• Another Close Call

    Date: 2007.07.07 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    As I write this, I’ve already won my record-setting 11th World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet, but came up short on bracelet No. 12. I was exhausted, but so what? We’re all super tired everyday during the 40-day-long WSOP.

    On the third hand back from the dinner break, with the limits $4,000-$8,000, and the blinds at $2,000-$4,000, I opened for $8,000 with A-Q in late position. By the way, I had only $29,000 before the hand began. Richard Brodie, one of the original inventors of MS Word, reraised it up to $12,000 in the small blind. I called and the flop came down K-5-4. Brodie bet $4,000, I raised it up to $8,000 to go, and Brodie called. The turn card was a jack, and we both checked. The last card was a nine and we both checked. Brodie showed down his Q-Q and won the pot, and I felt a bit sick about the way I had played my hand. I never should have raised it up on the flop. What did I think Brodie had, A-J? I should have known how strong Brodie was because I’ve played with him many times. I should have folded my hand on the flop and saved that $8,000 bet. You never know what can happen when you save a few bets here and there.

    Two hands later I picked up K-K and limped into the pot for $4,000. A woman behind me raised it up to $8,000 to go, everyone else folded, and I reraised my last $1,000 to $9,000 total. The woman showed down 9-9, and I watched in frustration as the board came down A-9-4-A-8.

    Buh-bye, Phil.

    As to the play of the hand, I like limping in for $4,000 and trying to build a multi-way pot. After all, anyone with an ace was going to play anyway, so why not lure the players in the blinds into the pot?

    I spent the next three days playing the $50,000 buy-in HORSE — Hold ’em, Omaha 8/b, Razz (seven-card stud low), Seven-card stud, and Stud 8/b tournament. With 148 runners, I was in good shape with 40 players remaining, but I wound up finishing in 24th place. Three days of playing nine hours per day, and I didn’t even make the money (16 were paid).

    If I had I to do over again, I would have played even fewer hands then the already few hands that I played. One hand that I would like to have back was in limit Hold ’em with seven players at our table. With the blinds at $9,000-$18,000, I opened for $36,000 to go with Q-9 off suit. Poker pro Eli Elezra called in the small blind with A-J, and fellow poker pro Barry Greenstein called in the big blind with Ah-5h. The flop was Qh-7h-3d, Greenstein and Elezra checked, and I bet $18,000. Elezra folded, Greenstein called and the turn card was the 6h. Greenstein checked, and I reached for my chips to make the natural bet of $36,000 with my top pair. But something stopped me dead in my tracks. It was like my mind said, “Do not bet!” So I checked, and then the 6s came off, and Barry bet $36,000, and I called immediately. He showed me the ace high flush and took down the pot.

    Let’s take a closer look at this hand. First off, I was frustrated by the fact that I didn’t win a single Hold ’em pot the in last 30-minute round of Hold ’em. I kept thinking that I’m the best Hold ’em player in the world, thus I need to play some Hold ’em hands. In fact, the opposite is true. I needed to play my usual super conservative tournament style Hold ’em which entails playing very few hands. So what if I’m a Hold ’em guy, I became a Hold ’em guy by folding a lot, not by forcing the issue. So I should have folded the Q-9. Elezra probably should have made it three bets to go with his A-J (which would have won the pot for me), and not just called, but Elezra knows how tight I generally play Hold ’em, so his call here was OK. Greenstein’s call was natural. On the flop, Greenstein and I played the hand pretty well. On the turn, Greenstein’s check was fine, and my check behind him was a great check. His bet, and my call on the river were natural. Still, at the end of the hand I regretted that I had even stepped in there with Q-9! Again, if I had it to do over again, I would have played the super tight style that I always use in tournaments, the one that I used the first two days of the HORSE.

    Winning a poker tournament requires:
    A) patience
    B) discipline
    C) a few good moves
    D) all of the above

    Answer: D

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