There is going to be a recurring theme with these hands that you will notice, all of these pots are played out of position by Phil Hellmuth. Now he is a decent player, however, he is up against Daniel Negreanu that knows a lot about his style of play and is a solid player himself. So we will start by stating what is hopefully obvious… try not to play out of position against good players too often or with weak holdings, we just aren’t going to realise our equity.
Some tips if we are going to play these pots, play some pot control with medium-strong hands allowing our opponent to bluff and allowing us to not get bluffed out of the pot too easily and also if we are going to make bluffs, then make them sizable and apply some pressure, never give good players easy math decisions, they will make the right play too often.
Getting raised off your equity
This pot stars out with Phil limping in from the Small Blind with a solid suited holding and getting raised, he is visibly irritated by this straight away and is uncomfortable enough to fidget around and even stand up claiming he has Daniel trapped.
This is straight away giving off information, if Phil was really setting a trap here, he wouldn’t snap call the raise, he might want to re-raise here and he wouldn’t be uncomfortable enough to move around he would remain calm… so Phil is giving off some tips to his hand here from the get-go.
The action is checked to the River, with some classic Hellmuth dark checks, this is a pretty good plan… we don’t want to get raised off here with a bluff and we don’t want to build a pot when we are in bad shape against an Ace either.
But Phil makes a strange play on the River… he opts to make a blocker bet. Now, this is just something that doesn’t really have any purpose, Daniel can now pretty easily look to play perfectly and raise for value with strong hands like better full houses and apply huge pressure to this weakness with his bluffs too.
If instead, Phil had checked the River here, he could have picked off a much small bluff or even a merged bet from Daniel if say he had a hand like pockets Queens or Jacks that might go for thin value against three checks.
Instead, Phil got raised out of this pot as his hand is face-up as weak in this spot, we never want to play our hands face up against good players, because they will look to exploit this every time.
Not following through
This was a pretty tough run out for Phil, Daniel clearly thinking his edge in this 4 handed game was to play against Hellmuth rather than Dan Cates or Jonathan Duhamel opens up with this raggy Queen high from UTG to play another pot against Phil in position.
The Flop went check-check with Daniel not choosing to fire with his airball, personally I wouldn’t have minded a bet from Queen high here, we can improve to an open-ender with a 9 or King hitting on the Turn, we can look to bluff out Ace highs and King high hands that have us in bad shape and some small pairs will probably just fold to one bet on this board too.
Both players see the Turn card and Daniel pairs his 5, Hellmuth decides to lead out now, with a pretty large bet of 70k into a pot of 110k. This is where I would prefer a few different options, I either like betting small here and looking to two-barrel or we could even go for a huge bet here, really applying pressure to hands that checked back with the intention of getting to a cheap showdown. This wishy-washy bet of 70K doesn’t really apply too much pressure to hands that have a pair on this board and a smaller bet will keep worse draws in the pot that will fold on nearly all Rivers.
As it happens Phil missed his draw on the River and just instantly checks, this is a bad give up in my eyes, he blocks KQ combinations and Daniel would surely have fired these on the Flop if he held one, we have one of the only hands we get to on the River that was strong enough to bet on the Turn that doesn’t really have any showdown value, so when we have those types of holdings and relevant blockers we are almost obliged to bet.
This is why I would have liked to see a bet combination of maybe 30-40k going in on the Turn and then another bet of around 40% on the River, we can apply more pressure with multiple barrels even if they are small bets, whereas a single barrel bet will get looked up fairly often.
Playing poor hands out of position
This hand is just littered with errors, the call pre-flop is pretty bad, we are against an opponent that has looked to raise our limps and we have one of the worst holdings possible.
Secondly, it’s pretty hard to flop well with Doyle Brunson’s T2o, but on the occasion, we flop an open ender, we should probably look to put in a semi-bluff and win the pot right there… Hellmuth checks and Daniel checks back, with no real reason for him to bloat this pot, he has bottom pair and wants to get to showdown.
The Turn card sees Hellmuth make a straight and he bets out, perfectly fine… no problem with this line at all, we have a strong hand, we can look to build a pot against flush draws, two pairs and worse straights.
The River, however… A four-flush hits the board and the chances of Daniel calling the bet on the Turn without a spade are minimal unless he is now turning a hand like two pair or the same straight into a bluff here, we never win this pot, but Hellmut decides to look this bet up and gets shown the flush. Hopefully, these hands will show you how exactly not to play from the Small Blind when facing a good opponent in the Big Blind, these huge errors saw Phil bust with his 7BB stack the next hand that he played.
All this action is brought to us by the Premier League Poker Season 6 where the best Poker Pros faced off in a $100k Sit n Go Format challenge, here is the full clip starting with the disastrous hands from Phil Hellmuth for you to check out.