The same eight players as last week returned for the second episode of this season’s High Stakes Poker. Veterans Doyle Brunson, Barry Greenstein, Daniel Negreanu, Eli Elezra and David Benyamine were once again joined by newcomers Peter Eastgate, Tom “Durrr” Dwan and Illari “Zligmund” Samahies in what one could only hope was a continuation of the fast action game of the previous week.
The first two hands featured Doyle Brunson and Eli Elezra. Elezra put on a “sleeper” straddle for the first hand. For those unfamiliar with this, he put out a bet of double the $800 big blind, but not under the gun. This bet was not activated until the players in front of him folded, and then it would become a live straddle, meaning that Elezra would then play after everyone else pre-flop. After the straddle became live, Negreanu raised to $5,600 with . Brunson then just CALLED with K-K (the same play he made last week with cowboys), and Elezra called with A-6 offsuit.
The flop brought a J-5-5 with two diamonds, and Negreanu fired out $8,500 into a pot of $19,200. Brunson once again just called, and Elezra RAISED to $25,000 with just ace high. Negreanu got out of the way and Brunson called. The turn card was the . Brunson checked, and Elezra bet $55,000, which Brunson once again called. There was now $187,700 in the pot, and the river brought the . Brunson checked one more time, and Elezra was unable to fire the third bullet, which Brunson said he would have called anyway.
The very next hand saw Elezra call with Q-9 offsuit, Eastgate call with 7-4 of spades, and Brunson raise it to $7,000 with J-J, the second big pair in a row for Texas Dolly. Elezra called and Eastgate folded, so the same two combatants were at it again. Elezra hit his queen on the flop, with a Q-10-6 board. Both players checked, and the turn was an ace, which stopped both players from betting. The river was a 10, and Elezra value bet $6,600, which he described as just the right amount for Doyle to call. Brunson did make the call, and Eli’s queens beat Doyle’s unimproved jacks.
The next hand was the first of two bad results for “Zligmund”. He put up the live straddle of $1,600 under the gun, Eastgate called with J-10 of diamonds, Benyamine called with A-8 offsuit, and Elezra followed suit with Q-2 offsuit. Zligmund looked down to find pocket nines, and raised to $12,600. Eastgate was the only one who called him.
The flop was A-J-6, Zligmund bet $20,000 and Eastgate called. The turn card was a 4, and Zligmund checked. Eastgate, the reigning WSOP Main Event champion, then showed his skills by betting $39,000 into the $70,000 pot, reading that his pair of jacks was the best hand. Zligmund called. Another jack fell on the river, and Zligmund checked once again. Eastgate bet $85,000 into the $148,000 already on the table, and Zligmund spent several moments thinking it over. This gave commentator Gabe Kaplan the opportunity to talk about Zligmund’s resemblance to the late, great actor and fellow shaved head Yul Brynner, and he humorously portrayed Zligmund as Brynner in The King and I thinking about Eastgate’s hand. Zligmund made the crying call, and lost the $233,000 pot.
On the next hand, Eastgate, flush with Zligmund’s money, put on the live straddle of $1,600. Dwan, who had been quiet thus far, after playing almost every hand the first week, raised to $5,600 with 9-7 of diamonds. Elezra called with pocket sixes, zligmund called with 8-5 of diamonds and Negreanu popped it to $27,600 with the A-Q of hearts. Eastgate folded, Dwan called, and Elezra WENT ALL-IN for a total of $99,700 with his sixes. Zligmund folded, Negreanu called and Dwan reluctantly folded. As has often happened in the past, the players agreed to run the hand out twice, taking the luck factor out of what was, in essence, a coin flip, allowing them to likely split the dead money in the middle.
The first flop came A-J-3, and the turn was another 3, leaving Elezra drawing to two outs. No problem, as his 6 came on the river, leaving Negreanu desperate for a split. Fortunately, he flopped an ace once again the second time around. He made it clear that he was going to leave the game if the case six showed up. It didn’t, but the turn of the king of clubs was the third club on the board, and Elezra was the only player holding a club. Fortunately for Daniel (and the game), the river was the , and they chopped the pot.
Dwan, having missed out on playing the first group of hands, now wound up being the central figure for the rest of the show. After winning a small pot from Negreanu, whose flush draw after the flop never hit, he played a chess match with his fellow Internet phenom, Zligmund. With K-Q of hearts in early position, Dwan raised to $3,000, only to have Zligmund raise to $13,000 with A-3 offsuit, which “Durrr” called, creating a pre-flop pot of $28,600.
The flop was , giving Dwan the flopped Broadway straight. He checked, and Zligmund, with top pair, checked behind him! The turn was the , putting a possible flush on the board. Dwan checked again, and Zligmund followed suit! The river was the , and Dwan checked one more time! This time, Zligmund value bet (or so he thought) $16,000 into the $28,600 in the middle, only to have Dwan, confident that his straight was the best hand, raise another $44,300. Zligmund wound up calling another big river bet, only to find himself soundly beaten once again.
By far, the best hand of the night was the final deal of the show. Greenstein, who had been quietly folding all night, woke up with pocket aces under the gun, and raised to $2,500. Dwan called with Q-10 of clubs, and set off a cascade of calls from EVERY PLAYER AT THE TABLE! Benyamine was in with pocket threes, Elezra with J-9 offsuit, Zligmund with 7-6 offsuit, Negreanu with K-4 of diamonds, Eastgate with an unsuited 4-2 and Brunson with A-9 offsuit.
The flop came 2-10-2, giving Eastgate trip deuces, Dwan tens and deuces and Greenstein aces and deuces. Greenstein bet $10,000 into the $21,600 pot, and Dwan immediately RAISED to $37,300! Eastgate called, as did Greenstein, and everyone else folded. The pot was now $133,500.
The turn was the seven of diamonds, and Greenstein checked. Dwan bet $104,200! Kaplan commented that Dwan had the worst hand, but the biggest heart. Eastgate agonized over the hand, but finally let it go, and Greenstein, torn between pushing all-in and folding, finally laid down his aces as well. As Dwan collected the huge pot, he confidently stated that he was sure Eastgate had the best hand. His read of both his opponent’s hands was perfect, and his play was extraordinary. Kaplan stated flat out that the only other player he knew who would have made that play was the late, legendary Stu Ungar. For a poker player, that was the highest praise you could hope to receive.
If the first two shows are any indication of how this season is going to go, we are all in for a wild ride. It will be fascinating to see if the other players at the table can figure out a way to slow down the rampaging Tom Dwan. Tune in again to see what happens next!