• Camp Hellmuth and Pocket Jacks

    Date: 2006.08.28 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    I have now done three of my fantasy camps — Camp Hellmuth — at Caesars Palace, with CH III being the last one for at least a few years. The response at each of them was amazing! The comment cards were an absolute joke, with everyone raving about what a good time they had, how much they learned, how cool it was to hang out with Antonio Esfandiari, Michael “The grinder” Mizrachi, Evelyn Ng, Scott Fishman, Mark Seif, and former FBI agent Joe Navarro. I am proud of the fact that each camp had such a good energy surrounding it, and that everyone had so much fun.

    A few weeks ago, at CH III, I decided to spice up our main tournament a bit, and get the pros committed to playing their best poker — for the camper’s sakes. Knowing that the pros couldn’t win any of the prize money in our tournament, I made last-longer bets with Mizrachi, Fishman, Esfandiari, and UltimateBet.com online pros “Sean Rice,” “Krazy Kanuck,” and “Poker Ho.” In each case, I laid odds like $600-to-$500 for Mizrachi or $700-to-$500 for Fishman. In a last-longer bet, the first one out of the tournament pays the other player that is still alive in the tournament, so that if I were out ahead of the all of the other guys, it would cost me at least $4,000. This put some financial pressure on the pros to play well, and I also announced each bet to the room full of 180 CH campers. Thus there was a lot of pride involved as well for the pros.

    About 45 minutes into the tournament, I had $1,600 in chips (of my starting stack of $2,500), when player 1 made it $400 to go in early position. I called the $400 in late position with J-J, and now Player 2 — in the big blind — moved all-in immediately upon looking at his hole cards, ouch! The early position raiser — Player 1 — called immediately, and now I was in a pickle. It looked like I might be in trouble with my pocket jacks, and if I called and lost, I paid all of my friends in our last-longer bets.

    Here are the arguments for calling and folding.

    Fold: The best I could hope for was that Player 1 had A-K (which he did), and that Player 2 had pocket 10-10, but it seemed to me Player 2 was much stronger than that. I thought Player 2 had at least pocket queens, the way he moved his chips in so quickly, whilst knowing that I was playing very few hands, and that I had a strong hand. Also, the fact that I had last-longer bets meant that I could lose all of them right then and there if I called; but if I folded and waited I had a good chance to beat at least one pro out of a side bet.

    Call: I only had $1,200 left, and the pot was laying me a huge price ($400 + $400 + $400 + $1,200 + $1,200 = $3,600) of $3,600-to-$1,200 — or 3-to-1. Both players could easily have had A-K, which would mean I was a big favorite to win the pot. And what if Player 1 had 10-10 and Player 2 had 9-9? They probably didn’t, but I would have been a huge favorite in that scenario as well. Also, how long could I expect to last with only $1,200 in chips?

    I announced the situation to the whole room — because both players were already all-in I could tell the room that I had pocket jacks — and the pros came running over to watch my potential elimination. After awhile, I folded my hand and felt good about it as Player 1 had A-K and Player 2 rolled over K-K! Sometimes waiting for a better situation can pay real dividends. In fact, as we played down to the final table that day, I went on to outlast every player, and collect every bet, save one. Mizrachi and I both made the final table; which would be played at the closing banquet the next night. By the way, Mizrachi is leading the “Player of the Year” race in 2006, and I’m in second place. Talk about things following form!

    At the final table the next night I finished fourth when my A-2 was beaten by eventual winner Joey Fairbloom’s Q-J, when we both moved all-in before the flop (A-2 is only about a 6-to-5 favorite over Q-J). Mizrachi finished in second place and beat me out of our last-longer bet. At least I made him work for it! Fairbloom is a dentist from Toronto, and was absolutely thrilled to play, to win, and to bust both Mizrachi and me. I will miss Camp Hellmuth, but I will still have some fantasy camp work, as we have rolled CH over into a new camp called the “World Series of Poker Academy.”

    When you have tough decision in poker:
    A) ultimately you have to go with your instincts
    B) trust the read you have on your opponent
    C) consider all of the factors
    D) all of the above!

    Answer: D!