With the 2009 WSOP upon us, taking a look at some of the weird and most outrageous hands that have ever been played in that event is more timely than ever. The Big Dance, the $10,000 Main Event is fast becoming the proving grounds of everyone who is anyone, not only in live poker but in online poker too these days.
With thousands upon thousands of participants and with a massive prize-pool fuelled by the $10,000 buy-ins, not to mention the pressure which the continuously escalating blinds exert, the Main Event has been the scene of some of the most spectacular bad beats, perfect hands, extreme behavior and desperation. One needn’t go further than the 2006 Main Event victory of amateur Jamie Gold, who got the better of the pros at a final table where each and every one of the hands he played seemed personally guided by goddess Fortuna herself.
Let’s leave Gold’s 2006 antics for a different post though and let’s take a look at one of the fastest Main Event finishes ever:
Oliver Hudson, Kate Hudson’s brother and Goldie Hawn’s son, himself an actor, goes up against Sammy Farha in this hand, and gets stuck on the bottom end of a perfect hand. The interesting thing about the hand though is not merely the twisted nature of fate though, it’s also the fact that this hand was the very first one both players involved played in the Big Dance.
As the announcer notes it, Oliver Hudson burns through his $10,000 buy-in in a little over a minute. Of course, considering Farha’s track record on such hands, he should’ve thought twice about going all-in against him, on anything but the nuts.
There’s really not much one could do in Oliver’s situation here. He made the preflop raise to protect his pocket pair, and that was definitely the right sort of move under the circumstances. Unfortunately for him though, it is not in Sam Farha’s nature to fold A,10 under pressure, even if it’s the very first hand of the WSOP Main Event. The flop sealed Hudson’s fate here, as he caught another 10 on it for the full house with the two aces on the board. From there on, it was a matter of implied odds, which, unfortunately for Hudson, turned into reverse implied odds for him. It is very rare indeed when you get into a reverse implied odds situation when your pocket pair is hit for a set on the flop. The odds of Farha getting the better of him were indeed minimal and the all-in move that he made cannot really be considered a mistake – even though according to Sklansky’s basic poker theorem it was one.
The bottom line is, this hand was the definition of a perfect hand, and Sammy Farha – as usual – got the better of it.
The question here is: would Farha have been able to get away from the hand, had he had the 10,10 instead of the A,10? If he had position on his opponent I suspect he might’ve been able to. If he were out of position, he probably wouldn’t have gone all in either. There’s something about going all-in in a poker tournament so early on: it carries worse odds than a plain cash game all-in any day, and for that reason, good players avoid going all-in sometimes even if they suspect the odds may be in their favor. In a tournament, losing an all-in is far worse than losing one in a cash game. You don’t just lose your stack there, you lose any and all further opportunities to recover it. Tournament all-ins usually happen when the pressure of the mounting blinds forces a player to undertake such extreme measures. Even if the odds are overwhelmingly in your favor, going all-in is a risky move.
Of course, all this is just theory. Farha may have been just as eager to shove all-in on his full house as Hudson was, especially as the possibility of his opponent holding a set of aces was very real indeed.