Watching this year’s French Open tennis tournament reminded me of a phone call I received a couple of years ago from an excited Andy Roddick, the highly ranked American tennis pro.
Andy told me that he had just made it to the final table of his own Andy Roddick Foundation annual charity poker tournament.
The tournament buy-in was a modest $500 with the money going to abused and disadvantaged children. Andy asked me to play and emcee the event which was held at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Florida. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it but the stars really came out to play. Tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams and Andre Agassi attended, as did baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez, and Hollywood celebrities Nicky Hilton and Mandy Moore. 2006 WSOP Main Event champion Jamie Gold was there to represent the world of professional poker.
As it turned out, Roddick made it to the final two players. Yes, the man can really play Texas Hold’em!
Andy put his opponent all-in twice and both times he was a 2 1/2-to-1 favorite to win. In each hand, his opponent held an overcard to Roddick’s pocket pair, and in each hand, the overcard hit.
First, Roddick’s opponent had K-9 to Andy’s 10-10, and hit a king to win. Then, Roddick’s pocket sevens went down when his opponent hit a lucky ace while holding A-4.
An interesting hand was played with the blinds at $3,000/$6,000.
Andy made it $20,000 to go with 6-6. His opponent raised it to $55,000 with J-10. Roddick responded by moving him all-in for $110,000 and got a quick call. The hands were flipped up and the tournament director announced that Roddick was a small favorite to win the pot and the tournament.
The flop came Q-J-2. Roddick’s opponent paired his jack and was now a huge favorite to win the pot and take the chip lead. Andy needed a six to hit to win the pot and the tournament.
And it did! The turn card was a six and Roddick had won his own tournament along with the first place prize — a seat at the World Poker Tour Celebrity Invitational.
Let’s take a closer look at how the hand played out.
Roddick’s $20,000 opening raise with 6-6 was a natural but not his opponent’s $35,000 reraise. It would have been much wiser for Andy’s opponent to sit back and wait for a stronger hand to come along.
Andy’s opponent should have realized by then that Roddick plays a solid game of poker. It was likely that Roddick had the J-10 beat when he raised it up. Look, if you want to call with J-10, fine, but there’s absolutely no reason to reraise at that point.
In fact, had Andy’s opponent simply called pre-flop and then moved all-in on the flop, Roddick would have probably folded his hand then and there. After all, there were two overcards to Andy’s middle pocket pair on the board.
Roddick’s all-in move was okay with me. Andy later told me that he thought he had the best hand and that it just seemed like the right time to move all-in. Well, sometimes you’ve just got to go with your instincts.
Trust me when I tell you that Andy Roddick has the game to win a major poker tournament. I’ve played Hold ’em with him several times and he consistently demonstrates the kind of playing style and competitive drive that gives him a legitimate chance to win.
But what Andy Roddick really wants is an audience with the Queen of England while holding the 2009 Wimbledon Trophy firmly in his hands. I’ll be rooting for him!
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