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"Blowing Up" on London

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Sep 19, '07


After spending nine days playing poker in the WSOPE (World Series of Poker Europe) in London, sadly, my highlight of the trip was a publicity stunt. I'm a person that prides himself on winning poker tournaments, or short of that making final tables (the final nine players), or short of that making the money (the final ten percent of the field). Since I didn't do any of the above, at least I had a sick publicity stunt to remember the trip by. Ultimate rented a red double decker bus with my picture painted on the front and the back, a sign saying "Phil Hellmuth Invades London" on both sides, along with twelve models, with the bus open on top, with a DJ, a camera crew, some guests, and some press (for video check out As we cranked up the music, we drove by the "Eye of London," Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace. The models were beautiful (sorry honey), and it was pretty cool walking into the Empire Casino on Leicester Square with all twelve of them in tow. At least I can say that I won the "Best entrance" award.

In my last column I described a hand that I played on day one, and mentioned that I made it through day one in third place chip position. On day two things started swimmingly well, and before long I had the chip lead with around 120,000 P (Pounds). Then the wheels fell off for me. With the blinds at 300 P-600 P and a 100 P a man ante, Farzad "Freddy" Bonyadi opened for 1,800 P, and I called in the big blind with 5s-4s. The flop was As-Qh-5d, I checked, Bonyadi bet out 3,000 P, and I called. The next card was the 8d, I checked, and Bonyadi bet out 5,000 P. I now made it 18,000 P to go, and Bonyadi moved all-in, ouch! I was forced to fold my hand.

Let's take a closer look at this hand. First off all, let's assume that Bonyadi had A-J (he told me later that that was what he had). Bonyadi's raise of 1,800 P to go was pretty standard. I think that my call--for 1,200 P more in the big blind-before the flop was OK. A fold would have been OK as well. Bonyadi's 3,000 P bet on the flop was a good one. My 3,000 P call on the flop was a bit weak, but still OK. On the turn Bonyadi's 4,000 P bet was about perfect. My raise on the turn was awful! Why not simply fold my hand right then and there? Why risk 18,000 P worth of chips on a bluff against a great player? If Bonyadi did indeed have A-J, then his all-in move was really strong. I mean Bonyadi put his whole tournament on the line with a very weak hand, in a spot where he could only beat a bluff. After this hand I felt a bit sick, as I had given away 18,000 P!

A little while later my bad play continued when I called 600 P with A-2, and Bonyadi called behind me with Ah-6h. The flop came down Ac-Qd-6s, I bet out 2,000 P, Bonyadi made it 7,000 to go, and I called. The turn card was a three, I checked, Bonyadi bet out 10,000, and I called. The river was an eight, I checked, Bonyadi bet out 15,000, and I called. He showed me A-6, and I nearly puked as I had played this hand absolutely horribly! Maybe I could justify the 5,000 P call-of Bonyadi's raise--on the flop, but the other 25,000 was ridiculously bad. Did I think that Bonyadi was trying to bluff me? Was I trying to lose? I felt like I had given away 43,000 to Bonyadi, and I was enormously frustrated. It is one thing to fly all the way to London (or wherever) and get unlucky-like losing with K-K vs. an opponent's J-J-and quite another to just "Blow up" (give my chips away). Finally I regained my senses and started playing some world class poker. Unfortunately, I then had 7-7 on a Jd-7s-2d flop, and I lost 25,000 to a player holding J-J. Although I couldn't do anything about losing 25,000 P on this hand, the combination of bad luck and bad play left me low on chips.

Somehow I limped into day three with only 10,500 P, which placed me in eightieth place out of 82 remaining players (there were 368 entries). As I left Leicester Square in a foul mood, amid dozens of people asking me for autographs and pictures, I did my level best to smile through it all. But the bitterness lived on! In those moments I really need to recognize how blessed I am, if only by the fact that so many people want my picture or autograph. Still, I couldn't shake the frustration no matter how hard I tried. Nothing pisses me off more, and fouls my mood more than when I play poker like a donkey! And perhaps that's the way it should be.
Trying to bluff great players for no reason is:
1.) Not wise
2.) Not profitable
3.) Satisfying when it works
4.) All of the above

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

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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