As the High Stakes Poker season begins to wind down to its end, the players that took over the table last week started off strongly, with aggressive play coming from a number of different quarters. It raised the hope that they could finish this fifth season as strongly as the first group began it. The players this week were, once again, Doyle Brunson, Phil Laak, Eli Elezra, Tom “durrrr” Dwan, Mike Baxter, Dario Minieri, David “Viffer” Peat and Alan Meltzer, and the stakes remained $400-$800, with a $200 ante.
Elezra put on the live straddle for the first hand of the night. Laak called the $1,600 with . Peat then raised to $6,500 with an unsuited Q-J, and was called by Dwan , Meltzer and Laak. The flop came 5-3-8, with two clubs. All four players checked. The turn was the , and after two checks, Peat, the pre-flop aggressor, bet $20,500 into the $30,000 pot. Dwan and Meltzer folded, but Laak decided to call with his flush draw. The river was the , and Laak checked. Peat then bet $50,000 into the $71,000 pot. Laak agonized over his decision, but finally folded the best hand.
Peat raised the next hand to $2,500 with , which Dwan (A-Q unsuited), Meltzer (A-7 unsuited), Baxter (J-8 unsuited) and Elezra (K-9 unsuited) all called, leaving the pre-flop pot at $14,100. The flop brought 5-J-10. The first four players checked, and Meltzer bet $7,000. Baxter immediately raised to $21,000, and everyone folded to Meltzer, who RAISED to $58,000! Baxter folded, and Meltzer revealed his hand to the table.
In the break in between hands, commentators AJ Benza and Gabe Kaplan discussed the two bluffs that began the show, particularly Meltzer’s, since he showed his hand. Kaplan talked about how most players expect someone who showed a bluff to then tighten up, which might cause them to actually continue bluffing as a next-level play.
After a very quick hand that Minieri won with a pre-flop re-raise with Q-7(!), Meltzer called with A-8 unsuited. Elezra made a minimum raise (one of the first in High Stakes Poker history) to $1,600 with K-10 offsuit, and Minieri re-raised to $9,200 with an unsuited 6-4. Meltzer folded, but Elezra called, and then checked in the dark before the flop, which came 6-10-4, giving Elezra top pair, but Minieri bottom two pair. Minieri bet $14,000 and Elezra called, leaving the pot at $50,000. The turn was the , and Elezra checked once again. Minieri now bet $37,000 and Elezra folded, saying he saw something in Dario that told him he had a big hand.
Laak raised the next hand to $2,600 with pocket jacks, which Dwan (pocket eights) and Meltzer () both called. With the pot at $10,600, the flop came 3-9-9. Laak checked, and Dwan bet $6,300. Meltzer folded, but Laak called. The turn card was the , and both players checked. The river didn’t change anything, and both players checked once again. Laak once again won the absolute minimum with a very good hand, something that has occurred again and again during this season. Laak’s miseries tonight were just beginning, but first we were treated to two huge pots, both featuring the Big Papa himself, Doyle Brunson.
David Peat raised the first of the two hands to $2,500 with and Brunson re-raised to $10,500 with pocket aces. Peat called, and the flop of A-10-2 with two diamonds insured that the fireworks were just beginning. Brunson bet $20,000 into the $23,800 in the middle, and Peat RAISED to $125,000! Brunson naturally went all-in for a total of $171,100, and Peat called. The players decided to run the rest of the hand twice, and the $366,000 was up for grabs. The first turn and river were the and the , and Brunson drew first blood. The second set of cards were the and the , and Brunson took down the massive pot.
On the very next hand, Meltzer called with pocket fives, as did Baxter (unsuited A-2), Elezra (unsuited 6-5), Brunson and Minieri (10-9 offsuit). The flop was 9-10-3, with two spades. After Brunson checked, Minieri bet $3,700. Baxter made an unusual call, and Brunson then raised to $25,000. With the pot at $38,000, Minieri decided to go all-in for his last $98,100. Baxter folded, and Brunson called with his bottom pair- flush draw combination. Once again, the players ran out the hand twice, and once again, the player with the flush draw lost both times. This time, the turn cards of a nine the first time and a ten the second time (giving Minieri full houses each time) had Brunson drawing completely dead, and Minieri won the entire pot.
Peat called on the next hand with , as did Dwan (unsuited 7-5) and Minieri . Laak then raised to $50,800 (!????!) with his pocket aces. Everyone folded, and the table showered abuse on Laak for his play, a verbal beating that continued for the rest of the evening, particularly from David Peat, who seemed completely under Laak’s skin.
On the next hand, Dwan raised to $3,000 with , and was called by Meltzer’s and Brunson’s . The flop was A-5-J, with one card in each player’s suit. All three checked, and the turn brought the , which caused all three to check once again. The river was the , and after Dwan checked, Meltzer bet $2,000, thinking his king kicker was likely to be the best. Brunson folded his queen, and Dwan then raised to $22,000, representing that he had a big hand all along and was playing possum. As this seemed like a totally unlikely way for Dwan to play the hand, Meltzer decided to call, and took down the pot.
The next hand continued Phil Laak’s run of playing hands both passively and poorly. After Brunson raised to $3,500 with an unsuited 6-5, Laak chose to call with pocket nines, as did Dwan with . When the flop brought the 3-7-10, with two hearts, Dwan bet $10,200 into the $12,700 pot, and Laak meekly folded, showing no desire to run up against Dwan, who he has avoided playing against all season.
Minieri began the action on the next hand by calling with Q-9 offsuit. Laak also called with pocket fives, as did Peat with a pair of kings. Dwan then raised to $6,300 with , Laak called (after Minieri folded), and Peat re-raised to $20,800. Both Dwan and Laak called, and the pre-flop pot stood at $65,800. The flop was 7-3-7, with two hearts. Laak checked, and Peat bet $50,000. Dwan came back with a raise to $150,000, and after Laak folded, Peat went all-in, which Dwan called. With the pot at $400,400, the players decided to run it twice. Unlike the earlier missed flush draws of Peat and Brunson, Dwan hit his draw the first time through with the on the river. However, the on the second turn gave Peat a full house, and a chop of the pot.
The final hand saw Mike Baxter raise to $3,000 with . Dwan then popped it to $11,700 with . Baxter put in a third raise to $31,700, and Dwan called. With the pot at $65,800, the flop brought 3-5-9 with no hearts. Both players checked, and the turn of the 8s didn’t change the situation. Both players checked once again, and the river was the . Dwan now made a value bet of $34,300, and Baxter, after some thought decided to call, not wanting to be bluffed by Dwan, and remembering the previous hand with Meltzer. Dwan gladly took down the $134,400 in the middle.
Once again, the play this week, with the glaring exception of Laak, showed quite a lot of aggressiveness and imagination. A few big bluffs succeeded, and we saw some massive pots played out. This group of players has thus far proven to be a much more balanced table then either of the other two sets of stars. Other aggressive players have largely neutralized Dwan, and it will be fascinating to see how the final episodes play out.
See you there!
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