Arts & Entertainment

Phil Hellmuth on Poker: Hellmuth vs. Tom ‘Durrr’ Dwan on Poker After Dark

Poker After Dark is a hit show on NBC airing six days per week at 2 a.m. I enjoy the broadcast because the producers show most of the hands that are played in any given session.

Some people prefer to watch “highlight poker” where only the biggest and most meaningful pots are shown. Not me; I like the slower pace of PAD because it reflects the actual tempo of a game — and the banter among the players is priceless!


A high-stakes cash game was featured the last two weeks and the theme of the show was Hellmuth Bashers. The other players were fellow pros Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari, Phil “Unabomber” Laak, Tom “Durrr” Dwan, Kenny Tran, and amateur Bob Safai.

This particular hand played out when I was still ahead around $130,000 although I had been getting my fair share of bad cards and bad luck in the previous hour. I felt that it was about time for me to make a move.

With the blinds at $200/$400, I was the first to act and called the big blind with A-7. Safai called right behind me but Laak raised it up making it $2,200 to go. Durrr, Esfandiari, and Tran all called. I paused to study Laak, looking for weakness or strength, and decided that I could probably win the pot right there with a huge reraise.

I thought I could win by making this play because, all along, I’d been merely calling bets from early position with strong hands like Q-Q. And the table knew that, too. A big reraise would indicate strength and might cause the others players to fold.

Also, I read weakness in Laak and the rest of the table. Yes, this was the time to make a move. I reraised $15,000 more.

Safai and Laak both folded. Surprisingly, Durrr called. Everyone else folded and the flop came Jd-4c-3s. I figured that Durrr had a pocket pair. If he did, it would be hard to bluff him out of the pot. So, I checked the flop and Durrr checked behind me.

The turn card brought the 6h and I now had a belly-buster straight draw needing a five to complete my hand.

I mulled over my options. If Durrr had a pocket pair, he’d definitely call any bet that I’d make. But what if he had K-Q or a similar hand that I could actually beat with my A-7?

I had to bet something. If I checked, Durrr would probably make a bet to force me to fold my hand. I tossed out a weak $7,000 bet into a $44,000 pot and Durrr called.

The river card was a nine and I checked, signaling that I was ready to give up. I mean, what were the chances that I could bluff Durrr out of the pot now? Slim and none!

When he checked behind me, I said, “I think you win.” “No, I think you win,” he replied.

I flipped my lousy A-7 face up and Durrr told me I had the winner. I was shocked, in fact, the whole table was shocked as I gathered in the nearly $60,000 pot.

Durrr checked on the river because he thought he couldn’t bluff me, especially with a hand like Qc-2c which he later told me he had.  He knew that I like to check a lot of strong hands on the last round of betting to induce others to try to bluff me.

In any case, winning that pot gave me some positive momentum and I went on to win $275,000 for the session.


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