• Having the WPT in my Back Yard

    Date: 2006.04.03 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    Not so long ago, another World Poker Tour (WPT) championship hit San Jose, right in my back yard. It was pretty nice driving just 20 minutes from my home to the Bay 101 card club to play in a WPT event. Unfortunately, I would be leaving Bay 101 on day one with a bad taste in my mouth. It’s one thing to take bad beats (get seriously unlucky) in some big pots. It’s quite another to draw hands decent enough for me to survive and thrive on day one, but instead play a terrible game of poker, self destruct and then drive home feeling like an idiot. If it had been simply bad luck, then I could have quickly forgotten about it, but for two hours straight I played no-limit Hold ’em like a donkey!

    I had been blessed with some really nice cards, and about four hours into the tournament I had run my $10,000 starting stack up to more than $50,000. With that much in chips, I could have left the room, driven home, taken a nap and still made it to the end of day one with more than $30,000 in chips. Normally, with $50,000-plus it would be easy to last through the rest of the day, notwithstanding some really bad luck, which was quite unlikely. All I had to do was fold my weak and marginal hands, and wait for advantageous situations to come along.

    But no, I couldn’t simply play the game the way I knew I was supposed to play it (patiently); instead, I kept playing the weak and marginal hands. In one of them, with the blinds at $200-$400, Player A raised it up to $1,100 to go in first position, which usually denotes strength. With Kd-10d, I reraised it to $3,600, and Player A made it $5,000 to go. His $1,400 reraise was actually illegal, but no one said anything. Even after I mumbled something about it, no one else said anything. Finally, I decided to call. The flop was 10-8-6, and now Player A moved all-in for about $8,600. At this point I had to call, since he could have had any of a plethora of hands that I could now beat, like A-K or A-Q, or any pocket pair like 9-9 or 7-7, or a bluff of some sort. But instead of having a weak hand, Player A showed me a strong one, J-J, and I lost $13,600 in chips on a hand that I never, ever lose any money with. I mean, reraising with Kd-10d? Yuck. I usually don’t even call a raise with a hand like Kd-10d, never mind reraise it.

    Was I unlucky that my opponent made an illegal raise? Yes and no. Even if he had raised the minimum $2,500 reraise, I still could have called the bet. There’s no sense whining about my own bad luck here. This time I had created it myself through my own sloppy play. Would that the story would have ended there — but no, it gets worse.

    In another not so memorable hand, I raised it up making it $1,200 to go with 10-3, and the flop came down Q-J-5. Player B (my lone opponent in this hand) checked, and I bet out $1,000. When he then called, I felt he was weak. An ace rolled off on the turn, and he checked again. This time I bet $2,400, and he called. On the end came a jack, Player B checked, and I hesitated a moment before betting $1,600. He called me and showed me pocket sevens. I got what I deserved. (By the way, I give him credit for making a great call here.)

    The moral of the story here is: if you sense weakness in your opponent, at least bet enough chips to force him to fold his hand! I mean, what was that little $1,600 bet of mine on the end? If he was weak, then I had just made his call really easy. Why not bet $5,000 or $6,000, or at least $4,000, on the end? Make him make a tough decision for some real chips. Put some heat on that weak hand!

    At 6:30, even before the dinner break, I was out. From the chip lead to busted, from the penthouse to the outhouse. Even though the distance home was short, I was so disgusted with the way I had played that the ride home seemed to take forever!

    If you’re going to bluff someone:
    A) Bet enough to put some heat on him.
    B) Wait until you feel he cannot call you.
    C) Do the bluffing against someone capable of folding his hand.
    D) All of the above.

    Answer: D