• Ida’s New Orleans Experience

    Date: 2006.06.19 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    Fred “The Wonder Years” Savage jumped off the stage in New Orleans to dispense high-fives among the audience members. Savage was recently playing heads-up poker on “Celebrity Poker Showdown” on Bravo and felt he needed an energy boost. Losing hand after hand and sporting a hangdog look, he needed a break, and decided to use the audience and its energy as an ally. And where a minute before he looked like a beaten man, now he had the audience going bonkers. And a smile on his face. What a scene a bit later, Savage literally being lifted into the air by a fan, the audience celebrating raucously and screaming wildly, as he won a $20,000 pot against Ida Siconolfi (the Bravo online tournament winner)!

    That heat, the third of these shows on “Showdown,” had begun with five players: Savage, Siconolfi, Jennifer “J-Till” Tilly (“Bound”), Doug E. Doug (“Cool Runnings” and “Cosby”), and Brett Butler (“Grace Under Fire”), who were all gunning to win this heat and go on to the five-player finale, where “Showdown” would give away $900,000; with $500,000 to the winner’s New Orleans-based charity. The favorite to win this heat had to be semi-pro poker player and Oscar-winner J-Till. So I picked her to win, and my co-host Dave Foley picked Siconolfi to win (after all, she did beat 10,000 people in an online poker tournament to qualify).

    In fact, J-Till stole the show early, with her beguiling nonstop chatter and her $20,000 stack (everyone had started with $10,000), and after playing the following hand flawlessly, it seemed that she had the tournament in the palm of her hand. With the blinds at $300-$600, Doug limped in with A-2, and J-Till, on the button, looked down at A-6. J-Till knew: first, that Doug had only $2,500 in chips; second, that she probably had him beat; and third, that there was $900 in blinds out there. So she raised it up, making it $2,500 to go. If Doug folded, then she would pick up $1,500 in chips (the $900 in blinds and Doug’s $600 call). If Doug called, she probably had the best hand; but if she did not, then she would lose only $2,500 in total to him.

    What happened next was a surprise: Butler called in the small blind with the Kd-2d. (I hate Butler’s call here. In fact, she had an easy fold, since Kd-2d is too weak to play for a decent-sized raise.) Next, Doug called all-in with his A-2, and the flop came down Ah-8c-3d. Butler checked, and J-Till bet Butler’s last $1,800 in chips. Now Brett called, and I hate this call as well. After all, Butler had flopped nothing! (It turned out that Butler was a 25-to-1 underdog on the flop.) The next card was a king, and the last card was J-Till’s dream card, a six, to make her two pair. After busting two players in one hand she now had almost 50 percent of the chips in play and was looking like she would win the heat. J-Till, though, then suffered a series of setbacks, culminating when she picked up A-K against Siconolfi’s K-K. When J-Till lost that pot for all of her remaining chips, it was now down to Siconolfi and Savage.

    Meanwhile, Savage had been hanging in there, and played one hand so well that it bears mentioning. With the blinds at $100-$200, he called $200 with J-10 in the small blind, Doug raised $500 with Q-6, and Savage called. After a flop of 9-8-7, Savage, with the best-possible hand (a jack-high straight), checked, and Doug bet $300. Savage now showed some great discipline and restraint, just calling the $300. The turn card was an ace, and Savage checked again. Doug bet another $300, and again Savage exercised restraint and just called, still with the best-possible hand. The river five was a disaster for Doug, and the worst card possible for him under the circumstances, since he had now made a nine-high straight (the board was 9-8-7-A-5 and Doug had Q-6). Sometimes, you lose the most when you make a strong second-best type of hand, as Doug did here. Again Savage checked, Doug bet out $1,500, and now Savage finally put the hammer down, raising it up to $4,500 to go. Of course Doug called — he had an easy call in this spot. But Savage had played the hand the way few of the celebrities seem to play: he trapped with his big hand and let his opponent do all of the betting for him!

    The final hand came up when Savage was all-in before the flop with his K-10 vs. Siconolfi’s K-Q, and he failed to outdraw her. Foley, who is known for rarely ever picking a winner, had picked a winner for the third week in a row! In our first and second shows, Jason Alexander (“Seinfeld”) and Michael Ian Black (“The Pleasure of Your Company”) punched their tickets to the finale, and Foley had picked them both!

    The fourth “Showdown” show on Bravo is Wednesday, June 21, and stars Mario Cantone (“Sex and the City”), Jordan Peele (“MADtv”), Keegan-Michael Key (“MADtv”), Jenna Fischer (“The Office”), and Rocco DiSpirito (“The Restaurant”). Trust me; Cantone puts on quite a show!

    Having a strong second-best hand:
    A) Can be very expensive!
    B) Is brutal
    C) Is no fun
    D) All of the above.

    Answer: D