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Kid, I’ll Bet You Were There!

A well-handled bad beat

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Feb 01, 2011


At the $10,000 buy-in World Poker Tour Five-Diamond World Poker Classic tournament in December at Bellagio, I arrived on day two ready to rock and roll! I sat down at a table with some tough players, including Eric Baldwin, Sorel Mizzi, and Shawn Buchanan. The first thing I did was remind Mizzi that he had overplayed a hand against me at The Bicycle Casino’s WPT event a few months back. But Mizzi claimed that he wasn’t even at my table, so I said, “I’ll bet you were.” That simple little offer ended up with me betting Mizzi $5,000 to his $8,000 that he was there. Then, we called on someone else who I knew was at the table that day — Barry Greenstein — and … I lost! Somehow, I had confused Mizzi with Shane “Shaniac” Schleger! Mizzi rubbed it in more (fair enough) by using the white $5,000 Aria Hotel and Casino chip that I had paid him as his card protector! Was this a sign of things to come?
A few hours later, with the blinds at 800-1,600, Mizzi opened for 3,500 from under the gun. For the record, Mizzi was playing a lot of hands, and was playing them very aggressively (which is standard for him). I called the 3,500 in fourth position with 5-5, and the big blind moved all in for 2,400 total; we now had a main pot of 8,000 and a side pot of 2,200.
The flop came down A♠ Q♥ 5♦. Mizzi fired out 5,800, and I called.
A king hit on the turn, Mizzi checked, I fired out 7,500 or so (of my 22,000), and Mizzi called.
The river was a 10 (A-Q-5-K-10), Mizzi fired out 10,000, and I called. Mizzi flipped up K-J to claim the pot with a straight, and I flipped up my 5-5. You could hear a pin drop as my hand hit the table faceup. Everyone at that table was bracing himself, because it was time for the “Poker Brat” to go off! Everyone at that table had seen it before, and you — the reader — have, too, on ESPN. But somehow, I dug down deep and didn’t say a word. Two hands later, I moved my remaining stack all in with the Q♠ J♠, Baldwin called me with the A♠ K♠, and it was over.
Let’s take a closer look at this hand. Mizzi’s under-the-gun 3,500 open with K-J is OK, especially since he has a loose-aggressive style. But, I might not coach a beginner to raise from under the gun with K-J offsuit. My 3,500 call before the flop with 5-5 was OK. But, I probably would not have called an opening bet of, say, 5,000.
I love Mizzi’s 5,800 bet on the flop. The fact that we had a third player in the pot who was all in and only a small side pot gives Mizzi’s bet more strength. Generally, a bet into a small side pot means that the player who is making the bet has something. I mean, why would a player with nothing make a bet to protect an all-in player? I love my 5,800 smooth-call here. I assumed that Mizzi was drawing dead, or was drawing to runner-runner, and I was giving him a chance to make a bet with A-J, A-10, K-Q, or just a plain old bluff on fourth street.
On fourth street, Mizzi’s check was OK, and I love my 7,500 bet. I assumed that Mizzi was drawing live to only a 10 or a jack, and that if he already had two pair, he would move all in right then and there. I bet only 7,500 in hope of getting a weak call. Of course, some players would say that I should have bet more than 7,500 to protect my hand. However, I was right about one thing: Mizzi had only four outs, and therefore was a huge underdog.
Can Mizzi fold his hand for 7,500? I guess that he was assuming that he would win the pot with a king (wrong), a jack (wrong), or a 10. And there was some chance that he had the best hand, right? I guess that I cannot blame him for calling 7,500. After all, I did play the hand like I was weak, and I did lure him in.
Mizzi’s 10,000 bet on the river was perfect. If he had bet all of my chips (almost 15,000 or so), I would have had to give serious consideration to folding. Could I have folded to Mizzi’s 10,000 bet on the river? I don’t think so. I mean, Mizzi could have made two pair, like aces and tens. It was just a bad beat, plain and simple, and at least I handled myself well in defeat. ♠