Recently in Rincon, California (near San Diego), at Harrah’s World Series of Poker Tournament Circuit, I lost with Q-Q to Barry Shulman’s J♣ 10♣. Barry popped it up and I just called from the big blind with my Q-Q. After a flop of 10-5-2, I checked, Barry bet, and I smoothcalled one more time. When a 3 came off on the turn, I bet out $800, and Barry made it $2,000 to go.
I smooth-called again, but told myself to bet out $3,000 if a deuce, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, queen, or king hit on the river. The last card was a jack and I checked. Barry bet $3,000, and I called instantly.
He showed me his J-10, and I headed off quickly for the sunshine in the parking lot to take a break.
After five minutes of steaming and being quite upset, a car with an older couple in it pulled over, and they said,“Phil, we love you! We love to watch you play; you’re our favorite.” Then, the very next car pulled over with another couple in it. One of them said, “Phil, I bought your DVD, and it has saved me a ton of money; thank you very much. We love to watch you play; you’re not out yet, I hope.”
This perked me up quite a bit, and I literally ran —more like floated — back to the tournament area feeling all pumped up! The next thing I knew, I got aces, kings, queens, and A-K, and was off and running to $37,000 in chips. Talk about a mood swing and a chip swing, positive energy was flying around me everywhere, and I was singing songs!
An hour later, I was mumbling a bit to myself about the fact that Scotty Nguyen had been holding over me. The flop came down J-9-2. I put Scotty all in with my set of deuces and he showed me a set of nines. Uh … OK, nice hand, Scotty.
A few hands later, I raised it to $1,050 to go with Q-Q from under the gun, and the big blind made it $5,000 more to go. He hadn’t played very many hands to that point, but something told me he didn’t have pocket aces or pocket kings. Then, he announced that he would call his last $10,000 if I moved him all in.
Finally, a clock was called, as I was taking so much time on the hand. Right before they started counting down the final 10 seconds, I told myself, “Go with your read, but just call the $5,000 raise in case he has A-K, which seems likely.”
So, I called the $5,000 bet and my opponent said, “I bet my last $10,000 in the dark (before seeing the flop).” Now, I knew the best he could have was A-K, and that I would call if no ace or king hit the board. The flop came down A-10-3, and I reluctantly folded, whereupon my opponent checked both of his cards and then showed me an ace. But he had to fish around for the ace, so I knew it wasn’t A-A. Was it A-K, or not? Did I just get beat by A-Q or A-J? How bad was the beat? What in the heck was going on here?
After further review, my opponent admitted that he had never stacked off in the dark in his life. Uh, OK; why do people do these weird things against me? There must be some intimidation factor.
We headed off to the dinner break. I still had more than $20,000 in chips, and a good feeling about this event. I was playing about as well asI can, and believed there was no way that anyone was going to bust me.
The first hand after the dinner break, the blinds were still only $200-$400. Scotty was in the big blind, but he was off drinking a Michelob, so they killed his hand.
Barry noticed this and tried to steal the situs poker online terpercaya blinds from first position for $2,000 — a relatively large bet. Mel Judah, in second position, called him fairly quickly, and I put Mel on pocket nines or so. I looked down at J-J (two black ones), and decided that I was going to reraise it when it got to me in the small blind.
Before it got to me, the button moved all in for $10,900. I decided that I was going all in anyway, Barry folded his 8♣ 5♣ (he would have made two pair and won), and Mel studied for a long time with his pocket tens and also folded. My lone opponent showed me Q-Q, the board came down 7-5-2-8-3, and I was down to $7,000 in chips again. Pocket queens, a set, and pocket jacks, and I was almost broke!
Back to the parking lot.
My last hand occurred when I called a small raise with the J♣ 9♣. The flop came down 8♣ 5♣ 5♥ and I moved all in for the first time all day, but I couldn’t hit my flush. From a $38,000 chip count to out on day one, I couldn’t believe it.
I’m starting to think that I’ve been very unlucky in all of the events I’ve been playing for a long time. I keep watching my Q-Q go down to the A♣ 4♣ all in before the flop on ESPN at a WSOP final table in 2004 (a club, club finish). And then there was the spade, spade finish in that same event after I was all in with 9-6 vs. K-5, and a board of J-6-5.
I keep watching all of the bad beats I’ve taken, over and over again, on television: Toto Leonidas’ A-7 vs. my Q-J after a Q-8-7 flop for a $500,000 pot in Atlantic City at the Taj Mahal (ESPN) — last card, a 7; or, in the 2003 WSOP “big one” with Q-Q against Jason Lester’s J-J for $360,000 when a jack hit the board on the river (ESPN); and then the very next hand when my A-K vs. 10-10 took me out 27th that year; or, my K-K vs. Antonio Esfandiari’s Q-Q at another final table at the 2004 WSOP — he won that one on the river; or, the time T.J. Cloutier bluffed off most of his chips to me, only to discover that, miraculously, he had a flush (FoxSportsNet — where his heart rate spiked up as he suddenly noticed what he had); or, the K-K I picked up on TV against Tom McEvoy’s A-A in a Professional Poker Tour event (Travel Channel); or, finally, my K-10 vs. Doyle Brunson’s A-5, when he bluffed off his last $300,000 into a $200,000 pot after a K-7-3 flop (he turned an ace) … meanwhile, I would have busted Doyle, and had $1.3 million in chips against David Sklansky’s $200,000 (Travel Channel).
Of course, I did hit a 10 on the river against Johnny Chan in one memorable ESPN pot during the Tournament of Champions, so that helps a lot. And let’s not forget the ace I hit against Don Zewin in the 1989 “big one,” which was the luckiest card of my life so far. I had the A ♠ 10 ♠, Don was all in with 10-10, and Steve Lott also was all in with 2-2.
So, don’t you go feeling sorry for little old me. I’m healthy, wealthy, and famous (or infamous!), and have a great wife and kids. Oh, yeah, I have won nine WSOP tournaments. And here’s one more thing: I plan on winning several more tournaments in 2005, including two more WSOP bracelets.