When he’s not traveling the world on private jets or further adding to his staggering total of World Series of Poker bracelet wins (16), “The Poker Brat” Phil Hellmuth can be found competing in poker’s most popular live-streamed cash games. Whether it be on Live At The Bike or Poker After Dark, Hellmuth continues to compete to prove himself as a winning cash game player and silence his detractors. Playing in a $100/$200 cash game on Hustler Casino Live with nearly $300,000 in front of him, Hellmuth unsurprisingly went on tilt after losing a huge pot. Although the poker world is used to Hellmuth raging at the poker table, was this outburst caused by his own mistake?
The Game: $100/$200 NLH Cash Game
Effective Stack: 578 Big Blinds
Where: Hustler Casino Live – Los Angeles, California
Phil Hellmuth Plays Loose Preflop
Folded to in the hijack, Phil Hellmuth limped into the pot holding K♥10♣. Although limping is something we strongly discourage our students at PokerCoaching.com from doing, it is quite common for pros like Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu to incorporate limping strategies into their game.
Folded to on the button, Hustler Casino Live regular J.R. looked down at the pretty Q♠Q♦ and raised it up to $1,000.
On the big blind and known to splash around, fan-favorite Alan Keating decided to get in on the action as well, making the call with 8♦5♦. Not going anywhere following his preflop limp, Hellmuth made the call making it threeways heading to the flop.
Preflop Analysis – Phil Hellmuth Limps Into Pocket Queens
As previously mentioned, limping is something we never recommend to our students, as it limits the ways you can win a poker hand. If you limp with marginal hands and raise with your premium hands, not only do you make it easy for your opponents to read you, but you make it difficult to pull off bluffs in later bettering rounds. That said, Phil Hellmuth is one of the greatest poker players of all-time. Maybe Hellmuth knows something we don’t, but regardless, this limping strategy is not one we would recommend to beginner poker players.
Holding pocket queens, J.R. had a very easy decision to make following the limp from Hellmuth. To charge Hellmuth to remain in the hand as well as force opponents yet to act to fold out their junk, raising to 5 big blinds was a standard and well-executed play.
Despite getting a discount on the big blind, Alan Keating may have been better off folding 8♦5♦. While he will see some favorable flops and was unblocked by the hands in his opponent’s range, the majority of the time Keating will not win the pot playing out-of-position with 8-5 suited. However, regular viewers of Hustler Casino Live know Keating loves action and hates folding. While his call may not have been strategic, it definitely was fitting with his usual play style.
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Phil Hellmuth Flops A Gutshot-Straight Draw
The Pot: $3,100
The Board: A♠-Q♣-8♣
Effective Stack: 573 Big Blinds
Alan Keating: 8♦5♦
Phil Hellmuth: K♥10♣
Despite flopping a gutshot-straight draw, Hellmuth was in big trouble as J.R. nailed the board with a set of queens. Folded to last-to-act, J.R. bet $2,000 and got the call from both Keating and Hellmuth.
Flop Analysis – Alan Keating and Phil Hellmuth Stay Sticky
Multi-way with the effective nuts, J.R. was wise to bet on the bigger side with his $2,000 bet. Even with such a strong hand, facing multiple opponents J.R. wants to bet big in this spot not only for value but to charge any potential draws his opponents have.
Although fitting with his loose and splashy style, Keating would have been better off folding his flopped bottom pair. With no diamonds on the board and a flop that connected well with his opponents’ range, calling the $2,000 bet was more a donation than a call. Even if he improved with another 8 or a 5 on the turn, Keating still could have been behind despite one of his opponents.
Even though he had a gutshot and blocked flush draws with the 10♣, like Keating Hellmuth was far better off folding on the flop. If Hellmuth had the K♣ instead of the ten, his hand would have been slightly better, but even if he hit his flush the A♣ was well within J.R.’s range. Hellmuth should have let his gutshot go, but being in a gambling mood, he made the call.
J.R. Stays Ahead With His Flopped Set
The Pot: $9,100
The Board: (A♠-Q♣-8♣)-7♥
Effective Stack: 563 Big Blinds
Alan Keating: 8♦5♦
Phil Hellmuth: K♥10♣
Showing no fear of J.R.’s continued aggression, Hellmuth made a sizeable $6,000 following a check from Keating. Still holding the effective nuts, J.R. raised Hellmuth to $19,000. After Keating bowed out, Hellmuth made the call while asking J.R. if he had aces or queens.
Turn Analysis – Phil Hellmuth Makes An Interesting Turn Lead
When a turn card comes that doesn’t align with any player’s range, it essentially serves as a “good” card for the preflop aggressor. In a multi-way pot with only a gutshot, Hellmuth should not have executed his $6,000 bet. The 7♥ on the turn did not align with his range in any way, if it would have been a club, maybe Hellmuth could rationalize betting as a bluff, but in this spot not only was his bet ill-advised, but calling J.R.’s turn raise was also frowned upon.
Having such a strong hand unblocking a number of draws in his opponent’s range, J.R. made a great re-raise on the turn. Re-raising not only offered protection to his effective nut hand, but it also added value to a pot he had a great chance of winning.
Witnessing aggression from both opponents, Keating was wise to slow down and fold his hand, but which one of his opponents would take down the pot on the river?
Did Phil Hellmuth Make An Expensive Mistake?
The Pot: $47,100
The Board: (A♠-Q♣-8♣-7♥)-5♥
Effective Stack: 468 Big Blinds
Phil Hellmuth: K♥10♣
Not hitting his straight on the river, Hellmuth checked to J.R., who continued to go for value with a $22,000 bet. To the surprise of everyone watching Hustler Casino Live, Hellmuth snap-called with just king-high!
River Analysis- Calling With King High!?
Following the conclusion of the hand (and some words from Hellmuth), viewers began to speculate whether The Poker Brat had misread his hand and believed he had held an ace for top pair. In the age of live-streamed poker, it is not unheard of for card readers to occasionally misrepresent what hands poker players actually have. Based on Phil’s reaction and comments made at the table and after the stream, it is highly likely Hellmuth lacked “white magic” during his appearance on the stream and misread his hand.
Conclusion: Phil Hellmuth Misreads His Hand and Loses $44,000
If you ever find yourself dismayed by a mistake you made at the poker table, just remember that even the best in the world make mistakes as well! If Hellmuth’s blunder on Hustler wasn’t a good enough example, did you know Phil Ivey once folded the winning hand at the final table of the WSOP Main Event? The best poker players frequently offer us lessons with their stellar play, but they can also teach us through their mistakes as well.
Although Hellmuth lost a big pot as a result of misreading his hand, he took it like a champ and even bought in for $300,000 again on Live At The Bike just a few days later. A special thank you to Hustler Casino Live and Phil Hellmuth for continuing to create exciting content for poker fans to enjoy!