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Phil Hellmuths A-Q Gets Lucky in the WSOP

I owe a signed copy of my book, Deal Me In, to a gentleman that I played with at the World Series of Poker. I got lucky and beat him. Hopefully, my gift of a signed book will help ease his pain.

With only four tables left in a $1,500 buy-in no limit Hold'em tournament, and with the blinds at $1,500/$3,000, I opened for $8,000 in middle position with As-Qh. This nice guy in the big blind called.

The flop came Ad-Jd-4d. He checked, I bet $6,000, he made it $16,000 to go, and I called.

The turn was the 6s. He fired out $20,000 and I called.

The Qc fell on the river. He checked and so did I. Even though he was supposed to show his hand first, I quickly rolled over my hand, like I always do when I think I've got the winner. There's just no good reason to slow roll an opponent.

Look, I've got a pet peeve with some of the younger players; they disregard poker etiquette. In golf, you'd never shout in the middle of someone's backswing. In my opinion, slow rolling is akin to that kind of etiquette breach.

A slow roll occurs when a player bets with the probable winning hand, gets called, and then hesitates for several long seconds before finally revealing his cards. It's bad form because it gives a sense of false hope to the calling player.

In the old days, slow rolling was a pretty big deal. The violated player would bitterly tell his story to the rest of the poker world, and then those players would surely confront the offender, asking why he felt the need to act so rudely.

Anyway, my opponent folded his hand face down after I showed my top two pair. As we were leaving the table for a twenty minute break, this guy told me that not only did he have A-K, he had the Kd, meaning that I could have only won the pot with one of the two remaining non-diamond queens on the river.

Now, I realize that players often lie about their hands -- it's standard practice. But this guy swore that he had A-Kd and I believed him.

Let's take a closer look.

I like my opening bet of $8,000. Anything close to three-times-the-big-blind is okay with me, although internet players probably would have made a smaller bet, maybe a little more than two-times-the-big-blind, or about $6,600 in this case.

I don't like my opponent's smooth call pre-flop with A-K. I would have reraised figuring that I'd win the pot about eighty percent of the time right then and there.

Hey, there's nothing wrong with taking down a $20,000 pot virtually risk-free.

I like my little $6,000 bet on the flop because it revealed very little about the strength of my hand. One thing's for sure, I didn't want him to fold a hand like A-10c.

I like his $10,000 raise on the flop. If you're going to smooth call pre-flop and take that line of play, well, you might as well check-raise on the flop to avoid someone beating you with a free card on the turn.

My opponent's check on the river was an acceptable play although I probably would have made a small bet instead.

I hate my check on the river. I mean, I just hit a twenty-to-one shot on the river. Also, since I didn't put him on a flush or a set of fours, it was unlikely that he'd attempt another check-raise.

I really should have tossed in at least $20,000 and perhaps as much as $40,000.


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