Monday, October 24, 2005

The Legendary Phil Hellmuth

If you're not watching ESPN's coverage of the 2005 WSOP Main Event, you better start soon. The early coverage has been tremendous, but soon all of the characters will be gone, and ESPN will have to resort to doing what it does NOT do best: effectively show actual poker being played. In the meantime, we can loook forward to more spectacular coverage, like this week's episode which featured the great Phil Hellmuth.

The episode begins with Phil explaining "The American public thinks I'm a jerk." I'd like to set the record straigh Phil - I do not think you're a jerk - I think you're a DOUCHEBAG!

After Phil is forced to lay down a hand early to the guy on his immediate left, Phil tries to get a read by showing his opponent his cards. Another player at the table quickly buts in "can I please see that hand?" Phil goes on a gentle rant about how it's bad etiquette to ask to see the hand, and the player quickly spurts "Show one, show all" right back at Phil. While it may be bad etiquette to ask to see a mucked hand at a showdown, I've never thought it improper to ask to see a hand which was shown to another player - and everyone in my game knows this: if you show your buddy, you'd better be prepared to show the whole table.

When a European player bets his QQ against Phil with an Ace on the board, and Phil pays him off, Phil complements him, telling him "That's strong poker." Another player interjects something about him being a tricky European, and Phil lets loose the gem: "I've busted a million Europeans." Great stuff. Almost John-Wayne-like.

ESPN has a little feature about William Rockwell - he has one useless arm, from a previous accident, and plays with his feet! He has a little pyramid he slides the cards onto to peek at them. Unfortunately, we never got to see him bet. The sad thing is that Rockwell was clearly just a tool for the ubiquitous advertising campaign of Golden Palace Casino - the same company that pays people to tatoo their company name on their forehead, or on the belly of a pregnant woman. I wonder if Rockwell had ever even played poker before, or if he was just an advertising pawn. Rumor is he was given a $10k bonus from Golden Palace for surviving day one.

For some reason, ESPN also decided to give ample airtime to Barry Paskin, whose only discernible skill was screaming loudly and repeatedly when he was all in - chanting for his cards. Completely retarded, completely annoying, and completely inappropriate. Barry Paskin may even beat Phil Hellmuth for the BIGGEST DOUECHEBAG OF THE EPISODE award. In fact, yes Barry - you get the award - now please shut the fuck up.

Norman Chad blatantly mocks one participant: "I don't think you can win at this level wearing a striped shirt." I hope Vince Van Patten is paying attention, because Norman Chad is growing on me.

Laydown of the week:
Blinds are 250-500, and Phil Hellmuth raises to 1500 in EP with AK. The old guy next to Phil finds AA, and bumps it again to 3k, and it's back to Phil, who calls. The flop comes:

4-4-A and both players "trap" check
the turn is a Queen, and Phil checks again. Old Guy bets 10k into the pot of about 7k.

Now Phil, clearly assuming that his hand was good, goes into the tank. He starts talking to his opponent, who talks back, and gives away the strength of his hand. I doubt Phil ever put him on AA - it seemed he had him pegged for QQ, but ultimately, Phil concludes:

"Do you know who I am? What's my name?" and mucks his AceKing faceup as his opponent answers. Incredible laydown. I actually like the old guy's overbet - it's not a typical play from a monster hand in this spot, but he hung himself by talking at length to Phil during the hand. Phil Hellmuth is a good hold'em player not because he knows the math better than anyone, but because he can read a situation and a person as well as anyone - and he made a tremendous read here. Not only did he use the Mohammed Ali taunt "What's my name?" He also used the Kid Dynamite staple "Do you know who the FUCK I am?" (minus the f-bomb of course). Phil also talks the old guy into showing him his hand, and Phil is on cloud nine when he realizes he avoided elmination on this hand.

A short time later, Jim Pitman calls an opponent's all-in holding JT in the BB. The opponent has 9-9, and after a A-K-Q flop, Pitman is excited, until the turn and river come 9-Q, to give his opponent a full house. Pitman starts whining about a bad beat, and Hellmuth busts in "actually, that's not a bad beat," explaining that when the money went in, PREFLOP, it was a tossup. Pitman is clearly annoyed, and takes it out on Phil later, in the Hand of the Week:

I think the blinds are 250-500, and Pitman makes it 1200 with KJ of hearts - Pitman forcefully slams his chips into the pot. Phil is two to his left, and reraises to 3200 with A-K. The table mucks back to Pitman, who thinks for 5 seconds and moves all in, for about 16k. Phil, who must have picked up on the chip-slamming weak tell, calls INSTANTLY (which I think is unusual for him, as he usually tries to avoid possible race situations.)

Pitman spikes a Jack on the river, and Phil goes APESHIT. His rant begins: "This Frickin Donkey stuck fifteen thousand in with king jack... I mean... The guy can't even SPELL poker. I re-raised to let him know what I had..." Phil stands up. He looks like he might actually hit his opponent - he's so pissed off. Pitman eventually gets tired of it, and says "I've seen worse." Phil quickly responds, "Yeah, well not from ME. That's why I'm the nine time hold'em champion." Tremendous. Phil's stack is crippled, and he goes to cry in his wife's arms. Poor Mrs. Hellmuth is so embarrased, she's wearing sunglasses in the darkness of the spectator seats. It's amazing that she's a psychologist, and Phil is still so fucked in the head.

With Hellmuth out, ESPN has to find new coverage material, and they head to TJ Cloutier's table, where he's sitting next to a guy who is a dead ringer for Mean Gene Okerlund. And what's with the old white guy who follows Phil Ivey around with a t-shirt and a sign? That's a little creepy isn't it? Big Show is going to try to start the Isabelle Mercier fan club next year, and stand behind her at every major event wearing a banana hammock and a bandana. Dirty Dave is already the charter member of the Evy Ng fanclub.

We also see a great segment of Marcel Luske trying to clean up Brett Jungblutt so he looks presentable - they take him to get his hair cut by none other than Marco Traniello! Now THIS is high comedy - Marco Traniello cutting off Brett Jungblutt's dreadlocks!

Finally, Mike the Mouth Matusow, after a brief featurette regarding his prison sentence, gets into it with the dealer at his table. The dealer accuses Matusow of throwing cards at him. The floor is called over, and The Mouth is brewing - he's ripped, because he insists that he did NOT throw the cards at the dealer, and when the table members back up his story, he calms down and takes his seat again. He's whispering to the guy next to him, very quietly, and let's an f-bomb go as he's telling a story. The dealer IMMEDIATELY raises his hand and calls the floor to give Matusow a ten minute penalty! Matusow is incredulous, and begins to swear at the floorman.

"Fuck that!" - Mike
"Twenty minutes." -floorman
"That's Fucking ridiculous!" -Mike
"Thirty Minutes." -floorman
"Fuck you too" -Mike
"Forty Minutes." -floorman

and he earns a 40 minute penalty, as the rest of the table is left shocked and awed, and the prissy little dealer is quite satisfied.

Hopefully we'll have several more weeks of great footage before ESPN goes back to showing poker hands without stack sizes, blind sizes or bet sizes.

looking forward to it,

-Kid Dynamite


BadBlood said...

TOTALLY agree with you on how Hellmuth read his opponent by talking to him on his laydown of AK. I even commented to the Mrs. how Phil knew he had a big hand by how relaxed the guy was in talking back to Phil. Textbook read - one that Negreanu does very well also.

Kid Dynamite said...

The announcers even told the story about how Howard Lederer himself swore he'd never talk to Phil Hellmuth during a hand again, due to Phil's proficiency at reading his opponents from their responses to his questions

Jimmy said...

Thanks for the recap, I ended up missing the episode, but know it will be repeated a bunch this week, so no fear of completely missing it. This is my first time posting, but have read your site for a few weeks now and really enjoy it. Thanks.
President Dave

Anonymous said...

This is William Rockwell I am a 14 year vetran of poker I have Played so many tournaments I can not even count them please don't write things you have no clue about contact info for myself is at

P.S. I will play you anytime bud!

Anonymous said...

Kid Dynamite you are a complete idiot and should give up writing for sure!

Anonymous said...

I fucking hate Hellmuth. he is a fucking little bitch that whines about everything. I hope he goes all in and loses to a 10-2. Fucking faget

Trueman said...

As a CLOSE PERSONAL FRIEND OF William, I can personally vouch for him not only as a person but as an avid poker player. I have known Bill for about 15 years now. This man is a very competent, and able person. To call him a pawn for Golden Palace is a joke. Bill is not a fool. He knows when someone is trying to use what they call a disability. Bill doesn't live his life thinking that way. He sees a challenge and rises to it, not shrinks away from it. I sure hope that you find the time to get to know the real man that Bill is. If you don't, then please don't make assumptions. I think an apology would be expected from the author of this blog. That is assuming that the author is mature enough to admit we all make mistakes and an obvious one was made here. Kick butt Rocko!!!

michael gilchrist said...

Watching Phill Hellmuth is the best part of watching poker on tv. The guy cant help but insult anyone who takes a pot from him. His blowups are priceless!