As I write this, the final table of the One Drop $111,111 buy-in tournament is underway at the WSOP.
Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier is the chip leader with nine players left.
Phil Hellmuth busted yesterday in 10th place.
There might be a reason for that, and it all boils down to a hand the two played together on day two.
Check out this clip from Doug Polk where Elky talks about the hand.
Now, I’ll start off by saying that Phil is well known for being the type of player who’s willing to make big laydowns. That being said, if you’re planning to make a living getting players to fold trips on the turn, particularly on non-straight, non-flush type boards, you’re going to have a really tough time with this game.
Phil raises from the cutoff with what turns out to be Q9 and Elky defends the big blind with the JT, which is a perfectly reasonable hand to defend in that spot. The flop comes KQQ, Elky checks, and Phil bets 100k, a one-third pot sized bet, a perfectly reasonable sizing for this stage despite what Elky says about it being too small. Elky raises to 285k with his open-ender which I think is fine. Phil now immediately clicks it back for a min-raise to 470k.
Now Elky should have reason to be concerned, although I think Phil could do this in position with a lot of hands, maybe to try to get a free card on the turn or build a pot in case he improves when he’s holding a hand like 88 or 77 or JT himself. In fact though, Elky claims he makes a great read and that he puts Phil on exactly a queen. Hmmm. Maybe he should fold here?
Elky calls and the turn is a 3. Elky checks, Phil bets 470k, again a bit on the small side. If Elky calls here there’ll be about 2.2 million in the pot and Phil will have 2.65 million left in his stack, so I think I would have liked to see Phil bet a little more, something like 650k which would leave him with less than a pot sized bet and make his river decision easier. As is, if Elky calls Phil will have about 1.2 times the pot and his river decision is a little awkward if he’s looking to double up.
It’s irrelevant though, because Elky – for some reason – decides to check-raise again and make it 1.2 million. It doesn’t work obviously because Hellmuth has trip queens on a super dry board and he snap moves all-in and doubles up.
I quit poker.
In what can only be described as a brain meltdown, Phil Hellmuth folds and Elky wins the pot, though I must say, I hate his line and I hate his strategy in this hand.
I would maybe give Elky some credit for this semi-bluff if he said he put Phil on a hand like KJ or KT or 99 or 88, or even AK. It’s pretty reasonable for Elky to have a queen in his hand when he defends the big blind against Phil’s late position raise, and if Phil doesn’t have a queen himself, particularly if he doesn’t have blockers against common hands Elky would defend that do have a queen, Phil would have to give him credit and fold many of the hands that are currently winning such as all of his small pairs and ace highs. Elky also has enormous equity against those types of hands as he wins with any 9,T,J,K, or Ace, which makes it a good semi-bluff. Phil also could lay down some of his weak kings with this action.
Phil does have a queen though, and that makes it so much less likely that Elky has one. Even when he does have one, many of the queens that have Phil beat would have been reraised preflop by Elky, such as AQ, KQ, maybe QJ and maybe QT. So when Elky has a queen, he often has Q9 or worse, and when he does somehow come up with a better queen, well that’s just the way it breaks. Laying down this hand against a player like Elky who is perfectly capable of making aggressive and tricky plays is just terrible.
Of course, I think Phil might have realized it later that night.
***Update – Elky ended up finishing second in the tournament for $2.2 million, a very nice finish and score… Thanks in part to Phil’s laydown no doubt!