• A Not So Ho-Ho-Hum Holiday Game

    Date: 2006.01.09 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    Along with my family’s tradition of spending Christmas in Wisconsin comes the annual pot-limit Hold ’em game that my friends set up for my return each year, at my buddy Jon Green’s house. The game wasn’t a pushover, what with players like Wayne Tyler, Mark Kroon (the famous “PokerHo” on UltimateBet.com), Paul Clements, Larry “Concrete” Beilfus, Tim Belstner, Gary Ebert, Denny Ruef, and a few others at the table.

    The year before, I managed to lose a record-setting $12,000 in the traditional game. So after last year’s performance, poker players from all over the state of Wisconsin were trying to get a seat at that table.

    With the blinds at $5-$5, and the buy-in and re-buys set at $500, the game didn’t figure to be big enough for me to win back that $12,000. Two factors, though, made sure that it was. First, half of the time someone had the $10 “live blind” on. (A $10 “live blind” means that player A, to the left of the big blind, voluntarily adds an additional blind of $10, so that there were, in effect, three blinds instead of two, making it $10 to call, and then player A had the chance to raise it up as well.)

    Second, we started the game at 3 p.m. on Dec. 23, and played until almost noon on the 24th. (My wife called at 11:30 a.m. with marching orders, “Honey, meet us at noon for lunch with the relatives.”) Playing that long allowed massive chip build-ups as the players re-bought dozens of times. At 3 a.m., I quit, with a mere $100 in my pocket, and at that point I was losing about $3,200. After some downright pleading for me to rejoin the game, I said “Y’all know if I get back into the game I’m going to win all that money.”

    By 3:15 a.m., I was back in the game, and by 5 a.m. I was losing another $4,500 or so. Even though $7,700 was a lot to lose, several players were losing more than that at this point in the game. That $7,700 wasn’t even one-half of a hand in the $2,000-$4,000 limit game I’d been used to the last couple months. Still, I was ticked off, and it wasn’t about the money. After all, these were my homies, and my pride was on the line.

    Around 7 a.m., the following hand came up. Beilfus made it $35 to go, and I called with Ac-Ah on the button and about $10,000 in chips in front of me. Although Beilfus had roughly $3,400 in chips, I smooth called with my aces, in hopes of trapping Clements, who was in the small blind. I thought a reraise would force him to fold, and I didn’t want to lose him from this hand, because he had more than $20,000 in front of him.

    Clements did call in the small blind, and the flop came down 10d-7s-5s. Clements bet out $80, and Beilfus popped it up to $300 to go. I then decided to play the hand strong, because of the possible straight and flush draws, and because I thought Beilfus might have K-K or Q-Q, in which case I might have forced him all-in on the flop, with a good chance of busting him. So I made it $1,200 to go, and Clements thought for a good two minutes with his 10s-6s. Clements had top pair and a flush draw, $20,000 in front of him, and he had bought in at only $500. He had won his money by taking chances, and now he had a strong hand.

    Amazingly, Clements folded. Then Beilfus called. The turn card was the 5h, which looked perfect to me. Beilfus now moved all-in for $2,300. Ok, I knew Beilfus would have played all-in on the flop, if he had made trips. And why would he move all-in if he had a full house, with, say, fives over sevens? Why not check, or bet less? So I eliminated all full houses. There was no way Beilfus had a five in his hand, was there? If he put in $1,200 with a five, then he deserved the $2,300, but I thought that extremely unlikely. I still thought he might have K-K or Q-Q, so I called relatively quickly.

    The last card was a queen, and Beilfus folded his hand (whew!), saying he had flopped a straight and a flush draw — he told me a week later that he was bluffing with a straight draw only! Too bad Clements had played so well and folded his strong hand, as I would have beaten him for a lot of money as well (Clements would have missed his flush and made tens up to my aces up).

    In any case, I was happy to win the monster pot. When the smoke cleared, I found myself with more than $8,000 back in my pocket, and I was owed a couple of thousand dollars as well.

    A “live blind” is:
    A) a voluntarily posted third blind
    B) a mandatory blind
    C) a hideout for duck hunters
    D) all of the above

    Answer: A