Russ Says Later, ‘Phil, What’d Ya Do To Me?’
Ever have someone act out of turn and cost you a ton of chips” (Note: I can’t believe I’m going to write this article and make myself look bad, again! Oh man, why did I ask Russ for a Hand of the Week”, and why did he choose this hand…) With fourteen players left in the Casino Europa’s World Poker Tour (WPT) Championship event in Costa Rica (first place was $110,000), and three World Champions left-Scotty, Russ and I-that’s exactly what happened to 1994 World Champion Russ Hamilton, when some “inexperienced player” did exactly that. Er…did I mention that I was the player that did it”
You see, we came back from break to $1,000-$2,000 blinds, and right before the first hand started, Dewey Tomko (in the small blind) said to Russ (in the big blind), “What would you do with pocket jacks right now'” Russ laughed and said, “I don’t know.” The first hand I made it $7,000 to go (I started the hand with $17,000) with A-7 three off of the button. Now R.A. Head moved all-in on the button for about $18,000, and I thought I saw both blinds fold. So I flipped up my ace, to show I had a legitimate raising hand, and I was about to fold, when, much to my horror, I noticed that Russ (in the big blind) hadn’t folded his hand yet! In my defense, I cannot remember doing that for many, many years, but clearly I had acted prematurely, and now the damage was done.
Russ was just getting ready to fold, and set his hand near the muck, so he could show Dewey his pocket jacks and laugh. When all of a sudden, out of the blue, I made it apparent I was folding (by showing my ace, which basically kills my hand). Now Russ looked over at Dewey and said, “Darn it, I’ve got that hand (J-J) we were just talking about! Now what do I do'” You see, at first Russ was 100% folding, but when he saw that I was folding, he reconsidered, and then finally decided to call the $18,000 (Russ had started this hand with $28,000). Turns out R.A. Head was bluffing with Qh-10h, and Russ was in great shape, until the flop came down Kh-9s-4h; now Russ had to dodge not only a queen, but also a flush draw and a straight draw–he didn’t want to make trip jacks lest R.A make a straight. After a safe fourth-card, the last card was the 8h to make R.A. a flush, and now Russ only had $10,000 left.
Poor Russ went from folding his hand and keeping his full $28,000 in chips, to playing a $46,000 pot where he was a 2″ to one favorite, to ending up with only $10,000 in chips, all because of my mistake. (To Russ’s credit, he never even mentioned the hand to me, until I brought it up later.)
Although anyone could have won this tournament, Mr. Hamilton had just won two events the week before in Aruba, and Scotty had won one and split one; also they ran 1-2 in the championship event in Aruba, therefore I fancied their chances in Costa Rica. But it wasn’t to be for them or me this time.
Three hands later, I moved in my last $10,000 under the gun with A-10, and Jaime Ligator called me with A-9, and hit a nine, bye-bye Phil in 14th. Two hands later Russ moved all-in under the gun for his last $16,000 with 4-4, and “Don” Luis Milanes called him with Q-J. It came all rags, until the last card Q! Bye-bye Russ in 13th place. Within minutes, Scotty finished 12th. So the three World Champions went out bang-bang-bang! All three of us so close to the final table, and even more importantly to the final six, and the WPT TV coverage, and yet so far.
“Red hot” Humberto Brennes also finished at the last two tables, and his brother Alex did too. I noticed this because Russ and I had a $1,000 Costa Rican Charity “last-longer” side-bet with Alex and Humberto (they gave $500 to the “Children’s fund of Costa Rica” and $500 to the “Jack Slater fund”-the poker floor man who is well-loved in the poker world and needs a heart transplant, and cannot work right now). It’s worth mentioning that top-three finisher and club owner “Don” Luis and eventual winner Jose Rosenkrantz were playing tough poker that day as well (congratulations Jose).
Although my mistake ended up costing Russ a lot of chips in Costa Rica, I did team up with him in a two-man golf scramble the week before in Aruba, and together we made over $10,000. Russ and I decided to name our victims to needle them a bit: European poker star Ram Vaswani and “Tilt boy” Phil Gordon! Russ and I won because of his fine putting stroke, and my majestic drives–from the ladies tees! I hope that everyone enjoyed this weeks Hand of the Week”. Good luck playing your hands this week.