For the past five weeks, the same eight players have been battling on the felt for cash game supremacy. This would be the last episode for this group of players, who will be replaced next week by an almost entirely new cast of characters. With all the fireworks that have taken place up until now, we could only hope that they would go out with a bang. That was, in fact, to be the case.
The very first hand was emblematic of the effect that Tom “Durrr” Dwan has had on this table. With the blinds remaining at 500-1,000, with an ante of 200, Eli Elezra called with . Illari “zligmund” Sahamies raised to $6,000 with pocket sevens, Dwan called with and Elezra called, creating a pre-flop pot of $20,600.
The flop brought A-10-5, with two clubs. All three players checked. The came on the turn, and the players checked again. The river was the , and Dwan, sensing the weakness at the table that he has been so attuned to all season, bet $52,200 with 6 high! The other two folded, and Dwan took the pot.
On the next hand, 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Peter Eastgate put on a live straddle of $2,000, and Doyle Brunson double straddled to $4,000, putting $9,100 in the pot before a single bet was made. Barry Greenstein, who has been the other dominant player at the table, raised to $15,000 with . Eastgate called with and Brunson called with an unsuited J-9.
The flop was J-7-3, with one spade, and the pot was already at $48,100. Eastgate checked, Brunson bet $35,000 with top pair, and Greenstein called with top-pair, top kicker, feeling that Brunson would have check-raised a really big hand. Eastgate, sensing the same thing, then raised to $104,000 with middle pair! Brunson folded what he now realized was a beaten hand, and Greenstein called. The pot was now $291,100. The turn was the , giving both players flush draws to go along with their pairs. Eastgate checked, and Greenstein fired out a bet of $175,000. Eastgate, after some thought, finally folded the hand. Eli Elezra, who has been a fairly consistent commentator, particularly with regard to Greenstein’s play in the last few episodes, told Barry it was the first time he’s seen him shaking on television, and Greenstein said it was a sign of old age, then joked that shaking is usually a tell for a very strong hand, and said that he wasn’t going anywhere on that hand.
The next hand saw Greenstein and Dwan put on the live straddle and double straddle. David Benyamine raised to $20,000 with pocket nines, Sahamies called with , and Daniel Negreanu, who has thus far been the big loser at the table, having been felted twice, called with . Greenstein then raised to $175,000 with , creating a pot of $241,400. The other players all folded, and Greenstein had now run his original $200,000 into more than $900,000! This set the scene for what was to become the biggest pot ever played in the five seasons of High Stakes Poker.
The hand began with Peter Eastgate raising to $3,000 with big slick (A-K). Greenstein woke up to pocket aces, and re-raised to $15,000. Dwan, after much deliberation, called with , and Eastgate also called. The flop brought Q-4-2, with two spades. Dwan, with top pair and a flush draw, led out with a bet of $28,700 into the $47,400 pot. Eastgate folded and Greenstein raised to $100,000. Dwan, knowing that he was either even money or a favorite against just about any hand, including an overpair, re-raised to $244,600 and Greenstein then put Dwan all-in, creating a final pot of $919,600!!!
There was a brief discussion of how many times to run out the rest of the board. Dwan suggested they run it twice, but Greenstein, as is his habit, refused. However, Greenstein then countered by suggesting they each pull $200,000 off the table, which Dwan would not do, and so it came down to a coin flip, with each player having a 50% chance of winning. The turn was the , giving Dwan trip queens, and leaving Greenstein dead to the final ace (remember that Eastgate had one). It didn’t come, and Dwan won the massive pot. As a side comment, it should be noted that during the season, Greenstein and Dwan played three pots where one of them had pocket aces. In each case, the aces lost, first when Dwan made his season-defining huge bluff in the second week, next when Greenstein turned two pair in week four to crack Dwan’s rockets, and finally this huge hand.
Remarkably, even though Greenstein lost this pot of almost a million dollars, he was still up about $250,000, a tribute to how skillfully he has played this season, picking his spots and being selectively aggressive. Although Dwan was the breakout star of this group, Greenstein clearly showed why he is one of the most feared cash game players on the planet.
After this hand was completed, the show focused on the player who has consistently had bad luck throughout the years the show has been on the air, Daniel Negreanu. The first hand he was in started with Dwan raising to $3,800 with , Sahamies called with and Negreanu called with . The flop was A-3-4 with one of each player’s suit. Negreanu checked, Dwan bet $9,700 into the $13,800 pot, Sahamies called and Negreanu check-raised to $32,000. Dwan folded, and Sahamies re-raised Negreanu all-in. Negreanu called, and when they found out they both had the same hand, they decided to chop the pot without further play.
On the very next hand, Sahamies raised to $4,500 with ! Negreanu called with K-Q offsuit, and the players were heads-up going to the flop, which came Q-6-3. Sahamies bet $8,000 into the $11,300 pot, and Negreanu decided to slow-play his top pair, just calling. As with almost every decision he has made, this was to turn out very badly for Kid Poker, as the turn brought the ! Sahamies made an almost pot-sized bet of $27,000, and Negreanu went all-in, only to find out the bad news that Sahamies had trips. Negreanu was felted for the third time this season, and decided to quit the game, leaving a nice tip for the dealer nonetheless, a very sportsmanlike gesture on his part.
Since Doyle Brunson had been absent from the table for the last few hands, the players were now playing six-handed. Eastgate raised to $3,500 with . Dwan called with , and David Benyamine raised to $16,000 with pocket nines. Both players called, and the pre-flop pot was $49,200. The flop was Q-Q-9, giving Benyamine the full house. Dwan checked, and Benyamine bet $28,000. Eastgate called with his two pair and Dwan folded. Commentator Gabe Kaplan noted that Eastgate didn’t want to get pushed around, and was also likely playing the hand because of Benyamine’s reputation as someone who likes to gamble. However, it is to be mentioned that Benyamine’s play on High Stakes Poker has been very straightforward, where he has almost always only bet when he really has a hand.
The turn was the and Benyamine led out with $28,000, which Eastgate once more called. The came on the river, and Benyamine bet $75,000 into the $181,200 pot. Eastgate called once again, and Benyamine won the pot of $331,200.
The last major pot for this group began with Eastgate putting on the live straddle. Benyamine called with K-10 offsuit, Elezra followed suit with , Sahamies also called with A-2 offsuit and Eastgate checked with 6-4. The flop of Q-6-4 gave Eastgate bottom two pair, which he decided to check. The other three also checked, and the turn was the ! Now Eastgate led out with $5,000 and Elezra raised to $15,000 with his open-ended straight draw, hoping to take down a huge pot if he hit the straight, but not realizing he was drawing completely dead! Eastgate just called the bet, and the pot was now $39,200. The river was the , the absolute worst card that could come for Elezra. He bet $55,000, only to have Eastgate go all-in. Elezra, completely fooled by Eastgate’s slow play, called, and Eastgate took down the pot of $416,600.
In the final analysis, this six-week stint was a coming-out party for Tom Dwan, who was clearly the dominant force at the table. Although long known as one of the best Internet players in the world, this was a chance to show off his skills as a live cash game player, and he took full advantage of the opportunity. The other major winners were Benyamine, who capitalized on a few huge hands, and Greenstein, who used controlled aggression to win some pots with less than the best hands. Negreanu was the big loser, and probably the other major disappointment was the showing of Sahamies, another legendary Internet player, who seemed to lose his edge in a lot of the play, and gave up on a number of pots he could have won with more sustained effort. Next week brings seven new players, plus the return of Negreanu, looking to change his luck. See you then!
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