• A ‘League’ of My Own

    Date: 2007.03.12 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    Last column, I began talking about my first game at the internationally covered Premier League in London. Poker’s exploding worldwide, and this was a great chance to get my name, and my brand, out there.

    The Premier League in a nutshell: 12 world-class players vie for points in six “heats.” The top four scorers and the top two winners of heads-up matches advance to the finale. Also, each player took their point total times 10,000 to the six-player finale (28 points equaled $280,000). Each heat would be an hour-long TV show. We ended up with a 14-week series.

    After winning my first heat, I had the early lead in the Premier League with eight points. In addition to playing on Day 1, I also did the commentary for the second heat that same day. Thus, I came in a bit tired Day 2, and I had scheduled myself to play both heats that day, back-to-back. Oh well, if you let fatigue get to you in poker, you’ll rarely win. I have spent the last 20 years dealing with fatigue in poker, and I feel like I’m finally handling it well. So off we went in my second round heat featuring: Andy Black, Tony G, Kenna James, Roland De Wolfe, and Liz Liu.

    My tactics: I sat back and waited for the other players to bust themselves, thinking that third place was OK, first or second perfect, and fourth through sixth would be failures. If the other players were reckless, then that made my job — of finishing in the top three — much easier. Indeed, the other players were playing too fast and reckless for this slow structure, and after about 90 minutes I found myself heads up with Black. I would get six or eight points!

    With the blinds at $10,000-$20,000, I called on the button with A-K. Black raised it up $40,000 more to go from the big blind, and then I studied for a moment before reraising about $70,000 more. Black then moved all-in instantly, and I did my patented insta-call (youtube.com) where I moved my chips in so quickly that they spilled about the table a bit. The flop came down J-7-4-Q-8, I had won my first two heats, and I claimed the early lead in the Premier League with 16 points.

    Let’s talk about this hand for a moment. I called with A-K in order to try to trap Black. I was hoping that he would raise it up, so that I could re-raise it. I do not mind Black’s raise here with K-10. K-10 was liable to be the best hand, and he was simply trying to win the pot right then and there. Of course, if for some reason Black could detect strength in me after I limped, then he could have avoided raising it up. Naturally, I was going to re-raise it with my A-K after Black’s raise, but how much? I did not want to move all-in and scare Black away. Rather, I wanted to raise enough to where it looked like Black may win the pot with an all-in move.

    It must be said that I took my time, and I tried to look like I was weak or bluffing. I guess I looked weak to Black, since he moved all-in. But I hate Black’s all-in move here. Why risk all of your chips in a situation where your opponent limps, and then re-raises, which seems a bit fish? The limp-re-raise almost always means great strength or great weakness, but usually it means great strength. The clues were there for Black to lay his hand down to my re-raise, but he didn’t see the writing on the wall.

    When someone limps in, then re-raises it:
    A) They’re normally super strong
    B) They’re trying to trap their opponents
    C) They’re trying to play a big pot
    D) all of the above

    Answer: D