Phil Hellmuth recently used “white magic” to defeat some of the best players in the world and win the latest Poker Night in America (PNIA) event.
Kicking off on August 22 inside Rivers Casino, Schenectady, PNIA’s $50,000 King of the Hill tournament saw four high profile pros compete in a heads-up battle for supremacy.
As ever, Hellmuth was confident of winning the title even before he’d defeated Doug Polk in the winner takes all tournament.
Cates the King in Waiting
Using what he’s previously called “white magic,” Hellmuth was able to navigate a tough opening match against Polk to book himself a place in the final round against Daniel Cates. Otherwise known as Jungleman, Cates came though his first round showdown with Frank Kassela with relative ease.
Needing just 10 minutes to dispatch with his opponent, Cates looked like the unstoppable favorite heading into the finale against Hellmuth. Despite the hype, it was Hellmuth and his “old school” reading abilities that triumphed over Cates’ online skills in Round 1.
The second round saw Cates rally to level the best-of-three contest at one game apiece. As the clock hit the three hour mark, Cates raced to a commanding lead in the final match. After 25 minutes of heads-up action, Hellmuth was left with just 5,800 chips from a starting stack of 100,000.
With a 34:1 chip lead, Cates looked all set to take home the $200,000 prize, but Hellmuth had other ideas. Using his “white magic” aka an ability to think outside of the box using intuition, the Poker Brat made a move that’s since confounded poker pros around the world.
Magic Move Makes Hellmuth King
Holding just a handful of chips, Hellmuth was able to make a seemingly ill-fated bluff against Cates’ three tens. Following a min raise on the button from Cates, Hellmuth called with Q♠ J♦ before the flop rolled out 10♦ 3♦ 2♣.
A check-call from Hellmuth with air looked to be a strange play, until he made his move on the turn. Without knowing Cates was holding 10♣ 5♣, Hellmuth check-raised on the 10♣ turn. After Cates called, the 9♦ fell on the river and Hellmuth immediately pushed his remaining 9,900 chips into the 40,000+ chip pot.
With three tens and pot odds of 5:1 to call, everyone watching assumed Cates would snap call and end the tournament. However, with a pained look on his face, he decided to fold. With commentator Polk at a loss for words, Hellmuth raked in the pot and proceeded to mount a magical comeback and win the match.
Aside from proving that Hellmuth is still a world class player, the victory stands as a lesson to those that believe playing by the book is the only way to do things at the poker table.