Did Phil Hellmuth Play His Pocket Aces Poorly At The WSOP

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Phil Hellmuth busts right out of the Main Event with Pocket Aces

First, Phil Hellmuth is a great tournament poker player. The fact is that he has cashed more than any other player at the WSOP and he has won the Main Event. You may not like his antics, but he has created himself into a brand as the Poker Brat. It works for him very well.

Second, it is possible to second guess players predicated on outcomes as opposed to the decision it self. I think we need to evaluate the decision that was made rather than the outcome.

Third, I only know what happened based on what I've continue reading. If you know additional specifics, please allow me to know.

Finally, the key in reviewing his play is not to criticize but to see if you can learn from his play.

A Few Hands Before The Pocket Aces

Abraham Mourshaki raises to 20, 000 and Phil re-raises to 36, 000. His opponent calls. Phil can re-raise with a range of hands, but it appears like a min re-raise. A min re-raise usually signals pocket Aces. Phil knows he will be called.

Note: I don't know the levels, but it looks around 2000-4000 blinds.

The flop is Jh-Jc-3d.

Phil bets 40, 000 and his opponent calls.

The turn may be the 7s. Both players check. This is a great play by Phil. If you should be beat, you do not want to lose more chips. What if you get check-raised? Why give yourself a difficult decision?

The river is a 5h. Mourshaki bets 120, 000. Hellmuth calls. His opponent has As-Jd.

"I'm gonna vomit on the floor, " Phil said. "You had to locate jack-jack for him. You couldn't find just one jack so he could sail off? Phil's speech means he had pocket AA, KK or QQ, or he is just bs'ing.

Phil is down to 100, 000.

Pocket Aces and He Is Out

A few hands go by and Mourshaki raises to 22, 000 preflop. Hellmuth calls with pocket Aces.

Is that a good play?

My opinion is that Phil made the right play since he was so low on chips compared to average chip level and the leaders at the time. He wants to take the risk that he will be heads-up again and be able to double-up plus. He's playing to win. I don't believe Phil is targeting his opponent because he beat him a couple of hands early in the day.

Unlike the last hand, though, three players call the raise. This is a problem. My estimate is that you lose about 8% per player when it comes to the probability of winning the hand with AA. With 4 callers, I think my Aces will hold up only about 2 out of 3 times. (I'm sure there's a more accurate formula but this is what I use when I have AA and get callers. )

The flop is Jc-10d-5c.

One early player moves all in for 83000. Hellmuth moves all-in for his last 110, 000 (I guess he won a hand since his previous loss. ) And another caller, also calls the all-ins.

Now, before we reveal the hands, I want to make one point here. This flop is dangerous because it is so coordinated with straight and flush draws, especially with cards 10 and over. I can't stress enough that a coordinated board with two cards 10 and higher are action flops--and a potential problem against many callers (like here).

Phil knows that aswell. Even if he is against two pair, he features a backdoor nut flush, will make a better two pair, and might even be ahead on the flop.

Hellmuth: Ac-As

Early player all-in 9h-8h (a straight draw all-in move)

Late player caller Jh-10c (calls with two pair)

The 7 hit on the turn and the early player gets his straight. Hellmuth is out.

What do you think?

Do you agree or disagree with Hellmuth's play?

Do you agree or disagree with my comments?
Any such thing to add on the probabilities of the hand match-ups?

Thanks for your input!

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