Arts & Entertainment

Phil Hellmuth on Poker: 7-2 No Limit Hold’em Game recently introduced a new no limit Hold’em game where if you win a pot with 7-2 in your hand — the worst starting hand in Hold’em — everyone at the table must pay you some extra dough. Talk about a way to spice up the action!

I played the 7-2 game on High Stakes Poker against poker pro Mike Matusow and bluffed him out of a pot when he held pocket kings. Mike was mouthing off about how bad a player I was at the start of the hand. Next thing you know, he folded K-K to me in a $50,000 pot. On top of that, he had to pay me $500 more because I won with 7-2.

In that same game, another gentleman lost $250,000 while trying to bluff his opponent off of quad kings. That’s the risk you take when you add this twist to the game.

Anyway, I was playing at UB in the $25-$50 blind 7-2 game. A win with 7-2 pays an additional $75 from each player. I got lucky and caught a nice rush of cards. Soon, I was up more than $10,000 and was feeling good about my patient style of play.

Then I hit a dry spell. No big deal, that happens. There’s no magic formula for handling a dry spell.  Just try to play super-patiently for awhile to give yourself a chance to lose less until things turn around.

But I didn’t listen to my own advice. Instead of trying to protect my $10,000 win, I began to press. It didn’t take long for me to blow back eight grand. I simply lost my discipline and focus.

Look, no matter how much money I’ve made playing poker, any game where you can win and lose $20,000 in 20 minutes deserves your full attention.

Still, I continued to press a bit, but was fortunate to win a few pots to run my original $2,000 buy-in up to $6,000, when this hand came along.

I was dealt pocket kings on the button. The player under the gun opened for $175, another player made it $600 to go, and I pondered what to do.

I had three options: smooth call the $600, make a big raise, or make a small raise.

A smooth call would invite other players into the pot and would increase my chances of winning (or losing) a big pot. A big raise would protect my hand but would also increase the likelihood of winning the smallish pot right there as the bet would force my opponents to fold their hands. A small raise would give away the strength of my hand but would keep the other players in the pot. At $1,200 a pop, that would be fine with me.

I made it $1,200 to go.

The player in the small blind raised it up to $6,000, the other two players folded, and I called all-in. There was $12,700 in the pot when both hands were flipped up: my K-K versus my opponent’s Ad-Kd.

It flashed in my mind that I was a 2 1/2-to-1 favorite to win the pot as the flop came down 6d-5c-2s. Come on, no ace and no diamond!

The turn was a seven and the river was a five. I was ready to hit the door with my $12,700 win. I’d been up $10,000 earlier but managed to squander it away. I wasn’t about to let that happen again.

Not taking enough wins has been a weakness of mine lately. Taking down a big pot with K-K was the perfect time to shut down the computer as a winner – and that’s what I did.


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