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Final-Table Takedown: Phil Collins

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: May 30, 2012

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Phil CollinsPhil Collins is from Aiken, SC and attended the University of South Carolina where he discovered poker and met his future wife, Katie. He graduated with a degree in business administration 2007 and was accepted to the USC Law School. He turned that opportunity down to play poker professionally.

In 2008 he finished fourth in the Card Player OPOY race. Collins moved to Vegas in the summer of 2009 and married Katie in October 2010. He finished fifth in the 2011 WSOP main event and has more than $4,000,000 in career cashes.

Hand No.1

Key Concepts: Hand reading; patience.

Craig Tapscott: Set this hand up for us. What was your image at the table so far?

Phil Collins: I was the chip leader and had just caught the player on my left, Terry Presley, bluffing for a big pot a few orbits prior. I had a very aggressive image as I had been abusing the TV bubble a lot, and had been on a large stack for a while.  

Collins raises from the cutoff to 45,000 holding AClub Suit 3Club Suit. Presley calls from the button.

Flop: ASpade Suit 8Spade Suit 6Spade Suit (pot: 141,000)

Collins bets 60,000. Presley calls.

CT: What hands are you putting Presley on?

PC: I thought Terry would shove most of his big aces preflop and I was actually planning on calling a flop shove, hoping to see Q-J, K-J, and K-Q type hands with one spade.  I thought two Broadway cards and small pairs made up the majority of his range and I thought he could shove small pairs with a spade as well.  

Turn: 9Diamond Suit (pot: 261,000)

Collins checks.

CT: What are you thinking with this check?

PC: I was hoping for a bet from Terry and I was just going to put him all-in but…

Presley checks.

River: 2Club Suit (pot: 261,000)

Collins bets 75,000.

PC: I was hoping to get hero called by a weak one pair type hand, but…

Presley moves all-in for 212,000.

CT: So you called, right?

PC: Yes. I was getting laid a great price to call, and since I was hoping to be called on the river, I took about 10 seconds and…

Collins calls.

PC: Terry had bluffed before and I quickly figured I should call. I was beat though,

Terry had flopped the nut flush with KSpade Suit QSpade Suit.

Presley wins the pot of 685,000.

CT: What insight did you take away from this hand?

PC: I learned a really valuable lesson, because I was immediately sick. If only I had taken some time to think, maybe I would have been able to make the laydown.

CT: Had you played with him much during the event?

PC: I had played with Terry on day one as well at this final table, and I had a pretty good feel for his game. There’s a good chance that since I was sitting next to him, I could have been able to get a good read on whether he was strong or weak if I had just waited a minute before I decided to call. Either way, it never hurts to take your time when making a decision, a lesson I hope I learned for good in this hand.

CT: I’m curious. What’s the biggest lesson you took away from your deep finish at the WSOP main event last year? How has your game improved?

PC: Being able to play nine days of poker in the WSOP main event was an invaluable experience. By the time I reached the final table, I was a better player than when I started the tournament. It’s impossible to simulate making poker decisions in front of cameras and under the lights, and for anyone experiencing it for the first time, it can be nerve wracking. Also, players react a lot of different ways under pressure, and I gained a lot of insight into the mistakes they are likely to make. I’ve found that since the main event, my comfort level at a poker table is so much higher. I was very calm on day three of the recent PCA when I got placed on a TV table again and also when playing the Heartland Poker Tour final table. Being calm and relaxed allows you to play your best. Now that my confidence is really high, I trust my instincts more and make better decisions.

Hand No.2

Key Concepts: Post-flop play; hand range assessment.

Phil Collins: This is one of the most memorable hands I played at the final table.

Collins limps the button holding 10Spade Suit 6Spade Suit.

Craig Tapscott: Why limp from the button?

PC: I had been limping a decent amount at the final table, but increasingly more so three-handed and was enjoying playing post-flop, and trying to win lots of small pots.

Gross reraises to 130,000 from the small blind. Collins calls.

Flop: QHeart Suit JSpade Suit 8Spade Suit (pot: 325,000)

Gross bets 150,000. Collins calls.

CT: Why play such a big draw by just calling? What’s the plan?

PC: A lot of people raise anytime they flop a monster draw like I did here, and try to get all of their chips in. But in this spot I evaluated how I would play my entire range. I decided that since I would usually call with other hands like top pair with Q-T, 10-9 for the nuts, or J-9, for a pair and straight draw, that I should call with my hand as well.  

CT: And you’re mainly playing this hand this way because of what thoughts it will create in Gross’s mind.

PC: Yes. This creates a much tougher dynamic for Steve on future streets. If the spade comes, I might turn a pair of jacks into a bluff. If I have a straight, I might let him hang himself if he keeps betting. Steve (or whomever I’m playing) has many more decisions to make on future streets, and I can use my feel to decide if I can turn my hand into a bluff, call him down light, or fold a top pair kind of hand if I sense a lot of strength.

Turn: 9Spade Suit (pot: 625,000)

Gross checks. Collins bets 250,000. Gross calls.

CT: What do you think Gross is calling your value bet on the turn with?

PC: I thought Steve could call with a lot of hands. Any hands like A-Q or K-Q with a big spade would easily call, and he would call with any ten for a straight. He could also have a set, drawing to a full house if he’s beat or maybe the best hand if I’m bluffing. He could also be slow playing a bigger flush.

River: 8Diamond Suit (pot: 1,125,000)

Gross checks.

CT: Can you value bet again? What’s going through your mind when the board pairs?

PC: Here I was put to an interesting decision. Should I value bet my flush, and if so, how big should I bet? I had a little over a million chips left, so any substantial value bet would leave me crippled if I lost. But perhaps even more importantly, I didn’t think there were enough hands in his calling range that I beat to justify the risk. A lot of players forget to consider that if you are value betting, your opponent needs to be able to call with worse hands. And I thought that he could easily have been slow playing a bigger hand. Also, the pot was already very big and would make me chip leader if I won, and I liked my chances to win the whole thing if the pot went my way.

Collins checks and reveals the flush. Gross mucks. Collins wins the pot of 1,125,000.

CT: Do you regret not value betting this river in hindsight? And did Gross ever share what he had?

PC: I haven’t talked to Steve since the final table so I don’t know what he had. My instincts during the hand were telling me that I had the best hand, so I regret not betting somewhat. I’m trying to learn to trust my gut more, but I think in this hand I talked myself out of betting the river because I feared the worst. In hindsight I probably should have bet 365,000 or so and then tried not to throw up if he shoved. ♠