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Phil Hellmuth on The Card Rooms of London
I'm writing this column as I travel to this year's World Series of Poker Europe in London. I can't help but reminisce about a game I played there in 1989 against a true legend in the world of poker - Seymour Leibovitz.
Seymour was a hard-nosed warrior who never gave away a chip at the poker table. He stood 5-foot-10, was considerably overweight, and always seemed to have a big stogie in his mouth. He was seventy-five years old when we played the following hands.
We were at the Barracuda Club playing the All-England Grand Prix. Seymour had already won two of the eight events played - an incredible performance. After his second win, he challenged me to play a heads-up no limit Texas Hold'em match for $10,000. At the time, that was too rich for my blood so we agreed to play for $5,000 instead.
I quickly discovered that I had an edge playing him heads-up. He'd routinely overvalue his hands and would lose more money than he needed to when I had him beat.
As the match proceeded, Seymour won a big pot by overplaying A-8 against my pocket nines. He made a big pre-flop bet and I called. Then the flop came down A-Q-2 and he shoved all-in. I folded and flipped my 9-9 face up.
That's when Seymour showed me his hand.
Well, if he thought he could put me on tilt with that move, he was right. I just couldn't believe how badly he had misplayed his hand. How could he put it all-in with A-8 offsuit? He had to know that I had him crushed!
"Seymour," I said, "if you want to gamble away all of your money as a 2 1/2- to-1 underdog, let's go to a different table and play for higher stakes."
You see, back in those days in the card rooms of London, players weren't supposed to show any emotion, or even talk about hands that had been played. Man, I really had to struggle to keep myself under control.
But as I fumed, Seymour's eyes were smiling. I knew he enjoyed putting me on tilt and that he really got a kick out of my reaction when he showed me his cards.
A short time later, with blinds at $50/$100, I raised it up to $400 with pocket kings. This time, Seymour re-raised to $1,500. Trying to appear as if I had A-K, I decisively shoved all-in. He insta-called and showed pocket eights.
Let's break down this hand.
I like my raise to $400 with K-K even though I rarely raise more than the size of the pot, and I don't mind Seymour's $1,100 re-raise into an $800 pot with 8-8.
My all-in move, raising $7,000 into a $3,000 pot, was quite unusual for me. I mean, why raise so much when I actually wanted to get called? Well, I just thought Seymour would think I was weak - and I was correct. I was able to get him to call with the worse hand.
But the flop came A-8-3 and Seymour made his set. Another three on the turn and he improved to a full house. No help on the river and I was finished.
I showed him my pocket kings and let him know that I was a 4 1/2-to-1favorite to take a huge chip lead with my powerhouse hand. All Seymour did was laugh and ask if I wanted to play again.
"No thanks, Seymour," I said, "I think I'm a better no limit Hold 'em player than you, and when we get back to the States, I'll play as many heads-up matches as you want. But I'm done playing with you over here -- you're just too damn lucky."
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