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Phil hellmuth on the Sundance Poker Festival
I really enjoy participating in charity poker tournaments because they support a wide variety of meaningful causes.
Back in 2006, I was invited to emcee and play in an event at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Sure, it was a blast hanging out with all the celebrities. But my competitive juices were really flowing because I had the chance to win a very cool first-place prize -- a ritzy Las Vegas penthouse condominium.
Actresses Ann Heche, Laura Prepon, Shannon Elizabeth, and Gina Gershon were sitting next to me throughout the night. All played no-limit Texas Hold 'em very skillfully.
Laura lost her chips first on a coin flip when her A-Q went down against pocket sevens. She was a very slight 11-to-10 underdog when she shoved all-in before the flop.
With thirty five players remaining, the blinds at $75/$150, and a $400 raise in front of me, I looked down at Ah-Qh and moved all-in. I was a 2 -to-1 favorite to win the pot over my opponent's Kd-Qd.
The flop shocked the entire room when it came down Ad-As-Ac. Quad aces for Phil! Someone in the room ran the numbers and declared that the odds of that hand occurring were 16,000-to-1.
On the very next hand, I raised it up with K-Q and the big blind player called with A-10. The flop came J-9-4 and we both checked. A ten fell on the turn making a king-high straight for me. I moved all-in once again and this time my opponent was drawing dead.
When we ultimately reached the final table, I had $24,000 in chips, not too far behind the leader who had about $40,000 in chips. Also playing were Annie Duke, Gina Gershon, Shannon Elizabeth and Reagan Silber.
Reagan was our host for the evening. As founder of the W Hotel Las Vegas, Casino and Residences, he was the person responsible for putting up the generous first-place prize.
Gina finished sixth when her Kh-2h failed to beat Reagan's K-K for a huge pot. Shannon finished fifth when her K-7 failed to outdraw another player's A-10. Annie finished in fourth place when her Q-10 lost to Reagan's A-4 all-in pre-flop bet.
And soon after, it was suddenly Reagan Silber and me playing heads-up for the championship.
With the blinds at $3,000/$6,000 plus a $1,000 ante, Reagan opened for $12,000 on the button. I looked down and found 9d-3d. Because $20,000 was already in the pot, and it was only $6,000 more to call, I knew I was priced in so I made the call.
The flop came Js-4d-3h. Deciding to play aggressively, I moved all-in. Reagan quickly called, flipping over pocket queens.
The Ad came on the turn to give me a flush draw. I could now win with a three, a nine or a diamond. Sure enough, the river was the Jd to complete my flush.
That's when I ramped up my aggression to yet another level, moving all-in the very next hand with 6-4 offsuit, and getting Reagan to fold. Just a moment later, I moved all-in again, this time with K-2, and once again, Reagan folded.
A couple of hands after that, Reagan opened for $12,000. Again, I was priced in, even with my super-weak 3s-2s. I called. The flop came 7s-6s-5h and I decided to move all-in with my big drawing hand. Reagan, who had flopped two pair with 7d-5c, called instantly.
Since I had him covered, I'd win the tournament by taking down this hand. Still, Reagan was a small favorite to win. The turn card was no help the Kd. The river, though, was amazingly the 4h to complete my straight, and I had my first tournament victory of 2006
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