Last week’s episode ended with Daniel Negreanu’s overpair running into the quad fours of David Benyamine, felting Negreanu, who had an absolutely horrendous session from start to finish. Can Negreanu come back? How will Benyamine play now that he has the big stack at the table? And will any of the players who have been relatively quiet thus far begin to make some moves at the table? These questions and more would be answered in tonight’s installment of High Stakes Poker, with the blinds and antes staying at their new limits of 500-1000-200.
Tom “durrr” Dwan, who had been the dominant player for the first three weeks, a sentiment shared by commentator Gabe Kaplan, raised the first hand to $3,000 with . Illari “Zligmund” Sahamies called the bet with 10-8 offsuit. The flop was a rainbow suited 6-4-3, and Dwan, with top pair, bet $8,000. Sahamies raised to $29,000 with absolutely nothing and no draw, which Dwan called. The on the turn brought checks from both players. This pattern of aggression on Sahamies’ part, with no follow-through on later streets, has been a theme of the first few shows, and it was to occur numerous times tonight. The river was the , and once again both players checked, and Sahamies drew first blood of the night ($67,100) with his rivered pair.
After Sahamies won a smaller five-way pot with an aggressive post-flop bet after all five players missed on the draw, the first huge hand was dealt. It started with Peter Eastgate raising to $3,300 with Q-8 offsuit. Barry Greenstein, sensing some weakness in the bet, raised to $12,000 with , and Dwan woke up with pocket aces! He re-raised to $31,300, Eastgate folded, and Greenstein, who probably would have folded against almost anyone else at the table other than the super-aggressive Dwan, called the bet. The pre-flop pot was $68,500, and the fireworks were about to begin.
The flop came J-10-3, with one heart. Dwan, first to act, bet $46,200. Commentator Kaplan noted that Greenstein was in a tough spot, but was more likely to stay in the hand since Dwan had been running roughshod over the table for the first three episodes. Indeed, Greenstein decided to raise $100,000 more, committing himself to the pot. Dwan then moved all-in, and Greenstein called, creating a pot of $548,700!!! As has been the case for Greenstein in all five seasons of the show, he elected just to run the board out one time, and let the poker gods decide his fate.
The turn brought Greenstein immediate salvation, as it was the , giving him two pair and Dwan in need of either an ace for the set or a ten or three for a higher two pair. However, it was not to be, and Greenstein, the heavy statistical underdog, took down the enormous pot! Somewhat surprisingly, Greenstein made the comment, “math is idiotic,” when your gut tells you that you are going to win the pot, and that he felt all along as if he was going to win it. As it turned out, Greenstein also made the statement as part of a promise he had made to use it to help raise money for a children’s charity with which he is involved. As even many casual players know, Barry is known as the “Robin Hood” of poker for all the winnings he donates to charity, and he was using the “math is idiotic” pronouncement to inspire people to donate money over the Internet to one of his latest projects. He had already helped build a facility for a Lakota tribe, who had gifted him with an eagle feather for protection. Dwan offered to buy the feather from him for $25,000, but Greenstein quickly refused. Meanwhile, Dwan showed remarkable restraint in his reaction to his more than quarter-million dollar loss, exhibiting absolutely no signs of tilt. Once again, even in defeat, the young Internet phenom was showing his mettle.
After Greenstein took down a small pot with a post-flop continuation bet, Doyle Brunson raised the next hand to $3,500 with A-K offsuit. He was called by Greenstein (), Dwan (pocket nines), Elezra (A-J offsuit), Negreanu (7-4 offsuit) and Sahamies (). The pre-flop pot was $22,600, and the flop was , giving Dwan bottom set, but Brunson 2nd nut flush draw and inside straight flush draw with the king of spades, and Elezra the nut flush draw with the ace of spades. Five players checked to Elezra, who bet $12,000. Brunson immediately folded, continuing his pattern of playing small-ball poker and not getting involved with risky draws. Dwan was the only player who called, and the pot was now $46,600.
The turn was the , and Dwan checked again. This time, Elezra fired out $37,000, and Dwan called once more. The river brought the , Dwan checked, and Elezra, after considerable thought, gave up on the hand, leaving Dwan to rake in the $120,600 pot.
On the very next hand, Brunson limped with pocket fours, and he was followed into the pot by Dwan (5-3 offsuit!), Elezra (A-6 offsuit), Negreanu in the small blind (A-8 offsuit) and Eastgate checking his option in the big blind (). The flop contained Q-5-3, with two hearts, making bottom two pair for Dwan and top pair for Eastgate. Eastgate led out with a bet of $5,000 into the $6,600 pot, and everyone folded but Dwan, who flat-called. The turn was the , creating a club draw for Eastgate to go with his top pair. He once again led out, this time with $12,000, and Dwan called. The river was the , completing Dwan’s full house. Eastgate, thinking his two pair was good, led out with $15,000, only to have Dwan, clearly hoping Eastgate would think his raise was a bluff on a missed draw, make it $98,000 to play. Eastgate finally folded, and Dwan took down the $153,600.
Dwan’s hot streak continued on the next hand, when he raised to $3,500 with 7-6 offsuit, only to have Elezra call with pocket fours. A flop of 8-7-5 gave Dwan middle pair, and both players checked. A king came on the turn, and Dwan bet $6,600, which Elezra called. The river was a nine, completing a straight for Dwan. He checked, hoping to induce a bluff from Elezra, but Eli checked behind, and Dwan took down the small pot.
Dwan put on the live straddle of $2,000 on the next hand, which Elezra called with , only to have Sahamies raise to $12,000 with K-4 offsuit. Eastgate somewhat surprisingly called with , and Dwan and Elezra got out of the way. The flop came 9-8-6 rainbow, with no hearts. Once again, Sahamies failed to follow up on his early aggression in the hand by checking, leaving the door wide open for Eastgate to steal the pot, which he quickly did with a bet of $20,000 into the $31,100 on the table.
Sahamies’ failure to pursue his bluffs with vigor showed up yet again on the next hand. Elezra raised to $3,500 with and Sahamies called with 10-9 offsuit. The flop was K-Q-7 with one heart, Elezra made a very large continuation bet of $10,500, and Sahamies called. The turn was the , giving Elezra the nut flush draw and not much else. Nevertheless, he bet $16,500 into the $31,100 in the middle, only to have Sahamies RAISE with absolute air to $54,000! Elezra, after much deliberation, called, obviously thinking that Sahamies had a big hand and he would pay Elezra off if Eli hit the flush on the river. The river was an innocuous , and Elezra checked, preparing to give up the hand. However, Sahamies once again failed to fire the final bullet, and Elezra, much to his own astonishment, pulled in the $139,100 pot.
The next two hands were to go to Papa Brunson. In the first, Dwan raised to $3,500 with A-J offsuit, and was called by Sahamies with , Eastgate with and Brunson with . The flop was Q-7-2 with two clubs and one diamond, and was checked around. The turn was the , giving Eastgate the best hand, albeit a very weak one, and Brunson a flush draw. No one bet the turn either, and the river was the , completing Doyle’s flush, but giving Dwan top pair. After Eastgate and Brunson checked, Dwan tried to take the pot down with a bet of $6,000. For some unknown reason, Sahamies CALLED with king high, and Brunson finally showed his strength with a raise to $36,000, which caused the others to fold. After the hand, Brunson tried to act as if he had bluffed.
In the second of the two hands, Dwan opened for $3,500 again, this time with 10-8 offsuit. David Benyamine, who had been relatively quiet this session after his big win the previous week, called with , as did Brunson with . The flop brought Q-8-6 with two hearts. Brunson and Dwan checked, and Benyamine, with top two pair, bet $7,800 into the $13,100 pot. Both Brunson and Dwan called.
The turn was the , and Brunson now decided to lead out with a bet of $35,000 on second pair and his flush and inside straight draws. This was quite a departure for Doyle, who had been making a concerted effort to play smaller pots up to this time. Dwan CALLED with third pair and his own inside straight draw, clearly thinking of a way to steal the pot on the river, and Benyamine also called, creating a pot of $141,500.
The river was the , once again giving Brunson a flush. However, given the previous action, he was clearly concerned about a higher flush at the table, and he checked. Dwan agonized over attempting a big bet to represent the flush, but finally checked, as did Benyamine, and Brunson reeled in the big pot.
The final hand of the night saw Daniel Negreanu, who had rarely bet all episode after last week’s disaster, finally get involved in a pot. Elezra began the betting with what had become the standard raise to $3,500 with A-7 offsuit. He was called by Sahamies (J-10 offsuit), Negreanu (Q-J offsuit), Greenstein (pocket nines) and Dwan (A-10 offsuit). With a pre-flop pot of $19,100, the players were treated to a flop of Q-Q-A. Greenstein and Dwan checked, whereupon Elezra bet $10,500. Negreanu smooth called his trip queens, Greenstein and Sahamies folded and Dwan called.
With the pot now at $50,600, the turn card was the . After two checks, Negreanu bet $30,000. Dwan, after some thought, made the good laydown, but Elezra called. The river of the didn’t improve either player’s hand, and after Elezra checked, Negreanu bet $75,000 into the $115,600 on the table. Elezra almost immediately threw his hand away.
Once again, the action was fast and furious, largely driven by the irrepressible Tom Dwan, who was involved in almost every hand. As the weeks have gone by, it has continued to be fascinating to watch these eight players try to break one another down and gain an advantage. Thus far, Dwan has certainly been the breakout star of this season, but it is almost certain that some of the other players will continue to take shots at him in the weeks to come. See you next week!
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