March 4 at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles. I told him, “You could have played in that event either way.” He said, “That’s true, but having won my way in, I feel much better about playing in it.” Trust me when I tell you that Roddick will have a chance to win this thing. I have played Hold ’em with him several times, and he has the kind of style that will give him a chance to win. But I know what Roddick really wants is an audience with the Queen, while holding the 2007 Wimbledon Trophy firmly in his hands!
When you have “one over,” you have:
A) Won over your spouse
B) One card over your opponent’s pair
C) One big fat ace in your hand
D) All of the above.