• 2004 WSOP Eliminations

    Date: 2004.01.15 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    Last time I told you how Annie Duke, Russ Hamilton, Erik Seidel and Antonio Esfandiari went out of the 2004 WSOP (World Series of Poker). Now were on to a few more players of note-Howard Lederer and Doyle Brunson.

    When I reached Howard Lederer (“Bub” to his friends), he had just won $9.3 million playing heads-up poker at the Bellagio on the sixth day of the WSOP’s big one, in a $100,000-$200,000 match. As a side note: Jennifer Harmon Traniello and Todd Brunson also have done well playing heads-up for those kinds of stakes.

    Howard was eliminated around 400th place by someone who is no stranger to anyone in the poker world today. “It was very strange, I happened to get high-carded to the TV table alongside Doyle; when the TV table went to eight handed, and I happened to be in the big blind, and nearest to the TV table. My tournament had been pretty uneventful, I ended day 1 with $13,000, and then I was up to $50,000 making steady progress. I bluffed a bit too much, found myself at $10,000 or so, and when I moved to Doyle’s table I had roughly $30,000.”

    “And then I flopped a pair, stole a pot or two, and had $45,000 when the big hand came up between Doyle and I. By the way, this hand will definitely be on TV. Though some might think Doyle’s play odd, I happen to like the way he played this hand. He opened in middle position for $3,500 with Ks-10s, and everyone folded to me in the big blind. I looked down at 7-7, and called $2,500 more. Now there’s about $8,000 in the pot, and the flop comes down 7s-4s-3d, and I check. I was already debating in my mind how to play this powerful hand. Was I going to check-call, check-raise, and if check-raise, how much, when Doyle announced, “I’m all-in.” Decision time over, I nearly beat Doyle into the pot, the second he said, “All-in,” I said call.”

    “Then Doyle said, ‘Uh-oh.’ He knew by the speed of my call that I had a super-strong hand. The Kc came on the turn, which meant that we would have played a big pot anyway. And then the 6s comes on the river. And boom I’m gone, the agony of defeat! I mean one second you’re comfortable, and playing in the biggest poker tournament in history, and the next second you’re gone. The finality of it all is really something. As I said before I like Doyle’s play here. I mean if he bets $8,000; what’s he supposed to do, fold for my all-in $30,000 raise” He can’t, thus why not put the maximum pressure on me and any pair that I might have like J-J, 10-10, 9-9 or something similar.” Since I couldn’t reach Doyle by my article deadline, Howard told me the unbelievable scenario behind Doyle’s exit at 53rd place. Howard now says, “I was needling Doyle the next day after he busted me about his verbal declarations. I was telling him that he was too lazy to put his chips in the pot. Unbelievably, day five rolls along, and the following hand came up between Bradley Berman (Lyle Berman’s son) and Doyle. Doyle was down to about $100,000 in chips, with the blinds at about $6,000-$12,000. In mid-position, Doyle verbally announced, ‘I’m all-in,’ but it was super loud in the building at the time, and everyone folded around to Bradley who was in the small blind.”

    “Bradley thought that everyone else had folded, and that he was raising the big blind only. So Bradley announced, ‘I raise,’ at which point he was told that Doyle had already moved all-in, and now Bradley was told that he must raise Doyle’s $100,000 bet. Now the big blind folded, and Doyle flipped up pocket tens, and Bradley, with a little egg-white on his face, sheepishly flipped up his A-7. Bradley flopped an ace with an A-5-5 flop, and it was over for Doyle in an instant.”

    “Can you imagine if Doyle would have made it to the final table” At 70 years of age, and moving like a surgeon through 2,600 players! What a feat that would be.”

    Howard’s final comments were, “Next year the pros will play even better against the amateurs. It is a learning curve for all of us, and we will be even better prepared by next year. Some of us try too many moves against the amateurs rather than just playing them straight up.”