• London Calling

    Date: 2007.09.17 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    When it was announced that the World Series of Poker Europe would be giving away three official World Series of Poker bracelets in London, almost every great poker player in the world cleared their schedules from Sept. 4 to Sept. 16. After all, it was the first time that a bracelet was given away outside of Las Vegas. And who wanted to miss that party?

    On Sept. 10, I rolled into the Casino at the Empire on Leicester Square. Being that this event was so important, I decided to rent a red double-decker bus — open on top — and have a quick tour of London before I began my play. Of course, the bus had my picture on all four sides (press stunt), a DJ up top, a camera crew, the media and 12 beautiful models along for the ride. By the time I arrived at the Empire, I was in an awesome mood.

    I began my day on the TV table, and was joined there by a great player named Thor Hanson. Despite being friends, Hanson and I started jawing at each other, which ended with Hanson saying, “I don’t fear you.” And without missing a beat, I said, “You should.”

    Seven hours into playing (and a few glasses of wine later), I started playing aggressive poker. Hanson raised it up, I reraised it with 9-4 off suit, Hanson folded. He raised it up, then showed me the 8-4 off suit: we kept raising and reraising with abandon, except that I never actually showed my bluffs. Finally, with blinds at $300-$600 and a $100 a man ante, I opened for $2,000 with 8-5 off suit, and Hanson called in the big blind with 9-9. The flop was 5-5-7. Hanson checked; I bet $2,000; Hanson quickly made it $5,000, and I quickly made it $10,000 to go. As Hanson called the bet, I lied when I told him, “I cannot beat your pair of nines.” The turn card was a seven (7-7-5-5) and we both checked. On the river a 10 hit, Hanson bet out $3,000, and I merely called. I took down the big pot.

    Let’s take a closer look at this hand: I don’t usually raise it up with 8-5, but I was trying to steal the antes and blinds, and the rest of the table feared me right then, letting me take down that $1,800 in antes and blinds pretty much at will. Four nice moves like that, and I picked up $7,200, so I kept my foot on the accelerator for two hours straight. I probably picked up $26,000 in risk-free chips during that time.

    Hanson’s call with 9-9 was OK. Perhaps a reraise would have been better. After all, I was raising a lot of pots, and presumably I didn’t have a strong hand. A reraise would make me fold my hand most of the time. I like Hanson’s check on the flop. With this check, he gives me an opportunity to bluff more money. I also like Hanson’s raise on the flop, since it gives me a chance to fold right then and there. I love my reraise on the flop, especially because I acted so quickly. (I was intentionally trying to show weakness.) I was also pleased that I made a comment about Hanson having pocket nines, which were in fact his hole cards! The seven was a bad card for my hand, as it slowed me down and cost me the chance to win $15,000 more from Hanson.

    I don’t mind that each of us checked off the turn like we did. I love Hanson’s bet out on the river. It was a defensive bet, and made it tough for me to raise it up unless I actually had a seven in my hand. My call on the end was fine, but I probably should have raised it up about $4,000 or so. I called the $3,000 on the end too quickly, and I believe that if I had a studied for a moment longer, then I would have raised it up a little bit. I went on to finish day one in third chip position with $82,000 in chips. Of course, I’m here to win, anything else is disappointing. Although, $1 million for second wouldn’t be too bad!

    Reraising quickly on the flop is great strategy because:
    A) Gets you a ride on a double-deck bus.
    B) Gives you a chance to fold.
    C) Could make other believe you’re weak.
    D) All of the above.

    Answer: C