A Feast For Phil-o-Phobes

Tuesday, September 21st, 2004, 11:01 pm

If you don’t like Phil Hellmuth, the Tournament of Champions ESPN showed tonight was a little slice of heaven. My God, did the Lederer clan put the screws to Phil? Howard Lederer had one of the great lines I’ve seen at the table. Howard made the nut straight on the turn, and Phil had I think third pair. Lederer didn’t check the hand, he kept betting, as he had on the flop. Phil gets up, stalks around, and says “He’s playing this like an amateur, bets on the flop, bets on the turn..”

Even Johnny Chan had to laugh at this. “You’re talking about the Poker Professor”, Chan said before lapsing into what can only be called giggles. Phil called, a rag came on the river, and Lederer bet. Phil ranted and raved some more, then mucked his hand, muttering that Howard must’ve hit his gutshot straight draw (which was true). Lederer didn’t show his cards, even as his sister Annie Duke begged him to. Phil said, “I hope they show this hand on TV so I know what you had.”

Lederer waits a beat then says, “Phil, don’t worry, they’ll definitely show that hand.”

And the whole table breaks up, with the exception of Phil, of course. You could almost hear his hair catching on fire.

But the move of the night, along with everything else, belonged to Annie Duke. Heads up for two million, and every hand Phil stands up, walks around, whines, talks to himself. I believe Norman Chad compared him to Hamlet, and indeed Phil did seem like the melancholy Prince, solioquizing over and over again about how lucky Annie was, how she’d won every race, even at once point telling her to her face that he thought she was deliberately playing terrible hoping to get lucky.

And then the hand in question. Phil has K-7 and bets out, Annie has K-9 and calls. Flop comes K-9-6, or some other rag. Annie checks, Phil bets, Annie check-raises. Phil paces, he whines, he bitches, he insults her play. I think he folded there, it doesn’t matter if they saw the turn. What matters is that, when he folds, Phil tosses his king up to show he’s laying down top pair. You know Phil, always proud of his massive laydowns.

And Annie turns over her 9. And just the nine. Letting Phil think he just laid down the best hand, letting him think that Annie check-raised him with second pair. Phil goes nuts. Again, you can almost see him listing to the left as he tilts. It’s just a brilliant psychological play by Duke, and watching Phil so agitated that he’s about ready to bite himself is delicious.

The final hand is a tough one for Philly. He has 8-10, Annie has K-10. A ten falls on the flop, Phil bets, Annie raises, Phil’s all-in, Annie calls. And Phil goes nuts, bleep bleep bleeeeeeep. Phil doubled up early on in their battle with a similar hand, he had Annie outkicked, and he seemed well-pleased with himself when he won that hand. The shoe on the other foot, he’s not so happy.

The hands hold up, and Annie Duke has won $2 million bucks. She and Phil share a hug as comfortable as the ones Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley probably once enjoyed, and then Phil stalks off the set to a medly of bleeps. The camera follows him down the hallway, where he rips on Annie, says he figured she was about a 30-1 shot to win the whole thing, that he keeps getting unlucky in tournaments, that he can’t believe she went all-in with A-4 (don’t know when that happened, but it wasn’t relavant)…a classic Phil meltdown. I could almost feel bad for the guy, but, hey, it was a freeroll tournament, he should’ve been out an hour earlier when he hit a 10 on the river to beat Chan’s pocket kings…screw Phil. You got beat. You got outplayed. And watching it was FUN.

I could post more about what was a very entertaining show, but after getting just 5 hours sleep last night I should catch up now. No personal poker content to write about, but don’t you worry, I’ve got all sorts of weird stuff coming, poker and non. Stay tuned.

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6 Responses to “A Feast For Phil-o-Phobes”

  1. Heafy Says:

    Yet another reason I am dirty on not being able to get the WPT on TV here in Oz. I would have LOVED to see that.

  2. ToddCommish Says:

    Annie rolling the nine on Hellmuth was the greatest mindfuck I’ve ever seen on televised poker. The fact that it was Hellmuth made it even sweeter since he specializes in belittling and berating his opponents. Of course, his read was 100% correct, but he tilted severely AFTER she rolled the second pair. If she had shown him the king, he would’ve been so self-congratulatory, he would’ve been even more insufferable.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I’m not a Helmuth fan, but he played a good game. He actually said that Annie probably made 2 pair after she showed him the 9 (he realized that she was messing with him.) Annie just ran into some amaizing luck and that’s why she won it. Knocking her brother out…I thinks she was ahead in every hand that she played heads up.
    ps. I’ve played in a few tables with Annie Duke, and she can actually be very mean at times so that sweet personality on tv is actually crap.

  4. Charles Star Says:

    You are forgetting the best scene in “Phil Hellmuth, Social Retard”. Clearly Phil didn’t know how to react to someone else’s emotions. It was almost sweet the way he tried to console her, and he did what I think he thought humans do in that situation.

    When he tried to hug Annie Duke after she knocked out her brother, you could almost see Annie’s skin crawl.

  5. Poker Bully Says:

    Having a brother myself I was really enthralled with the play of Howard vs Annie. Being so competitive I am sure they wanted to beat each other’s brains in but they wanted to do it by outplaying each other. When Annie hit that 3rd 6 it was gut wrenching. Plus it was great TV. Poor Howard has been knocked out of 4 tournaments now by lil’ sis.

    I was actually surprised Phil Hellmuth even made the effort to try to console Annie. I half expected him to start teasing her to see if he could put her on tilt.

  6. NemoD Says:

    i almost felt bad for phil. it was very impressive that he read almost every hand correctly (calling the gutshot and the 2 pair), but at the same time he’d annoy you with his ‘i’m the best’ attitude and whining when losing.

    but ugarte is right on the money. the best part was definitely when he tried to console annie duke after she knocked out her brother. the rejected hug was tv magic.

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