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Bay 101 WPT Final Table, ESPN Bristol, Manhattan (Jay Z, Super Models)

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Apr 05, '10

Posted: April 05, 2010 08:57 AM

I was so happy to make the final table at the Bay 101 WPT, and I was proud of the way I played poker along the way.  I really hit my stride, and dominated the tournament for two straight days (I had the chip lead after Day Two, and was second in chips after Day Three).  I seemed to know what the players had, and because of this I was able to gather a ton of chips "Risk free."  When asked how I accumulated my chips after Day Two and Day Three, my opponents (and I) didn't remember me winning a single huge key pot.  I just seemed to slowly build a huge stack!  It was like the old days, where I knew what my opponents had, and I was able to pull the trigger and take advantage of that information.  Here is a Hand of the Week, which you can sign up to have emailed to you every week through the PPA (Poker Players Alliance) site:

                                      Sniping, Dodging Bullets, and Smooth

At the WPT (World Poker Tour) event at the Bay 101 a few weeks back, I unleashed the tactics that I have worked so hard on; tactics that would enable me to play optimal poker in the modern era, and I came out smiling (mostly).  I decided to pay super tight (no surprise), trust my instincts (no surprise), come over the top (no surprise), and slow play some of my big pairs (surprise!).  When I am "On form" (as they say in Europe) in a no limit Hold'em tournament, I am almost unstoppable.  I have been working super hard on my poker game; including discussing tactics with Brandon Cantu, playing tons of hours online, talking to math based guys like the Maven, and overall just thinking poker, talking poker, playing poker, and wanting to win with a huge passion!!  Check out my BLOG at

At the Bay 101, something just sort of clicked in, and it was this: my reading ability!  When my reading ability is sharp, I can dodge bullets, and I become a sniper with deadly accuracy.  What do I mean?  While, dodging bullets is an obvious metaphor for folding super strong hands and saving tons of chips.  Not as obvious is the sniper with deadly accuracy metaphor by which I mean that I can come over the top (three bet) at the perfect time.  If someone raises it up with a weak hand, then nine out of ten times you will win the pot with a three bet (reraise) right then and there.  If they are weak, and they decide that it is time to reraise anyway (four bet), then that's OK too, because if you're reading perfectly, then you just move all in (five bet) and win a ton of chips risk free!  When my reading ability is ramped up, then I am not afraid to push all in with nothing (five bet it or six bet it with nothing), and that is when I am at my most dangerous.

Because my reads were spot on, it took all the pressure off of my chip stack.  I mean, I won enough chips risk free to always be slowly building my stack, and I was particularly locked into one aggressive opponent, and because that opponent didn't slow down, I kept accumulating chips from him!  At the end of Day Two I had the chip lead with $530,000, and on Day Three I quickly hit the $1 million mark.  On Day Three we played from 11:00 am to 1:30 am without even taking a dinner break!  But I was so zoned in that I never dipped below the $1 mark all day long, despite some turbulent times where I didn't pick up many hands, and where I lost some chips because I had a few "Second best" hands.  During these lulls, I played super tight, and I made moves at the right times, reraising when I was locked into a read that my opponent was weak.  This caused the other players to be wary of me, and I started to receive quite a few walks.  I mean looking at me from their point of view, why raise it up when I was in the big blind, if you knew that I was going to reraise you and force you to fold your hand and surrender?  The walks helped, because each walk gave me one free round of chips (blinds and antes) to remain patient and wait for a great situation.

Picking up free chips, if you can do it, keeps things smooth and easy.  Many of you at home that try the same tactics that I am teaching you may eventually get called pre-flop by someone that is sick of you reraising them.  That means that you will have to read your opponent well again, after the flop.  So my best tactics may not be your best tactics, but you at home do need to find a way to pick up free chips if you want to become a great no limit Hold'em player!

Here is another Hand of the Week (again, you can sign up to have them emailed to you every week through the PPA website) that describes my finish at the Bay 101:

                                       The Ace that put me on the Floor!

The story: at the Bay 101 WPT (World Poker Tour) final tablewith the blinds $10,000-$20,000--I managed to get $800,000 into the pot before the flop with my Q-Q vs my opponents Ac-Jc.  By the way, the "New Phil" smiled as the young man told me he was a better no limit Hold'em player than I was only one hour earlier.  With six players left, and first place $870,000, sixth place was $120,000.  The flop came down K-6-5.  When a 10 hit on the turn, my young opponent now had three aces and two queens to win the pot with.  I was about to have the chip lead, just one card away!  I could feel it.  I deserved it.  [I had dominated the poker tournament for 20 hours of play time, without ever being all in, or even close to it.]  Alas, the river was an ace!  And I just sat there, stunned, for almost 45 seconds.  Now surely the "Old Phil" would tell the kid what the score really was.  Surely Phil Hellmuth would give the kid a lecture about what a horrendous move he just made, and how the kid wasn't event in the same zip code skill wise, right?  No, not this year; in 2010 I plan on being a perfect gentleman!  But this was a huge test for me.  One hole in my resume, one that is constantly pointed out to me, is the fact that I have not won a WPT event.  So I wanted this tournament so, so badly.  Not to mention the money.  I mean, if no queen hits on the river, then I believe that the worst I would have done would have been second place and $500,000.

After 45 seconds I slowly rose up out of my chair, and then I shook everyone's hand at the final table and I wished them good luck.  Then I lost it a little bit.  I was overcome with emotion, and I fell to my hands and knees (in the dimly lit corner), and put my head between my arms.  After another 45 seconds passed by, I suddenly realized that the cameras (and the eyes of the poker world) were probably still on me.  I wanted to stay down and lick my wounds.  I wanted to stay down because I was in pain.  I wanted to stay down until I felt better.  But I knew that I had to man up, get up, and do my exit interview.  As I stood up, sure enough, all of the cameras were still on me (obviously they were expecting me to be a "Poker Brat") and I manned up and did a pretty gracious exit interview.

As I waited for my check, I signed a non-stop stream of autographs until I was called back to the stage by Matt Savage, "Phil Hellmuth, please come back to the final table area."  I thought, "Oh great, this is the 'Shooting Stars' and I still have to sign the t-shirt for the kid that busted me, the one who told me that he was better than me."  I actually smiled and I told myself, "Stop whining man!  Get up there and take it like a man."  As I entered the room I received a standing ovation.  After I signed the T-shirt, "Good luck, Phil Hellmuth Jr."  I received another standing ovation.  Could the world be embracing me, finally?

As to the hand: I limped in with Q-Q in the small blind.  Then the kid--in the big blind--raised it up $55,000 into the $50,000 pot.  I then called the $55,000, and raised it up $200,000 more to go into the $160,000 pot!  No more slow playing here, I made a big over-raise, I sent a strong message, pot over, right?  No, the kid moved all in for $800,000, and I quickly called.  Someone announcing on the Internet actually called it a "Cooler," and I couldn't believe that anyone would think like that: the kid had A-J!  A cooler is when it is like J-J vs Q-Q, or K-K vs Q-Q.  Additionally, the kid had been playing with me for two days, and he knew that I never played a big pot.  Suddenly I ship $255,000 into a smallish pot and A-J is going to be good, really?  To me, the kid had the world's easiest lay down!  But the good news is this: look out world, I am back!!

Already this BLOG is LONG, with two HOW's in itIn any case, on Friday I was eliminated from the Bay 101, then on Saturday, March 13 I jumped onto a plane to Manhattan!  On Sunday I attended Amy Tan's party in Soho, and I had a blast: Nobel laureates, famous singers, pianists, and great company all-around.  After three hours of sleep, I hopped into a limo at 6:00 am to Bristol, Connecticut, where I did seven different shows on ESPN.  I was there all day, and I really enjoyed my time there.  I picked St Mary's and Purdue to go a long way in the NCAA tournament (you can see my bracket at %$^&&&**), but Jalen Rose talked me out of Purdue because of injuries.  St Mary's turned out to be a good pick though!

On Tuesday, I woke up late and I received a phone call from my buddy Mark Birbbaum inviting me to the World Premiere of "Bounty Hunter" a few blocks away from my hotelthe "Plaza Hotel."  I headed over there, walked the red carpet, and I even said hello to Jennifer Aniston, who looked pretty amazing, although she barely remembered me!  My sister Molly and her boyfriend Patrick joined me, and then we headed out to Mark's amazing new restaurant "Abe and Arthurs" for dinner.  I also invited Superman's girlfriend "Lois Lane" (actually Laura Lane, the reporter from the ESPN show "Inside Deal") and her friend, and Bryan Colin to join us.  "Abe and Arthur's" was off the hook!  Supermodel Anne V, her boyfriend Adam Levine (the lead singer from "Maroon Five"), Russel Simmons, three other supermodels, and Paris Hilton were in the house.  I chatted with Anne V and Adam for awhile, and they seemed pretty nice.  Afterwards we went downstairs to Mark's nightclub "SL" and took the corner booth.

On Weds I woke up late, and I walked outside of the Plaza and saw a huge parade for "St Patrick's Day" (I am 50% Irish!).  After "people watching" for an hour, I walked through Central Park to the restaurant on the water in the middle of the park to join my sister for a beer.  Then we decided to head down to a little hole in the wall restaurant in China Town, where we had a great meal!  Then we headed over to have a drink with Mark at "Abe and Arthurs" and this time we ran into Scarlett Johansson, Robin and Alan Thicke, and Jay Z and Beyonce.  Jay and I talked, and after a minute he's like, "This is B."  I thought, "Yeah, no kidding," but I said, "It's a pleasure to meet you."  I talked with Scarlett for awhile, but she did not know me, or know anything about poker.  She was super nice, and I promised to send her some signed books and DVD's.  After more food, my sister Molly and I, and her boyfriend Patrick (it was St Patrick's Day, and he was out with the guys) headed down to "SL" again, where some of us had a little too much to drink!

The next day (Thursday) I hopped on a flight to Costa Rica to meet up with some of the staff, including our amazing new young CEO Paul Leggett.  While I was down there I actually shook hands with 400 employees!  Costa Rica is absolutely beautiful.  I ate fresh Mango right off of the tree, and I ate Papaya that was perfect.  We drove over to the Pacific coast (Los Suenos) and hung out there for a couple of days, and on Tuesday I flew back to the USA.  UB is on the rise!!

On Tuesday I requested a four hour layover in Houston so that I could visit John Bonetti's grave.  I met Jean Bonetti at the grave, and we thought back to 1996 when Bono hit an eight on Huck Seed in the WSOP main event, that was ultimately worth well over $500,000 to us both!  In fact, that eight paid for my house.

On the weekend my wife and I celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary (actually it was Wednesday, March 31) by staying at the "Ritz Carlton" in San Francisco.  I also bought her a platinum necklace (platinum is for 20th) at "Tiffany's."  I love you honey!!

On Sunday (March 28) I found a place to watch Corey Pavin play his final round on the "Golf Channel."  Corey was in the lead, but he took a "Bad beat" on hole 14 when his ball landed a foot short of the green and hit a sprinkler head and bounded into the rocks over the green!  Still Corey started with the lead and he shot 6 under in the final round!  He won, right?  No, because Couples shot 10 under to break the course record.

Today is Sunday April 4th, and I just landed in Las Vegas.

Learn more about Phil at and visit his web store at

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

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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