• Making the Good Fold in the Big One

    Date: 2005.07.18 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    Can you believe that 5,600 players entered the $10,000 buy-in main event at the 2005 World Series of Poker (WSOP)? And that they’re vying for $56 million in prize money and $7.5 million for first? Wow! For my part, with Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson both picking up bracelet No. 10 at the 2005 WSOP — I’m stuck on nine bracelets — I was fired up to go out and make history. If I could manage to win the main event, then I would break every record in poker.
    With a three-day split start — roughly 1,900 entrants playing per day — I drew day two. Early in the day they decided to put me at the ESPN table, going so far as to tape my late arrival. Of course I wore all black, including an UltimateBet.com hat, Oakley sunglasses and a black jacket (with a PH logo) zipped all the way up. (By the way, ESPN’s WSOP coverage begins the week of July 18.)

    I was unbelievably lucky for a while, catching A-A against my opponent’s K-K, making four jacks with my pocket jacks and flopping trips while my opponents flopped top pair. The next thing I knew, I had $52,000 in chips, and was, in my mind, guaranteed to make it to the next day. Then potential disaster struck.

    After a dinner break, I picked up A-K and made it $1,500 to go. Owing to the very aggressive nature of the players at the table, and the fact that I had been folding every time someone reraised me, I decided that I would probably have to make a stand with my A-K. After all, A-K is a powerful hand in no-limit Hold ’em, and I was sick of throwing away my hands for a reraise. (In fact, the tactic of throwing away a bunch of hands when I’m being reraised often induces my opponents to try to bluff me.)

    Now player X — a seemingly super-inexperienced player — made it $3,000 to go (a $1,500 reraise). I had heard tales of how he had called off all of his money with A-6 off suit, and with the unreliable K-Q. For that reason among others, the clear move for me was to reraise X a bunch of chips — at least $6,000. But no-limit Hold ’em is a game of instincts and reads, and my instincts were screaming at me, telling me that X was very powerful.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “I trust my instincts.” So I merely called the $1,500 reraise, and the flop came down A-4-4. (Surely I had the best hand now!) I checked the flop with the intention of raising any bet my opponent happened to make. He checked as well, and now a queen came off on the turn. This card concerned me a bit, since my opponent could easily have A-Q or Q-Q as his holding. So I checked again, with the intent of calling or raising any bet X made.

    Now player X bet out $10,000 into the pot, and my instincts went crazy, like an alarm in my head blaring, “This guy has a full house.” In less than a minute I folded my hand, face up. Everyone looked at me as if I were crazy; no one could believe I had folded. Then player X flipped his hand face up, and, guess what? He was holding two red aces! This was one of the best folds I’ve made in years. I lost only $3,000 on this hand, and now I was fired up and ready to kick some butt. A fold like that can give you some real momentum.

    Next time, more about my WSOP main-event foray.

    The tactic of folding a lot when your opponents reraise you induces:
    a.) your opponents to fold
    b.) your opponents to reraise you on a bluff
    c.) your opponents to talk to themselves
    d.) none of the above

    Answer: B