• Big Doings at the WPT Celebrity Invitational

    Date: 2006.03.20 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    After playing in the Commerce Casino’s $10,000 buy-in L.A. Poker Classic on the World Poker Tour (WPT), on Feb. 19, I was all fired up to play the WPT Celebrity Invitational at the Commerce six days later. Poker has been really hot, and I have never seen that many stars in this event before. For me, it was a great pleasure to meet James Garner (of “Maverick,” “The Rockford Files,” and countless other TV shows and movies over the years). As a poker player, how could I not love Garner? (Did I mention that he starred in “Maverick?”)

    I was off to a fast start when I raised it up with A-4, the flop came down 4-4-4, and someone moved all-in on me with A-J high! We started the event with $10,000 in chips, and I was immediately up to $30,000 in chips. That’s a pretty agreeable way to start. Then I ran into Mark “I Can’t Help It” Seif. Lately, Seif cannot help but win poker tournaments, including an amazing two World Series of Poker tournaments in 2005. He has no fear (as the following hand will show), and a lot of talent.

    With the blinds at $50-$100, Seif called the $100 bet with Ah-5h, I raised it up to $500 to go with Ac-Qc, everyone else folded, and then Seif reraised to $1,200 to go. At that point I felt Seif was weak, but what should I do? Reraise him all-in for his last $12,000? Reraise him roughly $2,500 (the size of the pot), or call the $700 reraise? The least risky play seemed to be to call. My call looked genius when the flop came down Qh-10c-5s. Seif now had only two wins in the deck! He checked, and I checked (to further trap him, and to protect myself from losing $12,000 in case he had me beat).

    The next card was the 2h, and now Seif bet out $2,500. Again, I had options: raise all-in, raise big like $6,000, or call. Once again, the safest option seemed to be a call. The last card was the 5c, and Seif bet out $5,000. Knowing that it was possible that he could have a five, I paused, but still, all-in-all, I chose to call, very quickly. When he showed me his hand, I hit the roof! Yes, he had picked up a flush draw on fourth street, but his reraise before the flop was just plain reckless, especially against me (since I read people pretty well). Still, Seif’s tricky reraise before the flop shows some guile, and the ability to mix it up. An hour later, I did get even with him when my pocket aces beat his K-10 on a board of 10-10-5-A-Q.

    I made it to day two as one of the chip leaders with $65,000, although Jason Alexander (of “Seinfeld” fame) was well ahead of me at $93,000. I once gave Alexander lessons before he played on “Celebrity Poker Showdown,” and he proceeded to win his table. I’d like to take some credit for his win, but Alexander is amazingly talented, and was a natural when it came to playing poker.

    I began day two with high hopes, but sometimes our best-laid plans go awry. Twenty minutes into day two, with 90 players remaining in the tournament, I was redrawn to a new table. As I walked over to my new table I said, “Deal me in,” to the dealer, who then dealt me in alright. He dealt me all the way in! With the blinds at $600-$1,200, and a $200 a player ante, one player called the $1,200 bet, and then Scott Fishman called as well. I looked down at Ad-Kd and thought to myself, “This is perfect! I might play a big pot, or Fishman might try something here, thinking that I’m trying to take control of the table.”

    So I raised it up, making it $7,200 to go, no small amount. Surprisingly, the first player called the bet, and then Fishman grabbed a stack of $5,000 chips and threw them into the pot. I could hardly contain my glee as I beat Fishman into the pot for my $60,000-plus stack. In poker parlance, “I called like a shot.” As the third player folded, Fishman said, “Good luck.” I said, “Why?” He said, “No, I meant good luck to me” (which got everyone at the table and all of the spectators laughing) as he rolled over the 9c-8c. (By the way, my Ad-Kd was only a 3-to-2 favorite over his 9c-8c.) Was it really that easy? I was going to take the chip lead in the tournament on a day when I felt I was playing great poker. It was my first all-in in two days.

    But alas, the flop came down Q-8-8, and it seemed over; but then an ace on the turn provided a sliver of hope. Fishman shouted, “No ace!” And I thought to myself, in a joking manner, that he doesn’t have the right to shout that, after putting all of his money in there so foolishly. The river was a nine, and there I sat, from one of the chip leaders to busted, from the penthouse to the outhouse. That’s poker.
    Ad-Kd is favored over 9c-8c by this much:
    A) 2-to-1
    B) even money when Fishman has the 9c-8c!
    C) 3-to-2
    D) 4-to-1

    Answer: C