On Poke: Untimely poker blowups can quickly lead you from riches to ruin.
Byline: Chuck Blount
It shouldn't have happened. You were either sitting well in a tournament with more big blinds in your stack than the majority at the table, or you were in a cash game, already sitting on a nice win.
But something happened. You decided to push the envelope in a situation that didn't warrant it, and in a single move you destroyed all of the good that you had accomplished. In poker speak, you suffered a blowup.
Blowups come in a variety of forms, but they all share the common ground of embarrassment. There's no hiding the errors of your play. No poker buddy is going to sympathize with your plight.
At the 2012 World Series of Poker Europe Main Event, a classic blowup situation unfolded in a hand between Curt Kohlberg and Phil Hellmuth. The tournament was winding down, with 17 players spread among three tables. This created short-handed action for everyone remaining.
Hand standards have to be loosened in short-handed play because the blinds will hit you so fast that you will hemorrhage your chip stack if you stand pat too long. At this stage in the action, according to cardplayer.com, blinds were $6,000/$12,000 with a $2,000 ante.
Kohlberg was dealt Jh-10h under the gun and raised to $30,000. The table folded around to Hellmuth, a Poker Hall of Famer who happened to be sitting with pocket aces, the best starting hand in poker. Hellmuth had no intention of slowplaying this one. He re-raised Kohlberg $180,000.
This is the point where Kohlberg should have thought that his hand was likely a serious underdog and given up. When Kohlberg started the hand, his stack had 75 big blinds in it, which was enough for his game to avoid any form of desperation.
In any case, it's apparent that Kohlberg thought that Hellmuth was making a move on him, due to the size of his re-raise, so he countered by making the ultimate move himself, declaring all-in. Hellmuth, of course, snap-called as an 80 percent favorite to win, and had enough chips to eliminate Kohlberg.
There are rare instances when a player doesn't have to sweat a board, and the 9d-8h-4d flop produced instant chaos. With the addition of the open-ended straight draw, Kohlberg's odds increased to 36 percent to win with two cards to come.
Hellmuth spiked a third ace on the turn for a set, and an innocent jack fell on the river. The near double-up with Kohlberg's chips elevated him into the chip lead, and he would go on to win the event, along with more than $1.3 million.
Kohlberg's blowup literally left a lot of money on the table. He cashed out for $34,718, but had a stack that easily could have cruised to final table money that started at $86,796.
But don't feel too sorry for the Boston resident -- Kohlberg has more than $2.8 million in tournament poker winnings, according to the Hendon Mob poker database, including $442,265 in 2014 alone.
Got a poker question or have a comment? Email Chuck at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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|Publication:||Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)|
|Date:||Oct 26, 2014|
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