Arts & Entertainment

Phill Hellmuth on Poker:Mike Matusow’s Stop and Go Move

The World Poker Tour kicked off last month with an event at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. 260 players anted up $10,000 each to create a prize pool worth $2.6 million with only the final 30 players finishing in the money.

Poker pro Mike “The Mouth” Matusow drew a horrible table on Day 1 but was able to run his chips up from a $30,000 starting stack to $53,000. The second day wasn’t much better for Mike but he still managed to build his stack to $86,000.

Matusow drew a great table on Day 3. He had a sense that he’d be able to make some creative plays without the other players at his table having a clue. In other words, Mike had control of the table!

This particular hand came when Matusow was sitting on $73,000 in chips and the blinds at $1,500/$3,000 plus a $500 ante. The Mouth opened for $10,000 with pocket tens. His lone opponent made it $25,000 to go.

According to Matusow, he knew that his opponent had A-Q. In fact, he said, “I was so sure that he had A-Q that I would have bet my life on it!” Mike, who has a definite flair for the dramatic, continued, “I decided to execute a stop and go move. I’d stop betting before the flop and then go ahead and bet on the flop if the conditions were right.”

Matusow called the $15,000 reraise. If no ace or queen hit on the flop, he was prepared to move all-in. So when the flop came 9-8-2, Mike shoved in his last $48,000.

Mike’s opponent hesitated for less than a second then said, “I guess you’ve got me but I have to call.” That comment led Mike to believe that he had a pocket pair, maybe sixes or sevens.

Not the case. His opponent had indeed called the $48,000 bet with, you guessed it, A-Q! And when an ace came on the turn, Mike was busted.

An aggravated Matusow fumed, “How does a guy get rewarded for a play like that? In a billion hands, there’s not a single time that A-Q would be good!”

But Matusow’s shock didn’t end there.

His opponent tried to justify the call. He said that since he’d already tossed in $25,000, there was no way he’d lay down his hand for only $48,000 more.

That argument didn’t make sense to Matusow.

“The call was an absolute joke, an incredibly bad play,” said Mike. The other players at the table agreed, all scratching their heads in disbelief. They knew that Matusow had a real hand.

Mike was playing tight poker yet his opponent still elected to call with an ace high hand. This guy put his whole tournament at risk with A-Q when it never had a reasonable chance to be the best hand.

And to make matters worse, there were 38 players remaining at the time and only 30 would get paid!

Let’s review: A stop and go play occurs when a player decides to call a raise or a reraise before the flop, and then bets on the flop. It’s particularly effective when you have a pair and suspect that your opponent has A-K or A-Q high.

The stop and go can also work when you’re on a bluff, especially if you’re able to pin your opponent on a certain hand, like A-K or A-Q. You might consider calling a raise with J-10 suited with the intention of bluffing if you miss the flop.

Use caution when you attempt a stop and go bluff, however, as it requires perfect timing and a strong hand reading ability.

Learn more about Phil Hellmuth and Poker Brat poker merchandise at www.philhellmuth.com.

© 2009 Card Shark Media. All rights reserved.

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