This week, Poker After Dark departed from its usual winner-take-all tournament format to feature some of the top cash-game players in the world in a two-week cash game, of which this was the first half. All of the names were familiar to those who have been watching poker on television in recent years: Tom “durrrr” Dwan, Patrik Antonius, Howard Lederer, Eli Elezra, Ilari “Ziigmund” Sahamies, and Phil Ivey. With the exception of Lederer, who tends toward very tight play, all the rest of the competitors are highly aggressive and relatively unpredictable. The poker figured to be exciting, high-wire stuff, and viewers were not disappointed.
Early on in the week, Dwan and Elezra engaged in a number of pots. One of those saw Elezra limp for 400 with Q-9 only to have Dwan raise to 2,600 with A-10. Eli Elezra called, and the two saw a flop of 7-10-Q. Dwan checked and Elezra bet 4,500, which Dwan called. A 4 on the turn changed nothing, and both checked. When another queen fell on the river, and Dwan checked, Elezra bet 24,000 on his three-of-a-kind. Dwan, after a bit of thought, decided to lay down his ten.
Elezra continued to pick up chips in the early part of the game in a hand he straddled for 800. Ivey made it 3,000 to go with . Howard Lederer woke up with pocket aces, and re-raised to 10,000. Elezra, who later explained that he assumed Lederer had a better pair than he did, decided to call with a pair of eights, hoping to catch his set and trap Lederer for a big pot. Ivey decided to call as well. The flop was 9-8-3, with two clubs. Lederer bet 20,000, and Elezra decided to smooth call. Ivey smartly saw that his top pair was no good, and folded. When another 9 came on the turn, Lederer stepped right into the trap and went all-in. Elezra naturally called, and Lederer did not catch an ace on the river, and was felted, causing him to re-buy.
A number of the biggest pots of the week were contested between long-time Internet rivals Dwan and Sahamies. In the first of these, Sahamies straddled, and Ivey raised to 3,000 with . Dwan decided to call with , later explaining that he was trying to be tricky, because there was a lot of proposition betting going on, and he had diamonds coming on the flop as his winner, so he felt that people would think he didn’t have them in his hand. Antonius also called with , as did Elezra with A-Q offsuit. Sahamies also stayed in the hand with . The flop was 9-3-4, with two diamonds. Elezra and Sahmies checked, and Ivey made a continuation bet of 11,000. Dwan, with a lot of options, decided just to call, but Sahamies raised to 41,000 with his flush draw. Ivey got out of the way, but Dwan pushed all-in, knowing that he was likely to be in great shape against anything but the nut flush draw. Sahamies called, and Dwan rivered the better flush, taking the rest of Sahamies’ chips. He bought back in, not for the last time.
The next big hand saw Patrik Antonius limp under the gun with pocket aces. Lederer ALSO had aces, and he raised to 1,700. Dwan called with 7-6, and then Antonius made it 6,200. Lederer raised once more, this time to 21,200, and Dwan got out of the way. Antonius decided just to call, and the two saw a flop of 9-9-K. Antonius checked, and Lederer bet 18,000. Antonius then check-raised to 40,000, and Lederer called. After the turn of the , Antonius bet enough to put Lederer all-in. Lederer was in a tough spot, having been busted once already with cracked aces, but he finally made the call, and was relieved to find that he was at least walking away with half the pot this time.
Next, Dwan and Antonius hooked up in another clash of cash game titans. After Sahamies limped with , Dwan made it 4,000 to go with . Antonius called with , as did Elezra with and Sahamies. With 16,600 in the pot, the flop came 10-10-2, with two spades. Antonius decided to slow play his three-of-a-kind, and checked, perhaps hoping to check-raise. However, everyone else checked as well, including Dwan on the button with his flush draw. When the fell on the turn, Antonius bet 11,000. Two folds followed, but Dwan called, and then hit his flush when the was the river card. Antonius bet 32,000, only to have Dwan make a raise to 96,300! Antonius thought for a long time, but he finally called, adding more to Dwan’s ever-growing stack.
Ivey and Dwan went at it in a hand that began with Sahamies raising to 1,800 with . Ivey called with . Dwan then simply called with A-K, and Antonius followed suit with pocket deuces. A flop of 3-A-7 gave Dwan top pair-top kicker, and Ivey middle pair. Dwan bet 5,700 and Ivey called, while the other two folded. Ivey caught his second pair when the hit on the turn. Dwan bet 14,600 this time, and Ivey called once again. When the showed up on the river, Dwan had to feel comfortable that he had a winner, and with 48,400 in the pot, he bet out another 38,300. Ivey called and took it down.
By this point in the game, the players had agreed to raise the blinds to 300-600, while keeping the 100 ante. Elezra straddled, only to have Sahamies double-straddle to 2,400 and Ivey triple-straddle to 3,600! Lederer raised to 19,800 in the big blind with pocket eights, only to have Ivey push all-in with a pair of nines! Lederer considered making the call, but finally folded.
Dwan and Sahamies tussled again in a hand that Dwan started off with a raise to 2,200 with pocket jacks. Antonius called with , as did Elezra with . Sahamies, who had unsuccessfully been trying to get on track all week with his usually aggressive game, then went all-in with . Dwan explained that he felt he had an automatic call, because Sahamies had been playing a 50,000 black or red proposition bet with Ivey, so Dwan expected him to have two red cards trying to avoid even seeing a flop. Of course, he probably didn’t want to see those two particular cards, however, his thinking was correct, and he went into the flop ahead of Sahamies. The board played out with no aces or kings, and Dwan busted Sahamies yet again.
After the first week’s play, Dwan is, thus far, the big winner, being up over 300,000. Sahamies, on the other hand, is stuck over 200,000, and Lederer, who never really overcame the early cracking of his aces, is down more than 100,000. Antonius is also losing, being 80,000 in the red. Elezra and Phil Ivey are both profitable, but by substantially smaller amounts than Dwan. The game is as interesting as was promised by the line-up, and there should be even more fireworks next week. See you then!
*Read Clearspine’s Blog*