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I could take some lessons from that beautiful example...

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Feb 20, '08

Posted: February 20, 2008 01:40 PM

Points?!? What are those?

After not much sleep I awoke Wednesday at 8:00 am feeling groggy, but hungry. I decided that I would have some breakfast, and then go back to sleep. At breakfast I hung out with Eddie Sharf and Andy Black, and Andy wanted a walk whilst I decided to hit the British Portrait Gallery. So we trekked over there together, stopping for coffee on the way. We chatted about Buddhism, meditation, spirituality, and life. He helped me understand that I haven't been using 100% of my power to win here in London, and I told him that he needed to also understand that he had a lot more power available to himself, that he wasn't using. He recommended I read up on Vimilakirti, who strived to be all things to all men. I recommended that he try his hardest, and use all of his talents to win: stop holding back!

In any case, I loved the impressionist stuff, and hung out there until I had to hustle to make my limo. When I arrived at the heat, I played great poker, for about eight hands! I raised with A-5, and hit the A-5-5 flop. Andy had 9-9, we both checked, and the turn was a nine! Bye, bye Philly boy! Use all of his power indeed! I think that's great Mr. Black, but don't use it against me! After four heats my score was now a mere 5 points. You all know I like to break records, but not for worst performance…

Thursday, back against the wall in the Premier League!

I came in feeling like my back was against the wall, but one more time I ran badly and was first out! I believe that I could have played better, but it appears that I have lost EVERY race I have played over 7 heats-four or five times with the best of it--two in the European open, and five here in the Premiere League. I insured myself when I was all-in with A-K vs. Marcel Luskes 8h-7h. The flop was 10-8-7, so I won another $7,000 in insurance. I am pretty much shut out of the finals, and doomed to finish in the bottom four out of twelve players. In fact, I'm told by everyone, multiple times, that I have a chance to break the record for lowest point total! The good news is that I won another $40,000 in Chinese poker against Rolande De Wolfe at $500 a point, and another $14,000 in side bets. I need Vicky Coren to score a "Zero" or last place finish Friday morning, and then I'll have chance to advance, if I win my heat in the afternoon.

Friday: Vicky scores a few points, Hellmuth "Relegated!"

"Relegated" is a known word over here in Europe, but one that I do know as well. I just didn't want to know it too well! But I was relegated to the bottom four, shut out of the 8 player finale, out of 12 starting players: an abysmal performance by any measure. My mistake, I think, besides losing roughly 12 races in a row (I won one tiny race today vs. Rolande, when he had $13,000 and the blinds were $5,000-$10,000), was that I did not work out every day. The exercise helps calm me, and focus me, when things are going poorly, or even when they're going well.
If I had finished in sixth place, fifth place, or fourth place, then I would have tied or broken the record for lowest point total. In spite of the fact that I lost every race, except an irrelevant one, I still made the top three. Juha and the Devilfish needed a win to advance, and Devilfish got it done, beating Tony G heads up after I was eliminated. He relegated Vicky with this victory in the last heat. This meant that I won $10,000 from Helppi in our side bet, where I had Devilfish vs. Helppi for $10,000 "Highest point total," and another $10,000 on a "win only" bet. Also, this set up a heads up match for Devilfish with Annie Duke, best of five, with the blinds escalating quickly. Rolande De Wolfe is scheduled to play Eddie Sharf in the other heads up match. The winners of the heads up match advance to the six player finale. So the four that advanced automatically to the finals are: Tony G (winner on points), Andy Black (second on points), Alex Kravchenko, and Marcel Luske. De Wolfe and Sharf play for the right to enter the final, as do Duke and Devilfish. Relegated this year were Vicky Coren, Ian Frazer, Juha Helppi (last years champ), and Phil Hellmuth.

Saturday: Relegated to commentary!

Annie and Fish had one heck of a match, with Annie winning the first two, and the fish winning the next two. Annie won the last match to advance. Rolande caught the deck, which he hadn't done the previous two matches, to advance vs. Sharf. Along with the "Voice of poker" Jesse May, I commentated the final and I noticed that Rolande played better than I have ever seen him play, overall grade A . Black had one blow up for $250,000 with K-Q vs. Kravchenko's Q-Q, but other than that he played off the charts, above the grading system. Tony G also played brilliantly, mixing it up nicely and showing great patience: grade A-. Annie misplayed one hand when she had lost most of her chips with J-J vs. Kravchenko's A-A, 10-5-5 flop, but other than that she played well, and was unlucky when Kravchenko made a bizarre call with 8s-7s for $60,000 into a $100,000 pot (Annie had A-J). Kravchenko played really well one more time, other than one or two pots, but he was unlucky with his Q-Q vs. K-Q for a $500,000 pot. Marcel is Marcel, he plays fast poker with the best players on the planet, but he didn't hit any cards tonight. He made on great bluff, but was picked off by the call of the tournament, made by Andy Black.

Black won it, Rolande second, Tony G third, Kravchecnko fourth, Marcel fifth, and Annie finished in sixth place. Congrats to Black, who did use almost all of his power today! Black has led many of the biggest and most prestigious tournaments, but blown up most times down the stretch. He did have one minor blow up, but he moved his chips almost perfectly the rest of the night.

Saturday night: BIG win! But I lost a memory bet to Rolande for $10,000…

When the smoke cleared this week, Rolande lost almost $130,000 to me in Chinese poker at $500 a point. But he did snap me off for $10,000 when we bet on the way he played a hand in the finals. He raised it up pre-flop with Ad-7d, and Marcel called with 5-3 off suit ("In the dark" meaning that he claimed that he hadn't looked at his hand pre-flop, which I believed) from the big blind. The flop was 7-6-4, and they both checked. On fourth street, Marcel looked and bet out after a 9 hit. My mistake was that I bet that they hadn't put any money in on fourth street, forgetting that Rolande had checked the flop. Oops! This tilted everyone (especially Juha!) that had bet $45,000 against me on a memory bet earlier in the week (scroll up), and showed me I was luckier than I thought when I won that bet! I mean if I could forget that sequence Rolande played, having commentated not two hours earlier, then I could have forgotten the other one as well!

Overall, I had a great time hanging out with Helppi, De Wolfe, Sharf, Duke, Luske, and Black. The others weren't hanging out with us as much. I love the camaraderie of this tournament! The side bets, the rivalries (Rolande vs. Juha), the green room, the breakfasts, the lunches, and the Chinese poker (especially this trip).

Love/hate "Tetris!" Double royalties "Scoop" classy Rolande.

I didn't sleep a wink on my flight back Sunday, even though I had a nice bed on British Airways, and I was only on four hours of sleep after playing Rolande Chinese until 6:00 am. I couldn't sleep, and wound up playing Tetris for 11 hours straight, sigh…It was so bad for Rolande, and so good for me that one hand I had 10-10-10-10 in back, 2-2-2-2 in the middle, and Q-Q in front, and Rolande set that hand for me! He must have been sick when he picked it up, as I was chatting with some of the guys and playing a bit slow. That hand "Scooped" him with double royalties, and we were playing two hands vs. two hands (Cross booking), so that I collected 20 points or $10,000 on that one side of one hand!

As usual, win or lose, Rolande handled himself with perfect class, both to me and in the "Premier League." In fact, in the limo back to the hotel with Andy Black, Rolande, and me; Rolande (who finished second to Andy) told Andy, "I'm really happy for you that you won it. I'm glad that you were able to exercise some demons and take down the trophy." What a classy thing to say after you lost a big chip lead and finished second to a guy! I could take some lessons from that beautiful example…

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

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