• 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!”

    After the hand, I asked Swan why she moved all-in, as I wouldn’t have coached her to make that play. She said that she saw hesitation on Player A’s face when she called the $25 bet; and Swan thought that she could bluff her out with an all-in bet. Swan also said that the fact Player A was consulting about whether she should call or fold on fourth street led her to believe that she could take the pot away from Player A. Overall, I like the way that the hand was played. I like the pot-sized pre-flop $7 bet. I love the $20 bet on the flop as A-K was probably still the best hand. On fourth street the bet was a bit more risky, and checking or betting are about the same to me. But I like the fact that betting was the aggressive move, and gave Swan a chance to win the pot right then and there. The river bluff was a strong move! But was it the right move? To me it was very risky, but if it worked, then you would win $117 with a $55 bet. Still most times an opponent won’t fold for $55 when they have a pair of sixes or sevens. Not when they could win $167 for only a $55 call ($117 plus the $55 bet). But the bluff did work and that makes it a strong move.

    I also coached Ian before the tournament began, and I was impressed with his play. For Ian, I counseled tactics that involved extreme patience and only playing my top 10 hands (A-A, K-K,Q-Q, J-J, 10-10, 9-9, 8-8, 7-7, A-K and A-Q); along with an occasional aggressive raise with a K-Q or A-J. My goal was to get Ian through the first day, and then work with him on tactics for no limit Hold ’em with an ante (primarily the antes kick in on day two), which involves playing more hands, and playing them aggressively. I also told Ian to repeat a story — at his starting table — he told me about the Van Halen rehearsal he attended at the Forum recently in September, and how he thought that they were absolutely kicking butt with Eddie’s Van Halen’s son playing guitar; and how he thinks that David Lee Roth is a great guy. I thought that a true story like this would render everyone at his table speechless and then they would want to have Ian around as long as possible (I love these celebrity tactics outside of the normal realm!).

    Ian actually sat there and played as tight as I taught, which no one ever does after I give them lessons. And Ian’s knockout hand was when he had J-J, his opponent had Q-Q and the flop came down A-Q-J. There was nothing he could have done. One of the coolest things that happened last week was when Ian played guitar and Pearl sang a few songs from her new album. The album is scheduled to come out soon, and Pearl will be on tour soon with her father, Meatloaf (yes, the rock legend), in England. So ended a great week at the UltimateBet.com Aruba Poker Classic, but UB has convinced Ian and a few rock star friends to do a small private concert in Vegas on Dec 11. Rock and poker baby!

    Good tactics for the first day of a major tournament involve:
    A) Being super patient
    B) Playing every hand
    C) Bluffing like a madman
    D) None of the above

    Answer: D