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Penthouse Pot

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Apr 11, '07


Thursday night in Portland, Ore, at the penthouse suite in the Heathman Hotel, I lost an $110,000 pot! Ouch, but the good news is that I only lost $10,000 of my own money in the pot. You see "All-in Magazines" Casey Thompson was in the game (Casey is dating 2004 Miss America winner Shandi Finnessey, who was recently eliminated from "Dancing with the Stars") and Casey was in the game $200,000. This was to be the second to last pot of the night, and the action got a little crazy, when Russ Hamilton, Casey, and I put in $10,000 each before the flop. The flop came down 9h-5d-2c, Russ and Casey checked, and I bet $40,000 or so with K-8-7-6 (an inside wrap straight draw). Russ folded instantly, and Casey began to think. It was at this point that I realized that Casey had only $40,000 left, and that he was calling this bet for sure, if he anything pair at all. I mean why not, Casey would lose $160,000 for the night if he folded, if he called and lost, he would only lose $200,000, but if he called and won he would only lose $90,000. Plus, Casey loves to gamble so he called (actually we agreed to put in $40,000 each, even though the pot only had $30,000 in it) with Q-Q-10-8. I then looked at Russ and asked for insurance (insurance is when you lay off some of or all of the risk).

We thought that it was a pretty close scenario, I needed a 8, 7, or 6 for a straight, or a K for a pair. Or I could hit running straights like with 4-3. So Russ said give me 10% juice if you win the pot. Then I said, "OK, for $40,000 to $44,000." He said, "Wait a minute, I don't want to do it." I said, "Don't deal yet (Russ was dealing the hand), how about if I give you 15% percent, or you collect $46,000 if I win the pot vs. you pay me $40,000 if I lose the pot." He agreed, and he turned off a 7! Woo hoo, I was home baby! But wait a minute, I immediately saw that Casey had a redraw. He needed a 6 or a Jack to make a higher straight. The last card was a 6, and I lost the $110,000 pot. Russ lost $40,000 on a hand he didn't even play! In reality, I only lost the $30,000 in the middle, and only $10,000 of my own money on the hand.

I noticed that for the first time in several hours, I was losing money for the night ($2,500). So I stayed to play Casey heads up for awhile. I immediately beat him out of $50,000, whereupon he beat me multiple pots with hands like 7-3, and 8-4 off suit. Boy did the 8-4 off suit work well for him vs. me that night! He won several pots with it, and at 9:00 am I quit, losing $17,500 to Casey, and $20,000 in total for the night, which was my low point for the night.

The final straw was when Casey dealt the cards, I looked down at Qh-Jh, and he said, "Whoops, I didn't let you cut the cards. Do you want to play the hand or not?" I said, "I don't care, whatever." He said, "I don't care, whatever, you choose." (Casey was being more than fair when he gave me the option to play or not to play.) I didn't think it out, because all the other pots where I didn't cut, we played out the pot, or I stopped him before I looked at my cards. But to be nice, I said, "I have something but we won't play it out." Then I looked at his Q-5 hand, and the Q-J-4 flop and realized that I would have won at least $7,000 on this hand, but probably more like $10,000. Something in me just snapped, and I gave up.

Do I think I could have won big had I soldiered on? Yes, but only if I had the heart and the will. Instead, I just wanted to get some sleep as I had a bad taste in my mouth from the three or four 8-4 off suits Casey had used to beat me. One time, I raised it up $1,000 more, into $400 with K-J, and Casey called with 8-4. After K-Q-8-4-3, I had lost over $20,000!!

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

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