• 2006: What a Year, So Far

    Date: 2006.02.13 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    Last month, I was emcee of the W Las Vegas Hotel, Casino and Residences event held at the Sundance Film Festival. I had flown from the heat of Miami to the frigid mountains of Utah. At Sundance, where there were also stars galore, I joined the 50 players who opened the event. After all, first prize at Sundance was a $700,000 condo, and since I wasn’t getting paid to comment, I wanted a shot at winning it.

    The event had attracted a huge audience, and the final table included Annie Duke, Chris Masterson, Shannon Elizabeth, Gina Gershon, W Las Vegas Hotel founder Reagan Silber and me. Through most of the tournament I had been paying scant attention to playing poker since I was teasing all the stars in the room and announced key pots at all five tables. For the first three hours of play, I looked at barely 40 percent of my own hands. I mean, I was in Sundance for the microphone, the mingling, the ambiance, and to watch a few films.

    When Duke was eliminated in fourth place, Masterson, Silber and I remained, with a shot at the condo. Immediately after Duke left the table, Masterson and Silber played a huge pot. With 70 percent of the chips from the whole tournament sitting out there, Silber raised it up from the small blind with Ad-9c, and Masterson made a huge reraise with Ah-10s from the big blind. Silber then moved all-in and Masterson called. Masterson was now a 2-1/2-to-1 favorite to win with his Ah-10s, but Silber hit a nine on the 9s-4s-3h flop. When the Ks hit on fourth street, there was suddenly hope for Masterson; he had 12 winning cards, and needed one of three 10s or one of nine spades to win the pot. It was not to be. The Jd on the river secured the pot for Silber (what a bad beat for Masterson!).

    Now, Silber and I were heads up, and I asked Silber to make a deal. Could I cash in my chips for a $300,000 down payment on the W Las Vegas Penthouse unit that I had already ordered? That would effectively give him $400,000 and me $300,000. As he considered my offer, it was pointed out to him that there were tax consequences, so we were forced to play for it all. So much for the lighthearted mood I’d felt. As Duke so adeptly kept announcing on the microphone — she had taken over the emcee role when she was eliminated — first place was a house and second place was a TV!

    Before long, Annie pointed out that I hadn’t said a single word in almost 10 minutes. No wonder. The sudden change in pressure — we were now playing heads up for $700,000 — had me in shock, but had heightened my focus and resolve. About 80 grueling minutes later, with the blinds at $3,000-$6,000, and a $1,000 ante, Silber opened for $12,000 on the button. I looked down at 9d-3d, and because there was already $20,000 in the pot, and it was only $6,000 more to call, I felt I was priced in. So I called, the flop came down Js-4d-3h and I moved all in. Silber quickly called, and flipped up his pocket queens.

    Silber had me covered, and now he had to be at least a 4-to-1 favorite to win the title and the condo. I thought to myself that it was about time I got lucky in a key pot. And when the Ad came up on the turn to give me a flush draw — I could win with a three, a nine or a diamond — I had a strong feeling that I would win the pot, even though I was still over a 2-to-1 underdog (2 threes plus 3 nines plus 9 diamonds, or 14 winners versus 30 losers). Sure enough, the last card was the Jd to complete my flush! Wow, I had outdrawn someone in a key situation, but I still had a long way to go. Silber was playing a super-tough game, and had really deserved to win the pot and the title with his pocket queens.

    After that hand, I ramped up my aggression, moving all-in the very next hand with 6-4 off suit. Hearing Silber say, “I fold” was music to my ears! I moved all-in again two hands later with K-2, and he folded again. A few minutes later, he opened for $12,000, and again I felt I was priced in with my super-weak 3s-2s, so I called. The flop was 7s-6s-5h, and I moved all-in with my big drawing hand (I needed a spade for a flush or a four for a straight). Silber, who had flopped two pair with his 7d-5c, called instantly. Since I had him covered, if I won the pot, I would win the tournament. Still, Silber was a small favorite to win with his two pair. The turn card was the Kd, and the river was, shockingly, the 4h, to complete my straight!

    It was over. I had won my first tournament of 2006, though it was more or less by accident. Still, I’ll take it!

    When a hand has A-10 versus A-9 all-in before the flop:
    A) the A-10 is a 2-1/2-to-1 favorite to win
    B) the A-10 is a 3-to-2 favorite to win
    C) the A-10 is a 4-to-1 favorite to win
    D) the A-9 is the favorite to win

    Answer: A