These three players may be amateurs, but they're certainly not fish...
More often than not, when an inexperienced or amateur player makes a deep run in a large tournament, it’s due to luck. Go to Youtube and watch the runs of Jaime Gold, Jerry Yang, Darvin Moon or Dennis Phillips. As the not so great Phil Hellmuth once said in an attempt to soothe his own ego by belittling a superior opponent, ‘these guys can’t even spell poker‘.
But in the end, that’s the beauty of poker– the reason why bad players risk money against good players. Anything can happen in a short sample size. Hot streaks like the ones enjoyed by the fellas above might be enough to fuel the poker dreams of aspiring amateurs, but in reality it’s also nice to have a few tricks up your sleeve if you’re actually going to swim with the sharks and survive. Let’s take a look at 3 moments when amateur players out-smarted their professional counterparts.
Phil Hellmuth Owned By Math Teacher
Just kidding! While Hellmuth does get owned here by an amateur player, it’s a terrible call that should never have been made. The amateur gives off several text-book tells that would be more than enough for any decent player to fold on this river. This list isn’t titled ‘3 Horrible Plays By Poker Celebrities Who Pretend To Be Good At Poker‘, after all.
Now that we’ve got our obligatory Hellmuth bashing out of the way, let’s move on to the real list:
Neil Blumenfield Fires A Triple-Barrel Bluff At The WSOP
I love this play. Do you understand what kind of heart it takes to jam that river? This is Day 6 of the World Series of Poker Main Event. The final table is in sight. Blumenfield is a recreational player who knows that he’s never going to get this close again. It’s really hard to pull the trigger here for your tournament life, even when you know it’s the right move. But that’s exactly what he does once that brick peels off on the river. He knows there are many missed draws his opponent can have and that he can represent extreme strength here having bet every street. But knowing these things and having the guts to execute the river bluff, are two very different things.
Bill Klein Bluffs Phil Galfond Off Of A Huge Hand
Okay, so a $150,000 river bluff is pretty easy to make when you’re a billionaire like Bill Klein, but from a gameplay perspective it’s just a really nice move. I mean, any time you can confuse Phil fucking Galfond at the poker table, you’ve certainly done something right. Klein very clearly represents KJ or J9 for the rivered full house. Galfond knows that those two-pair holdings are very likely given the flop and turn action and that a full house would bet the river here, since he’s likely to check back a lot of his strong hands once the board pairs. Leading out on the river would be the best way for a full house to get value from a straight, so the story makes a lot of sense. Nice move, Bill.
Moneymaker Risks It All
I wonder how the world of poker looks in the alternate dimension where Farha calls here and Moneymaker doesn’t win the Main Event. I’m sure the poker boom still happens in one way or another, but it would have to be a bit different, right? Anyway, Farha doesn’t find the call here and Moneymaker survives to play another hand. For all the criticism Moneymaker has received over the years for the poor quality of his play, this is an example of how he was actually a lot better than people give him credit for. When he moves in on this river Farha says, ‘so you missed your flush draw, huh?’. This is exactly what the move looks like, except for one small detail. Moneymaker is an amateur and Farha knows that. Most importantly, Moneymaker knows that Farha knows that and will perceive him as such. I believe he gets the fold here because Farha doesn’t believe that an amateur player is capable of making such a bluff on such a huge stage. Kudos to Chris for taking advantage of this in the most epic way possible.
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