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LA Poker Classic

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Feb 28, '08


February 28, 2008

After five grueling days I made the final table along with Phil Ivey and Nam Le. I'm too tired to BLOG much, but here is the article that I wrote tonight:

World Poker Tour Hands

I'm writing this article under a little duress. I began playing in the WPT's (World Poker Tour) L. A. Classic--at the Commerce Casino-on Saturday Feb 23. It is now Wednesday Feb 27, and I haven't answered a single email (just looked and it is only 47), or returned a phone call, in five days. And now, after a grueling "Day five" has just finished, at midnight mind you, I have this article due! Of course, the fact that I am in the final six players, along with chip leader Phil Ivey, makes me smile. I have a good shot at winning the thing, which would be worth $1.6 million (for first), but more importantly, it would be my first WPT win. I have $2.3 million in chips, and Ivey has $4.3 million in chips. It should be one helluva final table! You can check my results for the tournament on my BLOG at Phil
Here are a few interesting hands. On day four, with the blinds at $3,000-$6,000, Shawn Buchanan limped in with 6-6, and I raised it up to $33,000 with 10-8 off suit. I started the hand with $750,000 in chips. The flop was 6-3-3, and Buchanan bet out $15,000. I called. The turn was a 10, and Buchanan bet out $20,000. I called, then the river was another ten, and Buchanan bet out $40,000. I raised him $55,000, and he called. Let's break this hand down. Buchanan's limp for $6,000 is OK with me. My $33,000 bet was an attempt to steal the pot, as I thought that Buchanan had a small pair, or a weaker hand. Buchanan's $15,000 bet was genius! We call a small bet on the flop like this one a "Floater bet." By betting $15,000 into a $72,000 pot, he has made it really easy for me to call, or raise him. My call was OK. It was such a small bet, and I thought that if the next card was a high card, then I could steal the pot from Buchanan with a big bet. I called with a plan, but considering that Buchanan already had a full house, it was a flawed plan! The $20,000 bet was a perfect bet by Buchanan, and again made it easy for me to call him with ace high, or raise him with an over pair like Q-Q. My call on the turn was pretty natural, as I did hit top pair. Buchanan's bet on the river was perfect. He gave me the chance to call him down with ace high, which was now an easier call with the board double paired. My $55,000 raise was about right, especially considering that Buchanan only had $85,000 left. Buchanan's call was OK, but he pretty much knew that I had a ten. He announced as much, but throwing away his hand for $55,000 more was nearly impossible. This was a super lucky hand for me!

On day five, with seven players remaining, I made a big bluff in a hand. With the blinds at $40,000-$80,000, Nam le opened for $220,000 with 10-10, and I studied awhile with Ac-2c. First, I felt like Le couldn't call an all in move. Second, I knew that six players would come back the next day to play on the "TV table," and since Le had exactly the same amount in chips, I felt that there was that additional pressure firmly on his shoulders. I mean, if he called and lost the pot, then he would miss the WPT final table, and the chance to win $1.6 million. So I pulled the trigger, and I moved all in for $1,240,000. Le studied for a long time, so I stood up and said, "Just don't put a bad beat on me." I had reraised three times at the final table, and each time I had stood up and said the same thing. Those three times I actually showed my hole cards; K-K, A-K, and A-K. I knew that Le had watched all three of those hands. He said to me, "Will you show me the hand if I fold?" I said, "Of course I will." Le still didn't look convinced, but finally, after an agonizingly long time (when you're bluffing a minute seems like an hour!), he folded his hand. I flipped up the A-2, and everyone in the room was shocked. Mike Sexton said, "What a move!" The last hand of the night came down when a player moved all in for $800,000 and I called him with A-Q. The player showed K-Q, and fortunately my hand held up. Wish me luck tomorrow! Oh that's right, by the time you read this, the tournament will be over, and you can catch it on the WPT on the Travel Channel. Good night all.

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

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