Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine

Hitting a 'Gutshot' in London

Huge-looking flops are not always as strong as they appear to be

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Dec 01, 2005


All of the words and phrases in this column that appear in quotation marks are the – much beloved by me – local London lingo. "Bloody right," this column is about a little UK poker! While in London recently, where I was shooting three parts of a reality show (the Showdown), I thought it would be a treat to make an appearance at a poker club, out of respect and "honour" (er … honor) for the UK poker scene and its players. So, very late on a Sunday night – at 3 a.m., in fact – after filming the reality show finale, I strolled into the Gutshot Club, in London's West End, to say hello. By the way, a "gutshot" is an inside-straight draw, or more precisely, a one-card straight draw. (You remember when your granddaddy told you, "Never draw to an inside straight," and you wondered what that was all about.)

Once I arrived, I found the club to be quite "lovely," and it even had a regular table named "Hellmuth," which I thought was absolutely "spot on"! Of course, the players and management urged me to play in the local game, which was £1-£2 blinds pot-limit hold'em with a buy-in of 50 "quid" (pounds). I sat down, threw four $100 bills to the dealer, and said,

"Deal me in!" $400 amounted to 222 quid, and the game was on.

Player X opened for £7, and I called with the 107. In a tournament, I would have thrown this hand away right then and there, but in this game, I felt I could take a few chances. (I also knew that I wasn't going to play for more than about 30 minutes.) Three other players called, and the flop came down 8 6 5, which was huge for me. I had an open-end straight draw and a flush draw, and a 9 would give me the deluxe end (high end) of the straight. And if a 9 did come off, I would bust anyone who was holding a 7, since he would make a 9-high straight and mine would be 10-high.

Player X bet out £25 into the £35 pot, and it was my turn to act. I certainly wasn't going to fold this hand, which left calling or raising as my only options. If I called the bet, I might be letting player X hit a card like an ace or a queen, which might give him a pair or two pair, and then I would be forced to call his next bet (perhaps pot-sized) as an underdog. But if I raised, I would have a good chance to win the pot right then and there; and even if he called my raise, or moved me all in, I still had a ton of winning cards. I mean, how much of an underdog could I possibly be here?

So, I called the £25 bet and raised £85 more – the biggest possible raise, because in pot-limit, you can bet only the size of the pot. Player X called me fairly quickly, which meant he had something fairly strong; he certainly had 10 high beat! The next card was the 10, and player X checked. The 10 wasn't the best card for me (a non-diamond 9 would have been better), but it was certainly "emm," an "excellent" card for me. Now I could beat any other pair on the board, like eights, sixes, or fives, and I still had my straight draw and flush draw working for me.

So, I moved all in for my last £110, and player X called me. By the rules of tournament hold'em in the United States, we flip our hands faceup when we are all in, but this was London. I flipped my hand faceup, and waited while the last card was dealt. Because I didn't know what player X had in his hand (he had opted to keep his cards facedown), I didn't know what I was rooting for, or against, on the last card! The last card proved to be the 5, for a final board of 8 6 5 10 5. My opponent said, "Emm, that's good," meaning that I had won the pot.

As the chips were pushed to me, player X showed down the K 9. Like mine, his flush and straight draws had both failed. In fact, he had flopped a higher flush draw and higher straight draw than I had, and I basically needed to hit a non-diamond 10, 9, or 4 to win the pot. Despite getting a huge-looking flop, I was in bad shape! (On the flop, I was more than a 2.5-1 underdog to win the pot.) "Emm," it was an "honour" to play at the Gutshot. I played this hand properly, and it was "spot on" for me to hit the "lovely" 10 for 475 "quid"! "Brilliant, mate!"