• Day 2 at the Bicycle Club

    Date: 2006.09.11 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    In my last column, I covered Day 1 of the World Poker Tour (WPT) tournament at the Bicycle Club in Los Angeles. I mentioned that I had made a mistake against Erik Seidel by playing a 5-3 hand for a raise before the flop, and how that hand ended up costing me more than $20,000 in chips. Still, I did make it to Day 2 (on Monday) with $24,500 in chips. (We had started with $20,000 apiece.)

    On Day 2, I sat down in the two seat, with J-Till (actress Jennifer Tilly) to my left in the three seat, Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi in the four seat, World Champion of poker Scotty Nyugen in the seven seat, and tough player James Van Alstyne to my right in the one seat. Tough table, and it seemed like they were ALL pretty tough, owing to the fact that we’d had only 450 players enter the tournament, as opposed to over 1,000 entrants for most of the World Series of Poker tournaments held over the last two months.

    With the blinds at $300-$600 I soon realized I was at a table that liked to play big pots. One pot J-Till opened for $1,800 in late position, Player A on the button made it $5,000 to go with K-J, Player B in the big blind made it $20,000 to go with As-7s, J-Till moved all-in for $63,000 total, Player A called for his last $14,000, and Player B called $43,000 more. J-Till then flipped up A-A — tough to beat, but the rest of us were in shock to see K-J and As-7s from the other hands! Player A had called off his last $14,000 with K-J off suit, excuse me? I don’t blame him for reraising it $5,000 to go, though that was a bit weak, but how in the world could he call off his last $14,000 with K-J? He should have known, given the third and fourth raises before the flop, that he was looking at A-A or K-K in his opponents’ hands, so throwing away his K-J should have been an easy decision.

    As to Player B’s actions, I would not have called $5,000 before the flop with As-7s, much less made it $20,000 to go; but 10 times worse than that was the $43,000 call! I guess Player B was hoping that J-Till had K-K, which would have made him only a 2-1/2-to-1 underdog with his As-7s. When you’re hoping to be only a 2-1/2-to-1 underdog before the flop, you might as well fold your hand, especially for $43,000 in chips, which in itself was a big stack with the blinds only at $300-$600. What in the world was Player B thinking? In any case, J-Till won a $150,000 pot when her A-A held up. After watching that pot I realized I could easily have the chip lead in a few hours. I mean, it looked like they were giving away chips, and not just in paltry amounts.

    Later, in early position, I raised it up to $1,400 to go with 5-5, and the Grinder made it $5,000 to go. I knew that Grinder is super aggressive and could have had a weak hand, so I called the bet, and checked the flop in the dark. I thought Grinder would try to bluff me, and I would decide what to do after the flop. I checked in the dark to let him bluff at the pot. The flop was Q-J-10, and I had already checked, so Grinder bet out my last $20,000 or so. This time I had an easy fold. The very next hand I had 10-9 in the big blind, folded for a small $800 raise, and then watched as the flop came down 9c-9s-5c. I thought, “Great, I probably should have called the $800 bet. And besides, that flop would have made my 5-5 in the hand we’d just played!”

    Within 10 minutes I picked up 5-5 again, and this time I just called the $600 bet. Ron Faltinsky, who had just moved to the three seat, made it $3,000 to go, and I called. The flop was, amazingly, 9c-9s-5c! That was the flop I had just witnessed a few minutes earlier! I checked, and Faltinsky bet out $7,000 into the $7,000 pot. What to do, what to do? I had flopped a full house and didn’t want to lose Faltinsky with a raise. After all, he was most likely drawing dead, or at the very least he was in bad shape. His large bet did tell me, though, that he could call a raise. Still, I wanted to look weak, so I studied for about 80 seconds before I made a minimum raise of $7,000. He asked how much I had left, and when I told him $2,000 or $3,000 he moved me all-in. Beautiful! I called right away and flipped my hand up. This was a sweet way to double up. He showed 10-10, and I thought, “No nine or 10, please!” But the next card was a 10, and now I was a 42-to-1 underdog, oh man! What could I do? I’d had just the situation I wanted, and lost anyway. That’s poker.