Thursday, June 20, 2024

Phil Hellmuth Plays Near Flawless Poker on Episode 2 of the PokerStars Big Game

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Phil Hellmuth was the star of the show in what was a thrilling Episode 2 of the PokerStars Big Game on Tour, which airs on Fox Sports 1.

The “Poker Brat” made some difficult but correct calls, pulled off a solid bluff, and hit a generous river card en route to a profitable session in the $100/$200 ($200 big blind ante) pot-limit hold’em cash game.

But the viewers in this unique poker show are as much interested in the performance of the “Loose Cannon,” a recreational player who is staked $50,000 and must turn a profit over 150 hands to cash out those winnings, as they are the poker celebs. This season’s first Loose Cannon is poker content creator Nikki Limo, who finished Episode 1 — 31 hands — with a $27,200 profit.

The two aforementioned poker players were joined at the table once again by Hollywood actress Jennifer Tilly, PokerStars pro Lex Veldhuis, actress Arden Cho, and the VPIP king Alan Keating.

Hooks for Hellmuth

The session began with Keating raising to $900 with A4 before Limo made a pot-size raise to $3,000 with KQ. In the small blind, Hellmuth looked down at JJ and made the call, as did Keating.

To the flop the trio went, which fell 879, somewhat of a dud for these three hands. Action checked around to the 2 turn, no improvement to any player. Hellmuth this time bet out $5,000, enough to scare the others away.

On the next hand, with the board showing 88248, Cho attempted to bluff on the turn and river, the last wager at $4,800 with KJ. But the 17-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner made a hero call with A10 and took down the pot.

Keating Gonna Keating

Looking to get her failed bluff money back, Cho opened the action on the ensuing hand to $600 from the cutoff with the powerful 63. Keating, also with an absolute monster – 97 – three-bet to $2,300 on the button.

Veldhuis, fresh off his six-figure PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) title, called with KQ in the big blind, and Cho called to the 458 flop.

Oddly enough, Veldhuis still had the best hand with king-high. But he was up against two straight draws. Action checked to the button, who bet $4,000, enough to get Veldhuis to send his cards into the muck, but not enough to convince Cho to fold.

The 8 changed nothing, and somehow nine-high was in the lead. Both players checked before the 6 gave Cho a pair on the river. Unfortunately, for the actress, it gave her opponent a straight. Cho checked and then Keating bet $16,000 before showing the 9, leaving his fellow Hustler Casino Live competitor confused. She inevitably made the incorrect decision to call, leaving her stuck over $75,000.

Loose Cannon Attempts to Bluff a Poker Legend

Prior to the start of Episode 2, Limo in her interview mentioned that she wanted to trigger Hellmuth. She had an opportunity midway through the show, but would need to connect on a draw.

Here’s how the hand, one of the most entertaining in Big Game history, played out. Limo, on the button with 98, raised to $900, called only by Hellmuth’s J10 in the big blind. Following a dark check and a flop of 75J, Limo bet $500 with a gut-shot straight draw before calling a check-raise to $1,200.

The turn was the uneventful 4, and the Poker Hall of Famer bet out $2,000. But the Loose Cannon didn’t come to nit it up. She raised to $6,000, but disappointingly received a call.

When the 4 paired the board on the river, Hellmuth checked, leaving his opponent in a bit of a pickle. It was either check and surrender the pot as nine-high couldn’t possibly win, or make a large bet and hope to get a fold.

She opted for the latter and fired out a bet of $10,000 after correctly calling out Hellmuth’s exact hand.

“I think you have jack-ten,” Limo told Hellmuth before betting. “Could I fold you off jack-ten?”

Hellmuth went into a brief tank before making another exceptional call, his second of the day, taking a chunk out of the Loose Cannon’s profits. But she’d bounce right back and get most of those chips back shortly after in a pot against Keating, always one of the loosest players in any game.

Tilly Battles Hellmuth

Through the first half of the episode, Hellmuth had to earn his money by making some wise decisions. The deck would help him out in a later hand against Tilly.

In a straddled pot, Hellmuth limped in early position for $400 with 76. Tilly, in the cutoff with K10, raised pot to $2,100 and went heads-up to the flop with the World Series of Poker G.O.A.T. It came out 549, giving the preflop limper a straight flush draw.

Tilly, who completely whiffed that flop, checked and then picked up top pair with the K on the turn. Both players surprisingly checked to the 3 on the river, which completed the straight but not the straight flush. Hellmuth bet $4,000 with the nuts, and the Bride of Chucky star couldn’t find a fold with top pair.

Hellmuth wasn’t done making plays. Later on he’d get frisky in a three-way pot with Q10 on a board of 78JK5, betting $3,000. Keating, who had the best hand with Q7, folded and allowed the Poker Brat to pull off the bluff.

The show ended with Keating, holding pocket kings, busting Cho and her ace-jack. Limo, who gave some chips back to Keating a bit earlier thanks to an unfortunate river card, still finished the second episode in the black up $21,400.

Keating, who was down over $160,000 at one point, was on the comeback trail, but still down $96,300 after 60 hands. Veldhuis was in the lead with a $83,200 profit, while Hellmuth was up $49,800 with 90 hands left. The full standings with 90 hands and three episodes remaining are as follows:

Rank Player Profit/Loss Stack
1 Lex Veldhuis +$83,200 $133,200
2 Phil Hellmuth +$49,800 $99,800
3 Jennifer Tilly +$46,900 $196,900
4 Nikki Limo +$21,400 $71,400
5 Alan Keating -$96,300 $298,700
6 Arden Cho -$100,000 $50,000

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