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My Hand of the Week and a GREAT video to watch!

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Feb 27, '09

Posted: February 27, 2009 11:59 AM

Check out this three minute video of a call that I made vs. JC Tran in November in London in the "Premiere League," that allegedly has poker forums worldwide buzzing--especially the poker forums in Europe. 

The Phil Hellmuth Call

Here is my statement to the forums on why I made the call:

"This was a call that I made based purely on my instincts.  The flush hit, the ace was on board, and the only reasonable hands that I could beat were 7-6, 7-5, 6-5, and 5-2.  I noticed that my reading ability was on that week, because of the fact that we had a green room where I could go out after I was finished playing and ask the other players, "What did he have this hand?"  Or, "What did he have that hand?"  As I was told the answers, I noticed that my instincts were on, and I decided that I would have to trust them more than ever the rest of the week.  Of course, the thing is, I knew that if I was wrong, then I would look like an idiot on television worldwide!  But i trusted my instincts, and I made the call."

Here is my HOW (Hand of the Week):

Slow Play with a Short Stack?

In late February I headed off to L. A. to play in the $10,000 buy in WPT (World Poker Tour) event at the LAPC (Los Angeles Poker Classic).  The LAPC WPT tournament is held at the Commerce Casino, and it is six days long.  Last year we had one of the best final tables in WPT history, with Phil Ivey (won it), Quin Do (second), Nam Le (fourth), Scott Montgomery (fifth), and me (sixth).  Last year I had a massive chip lead at the final table, but I couldn't convert it into a win.  This year I made it past Day One pretty much risk free, but on Day Two with the blinds at $300-$600 and the antes at $75 a man, I found myself with a mere $6,400 left in chips when I looked down at Kh-Qh.  I was in early position and my options were three fold: I could move all in for $6,400, I could raise it up to $1,800 to go, or I could limp in.  Folding here wasn't an option.  Currently the "Standard play" is to move all in with this handwith around ten times the big blind in chips--and most of the world likes this move.  The advantages to moving in are that you can force someone to fold a hand like A-10, or a small pair, and thus you can pick up the antes and the blinds ($1,575) and increase your stack size roughly 20%.  Even if someone calls you with 10-10, then you're only a small underdog to win the pot.  Of course, if someone picks up A-K behind you, then you're in big trouble.  Option number two is to make a standard three times the blind raise.  This option is not a good one, but it does give you the chance to fold your hand when you're reraised; thus giving you a chance to save your last $4,600.  But realistically, how often are you going to fold your Kh-Qh for $4,600 more, when the pot already has roughly $8,500 in it?  I would not recommend making this fold to an amateur player, or an intermediate player.  Thus I would not recommend making it $1,800 to go, unless you have amazing reading abilities, and you can call the $4,600 raise every time, except when your opponent is holding A-A, K-K, Q-Q, A-K, or A-Q.  That's a tough read for a top pro to make!

Option number three, merely calling $600 pre-flop, also gives you some flexibility, but I do not recommend it for an amateur player, or an intermediate player.  This is an advanced play that even most pros shouldn't make.  Basically, when I limped in I was trying to trap someone behind me--either before the flop, or on the flop--with the option of saving most of my chips if I ran into someone holding a hand that had me dominated.  Just calling $600 is a tricky thing to do and involves one ability: read, read, and read.  Before the flop you have to be ready to: move all in when someone behind you raises with a worse hand (read), fold when someone behind you raises and has you dominated (read), or call or move all in when someone behind you raises with a small pair or medium pair (read).  And then you have to be ready to play your hand the right way on the flop.  And this involves: either slow playing if you flop a huge hand or fast playing if you flop a huge hand, depending on the texture of the board and your read of your opponents strength and his ability to fold a hand; folding when you flop top pair or second pair, or moving all in if you flop top pair or second pair, again depending on the board, and your read of your opponent; bluffing or re-bluffing, or folding when you flop nothing; and moving in, betting, or checking when you flop a drawing hand.  One thing is for sure, you have options galore when you limp in for $600, but you better be experienced enough to find the right one for the right situation!  I limped in, another played limped behind me, and the flop was 10h-7h-3h.  I flopped a flush, and now I was glad that I had limped in, as it gave me a chance to win a bigger pot if someone else flopped something as well.  Four of us checked on the flop, and the turn card was the 2h.  I hated that card!  Not because I was worried that I was beatit took someone holding the ace of hearts in their hand to beat me nowbut because I felt like I would win less money in this hand now.  The players in the blinds both checked to me, and I checked.  Now the guy behind me bet $2,000, and the player in the small blind called.  At this point I was licking my chops!  The big blind folded, and I raised it up, $5,000 to go--$3,000 more.  Both opponents quickly folded their hands, and I won a decent pot.  By the way, if I had moved all in pre-flop, then I would have won $1,575, but my limp had won me an extra $4,900!  Again, I wouldn't recommend the $600 call to anyone other than a top pro, but it worked pretty well for me, at least this time.

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