1.Against All Odds


Los Angeles poker classics


Bad Beat Poker

Pot-Limit Omaha

Spooky Hand

World Poker Challenge

Pot-Limit Hold'em Tournaments

Foxwood's Poker

Five-Star World Poker

World Series of Poker-2000

World Series Poker Championship

2.World Series of Poker Hands

Youngest World Champion

World Series Poker-1999

World Series Poker-1998

World Series Poker-2002





U.S.. Poker Championship-1999


WSOP's Winner-2000


WSOP's Record-2003

"Big One" in WSOP-2003

3.World Poker Tour


World Poker Tour-2002

WPT's winner-2003



World Poker Tournament-2003

WPT's Event-2003

Foxwood's World Poker

Amir's Big Call

4.European Poker Tour

The Poker em

Poker In Amsterdam-1998

The Poker em-2000

Late Night Poker 3-2000


5.Reading other Player's mail


Tournaments of Champion-1999

A Tale Of Four Bluffs


Commerce Casino-2002

No-Limit Hold'em Event-2002


T.J. Displays Grace And Class

I knew that poker had hit a new level when I walked into the Bicycle Club’s $, 5,000 buy-in WPT event in September 2003, and felt the atmosphere of the place.  Was this the same $5,000 buy-in poker event that had sported a $120,000 first-place prize, and a virtually empty room, only two years earlier?  Had you been there that day in 2001, you wouldn’t even have recognized the place in 2003.

            There sat Ben Affleck, arguably the hottest star in the film world at that moment, and local news trucks filled the parking lot.  A few tables over stat Lou Diamond Phillips and Lakers owner Jerry Buss.  There was more press circling the players-with nonstop clicks from the cameras-than I had ever seen before, except at the 2003 World Series of Poker.

            “Do you have time for a Sports Illustrated  interview today?  I was asked by the WPT crew.  “No,” I said.  “No one gets time with me today, not even SI.” (Of course, I eventually decided that it would be in my best interest to make time for SI.)

            Still, I did relish the opportunity to welcome Affleck to the poker tournament, and I walked over to him and said, “Ben, welcome to the poker world.” He then said, “Hi, Phil.  I read your book [Play Poker card games Like the Pros].Which animal do you think I am?  I think I’m a lion.” “Ben,” I said, without missing a bad beat, “you’re an aspiring eagle!” he laughed and then said, “Yeah, but it might take me twenty-two years to get there.”

            By the way, Ben went out of the tournament with a poker A-A, which is very respectable way to get eliminated hold'em poker game.  Apparently, he has been getting lessons from top pros Amir Vahedi and Annie Duke, and it shows. He seems to be grasping no-limit  Hold’em game at an accelerated pace.  Good luck to you, Ben; poker is happy to have you playing in its biggest and most prestigious tournaments! (Ben did ask me about poker lessons, and he even knew my going rate, but I told him he could have one free day of lessons.)

            The final table came down to T.J. Cloutier, Paul Phillips, and Mel Judah.  T.J. and Paul had most of the chips, but Mel kept hanging on.  First place paid a whopping $570,000 card games.  There they sat, on the World Poker Tournament stage, with lights, cameras, and celebrities all over the place.  T.J. opened on the button with 2-2, and Mel moved all-in with K-10 suited.   T.J. had enough money in the pot that this was a simple call for him, and the hands were flipped faceup.  With a flop of 10-9-4, followed by 7-3, Mel doubled up.

            Three rounds later, T.J. opened again on the button, and Mel moved all-in again, this time with K-J.  T.J. called quickly with A-10 (T.J. told me later he has noticed that Mel plays king high for big bets, and that T.J. has known about this tendency for years), and the hands were flipped faceup again.  The flop came down 8-8-3, followed by a queen, and T.J. thus would winning poker the pot, have nearly $1 million in chips, and eliminate Mel to face Paul heads-up for the title and cash.  Mel stood up to leave as the last card was being dealt, but the last card was a jack! T.J. looked chagrined, but I know the metal he is made of-titanium.

            Then, after countless all-ins for Mel, the chip stacks stood at about $500,000 per player: ladies and gentleman, we had ourselves a poker game! Paul continued to attack aggressively before the flop with raise, and T.J. and Mel let him go, occasionally moving over the top of him, to counter his overaggressive play.  T.J. knew one thing: that when the big gaming money went all-in, he liked his hand!  He didn’t mind Paul making steals, he didn’t mind Mel making moves.  It was all about that one big hand at that point; and T.J. almost always has the best of it when it comes up.

            It happened so quickly it was scary.  T.J. raised it from the small blind, put in the chips just as he had two rounds earlier when he raised it up, Paul moved all-in from the big blind, and Mel folded.  The chips were stacked exactly the same way, and the exact same amount was bet-if Paul had been paying attention to body language, then T.J. had shown him a tell meaning “I’m weak.” (A tell that wasn’t true; T.J. had shown Paul a “false tell.”) He was luring Paul into thinking that Paul could take this pot away, too, by moving all-in before the flop.  T.J. had J-J, and he was selling his hand perfectly.

            It turned out that Paul had 7-7, which is a reasonable hand to play in any case.  Paul announced all-in, and T.J. immediately said, “I call.” T.J. had been setting a trap, and he already knew what he would do if Paul moved all-in on him.
            A little background, before we move on with that hand.  Playing against Chris “Jesus” Ferguson in the 2000 WSOP, T.J. had A-Q against Chris’s A-9, and Chris hit a nine on the last card for a $4.4 million pot.  In the last Tournament of Champions, T.J. had A.J. with a board of 8-9-J, when he called all-in against 10-8 for Brian Saltus; Brian made a straight on the end.  In the WSOP another year, when T.J poker high low. put his money in before the flop with the best hand, Ad-Qd, against  Humber to Brences’s 6s-9s, T.J. lost when the flop came 9-9-5.  With three players left in the WSOP another year, T.J. lost a monster pot with Q-K against Kevin McBride’s jd-9d.  T.J.’s luck in the big pots in the biggest, most prestigious events hasn’t been too good, but he is recognized nonetheless as one of the greatest poker tournament players who ever lived.

            So here we had one more pot, in one more high-profile tournament, where T.J. had the best of it, and one more pot where  T.J. was going to lose.  The J-J was a 4.5-to-1 favorite over the 7-7, and the flop was perfect for T.J.: Ad-5s-2d.  At this point, a quick “suit check” showed that Paul could win with a diamond-diamond finish (he had the 7d, and T.J. didn’t have a diamond with his J-J), but this was a very good flop for T.J. The turn card was a seven!

            T.J. looked disgusted, and he shook his head in disbelief; he shouted something to a friend in the crowd-yikes, what a brutal card.  T.J. now needed a jack on the last card for a $1 million pot, or he would finish third, but it was not to be.  Final card was a nine, and T.J. exited shaking Paul’s and Mel’s hands.  Class all the way advanced stud.

            Couldn’t be?  Was T.J. really out?  Did he just lose three decisions in a row, plus a big pot where he had Qd-Jd, and a board of 9d-8d-6s against Paul?  Did he just lose a $1 million pot where he was 4.5-to-1 favorite?  Yes, T.J. was gone, and I watched as he handled his postgame speech with eloquence and class monkey poker.  Was T.J. down afterward? Yes, T.J. was down, but he is never, ever out!


6.From The Other Side Of Table


Commerce Casino-1999



Bellagio Poker

Ladies World Championship

High Limit Action in Houston

Commerce Casino's California-1999

Party Poker Million-2002

WSOP's Winner-2002

WSOP seven card stud-2000

Foxwood's Casino

Pot-Limit Hold'em Event

World Heads-Up Poker Tour

United States Poker Championship

7.Poker Hollywood Style

Chinese Poker

Bicycle Club Casino


Celebrity Poker

Hustler Casino

8.Cheesehead Poker

Poker in Madison


Sportsmen Club

Pot-Limit Hold'em At Nora's Bar

Big Game in Wisconsin