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


Poker Training

Newsletter and Magazine

Sign Up

Find Your Local

Card Room


Magical Spades or Ugly Spades?

A sick hand

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Mar 01, 2010


Antonio Esfandiari
Recently, I was playing in a monstrous $400-$800 blinds no-limit hold’em game. After Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari limped in from under the gun, another player limped in, and I limped in with the KSpade Suit 2Spade Suit from the cutoff (one position to the right of the button). The flop was 7Spade Suit 6Heart Suit 5Spade Suit; the player in the big blind bet out $5,000, The Magician called, and I called. The turn card was the 8Spade Suit, which looked pretty magical to me, as I had made the second-nut flush. The player in the big blind checked, The Magician bet $10,000, and I opted to call. The other player folded, and the last card was the 3Diamond Suit. Now, The Magician bet $30,000, and I decided to just call while saying, “Well, I cannot fold, and I’m not going to raise it.” The Magician showed the ASpade Suit QSpade Suit, and I thought to myself, “So sick, what a cooler!”

Let’s take a closer look at this hand. The Magician used a play that I use myself sometimes, when he just called with the ASpade Suit QSpade Suit before the flop. The power of this play is that you oftentimes can hit a huge hand and have your opponent completely buried — for example, when it comes Q-10-3 and your opponent has a queen. Of course, by not raising preflop and winning the $1,200 in blinds risk-free, you open yourself up to losing the hand, or to even being buried when it comes Q-10-3 and your opponent has Q-10. The standard play would be to raise preflop with the ASpade Suit QSpade Suit from under the gun. My $800 call before the flop was a little loose, but OK.

The Magician’s call on the flop was standard, although a more aggressive line would have him raising on the flop with his flush draw and two overcards. Still, I favor the call. Why raise it on the flop, only to have an opponent reraise with a set, two pair, or a made straight? If your opponent has one of these hands, you’re a big underdog to win the pot. My call on the flop was standard.
Hand Matchup Esfandiari Hellmuth
On the turn, I like The Magician’s $10,000 bet, and my call was actually a little weak. Most players would have raised with a king-high flush right then and there. I mean, what are the odds that your opponent has an ace-high flush? It is more likely that he has a smaller flush, a straight, or even a set, and you want to try to extract more money out of one of those three hands. I mean, you could lose a lot of action if the last card is a spade or pairs the board (and you may even lose the pot with a paired board). So, the best play here is to raise when Antonio bets out on the turn, but in my case, I thought that a likely hand that The Magician may have been holding was the ASpade Suit XSpade Suit. I mean, he did limp into the pot from first position, and he did bet out on both streets after he hit his flush. Also, a raise eliminates the other player, who may well have been drawing dead at that point. The Magician did have the ace-high flush, so my “weak call” turned out to be a great play.

I love The Magician’s $30,000 bet on the river. There was nothing I could do about the $30,000 call. In fact, I would sooner raise than fold this hand. The Magician easily could have had a queen-high flush or a smaller flush, or even been bluffing (considering our history together). It was a sick hand, but it could have been worse for me if The Magician had checked on the turn or the river. So, as it turned out, I lost the minimum, but $45,800 sure doesn’t sound like a “minimum” amount to me! Spade Suit

Learn more about Phil by going to his website,, and visit his webstore at