• The Ultimate Bet in Aruba

    Date: 2006.10.02 | Category: Hand Of The Week | By: Phil Hellmuth   

    The UltimateBet.com poker championship tour was recently in Aruba, as was the Ultimate Blackjack Tour. So coming down to Aruba for the week would allow a person to play in both the UBT tournaments and the UltimateBet.com poker tournaments. Unfortunately, I didn’t last very long in any of the main tournaments that I played in!

    Of course, there is always the beach.

    On the poker side, the buy-in was $5,000. With over 500 players, we had $2.5 million in the prize pool; with a first-place prize a little north of $750,000. Early on, with the blinds at $50-$100, I made it $450 to go with As-5c after two other players called $50. I was trying to win the pot right then and there with my raise. By the way, I was thinking that my A-5 was the best starting hand. However, Player A, who was behind me on the button, called $450 cold (cold — meaning that he had no other money in the pot), and I immediately knew that he had me beat. I surmised that he had pocket jacks, or perhaps A-Q.

    Everyone else folded, the flop came down 5h-4c-3h, and I checked (I was prepared to call a bet with my top pair and a straight draw). Player A also checked, and the turn card was the Ah, for a board of 5h-4c-3h-Ah. Now I had top two pair, and I could crush the likely holdings of my opponent: A-Q, A-K, K-K, Q-Q, J-J, and 10-10. I bet out $800 and Player A quickly raised it up making it $2,000 to go. I called the $1,200 raise immediately. I thought that my opponent had a hand like A-K or A-Q, with the Kh or the Qh in his hand, which would give him a flush draw (his high ranking heart along with the three other hearts on board).

    Was my call a mistake? Why not move all-in? What’s the better play here — an all-in move or a call? An all-in move would force my opponent to fold his hand, unless he had a made flush or pocket deuces, which would make him a straight. So the advantage of moving all-in is that I would force Player A to fold all of the type of hands that I thought he had (Ac-Kh, Ac-Qh, Ks-Kh, etc.) and enable me to win the pot right then and there. On the other hand, I would argue that a call is a stronger play for two reasons. First, you do not risk all of your chips in the case where your opponent does have a straight or a flush, and you need an ace or a five on the last card to win the pot (in this case you’re over a 10-to-1 underdog). Second, assuming that no heart does hit on the last card, you can bet $2,000 into your opponent on the end and pretty much force him to call you.

    As I mentioned above, I decided to merely call the bet. The last card was the 2h (5h-4c-3h-Ah-2h), and did I hate that card! It put the dreaded fourth heart on board, and also put a straight on board as well, which rendered my hole cards completely useless. I was now playing the five-high straight on the board. I checked, Player A bet out $2,000, and I folded. Now Player A showed me his hole cards, Kh-Kd. The Kh meant that he now had the best-possible hand, other than a straight flush.

    How did Player A play his pocket kings on the four betting rounds? Before the flop I do not like the fact that he just called the $450 bet — I would rather see him reraise me about $900 — but his call is OK. On the flop I hate the fact that he checked behind me. I mean, he needs to bet here in order to protect his hand from a straight card coming off. On fourth street, I think his $1,200 raise was his worst play of all in this hand. I mean why open up the betting to me, and thus give me the chance to move all-in and force him to fold his hand? Why not merely call $800 with his strong drawing hand? Also, why raise when it is likely that you’re in bad shape? On the end his $2,000 bet is OK, but I would rather see him bet about $1,200 in order to lure me into calling him down.

    Of course, after he showed me his hand, I quickly figured out that I was a three-to-one favorite to win (my 33 wins versus his 11 wins — 9 hearts and 2 kings) the pot when we put in the $2,000 apiece, and I pointed this out to the table (Phil stop whining!).