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Back to day one, aces go down to 6-2!

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Apr 29, '08

Posted: April 29, 2008 02:42 PM

It hurt. With the blinds at $300-$600 I raised it up to $1,800 to go with A-A, Bruno called, and a guy with 6-2 called me from the small blind. The flop was 9c-8c-5s, and I bet $3,000. Bruno folded, and 6-2 called with $30,000 behind. The turn card was the 7h! 6-2 guy (you can see his name on the "Live updates" BLOG from day one) bet $10,000, and I called. I had just watched him bluff off $50,000 to Mike Sexton drawing dead! 6-2 guy had As-Qc, and moved in on Sexton with the Kd-10s-4d-6d board. Sexton called a $35,000 raise with 10d-9d (very good call Mike!). In any case, I called, and the river was a 6. Unbeknownst to me, I had a split pot with 9-8-5-7-6 on board. 6-2 guy moved all in for $22,000, and I folded. Then he showed the 6-2, sigh.

Day two, Phil donks it off!

First off, let me say that Rolande De Wolfe crushed me (Friday night) at Chinese poker for almost 100 points at $250 a point. Here is the article that I just wrote for my bad play on day two, this article goes out into 30 newspapers, Card Player Magazine, and a few magazines in Europe:

Championships, excuses, bad play

In the $25,000 WPT (World Poker Tour) Championships last week, I made a weak play that cost me my last $40,000 in chips. First let me say that I wanted this tournament as much as I wanted another WSOP (World Series of Poker) bracelet. The WPT Championship is prestigious, important, and filled with skill. It is one of the most highly sought after titles in the poker world, along with the NBC Heads up Championships, and WSOP bracelets.

Do I have an excuse for my day two blunder and relatively early exit from the tournament? Sure, I have a list of them! Blah blah blah "Tired," blah blah blah "Bad read," and blah blah blah blah "Pocket aces." Who cares! 18 time golf major winner Jack Nicklaus said, "I eliminate all excuses and simply focus on winning. Let the other guys complain about the speed of the greens, and the course conditions, not me. " Personally, I love Nicklaus's outlook. I don't want any excuses, I want titles. I don't want more bad beat stories, I want titles. I don't want to play at half power, I want titles. I want titles, titles, titles, and nothing less.
On day two, with the blinds at $500-$1,000, and a $200 a man ante, I called $1,000 under the gun with J-J. At this point I looked over my right shoulder to the table behind me and told Mike "The mouth" Matusow, "I limped in the one hole, this could be the end for me." Two other players called, and then Binger-in the big blind-raised it up $7,000 more to go. I called, and then I told Matusow, "I called a $7,000 raise." The flop was Q-9-3, Binger bet out $12,000, and I called. I told Matusow, "OK, this is it baby, I just called a $12,000 bet on the flop." Matusow walked over to sweat the hand. The turn card was an eight, and Binger checked. Now I bet out $6,000, and Binger threw his hands up in the air, and moved me all in for my last $15,000 or so. I called, and Binger flipped up two kings and told someone at the table, "I thought Phil had me beat, and that I was just giving him another $20,000. But with pocket kings, what could I do?" Now I needed a ten or a jack on the river to win. Alas, the last card was an eight, and I left the building knowing that I had made a bad play. When I know immediately that I made a bad play, then it must have been pretty bad-and it was.

Let's take a closer look at this hand. I don't like the limp with J-J in first position, as I have been trying to get away from limping. You see, when you limp in it is hard to gauge the strength of your opponent. After a limp with J-J, your opponent may raise it up with pocket nines thinking that they have you crushed (because you limped) when in fact you have them crushed with your pocket jacks. But now you read strength in your opponent, and it can become confusing. Whereas with a raise in first position you define your hand--I'm showing a ton of strength--and if someone reraises with pocket nines, then they are bound to show some weakness (which hopefully I can pick up on). In my hand, an under the gun raise to say $3,500, would have shown Binger that I was strong, and then a Binger reraise would show uber strength, and may have allowed me to fold my J-J before the flop; thus losing only $3,500 in the hand. Binger's $12,000 bet on the flop was a good one. Some would argue that he should bet the size of the pot--about $21,000-in order to protect his hand. But I like his bet of roughly 60% of the pot. Why drive me out of the hand with a big bet if I have A-Q, J-J, or 10-10? My call on the flop was not terrible, but because I was wrong (Binger had me beat), it was a bad call. If I had been right, then it would have been a great call, but since I was wrong it was a bad call. By the way, I have been in a bad habit lately of not studying my opponent's when they bet big. How can I make a "Great read" if I don't study my opponent? I don't hate Binger's check on the turn, although I would prefer that he bet his hand. With the pot that big, it was time to protect his hand, and there was a high probability that I would bet with only hands that beat his K-K, and check with hands that didn't beat his K-K, thus giving me a free card. My bet was a bad one because I was wrong (I had the worse hand), and because I didn't even study Binger (one more time!). Had I checked, and then Binger moved all in on the river when another eight hit, then I probably could have folded my hand. All in all I played the hand poorly and knocked myself out of the tournament, sigh. I guess that it won't be the last time that I do that!

Home, more De Wolfe losses, new book

I flew home Monday afternoon. I need time with my wife and kids! They are the most important thing to me in the world. Fortune and fame are great, but they are nothing without family. I spent a couple of days doing business stuff. "Phil's House Publishing Company" is doing a book called "Deal me in" where we talk about how 10-15 players found poker-no strategy, just how they got started. We have already interviewed Doyle, Howard Lederer, Patrick Antonius, Allan Cunningham, and me. I think that Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Johnny Chan, Jennifer Harmon, and Annie Duke (to name a few) will also be in this book. This book will sell millions of copies!

On Wednesday I played heads up no limit Hold'em at, and won $4,000 or so. That night I played Rolande De Wolfe Chinese poker, and lost 58 points at $500 a point. I did manage to beat Mike "the mouth" Matusow for $11,000 at $500 a point, so it wasn't all that bad. I went to bed at 6:00 am, kissing my wife and kids (they were just getting up) before I slept.

Thursday: USA Today baby!

USA Today has asked me to write a column for them during the World Series of Poker. Writing for them (or the New York Times) has been a dream of mine for almost ten years! I got the call today. They accepted my offer: I said I would do it for free!

Travelling fool!

Friday and Saturday I'm in Calgary doing "Tour across Canada," where we teach seminars on how to play poker. Saturday night I hit Vancouver, where I go out drinking. Sunday we do our Vancouver event. Sunday night I do a "Cameo" in a small movie being filmed in Vancouver. Monday I fly home to northern California. Wednesday my wife and I fly to Louisville, Kentucky for the "Kentucky Derby" and my charity event Saturday night (after the derby) called "The Kentucky Derby Poker Championships." Monday I fly to Milwaukee where 12 million beer cans (Milwaukee's Best Light") come rolling off the line with a big picture of me on the can along with one of my lines ("I can dodge bullets baby"). We will film the cans rolling off the line for my "Quest for Twelve" documentary. Tuesday I fly to Kiawah Island to do an event for "Bain and Company" (I charge $50,000 a night for events-for companies like Microsoft, Samsung, Pacific Crest, etc…) and golf Kiawah Island. Thursday I catch the Bain charter back to Nor Cal. Busy, busy, busy!

Calgary and Vancouver

I spent 26 hours in Calgary, landing Friday night at 6:00 pm, and leaving at around 8:00 pm. The event there was smooth, and ended as every seminar does with everyone in the room wanting pictures and autographs. I am lucky that people want a moment with me, but I start to freak out after 40 minutes of that stuff.

How do they know when we land!?

We landed in Vancouver, and there were guys that had pictures of me from the WSOP, and pictures of me on the cover of magazines, etc… I signed them all but asked them, "How did you know we would be here?" They said, "We just waited for a few hours because we knew you were coming here from Calgary tonight or tomorrow morning." Last year at LAX someone was waiting for me with pictures to sign, but I booked that ticket only that morning. I suspect that he had 100 pictures with him of various celebs, and when he saw me he pulled mine out, or he knew someone at the airline reservation line.

When we landed we went straight to dinner with Guess Jeans and Absolute Poker Spokes-model Serinda Swan, Annie Duke, Mark "Poker Ho" Kroon, Sean Rice, and a few others. Afterwards we hit a VIP booth at "Republic," where my wife joined the party (her flight was delayed)-Canadian Poker legend Brad Booth also joined the party. We partied, danced and hung out, but I found the Vancouver bar regulations to be pretty strange. We did have table service, but apparently we cannot-by law-pour our own drinks, nor could they leave the bottle sitting on our table! So every time we wanted a drink we had to call the waitress over, and then she would walk over to the bar and grab our bottle. Still, it is the only bar in Vancouver with bottle service, and I like that…

Sunday I got up at the crack of noon and went to shoot a commercial with Serinda, and then I was rushed back to the Marriot where I went onstage for a few hours teaching poker tactics and money management. At 5:45 I headed to the set of "Shark out of water" where I shot a cameo for three hours. Ho and Sean came with me and we worked Sean into a scene as an "Extra." Then I played the director Juan Riedenger a heads up match for whether or not I was getting paid for my appearance. We taped it for my "Quest for Twelve" documentary, and all 60 people on the set crowded around the table. I won, and was paid my salary of $500. Afterwards I had a nice dinner with "Poker Ho," Brad, and Sean Rice (sadly, my wife had a migrane headache).

Next up: the Kentucky Derby, and the Kentucky Derby Poker Championships!

On Thursday at 10:40 am I play "Valhalla Country Club," where the USA hosts the "Ryder Cup" later on this year. We have a fantastic schedule around the KD! We will hit the exclusive "Al Capone" room (seats twelve) for dinner late Thursday night. Friday night we watch the "Kentucky Oaks" horse race, then we're off to the black tie (tuxedo for guys) "Mint Jubilee" charity party where I go onstage to sell tickets for my event the next night (KD Poker Championships), followed by Jenny McCarthy's party late that night. We are on every VIP list all week long! We have our own sheriff with us 24/7 all week! We have "Police siren" escorts in and out of the "Churchill Downs" track Friday and Saturday! I have super VIP access to the Paddock before the races where the horses walk around in circles (and the billionaires hang out).

The "Kentucky Derby Poker Championships" is going to be held at "Caesars Palace - Indiana" (right across the bridge from Louisville) with red carpet from 7:00 - 8:30 pm (the derby ends at 5:30). The tourney starts at 8:30 pm, but we will let anyone enter until 10:00 pm-the buy-in is $2,500, and you can write off at least 50% of that (maybe all of it). Thank you again to the KD for letting us use their name in our title. We are raising money for the climate and the "Red Cross Climate Center." I love this event! We are expecting tons of celebrities, jockies, and poker players like Layne Flack, and my co-host Robert Williamson. You can play in it, support the charity, and still win money! Personally, I'm writing a check for at least $10,000 to our charity, and $15,000 to the "Mint Jubilee's" charity-The "James Graham Cancer Center."

PH baseball card selling at EBAY for how much!!??!!

25 of my baseball cards are selling for $350 each at EBAY! They are the first 25 to roll off of the line…Another one, with shreds of my clothing in the card itself, is selling for $80; wow! FYI - you can buy my clothing and hats right now at, click "Store."

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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