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  • I’m a Lucky ‘Bad Boy’

    Date: 2007.11.12 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    Recently, I played on NBC’s “Poker after Dark.” One of the episodes was called “The Bad Boys of Poker,” and featured Mike “The Mouth” Matusow, Gavin Smith, Bobby Bellande (the poker player on “Survivor”), Sean “The Sheik” Sheikhan, Sam Grizzle, and I. One thing was for sure about this lineup — it was loud!

    When we hit three-handed, Bellande, Sheikhan and I were left battling. With the blinds at $2,000-$4,000, Sheikhan folded on the button, I looked at A-4 in the small blind and moved Bellande all-in for his last $18,000. Bellande called with A-8, and I was a 2-1/2-to-1 underdog to win the pot. Bellande spent a full minute chatting about how unlucky he was, and telling the world that I would win the pot. The flop was 8-6-4, and Sheikhan said, “See bro, you can’t lose this one now.” Bellande said, “With my luck, I could.” Amazingly, the turn card was a four! Now Bellande needed an eight to win the pot, and found himself a 22-to-1 underdog (22 cards for me and 2 for him). The river was a seven, and Sheikhan said, “See bro, you brought it on yourself. You have a bad attitude; you expect to lose, and then you lose.” Brutal, it is bad enough to lose like that — to a two-outer — but then Bellande had to listen to Sheikhan! Still we all knew that trash talking was going to be a big part of this show. I have no problem with the way this hand was played by either of us, when the blinds get big enough, then ace high becomes a strong hand.

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  • Protect Your Pocket Eights With A Raise

    Date: 2007.11.05 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    I recently played on NBC’s “Poker after Dark.” I won the $120,000 first-place prize (which I detailed in my last column) in my first appearance of the 2008 season (next season’s shows are being filmed now). Now I was making my second appearance. Even though the show is six days long, five days of play and then a “director’s cut” on Saturday night; we film it in one five- or six-hour long session. In any case, my second show was entitled “The Bad Boys of Poker,” and featured Mike “The Mouth” Matusow, Gavin Smith, Bobby Bellande (the poker player from “Survivor”), Sean “The Sheik” Sheikhan, Sam Grizzle and I. One thing was for sure about this lineup: It was loud!

    Immediately, I lost a few pots and my chips dwindled down to around $15,000 from my $20,000 starting stack. I didn’t panic: The same thing had happened to me the day I won. I reasoned that I had plenty of time to come back as the blinds moved up super slowly for the first three hours (it was a great structure). I knew that patience would keep me alive and give me a good chance to thrive. About 45 minutes into the thing I caught my first break. The Sheik limped in for $200 (the blinds were $100-$200), Matusow made it $1,200 to go, and I made it $4,500 to go with K-K. Matusow then moved me all-in with his pocket nines, and I insta-called. Matusow took quite a bit of heat from the other players for his move; none of whom wanted me to have the chip lead. Sheik said, “Mike, you idiot, what were you doing doubling up Phil with pocket nines?” Bellande said, “Dude, we had Phil on the ropes, and now you made all of our lives more difficult!” The verbal barrage against Matusow continued for a while, but what do you expect from this bad boys’ show?

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  • A Dirty Win to Start the New Season

    Date: 2007.10.29 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    Recently, I played on the hit show “Poker After Dark” (NBC, 2 a.m., six nights a week). This episode is being called “The Dream Team” (first episode of 2008), as amateur poker player Todd Light handpicked the opponents of his dreams: me “The Poker Brat,” Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu, Jennifer Harman, Scotty “The Prince of Poker” Nguyen, Mike “The Mouth” Matusow — a tough lineup for sure.

    Everyone was playing well, as hour after hour passed and no one was eliminated. Maybe we all really wanted television time, because if you last four hours, you’ll find yourself in four days of coverage on NBC. Or maybe we really just wanted to win. In victory, not only do you pick up bragging rights and a nationally televised win, you also pick up $120,000 for first place in this winner-take-all format. I believe that I wanted to win this thing as much as — or more than — anyone else in our heat. After finishing sixth, fifth, fourth, third, second and fourth in the 2007 season of “Poker After Dark,” I wanted a victory. While I was playing in the 2007 season, it didn’t seem that important to win. But after watching the show quite a bit, I started to get pissed off. Why hadn’t I played better? Why hadn’t I won one?

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  • Chan Versus Phil: All-In, All Out, All Over

    Date: 2007.10.22 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    While filming an episode of “Poker after Dark” (NBC) in Las Vegas, I found myself mano y mano with Johnny Chan. And it wasn’t the first time!

    In 1989, Chan and I faced off for the World Series of Poker main-event title (170 players entered), which crowned me the youngest main-event champion in history. When we faced off for a second time at the Bicycle Club, Chan took WSOP. Quite a few years later, our showdown resulted in a draw, and our fourth collision, for a WSOP bracelet in the Champions Heads-Up Tournament, was awarded to Chan.

    In the our most recent squabble at six player World Champions only invitational, Chan and I eliminated Huck Seed (1996 Champ), Chris “Jesus” Ferguson (2000 Champ), Berry Johnston (1986 Champ) and finally Jamie Gold (2006 Champ). Gold lost his chips when he moved all-in in the small blind for $10,400 more with Q-8, and I called with Q-4 and hit a four. I know you’re asking yourself how I called his all-in bet with Q-4? It just doesn’t sound like me! But there was already $8,000 in the pot when he moved all-in, so that I was getting almost 2-to-1 (my $10,400 to win $18,400) on my call.

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  • Rock, A-K, and Aruba

    Date: 2007.10.15 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    After being eliminated from the UltimateBet.com Aruba Classic, it was time to hit the beach, throw a party and play a few side games. Normally, when I’m eliminated from a big poker tournament, I’m looking for the next flight home. But the Aruba Classic is more of an event than it is a poker tournament, with the beaches, parties, casinos and nightclubs all within walking distance. One night, I sat down with Scott Ian (lead guitarist from Anthrax), Pearl Aday (lead singer of Mother Pearl), Serinda Swan (the “Absolute Poker” spokesperson as well as the new Guess Jeans model), and a few other friends. The blinds were $1-$2, and I was coaching Swan and Ian a bit as they sat to my left and right.

    In one interesting hand, Swan picked up A-K, and I coached her to raise it up to $7 to go. Clarey and Player A both called, and the flop came down 10-7-6. I told Swan to bet out $20, which she did, with Clarey folding and Player A calling. The turn card was a 10, and Swan bet out $25. Player A called, but she was consulting with another player (she was getting advice during the hand as well), and Swan picked up on the conversation (more below). On the end a four came up, and Swan moved all-in for her last $55 (I didn’t coach her to make that play!). Player A studied for awhile and asked, “You’ll show me the hand afterwards, right?” Swan said, “Yes.” Player A showed an A-7 face up and folded. Swan then showed her A-K and now Player A said, “It’s on now, Serinda!”

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  • A Beat Down in Paradise

    Date: 2007.10.08 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    I recently played in Day 1 of the Ultimatebet.com Aruba Poker Classic. After working out on Monday night, and meditating right before I played, I felt ready to finally make it through Day 1. During the last three years, I didn’t make it past the first day. At least one of those years I just played badly. Three years ago, I self-destructed and knocked myself out of the tournament early. Two years ago, I lost a hand where the flop was K-7-7, and my opponent called a check raise with Q-Q, only to hit a queen on the turn and bust me. Last year I had some bad luck along with some average play.

    This year I felt like I was at or near the peak of my powers, and thus I trusted myself when I decided to avoid slow playing any of my hands. The reason that I decided against using the slow-play tactic was this: it is too risky for one tournament result. At the World Series of Poker I can use the slow-play tactic, and if it doesn’t work, then I get to play the very next day.

    Here in Aruba, if the slow-play tactic didn’t work, then I would have to go to Plan B, and hang out at the beach. Plan B wasn’t bad (it is Aruba!), but I’m trying to be a champion every time I play a tournament.

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