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  • Tournament of Champions

    Date: 2005.11.14 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    This week I played in the Tournament of Champions (TOC), along with 110 other players. Legends Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson, along with myself, were all invited to the event as some of the biggest World Series of Poker (WSOP) tournament winners. The fact that we were invited stirred a bit of controversy within the poker world, which seemed to be split down the middle — with one side saying, “These guys didn’t qualify, or try to qualify, thus they shouldn’t be playing.”

    On the other side, Harrah’s put up the whole $2 million prize pool, and they felt like they should be able to have a few spots available for exemptions. Also, with Chan and Brunson having a record 10 victories apiece at the WSOP — I am alone in second with nine — Harrah’s felt like we were “Champions,” and this was, after all, the TOC.

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  • Nice Guy Flushes Hellmuth’s Victory

    Date: 2005.11.07 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    I’m sick of watching everyone else win game after game on ESPN, FSN and the Travel Channel! Am I jealous of them? No, most of the guys deserve to win their events. All-time poker greats Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan, for example, each won their 10th bracelet at the 2005 World Series of Poker (WSOP), shown on ESPN. Of course, I’m not crazy about the fact that Chan, Brunson and I were once all tied on No. 9 and vying to be first to cross the double-digit mark!

    No, I’m just irked that I haven’t won a tournament in a while. Yes, I did win the NBC Heads-Up Championships this year, but a big win at WSOP, the World Poker Tour (WPT), the upcoming the Superstars of Poker III (shooting in early November) or another big televised event in Europe (two are being shot in Monte Carlo in late November) wouldn’t hurt. A man has his reputation to think of (and not because he’s a poker brat)!

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  • No-Limit at Roddick’s House

    Date: 2005.10.31 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    Here’s what my Friday was like: I started in Vegas having breakfast with Corey and Lisa Pavin at the PGA Tour event. Then it was on to Austin, Texas, on Carl and Jimmy Lou Westcott’s beautiful private jet so we could boat around Lake Austin with tennis star Andy Roddick. After those chores, it was back to business and on to an event in Austin where I took the stage, drinking Dom Perignon. The day ended with a no-limit Hold ’em tournament back at Roddick’s house.

    Roddick has worked hard on his no-limit Texas Hold ’em game, and it showed. He knew how to play the game; including running over the table when he had the chip lead (aggressively bluffing when he had big chips); betting the right amount when he wanted a call; and moving in when he was a short stack.

    Topping off our six-player one-table tournament were “Douggy” (Doug Spreen, Roddick’s trainer), my friends Jimmy Lou and Carl, and another friend of Roddick’s, Neal.

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  • Leaving 14 Dimes in the Sand

    Date: 2005.10.24 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    After being eliminated from the World Poker Tour event in Aruba, I was contractually committed to stay another five days. Normally, the minute I’m eliminated from a tournament, I’m looking to hop aboard the first flight home. But this was Aruba, and my wife was with me, so I was more than happy to hang out. Meanwhile, I decided to play some poker in the side games for a few hours a day, both at the Holiday Inn and at the Radisson.

    Late one night, at about 3 a.m. when my high-limit, lowball game broke up, I hopped into a no-limit Hold ’em side game with $25-$50 blinds. I bought in for $4,000, and the very first hand I was dealt was Kd-Qd, followed by a flop of Qh-Qc-4d. So, of course, I doubled up when someone with Q-J moved all-in. Within 45 minutes I had 23 dimes (a “dime” is a thousand dollars) in front of me, and I was on a rush (which means simply that you’re winning a ton of pots).

    In first position in a subsequent hand, I made it $100 to go without looking at my cards — this is called a “straddle” — which gave me the right to raise it up if anyone else called the $100 bet. Everyone folded to player SA (for super-aggressive!) in the big blind, and he raised it up, making it $500 to go. I looked down at 7d-5c, and decided to call the bet with this incredibly weak hand, for four reasons.

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  • Aruba’s ‘Bubble Boy’ Smiled

    Date: 2005.10.17 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    Here in Aruba, at the UltimateBet.com World Poker Tour event, 125 players got paid. (By the way, to finish in position 126, and thus receive no money, is to finish on the “bubble.”) With 135 players remaining, I went down to the tournament area to root for my good friend Greg Pierson. Greg is the founder and CEO of Iovation, an Internet security company (whose products are by America Online and UltimateBet). I knew from the day I met him that Pierson would be a billionaire someday, but can he play poker?

    A few minutes later, with 126 players remaining, the blinds at $1,000-$2,000 with a $200 ante, Mister 6 (the player in the sixth seat) opened for $6,000 on the button. Pierson, in the big blind, moved all-in for roughly $30,000 with his Ad-3s. Mister 6 immediately flipped up pocket aces, and declared, “I call.” What a nightmare scenario for Pierson! He was now roughly a 12-to-1 underdog for his tournament life (Mister 6 had more chips than he did), and he was about to finish in 126th place when only 125 players would be paid!

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  • Poker on the Beach

    Date: 2005.10.10 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    OK, Phil, no more sour grapes! You’re in the penthouse suite at the Radisson in beautiful Aruba. All your media, including your books tips calendar, are flying off the shelves. You have nine World Series of Poker (WSOP) titles.

    Why, then, do you have to act like a jerk after taking a bad beat? Why leap out of your chair, with your arms flailing, and utter, “What the (expletive) is going on here?” And then ask your opponent, “How could you have played this hand so poorly?”

    Once more, I’m embarrassed by my own conduct, the more so as this is the UltimateBet.com World Poker Tour (UB-WPT) event in Aruba, and I’m a UB ambassador. I should have said, “Nice hand, sir,” and calmly walk away from the table. I should have shown the class that a WSOP champion ought to show. But I am, after all, the poker brat (though not necessarily proud of it).

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