This is the first Hand of the Week” that Mr. Hellmuth has allowed me to write 100% on my own. How fitting that it has pocket nines involved as we all know; and I mean, we all know who this hand really belongs to; right Phil’
It was the 2002 WSOP (World Series of Poker). I had won the first no limit tournament which had 628 or so players in it. The talk was, “Oh Layne won another no limit, yada, yada, so what right.” Now comes the second no limit tournament with 549 players and I find myself in contention to win another bracelet.
We come to a close on the first day and after a hard day of playing and drinking–these tournaments require solid focus, hence the drinking–I look up, after paying little attention to the other tables to see how tough the road to victory is about to be. I mean, how much worse could it be! I already had Johnny Chan to my right and Eric Siedel to my left! (This tournament really showed me again, that no limit does bring out the best at the WSOP and they do rise to the occasion.)
Day 2–I’m one of the chip leaders and I pick up two red nines and lose a coin flip and half of my stack. A while later I pick up the “black nines” and win all of my chips back, plus some. This setting the tone for the real hand I will tell you about. So hold on.
As we reach the final table, I notice that it holds many great, and I mean great players: Johnny Chan, T.J. Cloutier, Carlos Mortenson, Chris Bjorin, to name a few!
By the way, it’s funny that my story isn’t about another hand that came up at the final table that day. An unbelievable hand featuring my quad 10’s over Mr. Mamorstein’s quad 4’s!
Anyway, it is now down to Me, Chan and T.J. The chip counts are about 320,000 for T.J., 280,000 for me, and 170,000 for Johnny. I pick up the two black nines, which like I said have a history that day, because I had already won one big pot with them. (PH note: the black nines room is the official name of my website: philhellmuth.com).
With $2,000-$4,000 blinds and a $500 ante, I raise it up to $12,000 to go. T.J. moves in $300,000 more. What do you do here” Without hesitation I call all my money. Was I silly or wrong” Did I have correct odds” For the record, I do think that it is probably a close call.
So why did I make the call” History, of course, after all they were the “Black nines.” Remember that I did win with the black nines earlier and lost with the red ones. Just kidding, that wasn’t even close to the reason why I called!
The real reason I made the call was simple to me. T.J. had moved over top of many of my raises all day long. Then he would show the table an ace, not A-K, not A-Q, but one ace only. Leading me to believe he had a rag card with it. Once in a while he would flash the A-K: granted this was my risk.
The biggest factor of all, really, was this fact: I made a raise earlier in the day and T.J. re-raised, but this time he stopped; and he thought; and he counted his chips; and finally he put in a teasing or well thought out raise. There were no callers, and then he shows Q-Q, and on another similar occasion, A-A. But where was that pause and teasing raise this time” Ah, thank you for the read T.J. I picked up on it very quickly and was waiting for my opportunity to take advantage.
Also, it flashed in my mind, as T.J. moved all-in quickly, that he may have one of three hands. First he may A-rag, and I’m a big favorite over this hand. Second he may have ace high with a 10 through a K for a kicker, now It’s a coin flip. Third he has an over pair, and I now become a 4-1 underdog. Now what do you do” With the read I mentioned above, I felt like he didn’t have an over pair, so it’s a simple decision: call.
One other thing is this: I am playing T.J and Johnny Chan and no one said it was going to be easy! No one said that it’s not going to take a big risk for something to happen against two of the worlds greatest no limit players. Now the calculated risk just went way down I believe, just ask me.