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Phil Hellmuth on Dealing in the Bad Boys of Poker
Qc-10c, Qc-10c, Qc-10c. Phil, wake up, you're having a nightmare!
And you would too if you'd lost a $230,000 pot and a $350,000 pot to identical Qc-10c hands earlier that same night. It happened to me at the 2006 World Poker Tour "Bad Boys of Poker" event where I played against fellow pros Tony G, Mike Matusow, Men "The Master" Nguyen, John Robert Bellande and Gus Hansen.
With blinds at $3,000/$6,000 plus a $500 ante per player, I opened for $18,000 in early position with Kc-Kd. Men called from one off the button with Qc-10c.
The flop came Q-J-9. We both slowplayed our hands and checked.
A five fell on the turn. I checked and Men bet $30,000.
Time to evaluate my options. I could call, raise all-in with my last $200,000, or make a smaller raise. I was confident that I had the better hand but if I was wrong and moved all-in, I'd be gone unless a miracle card hit on t he river.
On the other hand, moving all-in would give me some protection if Men had a hand like A-J. In that case, he'd probably fold and I'd win the pot.
Or I could just call. That, however, would give Men a free chance to hit one of his outs.
But if I did call, I could continue slowplaying my hand and fire out a $50,000 bet after the last card hit. I knew it would be tough for Men to lay down a big pair so figured that he'd probably call my bet at the end.
The river was a king and the board read Q-J-9-5-K. I quickly checked. Yes, I had three kings but if Men had a ten in his hand, he had a straight.
Men bet out $60,000 and I immediately called. "I have a straight," he said as he flipped his Qc-10c face up. I was about to muck my hand when he added, "I already had top pair," as if to say that he had me beat before the river.
So I showed him my cards. The Master got lucky and beat me.
Well, the Bad Boys instantly began to berate my play, insisting that I should have moved all-in on the turn instead of calling the $30,000 bet, but I disagreed. I was completely comfortable with the way I played my hand.
And by the way, Men later told me that he would have called any all-in raise so my play actually saved me from elimination!
I still had $100,000 in chips left and I certainly wasn't ready to cry uncle. In fact, it only took me ten minutes to double up through Mike Matusow when he moved all-in with 5d-4d against my pocket kings.
Then, with only three players left -- Matusow, Tony G, and me -- the blinds were raised to $10,000/$20,000 plus a $5,000 per man ante.
Time to mix up my game! I decided that I would shove all-in from the button on the very next hand with whatever cards I was dealt!
I looked down at Qs-5s. Feeling a bit better about my plan, I proceeded to push in my last $180,000. Tony G folded from the smal l blind but not Matusow. He muttered, "What the heck, I call."
He flipped over Qc-10c. I was about a 2 1/2-to-1underdog in the hand.
The flop came 7d-4s-3c, the turn was the Ks, and I now needed a five for a pair, a six for a straight, or any spade for a flush. Alas, the final card was the 9d and I was out in third place.
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