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


Deep-Stack Poker

WPT L.A. Poker Classic

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Apr 29, 2011


The poker tour swung into Commerce Casino in L.A. in late January for the L.A. Poker Classic, and in late February, a month of poker climaxed with a $10,000 buy-in World Poker Tour event. In my last column, I discussed the hand in which I was eliminated during day three (my 10-10 vs. A-10). In this column, I will take a look at a hand that I won early on day one. By the way, my strategy for day one was simple: I would play very patient poker and wait for the cards (and the chips) to come my way. I wasn’t afraid to fold 9-8 suited, A-J offsuit, or A-2 suited. Playing only strong hands can lead to some great situations.

With the blinds at 100-200, I opened from under the gun with 3-3 for 600. At this point, I had roughly my starting stack of 30,000. The player on the button and the player in the big blind called, and the flop came down 7♥ 4♠ 3♦. The player in the big blind checked, I checked, and the player on the button checked. The turn card was the K♠. The player in the big blind checked, I bet 1,300, the player on the button folded, and the player in the big blind raised it to 4,200 to go. I studied for a moment, then decided to just call. The river was the 4♣ (7-4-3-K-4), and the player in the big blind bet 11,400. I snap-called, he flipped up 6-5 for a straight, and I won a nice pot with my full house.

Let’s take a closer look at this hand. I like my check on the flop, because I was playing defensive poker with my stack of 150 big blinds. A few years back in the WPT LAPC, I called a raise with 4-4, and in a heads-up pot, the flop came down J♠ 7♦ 4♠, and I went broke to a set of sevens. After I flew home, I was upset at myself for not saving some chips. I mean, who knows what might have happened if I had saved 10,000 in that hand? Another positive of checking on the 7-4-3 board is that it enables my opponents, who presumably are drawing dead lots of times on this flop, to hit a pair on the turn with a hand like A-J and lose some chips to me while drawing dead. The check also enables me to catch someone who is bluffing. On the downside, the check keeps the pot smaller when an opponent has a pair of sevens (like 8-7), and enables an opponent to catch a 6 or a 5 and potentially make a straight and beat me.

On the turn, I like my opponent’s check with a made straight. Since his two opponents may have been drawing dead, why not check again? Also, if either of us had a king, he could check-raise and maybe have us pay him off handsomely with just one pair of kings. I just called the check-raise, because I didn’t want to move all in and have my opponent show me a higher set or a straight. Again, why bust myself?

On the river, I like my opponent’s bet of 11,400. I mean, in his mind, he was just trying to bet an amount that I could pay off. I wouldn’t mind seeing him bet a little less, though — say, 6,000 or 7,000 — as it would be easier for me to pay off that bet with a hand like K-Q. I could only call his bet because I had to protect my chips. Also, what hand could my opponent call my all-in move with that I could beat? ♠

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