• ‘Coach’ and the Poker Cheerleaders

    Date: 2006.01.02 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    While at the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City recently, my opponent moved all-in for $5,500 on a board of K-Q-8-2-2. I had Q-Q, and $40,000 in chips in front of me, which made for an easy call — but still, I looked into my opponents menacing clear blue eyes and asked, “Bluffing, Coach?” Now “Coach” peered down at his hole cards, exposing them to the four beautiful cheerleaders in full uniform standing behind him.

    Suddenly, the cheerleaders stepped into formation, and began the following cheer, “Pocket kings, pocket kings, go kings!” On cue, I looked toward the dealer, and said, “I fold,” while throwing my queens face up on the table. Then I quickly turned back to the cheerleaders and said, “Thanks, ladies.”

    “Coach,” NFL Legend Mike Ditka, then said — perfectly on cue, and dripping with anger — “Don’t you girls have a game to go to?” I laughed as I watched Ditka fold his pocket kings face up on the table. “That’s a wrap, put it in the can,” said the director. Ditka, Ron “Jaws” Jaworski, a bunch of AFL (Arena Football League) mascots, and I, all relaxed and waited for the crew to set-up the second commercial shoot.

    Could I have really folded pocket queens under the conditions above (minus the cheerleaders help)? Heck no, I would have called the $5,500 so fast it would have made your head spin!

    Ditka was there as part owner of the AFL team, the Chicago Rush, who were one field goal away from playing in the Arena Bowl — the AFL’s Super Bowl, held in Vegas each May — and this one was the historic 20th. Ditka does play Hold ’em in his restaurant in Chicago (appropriately titled, Ditka’s), usually in an eight- or nine-player tournament format, where first and second place get paid. I found Ditka to be a good guy, and extremely funny. He doesn’t like to wait around, and on several occasions shouted to the director, “C’mon, let’s go!” (I could just imagine him shouting at his football players!)

    Ditka told me he has a five-handicap in golf, and that he does not give or take strokes from anyone. He said, “Poker Brat, you can play me straight up!” Uh, no thanks Ditka, these days I cannot break 90! So I cannot beat Ditka at golf, and he cannot beat me at poker, but we did agree to play one game, when next we meet: gin.

    “Jaws” was there as president of the AFL team, the Philadelphia Soul (which Jon Bon Jovi just bought the majority interest in). He also works for ESPN five days a week for five months, and travels every weekend during those five months. Of course, Jaws is a hero in Atlantic City and Philadelphia as he was the long time quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. “Jaws” was another humble, and good guy.

    The ads, which partner the images of cities known for gambling with AFL excitement, will be broadcast in 2006.

    I wound up shooting three commercials for the American Football League, the Arena Bowl and NBC — one of them involving the mascots knocking over my chip stack with a football!

    Folding Q-Q on a board of K-Q-8-2-2 would be:
    A) Impossible! (without help from some cheerleaders).
    B) Easy, if you’re shooting a commercial and it’s part of the script.
    C) A bad fold.
    D) All of the above.

    Answer: D