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Kings go down! But Phil can putt baby!

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Jun 03, '07


Saturday I went in ready to kick Butt!!! Showing up at 2:00 pm, it turns out that I was only 45 minutes late. So I hung around at about starting chips, until the break. Then Layne Flack convinced me to go to the VIP lounge (which is 20 feet from my private "Poker Royalty" lounge), where there was a pool table and putting green. Barry Greenstein said, "Let's go for whatever you want per putt." (The putt was between 9-12 feet). I said one thousand a putt was fine with me. So practiced putted five balls, and I thought that I was on. For real money I missed left, and on my second putt I blew it right and long (like a gun went off in my hand), which happens to me rarely. The next putt I missed left, and then I asked, "How much for me to make the last three in a row." Doyle steeped up and said, "Ten thousand to one thousand." I agreed, and brushed the next two right into the dead center of the cup. Then I was feeling a little heat, but I knew I couldn't dog it, no way! I knocked in the last one like a champion, and the game was on. I beat Barry for $1,000 and Doyle for $10,000.

I have heard that Doyle is a great putter, and I have the same reputation among the poker players that have golfed with me. So when Doyle stepped up and said, "OK Phil, $1,000 a ball," I agreed. I like a challenge anyway, plus I was up $11,000. I proceeded to make three out of five for the next few times, and we switched sides. Finally, I was up $13,000 on Doyle, and Doyle asked to putt for $3,000 a ball, which I should have accepted. I mean, I was putting lights out. Barry then said, "I'll bet on either one of you." I said, "You better bet on me." So Doyle bet me $1,500 a putt, and Barry $1,000, and Doyle hit two nice putts, one average one and two bad ones, but made none of them. I missed my first two, and I should have asked for the three in a row bet again. Instead, they both offered me 3-to-2. I was pretty sure that I had figured this new putt out, it was left edge, and firm. I should have bet, but instead, I passed; ands then holed two perfect putts, and slopped in the last one. Smoke cleared, and I was up $18.000 on my break!

I ran back to the tournament, looked down at the hand that was being dealt, and I had Q-Q. With three limpers, I called the $200, and raised $500 more. The first two limpers folded, but the thirds limper called, and the flop was Qh-5h-2s. He checked, and then I studied awhile and checked. I usually bet out small with top set, incase they want to try to bluff me, or they have something. The turn was the Jd, and the limper moved all-in! I insta-called so fast, that my cards went into the pot as well. He turned over K-10, which was a live draw (he needed an ace or a nine). The river was a blank, and now I some decent chips.

I proceeded to run my chips up risk free to about $10,000 and switched tables. After losing one pot with top pair, I limped in with K-K. The button called the $200,and raised $600 more. I decided that I was going to reraise, but make it look like I was super weak. So I acted quickly (players always expect you to act slow when you have the nuts), and threw out $600 with my right hand, and $1,000 with my left hand in a sloppy way. He went for it!! He did the hand motion that means I'm all-in. Someone asked, "Are you all-in?" He said, "Yes." And I jumped out of my seat insta-calling roughly $7,000 more in a heartbeat. He said, "Uh, oh," and flipped up J-J. The flop was Jh-8h-3h. I had the king of hearts. Surely this guy wouldn't win this pot. I mean, how do you put in over $8,000 with pockets jacks with no ante? The turn was a jack, and the river was my meaningless heart. All-in twice this day, once with top set, and the other time with K-K. Good day boys.

I cannot play better than this, so why get too upset? I went to the lounge, and won $7,200 from Gavin Smith at Chinese poker at $300 a point. Then I went back to my room, and played John Juanda ($500 a point) and Mike Matusow ($600 a point) online Chinese poker, winning $9,000 from JJ, and $6,600 from Matusow.

Unlucky WSOP day…But love my play today!

Today was incredible. I played so far above the rim, but the beats were spectacular. I write this post workout, so I'm a little calmer right now. Pot limit Hold'em is a tight game at heart. So I played tight today. My first beat was when I raised it up in early position to $600 to go with Ad-Kd. Two callers, including Gavin (who had 8-8), and the flop was A-J-6. I bet out $900, Gavin folded (by the way, Gavin played really well today!) and the other guy moved all-in for $600 or so. He flipped up 6s-5s, and the turn was a six, the river was a king (needle!). Next, I raised it up to $600 on the button, with blinds $300-$600. Big blind called, flop was (9h-6s-3h). A check, then I bet $700. The turn was the 3d, and he checked again, and I bet $1,100. He called, and the river was 7h. He checked, I checked, and he showed me 6-3 off suit. OK, I hate this result, but I love this guy at my table. Then it went limp, limp, limp, small blind limped, and I was thinking that the first limped (the 6-3 off suit guy) had nothing. I was thinking of raising with any decent hand, when I looked down at A-A. So I said, "If I can beat J-6, I'm popping it up," primarily I said this to the 6-3 man. Then I raised $1,200 into the $1,500 pot. 6-3 guy, who I was going to nail for sure, eventually, folded. And now the second guy in started thinking. Now I acted as weak as I could, and sure enough he moved all-in with Ad-7d. Yum, yum, that $3,300 extra apiece, plus the $1,500 was mine now baby! The flop was Jd-8h-2s, and I was almost all the way home. The Kd on the turn made him live, but still almost a five-to-one underdog. The 3d on the river gave him the pot, and I jumped out of my chair shouting, "NO!"

Ten minutes later, I limped on the button with K-9 to try to play a pot with my man in the big blind. Gavin folded the small blind and the flop was 9-8-5. He checked, I bet out $600 into $750, and he called. The turn was an 8, and we both checked, which set up a river call from him for me. Except that the river was a 5, and he bet out $1,500. I called immediately, and he showed me the 5-2. 6-3 and 5-2 (although I did price him in intentionally) from the live one, ouch! The final hand was coin flip. I opened for $1,200 with A-K, and J-J moved me all-in (the guy with the 6s-5s), and I called. 8-3-Q-9-10, and bye, bye Philly Boy!

I do not know why I left the room smiling. Is it the simple fact that I'm playing my best poker? Is it that I think I'm going to win a bracelet soon, especially if I continue to play like this? Is it the fight and struggle that I love? Is it the fact that I took so many beats--any one of which would have positioned me with chips-and was still in there? Is it the fact that playing so great, playing at such a high level, just seems so easy to me (right now anyway!)? Whatever, I cannot get off thinking I'm going to win, or that it is so easy to play great right now. If I do, then maybe I'll play poorly tomorrow. Rather, I have to make sure that I make adjustments everyday. I have to leave each day saying, "What did I do wrong?" Or "What did I do right?" And then adjust. Maybe I did do everything right today, but so what, that's history now baby! Instead I gotta ask myself, "How will I play tomorrow."

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

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