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Poker After Dark cash game

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Apr 22, '08

Posted: April 22, 2008 05:48 PM

No comment on how I did (per my NBC contract), except for this article.

"Cirque Du Soleil" Bluff

The world knows Guy Laliberte as the billionaire Founder of "Cirque Du Soleil." I know Laliberte as a tough no limit Hold'em poker player. Over the years I have noticed that great businessmen are usually great poker players, and Laliberte is no exception. As impressive as it is that the man owns all 14 of the "Cirque Du Soleil" shows, the story of how he got there is even more impressive. Laliberte became a street performer in Montreal in order to fund his dream of seeing the world. Laliberte will tell you that he is a dreamer, and that he has always been one. He also believes in the circle of life, and he attributes much of his success to the fact that he gives so much back to others and to charity--Laliberte brings water to the world with his Foundation "One drop." In fact, I just donated $20,000 to "One drop." Just hearing Laliberte talk about the circle of life-while knowing full well that he is someone serious-and hearing him talk about building wells and bringing water to those in need; simply inspired me to help him do it. Now back to our story; from being a single street performer Laliberte joined a Troupe of street performers, and after that he started organizing street festivals. In 1984 he won the rights to host a celebration for his home country of Canada. So Laliberte borrowed enough money to have a tent put up. It only seated 700, but his show was such a huge success that he took everything that he had (he moved all in!) and gambled it on a tour of the U. S. His new show not only sold out in the U. S., but it blew up worldwide, and pretty soon he was lured to Las Vegas and a permanent home for his show. Laliberte began playing poker around two-and-a-half years ago, and last year he made it down to the World Poker Tour's final table (final six) in the $25,000 Championship event (I finished eighteenth). Also in 2007 he was the big winner in the popular "High Stakes Cash Game" on GSN. On a side note I must say that my favorite show of all time is "Love" at the Mirage (awesome!), and my kids have seen "Ka" at the Mandalay Bay four times!

Laliberte, Tom Dwan (famous online name of "Durrr"), Allan Cunningham, Mike Baxter, "Viffer" (a famous online player), and myself were playing in a NBC show called PAD ("Poker after Dark"), which is shown six nights a week at 2:00 am. This was a special version of PAD called the "High Stakes Cash Game" and it featured a $100,000 buy in (but you could buy-in up to $250,000), with as many re-buys as you liked.

The blinds were $200-$400, with a $100 a man ante. I made it $1,100 to go with Jc-10c, Laliberte called (FYI - he was donating all of his profits to "One drop"), as did "Durr" in the big blind. The flop was Jd-8d-8s, and I bet out $2,000. Laliberte called, "Durr" folded, and the turn card was the 3s. I bet out $6,000, and after a minute Laliberte called. The last card was the 5d, I checked and Laliberte fired out $16,500. I studied for a moment and had this thought, "If you fold your hand, then you should quit right now." I kept running the hand over-and-over in my mind. I didn't think that Laliberte had a jack, like K-J, or Q-J; as I didn't see him betting it on the river. Either he had an eight, or a flush, or 10-9 (a busted straight draw). I have played with Laliberte before, and I haven't seen him bluff too much. However, I did incentivize him to try to bluff me by announcing a few hours earlier that I would donate $500 to "One drop" if he did indeed successfully bluff me. Was he trying to win $500 for his charity, and simultaneously prove that he could bluff me? I believed that the only hand that I could beat was 10-9. Finally I said, "Did you make a flush?" Laliberte said, "I know you don't have three jacks as you would have raised it up by now." Finally, I folded, and Laliberte showed me 10-9: a bluff, ouch! Then Laliberte said, "That will be $500 for 'One drop' please." I was more than happy to throw to him a $500 chip. He earned it! I cannot say that I had a read on Laliberte (obviously as I folded my hand!), but the fact that I had such a weird thought cross my mind ("Quit if you fold") bothered me later. I had that exact same thought a few years ago in Aruba in a big pot, and I folded then too, only to be shown a bluff.

I did learn two things though: first, don't give a great man like Laliberte any extra incentive to bluff you; and second, the next time I tell myself that I should quit if I fold my hand, then I'm not going to make the call!

$20,000 to the "One drop" charity, $40,000 "Found"

On the way into the Bellagio for day one of the $25,000 buy-in WPT Championship, I realized that I had $56,000 in cash. I thought that that might be all I had in town. I owed Jack McCelland (great guy!) $36,000 because I was staking someone, and I thought, "Let's empty the clip!" ("Durr" gave me that statement!). There is power in emptying the clip, especially if you're giving your last $20,000 in cash to Guy Laliberte's "One drop" charity. My wife said, "OK," and I handed my last $20,000 to Laliberte (see above) for his "One drop" Foundation. I felt like I could use all of my power, whatever that means, if I gave more to charity. I didn't know that I had another $30,000 at the Bellagio cage, or that I would find a white bag with $40,000 in cash in it on top of my safe!! My wife laughs it off and says, "Only a high stakes poker player would find $40,000 in cash that he didn't know that he had!" Uh…You're right honey! Good thing I found it.

Bruno Fitoussi won't shake my hand!

After day one ended, Bruno wouldn't shake my hand. I insulted his poker play in one hand, and I also did it at the H. O. R. S. E. Event at the WSOP, so he says, "You have no balls (yeah right!), no brain (He's probably right), and you suck at the side games (I won 19 out of 20 years)." Uh, OK. I don't respond. I understand that I cross too many lines when I whine, but he should expect that out of me and laugh with it, and at it! I do not get personal with him at all. The fact is that I really like Bruno, but I think that he should agree that he is not god at poker, and make mistakes like the rest of us. If I point one out, don't attack me on a personal level. I understand him being angry, and I still like him, even though he may not like me anymore. Bruno is a great player, but not in every hand!

Van Halen with Scott, Pearl, Debo34, and Shawn Rice

I bagged my chips in record speed and rushed off to Mandalay Bay to watch Van Halen. They rock! At one point I asked Scott Ian (lead guitarist for "Anthrax" and one of the best guitarists in the world), "You can do that right?" He looks at me like I'm crazy and says, "Eddie Van Halen is the Phil Hellmuth of lead guitarists." Eddie was cranking this night! After the concert we hit club "Forty Deuce" which was a lot of fun.

"All In" poker musical

On Sunday I went to a private screening of a new poker musical that I think will take the world by storm. Written by Tim Molyneux, of "Molyneux Entertainment," it has over 40 songs and plays out like a Broadway musical. It is really something! We will have some of the songs up at YOUTUBE soon. Afterwards I napped, had a workout, then went to bed. After all, tomorrow is a huge day for me and I want to be "Right as rain" in my thinking and tactics.

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

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