Whether attending poker tournaments in his role as a World Poker Tour ambassador or hosting meet-up games at The Lodge Card Club in Round Rock, Texas, poker vlogger Brad Owen is used to facing all sorts of different poker players and personalities. That being said, Owen probably wasn’t prepared to sit across from none other than Phil Hellmuth playing in a $2/$5 cash game at The Rio in Las Vegas. Looking down at the beautiful pocket aces, Owen was in a great spot to stack the Poker Brat and send him into a rage. By the end of the hand, Owen had Hellmuth absolutely fuming!
The Game: $2/$5 NLH Cash Game
Effective Stack: 135 Big Blinds
Where: The Rio – Las Vegas, Nevada
Brad Owen Plays Pocket Aces Against Phil Hellmuth
Witnessing Phil Hellmuth limp under-the-gun (UTG), Brad Owen peeked down at A♦A♣ in middle position and raised $20. Showing no fear towards Owen’s raise, the cutoff, button, big blind, and Hellmuth made the call.
Some players get annoyed when their raises seemingly get no respect from their opponents, who often call regardless of how big the raise is. When you have pocket aces, it may be annoying and nerve-racking having to play them multi-way. While multi-way pots can be tough to navigate (even with rockets), you must become comfortable playing them as most opponents call wide at the small stakes.
Brad Owen Faces A Check-Raise From Phil Hellmuth
The Pot: $102
The Board: Q♥-10♥-4♣
Effective Stack: 131 Big Blinds
Brad Owen: A♦A♣
On the fairly coordinated board, the big blind and Hellmuth both checked to Owen who made a small, $35 bet.
From a Game Theory Optimal (GTO) perspective, Owen’s small bet was strategically sound as he will usually have the best hand in this spot. However, a proper, exploitative strategy at the small stakes entails making a large bet to defend your hand and price out draws when facing multiple opponents.
After Owen’s small bet, action folded around to Hellmuth who executed a $165 check-raise. Witnessing an uncharacteristically aggressive play from The Poker Brat, alarm bells were going off in Owen’s head!
Flop Analysis: Brad Owen Plays A Tough Spot
Facing a chunky check-raise from Phil Hellmuth, despite having pocket aces Brad Owen was in an incredibly tough spot! Should he call and shove on “safe” turns? Should he shove on the turn regardless of the card? Or, considering how tight Phil Hellmuth usually is, should he contemplate folding his pocket aces?
Although Owen did not have the advantage of having a solver at the table, his over 668,000 YouTube subscribers had the benefit of being able to pause the video and analyze the spot.
Using Solvers To “Solve” Brad Owen’s Pocket Aces Spot
Using the program Equilab, we can theorize what hands Phil Hellmuth may have had and calculate the presumed equity Brad Owen had with his pocket aces. By assessing Owen’s theoretical equity, we can deduce what the proper play was for the popular poker vlogger.
For this spot, let’s assume Hellmuth’s preflop UTG limping range looked like this…
Phil Hellmuth’s Assumed Range
Hands marked in “light” blue refer to hands in their entirety, while “dark” blue hands only include suited heart holdings
Facing this range and holding A♦A♣, we can see that Owen has more than enough equity to stick around despite the aggression presented by Hellmuth.
Brad Owen’s Equity With Pocket Aces
Data produced by Equilab
With over 53% equity against Hellmuth’s assumed range, Owen really can’t make a bad poker mistake when it comes to calling or raising in this spot. The majority of the time, he is probably ahead! Weighing the two options, the proper play for Owen was to call the flop check-raise from Hellmuth and jam the turn if it brought a safe card. While Owen could just decide to rip it in on the flop, taking this line would allow Hellmuth to fold his bluffs and profitably call with his better hands and draws. Although Owen was in a great spot to call the flop and see the turn, the Global Poker Index Award winner had a different play in mind.
Should Brad Owen Fold His Pocket Aces!?
Although equity was well on his side, Owen could not ignore the alarm bells that were going off in his head. Hellmuth usually plays an incredibly tight strategy, especially in cash games, so was there a chance that Owen was behind?
To rationalize folding, Owen would need to have an incredibly strong read on Hellmuth. Accounting for his tight image, was Hellmuth not capable of check-raising hands like top pair, straight draws, and flush draws? Truth be told, usually in spots like this Hellmuth has “the nuts”, but with pocket aces Owen would need to be incredibly confident in his read to rationalize folding.
After thinking for some time, Owen eventually said to the 16-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner “This is a tough one man, but I’m gonna lay it down.” Folding and revealing his pocket aces to the 1989 WSOP Main Event winner, Owen sent Hellmuth into a rage!
Conclusion: Brad Owen Makes An Incredible Fold Against Phil Hellmuth
Witnessing Brad Owen fold his pocket aces, Phil Hellmuth went into mega-tilt as he snatched the cards out of his opponent’s hand and slapped them down on the table.
“Don’t f****** lay that s*** down!” Hellmuth yelled at Owen.
Showing that he had Q♦10♠ for flopped two pair, Owen had executed an incredible read against Hellmuth to save his aces from being cracked. Despite being tilted from not stacking his opponent, Hellmuth offered plenty of admiration for Owen.
“That fold was too good, I wasn’t expecting that! You won that hand and saved your stack. Excellent fold, max credit!”
Such compliments from Phil Hellmuth are incredibly hard to come by, but if you are able to dodge bullets with bullets like poker vlogger Brad Owen, you more than deserve it! A special thank you to Brad for allowing us to review this hand. If you enjoyed this hand breakdown from one of the biggest vloggers in the poker space, check out this hand where Brad Owen played a massive pot at the Bellagio.