Thursday, April 06, 2006

Somebody Has to Say It

Phil Hellmuth is a pussy. There. I said it. I hope Phil doesn't use his uber-celebrity clout to have Google shut me down again...

If you aren't watching High Stakes Poker on GSN, you should be. Last week, Phil Hellmuth joined the game, prompting Danny Negreanu, stuck 700k, to cheer up visibly in his chair, as he exclaimed "I didn't think I'd have a chance to get even, but I didn't know you were coming - how much money did you bring?" Danny later explains that Phil is what's known as a "yum-yum" - a player they LOVE to have in the game.

So, why do these pros love having Phil "NINE TIME WSOP bracelet winner" Hellmuth in their game? Because he's a pussy! If you're going to play high stakes no limit poker, you cannot be a pussy.

In one particular hand, Phil, holding 6-8 (the Vortex!) gets all in against Barry Greenstein (holding K-T) on a T-6-6 board. Phil asks the dealer to hold on for a second, as he counts his chips. Danny, eager to try to get out of his $700k hole, says "What are we waiting for?"

Phil replies, "I was told I could get insurance."
"You can run it twice" Todd Brunson chimes in.
"Insurance from WHO?" Danny is practically laughing now, in shock.
"Barry will insure me." Phil replies.
"Sure," Barry is quick to grab free EV when he sees it.

Now Sheik chimes in something, and Phil retorts, "I'm rich Kid, I want to stay that way."

Now let me explain: Phil was a 90-10 favorite. He knew this and Barry knew this. Phil proposed 10% insurance on $100k of the $160k pot, which means he pays a 10% vig, and locks up his reduced equity on a portion of the pot. In this case, they basically take $100k out of the pot, and Phil gets $80k, giving Barry $20k. They then deal the turn and river for the balance of the pot. So, long story short, Phil gave Barry $10k in EV to reduce his variance. And he wonders why he gets no respect in the game?

After playing in the wildest game I've ever seen, the Mirage Six Sigma Sunday game, I had numerous discussions with my poker peeps about the willingness that a poker player should have to seek out positive EV situations. My question was getting down to the essence of "If I have AT suited, and my maniacal opponent is moving all in every hand, shouldn't I be willing to call off my $1000 stack with this hand that figures to be way better than average. The answer was "not necessarily," as there are many other factors in play, such as a) there was a max buy-in at the table ($500), which meant that there was some value to the fact that I had a bigger stack, and could potentially find a HIGHER EV situation to apply it. b) This is not "the long run" - this game could end at any time.

Essentially, I felt that if I figured to be a 3-2 favorite, and I wanted to call myself a poker player, I should be willing to commit my stack in this spot. My colleagues argued that to be called a poker player does not mean you have to accept every potentially positive EV situation offered - you have to consider the likelihood that you'll be able to find a BETTER situation with more EV.

Now, back to Phil. He was already committed in the pot, and flat out gave away EV. That is not something a poker player does. Ever. Especially if he wants respect at the table, and doesn't want the other players to repeatedly take advantage of his puss-itude by running him over for the rest of his life. Ok, there is some point where I will concede that the size of the pot would dictate that it would be acceptable for a player to puss out and try to lock up some of it, but in this game, $160k was NOT that size.

Hellmuth tries to defend himself to the wide eyed Daniel Negreanu, who seems like he wants to reach across the table and grab Phil by the neck, shouting "I can't believe you are such a colossal fucking pussy - and you call yourself a poker player?!?!?." Phil says "Ivey was giving me insurance all day - 10%, 5% even. All I had to do was call him and explain the situation." What Hellmuth is saying, I think, is that Ivey agreed to take Hellmuth's variance in exchange for a vig - Ivey wasn't even at the table, Hellmuth just had to call him up and explain the situation to him! Fuckin'A!!!! Hey Hellmuth - if you're giving away EV, call ME! I'll insure your hands you pussy!

Negreanu responds: "Of course he (Ivey) was - he's a smart guy - he'll take free money if you're giving it away."

The bottom line is, if Phil Hellmuth is asking for insurance on a $160k pot here, he shouldn't be in the game. By all means: run it twice - run it three times, chop the pot based on EV... But don't pay a vig for your puss-itude. And seriously: when the table runs you the fuck over afterwards, don't raise your hands to the sky and wonder why.

In this week's episode, Phil repeatedly made bets in the neighborhood of 1/6th the pot size or less... He bet $3k into a $16k pot... He bet $1k into an $8k pot... and more. Every time he was run out of the pot. If Phil is trying to set up his opponents so that he traps them when he finally makes a big hand, I would suggest he come up with a new game plan. He's not fooling anyone at this table, and the one time last week he decided to slowplay his QQ, he checked his way right into Jen Harman making a 1 card straight with her 8-4 offsuit, and lost the pot.

Of course, Phil finally gets fed up with being run over, and takes a stand with 6-6 on a 2-5-8 board when Barry puts him all in. Barry has a set of deuces, and Phil is liquidated AGAIN.

Nice hand sir.


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