By Phil Hellmuth
All-In for the Premiership of Poker
I was recently invited to compete in the Premiership of Poker held in London,
England. Here’s how the Premiership works.
Twelve world-class players each play six separate six-player heats. Points are
awarded based on performance: eight points to the winner, six points for second
place, three for third, two for fourth, and one point for fifth place.
At the end of the heats, players with the top four point totals advanced to the six-
player finale, with chip stacks equal to 10,000 times their point totals. Players
finishing in fifth through eighth places played heads-up until the survivor
advanced to join the six-player final table.
In my first match, I played against the highly combustible Tony G along with
Dave “The Devilfish” Ulliott, Liz Liu, Andy Black, and Kiril Gerasimov.
Finishing in first or second was critical. Three points for a third place finish was
better than nothing but you’d need to earn some wins or second place finishes in
order to reach the top four positions to advance straight to the final table.
With five players left and the blinds at $2,000-$4,000, I was in the small blind
holding As-Qs. Kiril Gerasimov limped in from the button and I decided to raise it
up to $9,000 more to go.
Liu folded in the big blind. Gerasimov called the raise.
The flop came Ah-Ks-9d. I bet $12,000 and he called.
The turn was the 5c and I checked. Gerasimov bet $17,000. I studied long and
hard before calling his bet.
The river was the 4d. I checked. Kiril sat motionless for about a minute before
tossing in a big $78,000 bet. I thought for a while then folded my hand face up
on the table.
That caused quite a stir. The other players thought I had folded the best hand --
top pair with top kicker. Well, as it turned out, Gerasimov had made two pair,
aces and fives, when his card hit on the turn.
Let's take a closer look at how this hand played out.
I like my pre-flop raise with A-Q. Gerasimov could have easily folded or called.
His call made good sense, though, because he had position on me.
On the flop, I like my $12,000 bet. I had a super strong hand and wanted Kiril to
call with a pair of aces or kings. I couldn't check here because I didn't want him
to outdraw me with a free card.
As to my check on the turn, I really love that play.
I was setting up Gerasimov to call me on the river. Also, in case he did have me
beat, my check ensured that I’d only lose the minimum.
Now, his $17,000 bet on the turn was an acceptable play. Why bet more and risk
scaring me off of my hand?