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Sixth place, out of six!!

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Mar 01, '08

Posted: March 01, 2008 11:01 AM

My wife and I thought that it was weird. It happened quickly, I was in there, then I was out of there, in sixth place. What happened? Not much. I did lose a huge hand with J-8 when Nam Le-in the small blind-limped in pre-flop with Ks-3s. I checked, and the flop was J-6-3. Nam bet $140,000, and I called. I pretty much knew that I had the best hand, so I called. The turn was a king, and NOW I moved Nam all in for his last $1 million! A little too late. I regret not raising him on the flop. If I had, then he would have folded and I would have had over $2.5 million in chips. An hour later, Nam opened under the gun for $270,000 with Ah-Kh, and I studied him with my J-J. I felt a lot of strength, so I just called. This brought in Ivey-right behind me-with Kc-Qc. With $1 million in the pot, I needed a flop with no ace, king, or queen. Then I could move all in for my last $900,000 and take down the cheese. Alas, the flop was A-10-3, and Nam bet $650,000. Still, I gave myself another life as I believe that most of the rest of the world would have moved all in pre-flop (of course, if a jack was coming on fourth street or the river, then I would have won the pot!). Shortly thereafter I moved all in with A-9 for $600,000 or so with the blinds at $50,000-$100,000, whereupon Woody called me with A-Q and it was bye bye Philly boy. I was unlucky, no doubt, but I still felt like I could have done more. Still, there was no terrible play (the J-8 was a little weak), and no terrible beat. My wife and I enjoyed the rest of our evening in the Presidential Suite at the Commerce Hotel, and I flew to Vegas late that night.

I checked into another sick suite at "Caesars Palace," and I was told that I drew "Durr" (Tom Dwan) as an opponent in the NBC Heads Up Championships. Durr is someone that I respect as a top online poker player, even though he may occasionally talk shit about me. He is only like 22 years old, and has won millions online playing Hold'em at and a few other sites. I believe that one of two things will happen in our match: either Durr will be an easy victory for me, overplaying his hands and allowing me to trap him; or the match will be a tough one for me. Of course I know that I'm a big favorite in our match, as playing online and staring someone in the eyes in the real world are two very different propositions. Plus there is the experience factor. Durr may not be ready for the "Big show," with the lights, cameras, and the national television audience. Some players melt under the spotlight, and make bad moves. Plus I have the experience of knowing things like: how to fold trappy hands like top pair, a flush, or a straight when needed. I have seen so much and been through this so many times that I will not do something stupid. There is a fair amount of play in these things, although not as much as we the players would like.

Bad beat A-A down: Durr plays poorly, but beats me anyway!!

It was so sick. On the first hand I limped in for $300, and Durr made it $1,100 to go. I said, "The internet guys, are SO aggressive, always overplaying hands!" Durr showed me A-K and shut me right up. On the second hand, Durr limps in, I look at K-J and raise it up $500 more into the $600 pot, Durr folds. The third hand I limp in with A-A, Durr makes it $1,100, and I decide that I can use a "Weak tell" on him. First, I act super quickly on my reraise. Second, I over-raise making it $2,500 more to go. Then I try to act weak. I raise my head up to peer at him from beneath my hat, then I duck back down like I'm afraid that he'll see me. Then I hear what I'm hoping to hear, Durr says, "I'm all in!" I can barely contain my excitement. I immediately announce, "I call," and flip my hand up. But the NBC crew says, "Don't show it yet." Uh, OK…About thirty seconds later, I flip it up officially, and Durr shows 10-10. I'm in shock. I heard that he was a really good player. But moving all in for $20,000 with 10-10 when the blinds are $150-$300? Not one pro I talked to could even say that his play "Wasn't bad," never mind that no one would say it was a marginal play. Why risk all of your chips against me pre-flop with 10-10, and the blinds so cheap? I'm sure that I induced him to make a bad play, as I always do. The less you've been around the circuit, the easier it is to send a "Weak tell" to you and your mind responds accordingly. Of course, if he wouldn't have sucked out and beat me, then I wouldn't have commented on this hand. Why tell someone they made a bad play when you bust them? Any of the top pros in attendance would have been worried when I limped-reraised, and maybe one out of 20 would have moved all in. Experience shows this limp-raise to be a strong hand. And why risk $20,000 by moving in? Wouldn't a $4,000 raise end any bluff by me? Then you can fold the 10-10 when I move all in for the fourth raise, and still have over $12,000 left to fight with.

After I told him that I wouldn't have lost $3,000 with 10-10--which is the truth--Durr handled himself with class, albeit he did what all the young guys do when they're a bit insecure, he challenged me to play heads up for $100,000. Durr knew he played the hand poorly, and if he doesn't know now, he will understand how bad a play he made in two or three years. Will I play him heads up in the real world? Absolutely! But on my terms. I don't need the money, and I have nothing to gain from playing him heads up, whereas he does have something to gain. He could say that he beat me. Despite that, here are my terms: I will play him in the bay area, in a casino (his terms, and I echo them), during the daytime (like starting at noon), whenever I feel like it (I choose the date). I don't need to play him, I crushed him in three hands on NBC!! He may have won the chips, but the world knows who really won the hand!!

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

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