• Crazy Me is Good TV

    Date: 2007.05.28 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    A few weeks back, while filming the next season of “High Stakes Poker” for the Game Show Network, a weird pot came up between Brian Brandon (a millionaire businessman and “invitee” to the game) and I.

    With the blinds at $300-$600, and a $100 a man ante, Brandon opened for $2,400 in early position. In the small blind, I looked down at 9c-9s and pondered my options. It seemed like a call to me for two reasons. First, I like to merely call with medium pocket pairs to disguise the strength of my hand; and second, I like to merely call (versus reraising it) to avoid being re-reraised. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was supposed to reraise this time. My instincts kept telling me that Brandon was very weak. Finally, I went with my gut and raised it up, making it $9,000 to go, and Brandon called me.

    The flop was Qs-Jc-7h, I checked, and Brandon bet $16,000. I studied for a moment, with my first though being that I should fold.

    After all, Brandon had called a reraise, and I couldn’t beat very many “real hands.” But there it was again, I had a strong feeling that Brandon was weak. I called, the turn was the 4d and we both checked. On the river the 7c came off, and now I bet out $2,500 and gave a speech saying, “I guess that you don’t have too much.” Brandon said, “I’ll just call and let you off cheap, because you may have me beat. But I think I win this pot.” Brandon then flipped up the 7s-6c and claimed the pot with three sevens. At that point I went a little crazy, and I’m sure that it made for some pretty good television. I really do wish that I could control myself better in these situations, but on the other hand they tell me that my tantrums do make for excellent television!

    Here is what the Poker Brat — uh — what I said, “I cannot believe that this guy called a $6,600 reraise with 7-6 off suit!” “Are they just trying to give their money to me, or what?” “And how poorly did Brian play this pot? I mean we put it $25,000 apiece when I had him dominated, then $2,500 apiece when he hit his miracle seven!” “These businessmen play so poorly that they cannot win!” Then I said to Mike “The Mouth” Matusow, “What a beat that was for $50,000!”

    Then Matusow bet me $10,000 that there was less than $52,000 in the pot. I accepted that bet, but I began to wonder if my math was off. Just then Phil “The Unabomber” Laak said, “I’ll lay $30,000 to $10,000 that there was less than $52,000 in that pot.”

    Was I going nuts? I could remember $25,000 each plus the antes, but was there $52,000 in the pot? Since I could remember $50,000, I bet Matusow another $5,000 that there was over $50,000 in the pot, and he accepted the bet. Of course, for those of you counting at home, the pot actually had over $56,000 in it ($9,000 plus $9,000 plus $800 antes plus $600 big blind plus $16,000 plus $16,000 plus $2,500 plus $2,500 equals $56,400). If only I could have remembered the $2,500 bet on the end, I could have won another $30,000 from Laak. Still, Matusow’s $15,000 was sweet.

    Now, let’s take a closer look at this hand. Brandon’s upfront raise with 7-6 off suit was a bit suspect, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt as he was playing pretty patiently before then. I made an excellent reraise with my 9-9, while sensing Brandon’s weakness. His call of my reraise was weak. Why get involved with 7-6 off suit against me?

    On the other hand, he did have position on me, and we both had deep stacks of over $150,000 apiece. Because we were both deep, his call here is not as bad; because if he does hit his hand, he could potentially make $150,000 in profit on the hand. I like my check on the flop. His bet on the flop was not bad really. I could have had A-K, or A-10, or a pocket pair below jacks. So his bet gives him the chance to bluff me out, or charge me to draw a card to A-K or A-10. I like my call on the flop, but could I have raised it up on the flop and won the pot right then and there? That question haunted me a bit that night. I like my check on the turn as well, but could I have made a big bet and won the pot?
    His check on the turn was a good one. My $2,500 bet on the river was an excellent bet. It forced Brandon to pay me off if he did have a pair below mine like 6-6, or if he had A-K, or even A-10. The bet also served a defensive purpose: it froze Brandon! I hate his call on the end. Why not raise it up when you hit your miracle seven? I may have called a $10,000, or even a $15,000 raise.

    Calling a reraise with a weak hand like 7-6 can work, if:
    A) Both players have deep stacks.
    B) You are in good position
    C) You are good enough to fold when you make one pair
    D) All of the above.

    Answer: D