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


Busted by the Bay!

A-K vs. A-10

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: May 06, 2011


Phil HellmuthThe World Poker Tour rolled into the Bay Area in the middle of March. Last year, I made the final table of the Bay 101 event, only to fall short of my ultimate goal of winning the whole enchilada when I finished in sixth place. My Q-Q fell to my opponent’s A-J when an ace hit on the river; and although I managed to shake everyone’s hand afterward and smile, I collapsed in a heap after I walked off the stage. Five days of playing great poker went down the tubes in an instant! Well, at least my collapse made for good television.

The Bay 101 WPT Shooting Star event is unique, in that there are bounties on the poker stars. The buy-in is $10,000, and if you knock out a “shooting star,” you collect a $5,000 bounty. The bounty changes the way that people play hands, as well it should.
On day two, I began with 20,000 (my starting stack was 30,000) and a full head of steam. With the blinds at 600-1,200, I called 2,600 from the button with the K♥ J♥, and both blinds, no doubt eyeing a potential bounty, also called.

The flop was 10♥ 8♠ 7♥, and all three players checked to me. With a straight draw, flush draw, and two overcards, I was supposed to move all in for my last 13,800, but I had a bad feeling that someone was extremely strong, so I checked.

The turn was the Q♥, both blinds checked, the original raiser bet 5,000, and I decided to smooth-call with my king-high flush, thinking there was a good chance that everyone else was drawing dead. To my great disappointment, both blinds folded.

The river was the 5♣, my opponent bet my last 8,800, and I snap-called. He showed a set of eights (nice check on the flop, Phil!), and I collected a nice pot.

The very next hand, I picked up A-J, reraised an opponent, and won the pot.

One round later, I peered down at A-K and opened for 2,700. Vivek Rajkumar, sitting right behind me, made it 7,200 to go. Everyone folded, and I shoved all in for 37,700 more (44,900 total). After a few seconds, I was rooting for a call, because I thought that Rajkumar would have called with a medium pair fairly quickly. Rajkumar joked, “I need a calculator to figure out the bounty math.” Finally, he called, and flipped over A-10. Yes, I was about a 3-1 favorite to have more than 93,000 in chips! The board ran out 10-5-2-4, and Rajkumar — who is a good guy — had the nerve to exclaim, “Don’t do it to me! No king!” (Don’t do it to you? Really?) The river was a 4, and that was it for me.

Let’s take a closer look at this hand: I like my 2,700 opening raise, although I generally have been opening for three times the big blind (in this case, that would be 3,600). Rajkumar’s reraise is OK; at least it’s aggressive. I love my shove! I’m saying, “Give me that pot right now!” I do not like Rajkumar’s call. And when you consider that he was calling off 80 percent of his chips, I hate the call! 37,700 more when you have 7,200 in the pot, against a tight player who will have you dominated 90 percent of the time? Yuck!

Yes, I am a bounty, and when Huck Seed and I discussed this hand, Seed felt like Rajkumar’s call was “a bad call, but not by much.” Mike “The Mouth” Matusow said, “I hate his call. He was playing day two of a $10,000 buy-in tournament, and he puts 80 percent of his chips into the pot in that spot?!” ♠

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