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Big Win at

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Jan 01, '08


I was playing $25-$50 blinds no limit Hold'em at Ultimate Friday night, along with a few $50 and $100 buy in "Elimination Blackjack" "Sit and go's." I play the EBSG's for the love of the game. They feature seven players apiece, and they are challenging. I love trying my tactics and my strategy--that I feel like I have perfected--against other players vastly different strategies. I haven't been playing as much poker as I usually don't play my best online because the stakes are too small for me to fully focus on. Plus, I'm usually pretty tired when I hop onto UB at night.

Still, I have a lot of pride (as y'all know) and sometimes I want to win so badly that I put in all of my energy and effort. Friday night (December 21) was one of those nights. Not at first, but once I had chips, I bought in for $2,500 and lost it. Then another $1,250 (lost it), and then another $1,250. I didn't mind losing until the other player's started teasing me. That was a big mistake on their part. I'm not the kind that goes on tilt when they tease me, rather, I'm the kind that says, "Oh yeah, I'll bust you for opening your mouth, and I know that that takes patience. You're teasing me to get extra action, and I'm going to do the opposite. Who do you think you're messing with?" They weren't happy beating me, they had to give some BS in the chat box.

OK, I was lucky as I ran it up to $20,000 and then quit, but it was nice to win a few pots where they just gave me too much action. One hand, I had just busted a guy and then beat him another pot, when I got lucky with 4-4 as the flop came down 10h-4h-2s, and I checked and my opponent bet out $400. I had min raised every time I was super strong so I tried a bigger raise this time to look weak and induce action. I made it $1,100 to go and he moved all in for $5,000 with A-Q high! By the end of the night I was up almost $35,000!

Saturday fly to Wisconsin, Chinese poker

I landed at 10:00 pm in Milwaukee with my sons, and was greeted by Wayne "Tilly" Tyler and a free rental car from my old friend Jon Green, a "Hummer." Shortly afterwards we dropped off the kids and headed straight to Jon Ferraro's strip club, comedy club, and dancing club to play Chinese poker for $100 a point. Since I know that my wife is reading this, I will say that my wife was hotter than 90% of the strippers. I won about $1,700 or so, and it was kinda fun playing there, in the VIP section, but we needed more light. Ferraro is a cool guy that runs a big operation there-and he recently had some big comedy stars at his club.

Family and Holidays

My wife and kids and I go back for Christmas every year to get a full helping of family, and Wisconsin. This year it was a white X-mas (snow baby!), and we had a blast. I won't go into many details except to say that it was really nice to be there. We did eat X-mas eve dinner at "Mader's" in Milwaukee, and the food was amazing. When I left, they asked me for a signed picture to put up on their wall.

The big Wisconsin poker game!

We played the following game on Thursday. Check this article out:

Amazing Hand!

The following hand, and all facets of it; the moves made during it, a "Live hand" turned face up on the table in the middle of it, and verbal offers made and accepted are 100% true. I couldn't have made this crazy hand up, even if I wanted to. Of course, this hand needs to be told in context; otherwise you, the reader, won't believe it. Let's start with the game itself. The hand came up during the Wisconsin Home Boys Holiday poker game. The blinds were $5-$5, the buy in was $1,000, and the rebuys were at least $500 a pop. The game started at Jon Ferraro's house in Pewaukee, Wisconsin at noon. By midnight there was almost $100,000 on the table.

Let's move on to the previous fourteen hours of play and my table image by then. At 2:00 am I had a reputation at this table for being a tight player. Many times during play, I called a bet, or a raise with A-K or better, only to have another player raise or reraise, and when the action came back to me, I made a huge reraise myself. I watched Paul Clements lay down A-Q immediately in one of these spots, whereupon I showed my A-K. Let's sum it up by saying: I was playing solid poker, and sometimes trapping with big hands.

The hand came down this way. Ferraro had the $40 "Mississippi Straddle" up on the button, meaning that Craig "Spa man" Hueffner, who was in the small blind, had to act first, and he opted to call $40 with his J-9 off suit, I then called with my hand, Jon Green called with his hand, then Clements made it $210 to go with A-K. Player A then called $200 with A-K, Spa man called the raise, and then I announced, "I raise the pot." So I called the $160, and raised it $880 more. Clements pondered awhile, and I said, "I have nothing." I had been saying that when I had a strong hand all day long. Clements folded, then Player A folded, showing his hand to Clements. Then I said, "They just folded A-Q and pocket jacks, c'mon Spa man, just $880 more to play with the champ." Spa man then called the $880, and the flop came down A-K-9. He bet out $400, and I announced, "I raise the size of the pot." So I called the $400 and made it $3,340 more to go, as I noted that Spa man had $8,500 left. Spa man then flipped his hand face up! I knew that his hand was not dead yet, not in this game, and after a minute passed by I feared that Spa man was going to call me. Did I mention what my hand was yet? I had a stone cold bluff, the 6c-3s! I had seen Spa man make some tough calls, I knew that he wasn't afraid to put his chips in, and I was suddenly convinced that he was going to call. So I decided to try something crazy. First I said, "I'm not showing you my hand no matter what." (I was trying to act like I had a strong hand.) Then I said, "I'll put in $1,000 of your $3,340 call, if you make it." Then after about 45 seconds I thought better of my offer. I thought to myself, "Why not just let him fold right here and now?" So I said, "That offer is valid for another 5 seconds, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…" At the last second Spa man said, "I call, here is $2,340, please put in the other $1,000." So I threw in a $1,000 chip, and the turn card was the 2h.
Now Spa man said, "$6,000." I thought to myself, "Did this guy see my hole cards? How does he bet out $6,000?!?" I was getting ready to fold my hand, but I asked, "You bet $6,000?" Spa man said, "No, no, I have $6,000 left." I thought to myself, "OK Phil, he didn't bet, which means that you have to bluff again, but how much?" Moving Spa man all in for his last $6,000 seemed weaker to me than simply betting 50% of his chips ($3,000). So I bet $3,000. By now the other players were congregating on the other side of the room and chatting excitedly. What the heck was going on in this hand? Finally, to my enormous relief, Spa man folded his hand, and I threw my cards in face down. The dealer (Wayne "Tilly" Tyler) kept them separated from the rest of the deck, and everyone shouted, "Show the hand, show the hand!" In a normal Las Vegas poker game the cards would have already hit the muck, but Tilly held them out of the muck as the pleading continued. Finally, I thought to myself, "Why not show the hand?" So I flipped it up, and everyone started "Oohing" and "Ahhing," and clapping. The game was on! I didn't win a bracelet with this hand, but somehow I feel like this was one of my best hands of the year 2007!

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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