The UPC Ultimate Poker Challenge with Phan vs Tahoe aired up here in the Toronto, Canada area over the weekend. Since most televised poker matches give very few cues as to when the match took place – a very frustrating fact – this match may or may not have been recent. (A few Google searches didn’t turn up much info.) But this was quite an interesting match, unlike some I’ve seen lately.
It was the tail-end and young gun John Phan and veteran Howard “Tahoe” Andrew playing heads up. Phan was the chip leader by a mile, and Tahoe wasn’t going down without a fight.
Tahoe’s nerve-wracking strategy was to go all-in, with great confidence, on nearly every hand he played (from the point I started watching). And it worked. Phan was getting visibly frustrated, at one point saying, “I don’t want to play anymore.”
Now, when you don’t have much left, chips-wise, and you’re fighting for either 1st or 2nd place, there’s really only one strategy left to you: play aggressively, play all in. You’re really only going to win or lose. Obvious, but better than giving away the advantage.
Of course, Tahoe getting Cheri Casino almost consistently better hands than Phan didn’t hurt. I think Tahoe only folded one time, lost maybe two hands. But in the end, Phan did win.
The oddest thing, which I haven’t seen in other tournaments, was that while the television audience and the commentators could see Phan’s cards, shots from the “Tahoe Cam” were only shown after a hand was played. Very interesting. From a viewer point of view, you were sort of playing along with Phan, make the viewing more exciting. And of course, the commentators could not see Tahoe’s cards either, so they couldn’t give anything away with their comments. Very interesting, and I hope more tournaments do this, at least during heads-up play.