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Phil hellmuth on Fold for Your Country



I was asked to captain Team USA in the recently held World Team Poker Championships but I declined because I knew there was a better man for the job. The legendary Doyle Brunson deserved the honor of leading the American squad.

Eight teams competed at the inaugural WTP event with many of the world's top players on hand to represent Vietnam, China, England, Greece, Israel, Australia, Brazil, and the USA.

Johnny Chan led Team China along with David Chui and Chau Giang. Team Israel was represented by Captain Eli Elezra, David Benyamine and the Mizrachi brothers, Michael and Robert. Men "The Master" Nyugen captained Team Vietnam, Team England had Ben Roberts out in front, and Team Australia posted Jeff Lisandro at the helm.

Team USA, however, was touted as the team to beat - we were truly The Dream Team of Poker. With a combined forty three World Series of Poker championships among us, we were captained by Doyle Brunson, along with Erik Seidel, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Jennifer Harmon, Mike Matusow, Howard Lederer, and me.

The event featured a three game rotation of limit Hold'em, pot limit Omaha, and no limit Hold'em, and was played across five tables with each team represented at every table.

An interesting twist was that captains were allowed to substitute any player at any time. That's why I never played a single hand of pot limit Omaha; it's simply not my best game.

Each five-handed table competed down to two players. At that point, play was stopped, and chips were counted and moved to the final table.

Players from Team Israel and Team England were eliminated early so neither team made it to the final table. Meanwhile, Team USA was struggling, down to only a single stack of chips.

With three players left at my table, I was in the saddle playing no limit Hold'em. If I lost our thin stack, Team USA would be gone.

I managed to win a few pots to build our stack to around $38,000. Then, with blinds at $400/$800 plus a $100 ante, I looked down to find K-Q in the big blind.

Team Greece opened on the button for $2,600. Team Vietnam folded and I made the call.

The flop came J-8-5. I checked and Team Greece checked.

The turn card was a four and I bet out $1,600 on a semi-bluff. Team Greece called.

Bam, the river card was a king which looked really good to me, so I fired out $3,500. Team Greece deliberated for about a minute and then shoved all-in for $7,200 more.

What the heck was going on?

I'd been at the table for the last dozen hands and Team Greece had moved all-in on four of them. Did they have the goods this time or were they just making a play? It didn't feel like a bluff but neither did it seem like they had slowplayed a big hand like a flopped set.

It's true, I couldn't beat many hands, but I knew how aggressive my opponent was, so finally, I made the call. Ouch, Team Greece showed down A-K.

Sitting on the sidelines, Mike Matusow clearly didn't like my call. He said that Team Greece would never bluff off their remaining chips on the river, especially after I opened with a $3,500 bet.

That's a good point, Mike. I should have folded for the last $7,200 bet but I just couldn't imagine what Team Greece had.

Incidentally, none of my teammates liked Team Greece's $7,200 raise on the river. I mean, come on, I fired two bullets at the pot so I had to have something, right?


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