Arts & Entertainment

Phil Hellmuth on Poker: Anthrax in Aruba

Scott Ian is an poker professional. He’s also a rock star who plays rhythm guitar in two bands, Anthrax and Pearl, and writes a comic book titled Lobo.

At the 2009 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Scott was juggling some serious balls.

He arrived in Vegas on a Sunday night after finishing an Anthrax concert in Germany the night before. He headed straight to the Rio Hotel just in time to sign up for the WSOP Main Event. Scott made it through Day One on Monday and Day Two on Wednesday.

Living on virtually no sleep, Scott slept for a mere 90 minutes after play ended on Wednesday then hopped a 6:00 AM flight to Tulsa, Oklahoma where Anthrax was performing on Thursday night. At the end of the show, he slept another 90 minutes, hopped another 6:00 AM flight, and again returned to Vegas in order to make the Friday morning start time for Day Three.

Luckily for Scott, there were no flight delays on his way back to Vegas. Even the shortest delay could have cost him half his chips in missed blinds.

He made it through Day Three on Friday before completely passing out from exhaustion when he hit his room that night. Day Four began on Saturday and Scott managed to make it to the money bubble — the final 650 or so players out of the starting field of 6,900 players.

The pace of play had become interminably slow. At the point when only three players remain outside the money, hand-for-hand dealing commences meaning that every table has to finish the hand before a new hand is dealt. Only about eight hands per hour are dealt during hand-to-hand play as compared to about 30 hands per hour during normal play.

Scott was literally falling asleep between hands yet he managed to push through his fatigue and finish in the money before ultimately busting out late on Day Four.

I ran into Scott in Aruba at the Aruba Poker Classic in early October and watched him play for awhile.

He was playing textbook super-tight poker on Day One when he overheard the chip leader at his table say that he was going to shut it down and play more conservatively because he had been on a recent losing streak. Scott was short on chips at the time and had established a great tight image. He decided this was the perfect set of circumstances to try to bluff the chip leader.

Now, most pros would never attempt to bluff the chip leader, but after overhearing those comments, Scott was confident that was the logical play.

Soon after, Scott was in the big blind when the chip leader raised under the gun to $950 with 10-10. Everyone folded around to Scott who made it $3,100 to go with A-8.

The chip leader called and the flop came Qc-Qh-6d. Both players checked.

A jack fell on the turn, Scott bet $5,100 and the chip leader instantly snap-called.

Although Scott figured he was probably beat, he decided to bluff on the river.

The river was an eight and Scott shoved all-in for $12,000 more. The chip leader studied the situation for three tortuous minutes before eventually calling the clock — on himself!

Scott sat motionless, not saying a word. The chip leader finally folded his hand but not before revealing his pocket tens. Scott responded by flashing an eight as he threw his winning hand into the muck.

Most pros would have checked it down after the eight hit on the river but not Scott Ian — he played this hand masterfully!

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