Phil Hellmuth’s Q4o Call against Alex Foxen - Was it Wrong?
This was the Final Table of Event #9, the $25,000 buy-in. Phil 3bet for around a third of his stack with Q♦4♥ in the Big Blind against Foxen’s Button open with 9♠9♦, then faced a 4bet for all of it and went into the tank, finally making the call.
Numerous people are slamming Hellmuth for the play, as well as pointing out how wild he’d have been about it if the tables were turned! This is a fascinating spot since we have almost all the information we need to make a perfect assessment of it. So let’s get into it.
We have the payouts, the exact number of players remaining, and the exact stacks at the time of the hand. Hellmuth started the hand with 950,000 chips, and with blinds of 30k / 60k with a bb ante of 60k, he 3bet from the BB to 350k over an open from Foxen. The commentator says “absolutely nobody is putting the rest of the money in” when Foxen comes over the top with a 4bet and Hellmuth has 540k left to call into a pot of 1,330,000.
Now, in terms of pot odds, some commentators on Twitter have argued that Hellmuth’s call is fine, given that he's potentially against quite a wide range and needs only just over 29% equity here to turn a small profit in terms of chip equity.
However, as we all know, in tournaments chip equity is not king, it’s not even a thing, and even in the middle stages there are subtle effects involving the payouts (and the rake, near the start) which pull our calculations away from cEV (chip equity value).
So, if we run this one through an ICM solver, such as the eminent Holdem Resources Calculator which I’ll be using today, we should be able to find out if there is any merit in Phil’s call here with Q♦4♥ against Foxen’s 4bet setting him in. It is obviously a spot with some ICM implications, being in the money and on a money jump, 5 players remaining.
We should be able to get an idea of how wide Foxen’s range would need to be, before Hellmuth’s call becomes profitable, and go from there.
Another pretty relevant factor here for Phil is that whilst Foxen is the chip leader (and arguably playing more aggressively as a result), there is one smaller stack vs. Phil, Nakamura sitting on 765,000 chips. This means that Phil must be a little tighter in calling off than he would be otherwise, since he may be able to outlast Nakamura without the double-up.
Now, let’s crunch it. We’re not going to question Phil’s initial move of 3betting such a raggy queen short-stacked here (though it is surely questionable), but just consider whether the final call-off was justified given the spot he’d got himself into by that point.
Let’s assume that Foxen is bullying here and opening very wide, say 63% of hands. That includes stuff as weak as 94s and 32s, Q8o and J8o. Let’s further assume that Hellmuth is flatting sometimes with AA to trap, and KK, and that otherwise he will be flatting some suited hands not good enough to shove, and be pretty polarized in his sized 3-betting, since he can certainly shove quite a few mid-strength hands here from the Big Blind with just 15bbs himself in stack.
I’m going to assume that Phil is using this sizing with just around 5% of hands, and mixing some monsters like Aces which he would otherwise flat, along with some bluffs with exactly this kind of hand, and perhaps hands weak in his suited flatting range such as T5s (these being the hands we might expect him to fold to a shove!).
Let’s finally look at what Foxen should be shoving over this range. If we’re right that Hellmuth, thinking Foxen is wide here, is mixing in extra bluffs and doing this with perhaps only 2% of value hands, Foxen could in fact shove incredibly wide here, up to 54%. Even then the call with Q4o would be losing money in ICM, though Hellmuth would be justified calling off some of his Kx bluffs as shown below.
Against a much more likely (but still very aggro) range of 42% shoves from Foxen, Hellmuth should really only call here with his value hands for the most part. Either way, Q4o is too weak.
In conclusion, even if he feels priced in, it’s hard to construct ranges which will demonstrate that Hellmuth should make the call here. It’s just not quite a good enough price to hero-call off with such a weak holding.
This time around, it seems the great white wizard simply couldn’t find that fold. He did manage to conjure up a Queen on the flop, however, so happy times! Hellmuth wound up finishing in second place for $315k, losing to Erik Seidel who pocketed $472.5k for the victory. Foxen finished third, for $220.5k.
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Adelstein Returns To Public Eye - Is It Time To Admit That Poker Isn’t About The Poker Anymore?
To the surprise of absolutely no one, Garrett Adelstein did not roll back his accusation that Robbi Lew cheated him out of a $250,000 pot on Hustler Casino Live. In fact, he doubled down, saying that he " stands by his statement on 2+2 ” and that everything that came out in the fallout of that hand has only further solidified his belief. But is this podcast return proof that we, as a poker audience, care more about the drama than the game? What Did Garrett Say? Nearly six months after the infamous J4 hand, Garrett has finally broken his silence and spoken out about what happened that night, amongst other things, on Doug Polk's podcast . When asked about whether he thought he was cheated, Garrett said, "In essence, I stand by the statement I made on 2+2; I think it's extremely likely that I was cheated in that poker hand; it's as simple as that.” Doug also pressed Garrett on what should be done in situations like these, specifically the money that Robbi refunded him. Garrett flatly said, "No, no, I will not be refunding Robbi any money. Period.” However, that doesn't mean he's completely happy with how he handled himself during this situation . He brought up the process of arbitration as a possible way of improving the optics of the situation and even said, "...in retrospect, that may have been the better business decision at the time.” He also denied any accusations that he forced Ryan Feldman, the current showrunner for HCL, into making certain line-ups for streamed games and denied ever banning any other pros from appearing on the stream. In short, while he thinks he could have handled it better, he didn't do anything wrong that night, and he hasn't done anything to hinder anyone's access to the games at HCL. No Surprises But really, is anyone surprised by this? Despite the Hustler Casino investigation turning up no evidence that Robbi cheated, there was a close-to 0% chance that Garrett would hold his hands up and say, "I got it wrong; she didn't cheat; here's the $130K.” You don't take the refund, leave the game, and disappear from poker live streams for 6 months if you don't think something dodgy happened. If we're honest with ourselves, we knew this before we started watching. Everyone's already made up their minds on the J4 hand, and there was never going to be any groundbreaking evidence released by Garrett or any admission of any wrongdoing. Garrett himself knows this and said on the stream that "no matter what I say, there's gonna be a ton of backlash to answering this question [on the subject of whether or not he was cheated]”. In fact, he likened the whole situation to politics, saying about his situation that "people put their stick into the ground, and they're like ‘this is my team, everyone else is other'.” If that's the case, why have over 160,000 people viewed the stream within the first 10 hours of its release? The Airball Factor It's because no one was watching the stream for the J4 hand anymore; the focus has switched to finding out what Garret is going to say about Nik Airball . After roughly six months of near radio silence, Garrett has started to talk more publicly about what he's been going through this past half a year. However, it's not the four-page notepad tweet that people are talking about the most; it's the quote tweet where he said, "Airball is a bad poker player and a much worse human being. F*ck that guy.” While shit-talking is nothing new in the poker world, it was a shock to see the man who has been held up as the shining example of how to conduct yourself as a professional just fire a random shot at someone he admits he barely knows. After being blindsided by the tweet, Nik Airball went on Doug Polk's podcast to "give the truth” about Garrett Adelstein. To give you the cliff-notes version, Nik went on a tirade about how terrible of a person Garrett is, only taking a break to fire shots at Matt Berkey. The day after that podcast was released, Garrett announced that he would be having his say on Doug's podcast, seemingly as a response to the recent Twitter beef between Nik and himself. The Need For "Personalities” What this recent Twitter exchange, among others, has highlighted is that there seemingly is no room in the spotlight for people who just want to be good at the game . Players like Chidwick, Adamo, and others all quietly go about their business in the background, playing stellar poker but not gaining much notoriety for it. While the die-hard poker fans among us recognise these people for their obvious talent, it seems like the current landscape of "big name” poker players are the ones with the biggest mouths rather than the biggest brains. Don't get me wrong, it can certainly be argued that that's always been the case in poker - the fame of Mike Matusow is a great example of that. But the big-name players from the 90s and 00s were, arguably, the best of the bunch . Sure, they had a gimmick that people could market; but they were still the players at the very top of the game. Nowadays, all it takes to become one of the biggest names in the poker world is to splash around on a couple of live streams and show yourself to be one of poker's "personalities.” Robbi played one stream, made a ridiculous call-off with jack-high, and has been able to turn that into months of poker live-stream appearances and media coverage. It's to her credit that she's been able to make so much happen from one poker live stream, but it's a good example of how commercialized poker has become. Garrett was known for years as being the "ultimate professional.” You could even say that his gimmick was that he had no gimmick - he just showed up, played an awesome game, and went home - and people tuned in religiously for it. But is that enough in today's game? Can you make it as a poker personality by just being good at the game without any additional gimmicks? How Streams Have Changed It wasn't too long ago that many people were clamouring for the return of the "poker personality,” claiming that game was full of robots who made for a terrible viewing experience. This may be the poker purist in me, but I always thought there was something mesmerising about watching the very best players ply their trade for hundreds of thousands of dollars - even if they didn't say very much. Now, that's not to say that I don't see their point. For the average person, watching a group of people sit around, not saying anything, isn't very engaging content. You need people who are going to stir things up and create controversy if you want the average person to watch, which is why "personalities” are needed. If the table was full of players like Garrett, your average poker content watcher would probably turn over after half an hour - if that. That's why he's been paired with other players who have been able to provide that kind of content during his time at Hustler Casino. There's no doubt Garrett is a big part of the show, but he's not the only part. Players like Mikki, Nik Airball, and others provide the other half of the equation - the engaging personality. You may not watch these people for their poker skills, but you tune in just to see what they're going to do this week. Soon, you get as many people tuning in every week to see these guys play as you do people tuning in wanting to see players like Garrett crush the games. The Show Must Go On Part of the issue is that big poker streams like HCL and Live at the Bike have a big schedule to fill. This isn't like the old days of High Stakes Poker, where you could get the world's best players to play for a couple of days and make 2-3 months of content from it - nowadays, people want 5-6 hour streams multiple times a week. Committing to a schedule like this is another factor that's fuelling this push towards "poker personalities” rather than "poker professionals.” Poker is a delicate ecosystem, where the money can soon dry up if there isn't enough balance in a game . If you stick a few good professionals in a game with a bunch of recs, that game will dry up in a matter of weeks unless the recs have unusually deep pockets. However, fill your game with a bunch of "personalities” that aren't as good at the game, and you can keep that game going for months, as everyone is just passing the money back and forth. At the end of the day, poker streams are a business . They need to keep their games alive for as long as possible to ensure they retain the viewership they've built and try and bring new viewers to their platform. So, how do they do this? Well, one of the best ways to do that is to stack their game full of people who are more known for their entertainment or controversy rather than their poker skills. Poker's Toxicity You can't deny that this is a recipe for entertaining content. It's the same formula that has made reality TV so engaging - people love watching drama, and if huge sums of money are involved, even better. The problem is that the inevitable end of this cycle of rewarding the biggest "personalities” is a world where everyone feels like they have to be the most toxic human being to even have a chance of making it. Up-and-coming players will see that being an asshole to people on Twitter or at the table will get them more attention. More attention means more stream time and more steam time means more access to good games. It will reach a point where everyone will keep ratcheting up their "personalities” until the whole game is full of people you'd wish to never hear from again. We're already seeing the early stages of this - just look how toxic poker Twitter has become . Admittedly, this drama has shone a spotlight onto it, but in the past week, we've had Berkey call Doug Polk a c**t , Nik Airball call Berkey a scammer, and the once paragon-esque Garrett call Nik Airball a terrible human being. What is going on? Have we always been this toxic? What Can We Learn? Aside from the fact that Twitter is a toxic place, the main thing we can take away from this past week is that drama sells a hell of a lot more than poker . This past week, we've had a $750K pot, AA vs KK, vs KK and Doug playing a high stakes heads up match against Bill Perkins where multiple 6-figure pots were played, but that's barely been mentioned compared to the drama between Garrett, Nik, Berkey, and others. At some point, you have to wonder what the main draw is - do we really care about the game or just the drama that goes with it? Drama is all well and good, but it should complement the poker rather than replace it. Poker as a game is fascinating enough, and it's about time that we remember that. With all the talk of heads-up matches between Berkey and Nik, and Garrett's possible return to streamed games, it will be interesting to see how big the buzz will be when poker is actually played or if people will have already moved on to the next piece of drama. Only time will tell, but let's hope that when all the drama passes, people are still interested in the actual game of poker.
Win a VIP Poker Experience at the Malta Poker Festival With Guts Poker
Guts Poker is offering the trip of a lifetime to the Malta Poker Festival to the lucky winners of their weekly satellite. Every Sunday, you can play a €100 satellite to win a package worth over €2000 and have your shot at the €300K guaranteed Main Event plus a €150 side event. The €2000 package not only includes entry to the €550, €300K guaranteed Main Event and a €150 side event, but €200 in travel expenses, plus a five-night stay at the luxurious 5-star Hilton Hotel for two people! If that wasn't enough, you'll also be invited to the Malta Poker Festival VIP Player Parties , where you can rub shoulders and boogie down with some of the biggest names in the industry. The Malta Poker Festival will run from the 24th of April to the 1st of May at the fabulous 5-star Portomaso Casino in St Julian's, Malta, and players will have until Sunday the 23rd of April to win their way into this fantastic event. Guts Poker is offering satellites for as low as €1 and even gives you the chance to win your way into the event for free with their Daily Freebuy. There are three stages of satellites to play, with the final stage offering one guaranteed €2000 package every Sunday. Check out the tables below for more information on each of these satellites. Stage 1 Satellites Event Buy-in Days Times Tournament Type Prize pool Daily Freebuy €0 Mon-Sat 12:30/18:30/23:00 CET Rebuy+Addon 1x/2x Daily €11 ticket Daily Flip €1 Mon-Sat 19:50/21:50 CET Flip 1x Daily €11 ticket Daily Feeder €1 Mon-Sat 17:30/21:00 CET 2x Re-Entry 1x Daily €11 ticket Stage 2 Satellites Event Buy-in Days Times Tournament Type Prize pool Sunday Flip €11 Sunday 19:50 CET Flip 1x €100 Sunday Final Ticket Sunday Super €11 Sunday 17:30 CET 2x Re-Entry 2x €100 Sunday Final Ticket Daily Turbo Feeder €11 Mon-Sat 22:00 CET 2x Re-Entry 1x €100 Sunday Final Ticket Daily Feeder €11 Mon-Sat 20:00 CET 2x Re-Entry 1x €100 Sunday Final Ticket Stage 3 Satellites Event Buy-in Days Times Tournament Type Prize pool Sunday Final €100 Sunday 20:00 CET 2x Re-Entry 1x €2000 MPF Package As you can see, no matter the size of your bankroll, you have a chance of winning a once-in-a-lifetime poker experience . If you're lucky enough to win your satellite, make sure you can play the event, as the tickets cannot be transferred or exchanged for cash. Players can expect to receive their €200 in travel expenses in their account within 72 hours of winning their package. Satellites for this event are already running, so what are you waiting for? Sign up to Guts Poker today to give yourself a chance at winning this amazing prize! If you want to keep up to date with the biggest and best promotions from around the poker world, follow us on Facebook and Instagram .
On Your Marks, Get Set, Play! PartyPoker Launches $3M Grand Prix Tournament Series
It's lights out, and away we go on another Grand Prix series from PartyPoker . The vastly successful tournament series is back for another edition, and this time there will be over $3 million in combined guarantees , making this one you won't want to miss. The series starts on Thursday, 16th of March and closes on Monday, April 3rd, with plenty of action-packed events every single day. Several highlights include the $22, $50K guaranteed Sunday Carnival and the $109, $150K guaranteed Sunday Party, with the whole series culminating in the $55, $250K guaranteed Main Event. Don't think that this is just one for the No Limit Hold'em junkies amongst you; PartyPoker caters to every type of poker addict, with PLO tourneys, PKO events, multi-day tournaments, and PLO8 events , just to name a few. They're even mixing things up with the formats, with tournaments of all table sizes, as well as Ultra Knockout tournaments , short-stacked events, and more! Buy-ins for these tournaments will range from as low as $0.55 all the way up to $109, so no matter the size of your bankroll, you'll be able to join in the action. If that wasn't enough, satellites will be running throughout the event , where you can win your way into an event from as little as $0.22. If you want your satellites to be a little more fast-paced, PartyPoker willbe running special edition $3 SPINS satellites for the duration of the series. Players who register early for events can even win extra prizes thanks to PartyPoker's early bird promotion. If you register to selected tournaments before the event begins and you finish up to 50 places away from the money, you'll win your buy-in back as a free ticket. What could be better than that? The Spring edition of the PartyPoker Grand Prix promises to be an action-packed event, so why not sign up today to try and win your share of the $3 million in guaranteed prizes? If you want to keep up to date with the biggest and best promotions from around the poker world, follow us on Facebook and Instagram .
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