• ‘Seinfeld’s Prisoner; Black has the Keys!

    Date: 2007.07.10 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    It all came down to the July 5 finale of Bravo’s “Celebrity Poker Showdown,” and all of the players earned the right to play by winning their five-player heat. Combined, these winners will give their New Orleans-based charities $900,000; with the winner getting a cool $500,000 for their charity! We have Jason Alexander (“Seinfeld”), Michael Ian Black (“The Pleasure of your Company”), Ida Siconolfi (the bravotv.com winner), Keegan-Michael Key (“MADtv”), and Robin Tunney (“Prison Break”). Comedian Dave Foley and I co-hosted, and made our picks at the top of the show: I picked Alexander because he can handle the big stage and big money. Foley picked Black, who is clearly the best player of the 25 that were invited down to New Orleans to play. By the way, Foley picked Black, Alexander and Siconolfi to win their individual heats, and I picked Tunney. Together, we picked four out of five!

    Early on, Black takes a commanding lead through some good play and good luck. Black eliminates Key when his A-10 outruns Key’s 8-8 (Q-Q-10-7-4): before the flop the 8-8 was a 12-to-10 favorite over the A-10. Black then busts Siconolfi when his A-J beats her A-10: the A-J being a 2-1/2-to-1 favorite over the A-10. With $250,000 in chips in this thing, Black reaches $195,000 in chips. If it was a fight, we’d stop it!

    However it’s not a fight — it’s war, and Tunney and Alexander soldier on. Alexander actually gets below $15,000 in chips at one point, and then mounts a massive offensive! Pretty soon, Black is reeling from losing so many pots in a row (as seen on his stressed-out face). He must have been thinking, “What happened? How could I lose back $110,000 in chips?” I’ve been there, and I could best describe it as being in shock.

    A great hand comes up when Tunney raises it up on the button with Q-10, Alexander moves all-in with 10-10, and Black calls with A-4. With Black and Alexander all-in, Tunney can win the thing if she can hit her queen, or somehow win the pot with a straight or a flush. Alexander’s pocket 10s wind up winning the pot, and more than 50 percent of the chips in the tournament ($126,000). Black wins the side pot with his ace high, and all three players stay alive.
    Black finally gets eliminated in third place when he is forced to call all of his money with J-6 in the big blind. I don’t blame him for calling, the blinds were $10,000-$20,000, and he had roughly $32,000 on top of his $20,000 ($52,000 total to start the hand). He was getting laid Alexander’s $32,000 plus the $40,000 in blinds or $72,000 to $32,000 — more than 2-to-1 — and had to call. Alexander had Ah-6h, and Black left in absolute shock, ouch! As we say in poker tournaments, he went from the penthouse to the outhouse, I’ve been there…

    Tunney and Alexander soldier on with swings back-and-forth; one has the chip lead, now the other has the chip lead. Finally, Tunney moves all-in with 5-5, and Alexander calls with Kd-9d (nicknamed the “barking dog” – canine). With more than 95 percent of the chips in play in this one hand, it turns out that Tunney is a small favorite to win the pot (about 11-to-10) and the title. But Alexander won his first round match with K-9 on the final hand, and another key pot in the finals with K-9, and sure enough the flop comes down 9-4-3. Alexander assumes his usual position, that of massaging the dealers’ shoulders (why not, if it works), as a seven comes off. Now Tunney needs a five for trips or a six for a straight to win the pot, the $500,000 first place prize, and the title. Alas for Tunney, she misses her draw and Alexander takes a commanding chip lead. Two hands later, it is over, and Alexander wins it all! I must say that he played really well, and I tip my hat to him. I had a blast being the co-host of “Showdown” and I look forward to next season, if there is one.

    Right now, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is in full swing (all 44 tournaments!), and you can follow it everyday at CardPlayer.com. I have started a Web log (blog) at PhilHellmuth.com, and I just broke the all-time record for most times in the money with 50 on Thursday, then late Sunday night (July 2) I hit 51. I’ll take any and all records! However, the record I’m really after is; “most tournaments won in WSOP history,” and I have nine to Johnny Chan’s and Doyle Brunson’s 10. With a 13th place finish in Sunday’s tournament (450 players), I had a good shot, but fell short again. I look forward to the challenge of winning number 10 (and 11 and 12) the rest of the month.

    A-J is favored by this much over A-10:
    A) 3-to-2
    B) 2-1/2-to-1
    C) 4-to-1
    D) even money, you hit it or you don’t!

    Answer: B