After a first week of telecasts of Poker After Dark that saw Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, and Eli Elezra beating the game, and Howard Lederer, Patrik Antonius, and Ilari Sahamies in the red, poker watchers had to be excited about the prospect of watching these six top cash-game players continue to battle on the felt. Between the game itself, and the huge prop betting that was going on, a few million dollars were in play, and with the six-player format, and this particular group of players, action was guaranteed. The players redrew for seats before week #2, which shifted the dynamics somewhat, however, most of these players never let a little thing like position keep them out of a hand, and that remained the case during this week’s telecasts.
One of the early hands saw Sahmies limp with 9-8, followed by calls from Eli Elezra with , Lederer with A-4 and a check from Ivey in the big blind with 10-2. The flop of 10-7-2 gave Ivey top and bottom pair and Sahamies the open-ended straight draw. Ivey checked, and Sahamies bet out 1,500. After two folds, Ivey raised to 7,500, which Sahmies called. A queen fell on the turn, and Ivey bet 17,000, which was called once more by the aggressive Finnish player. When a king came on the river, Ivey checked, and Sahamies tried to take the pot away with an almost pot-sized bet of 51,000! Phil Ivey, however, showed why he is considered the best player in the world by making the big call, taking down the pot.
Dwan and Antonius went at it soon after, with Dwan raising to 2,200 in the cutoff with A-8, and Antonius calling in the big blind with . The flop of gave Antonius an open-ended straight-flush draw, and he decided to check, hoping that Dwan would bet at the pot. However, Dwan, with middle pair, checked behind, and was rewarded by the coming on the turn, giving him two pair. When Antonius checked again, Dwan bet 3,800 into the 5,300 pot, and Antonius now raised to 16,200 with his monster draw. Dwan called. Now the river brought the , giving Antonius three-of-a-kind, and he made a value bet of 32,000. Dwan thought for awhile, but finally made the call, shipping the 101,700 pot to Antonius.
This hand began a bad run for Dwan who saw over 100,000 come out of the over 300,000 dollars profit he had amassed during the first week. However, he got back on track in a hand against Ivey that he played in the unpredictable style that has become Dwan’s trademark. The hand began with Ivey raising to 3,000 with A-J, which Dwan called in the big blind with . Both checked the flop of 8-2-7. Another 7 fell on the turn, and Dwan checked once more! Ivey now couldn’t resist what looked like a pot that no one wanted, and he bet 4,000. Dwan then raised to 16,500 and Ivey, somewhat confused by the way Dwan had played the hand thus far, called. When another 2 came on the river, Dwan bet 39,300, and Ivey hesitated, and then called, both to see if his ace kicker was good, and wanting to get information for the future about how Dwan played the hand.
In a table filled with action players (with the exception of Lederer, who played his normal tight game and, surprisingly, Elezra, whose usual aggressive game was very muted by the presence of the other four, whom he acknowledged at the end of the week as the best no limit cash game players in the world), the most unpredictable was Sahmies, who had been the big loser in the first week, and was trying to get some traction at the table. After Antonius limped in for 600 with , Sahamies raised to 4,000 with 5-3 offsuit! Ivey called with , and so did Antonius. The flop was 7-J-7, and both Ivey and Antonius checked. Sahamies fired out 9,000, and after Ivey folded, Antonius raised to 28,000 with his trip sevens. Not to be outdone, Sahamies then re-raised to 65,000, however, after Antonius raised once again to 202,200, Sahamies finally gave it up.
Despite his big loss in this hand, Sahamies made a huge comeback from more than a quarter-million dollar loss to get back to even, largely due to the following two hands. In the first of them, he raised to 4,500 with . Dwan called with , as did Ivey with Q-J and Antonius with . A flop of 3-7-9 saw all four players check! When another 9 came on the turn, Ivey and Antonius checked again, but Sahamies bet 9,000, which Dwan raised to 28,300. After the other two players folded, Sahamies just called. When another 7 fell on the river, Sahamies smartly checked, and Dwan bet 48,700, and was stunned when Sahamies raised to 130,000. Dwan agonized for minutes, but finally made the proper laydown.
The second hand saw Ivey start the action by raising to 3,000 with in the cutoff. Antonius called on the button with pocket sixes, and then Sahamies just smooth-called *!* with a pair of jacks. Elezra also called with Q-9. The flop of J-10-4, with two clubs, gave Sahamies his set, and left Elezra and Ivey with draws. Both Sahamies and Elezra checked, and Ivey followed through on his pre-flop raise with a bet of 8,000. Antonius folded, but Sahamies raised to 23,000. Elezra, continuing his uncharacteristic tight play, refused to chase his draw, but Ivey called. The turn was the , and Ivey called Sahamies’ bet of 43,000, hoping to hit his flush on the river. He did! However, the also gave Sahamies the full house! Sahamies now pushed all-in for almost 300,000! Ivey thought long and hard, but finally laid it down, which is why he is Phil Ivey. Sahamies realized in retrospect that he had made a big mistake either by not making a smaller bet or checking to let Ivey lead at the pot.
One of the more interesting hands of the week didn’t involve quite as much money as some of the huge pots played, but showed just how dynamic and creative these players are. After Antonius raised on the button to 4,000 with , Sahamies called in the small blind with and Dwan also called in the big blind with . The flop of 6-2-Q, with one spade and one club, had a little something for everyone. Sahamies and Dwan checked it over to Antonius, who bet 9,000, no doubt expecting to take the pot down right there with top pair-good kicker. However, Sahamies, with middle pair, raised it to 26,000, and then Dwan re-raised to 55,800! Antonius quickly folded *!*, but Sahamies, after much thought, made the call! The turn of the caused both players to check, and they also checked the river of the . Dwan realized after the fact that he probably could have won the hand with another bet on the turn, but he was simply outplayed by Sahamies’ tough call on the flop.
While Sahamies had worked extremely hard to get his stack into the black, one late misstep made him a small net loser for the show. He raised to 4,500 with , which Elezra called with . Ivey, however, had pocket aces, and he raised to 19,000. Sahamies called, and Elezra folded. Ivey bet out 30,000 on a flop of Q-6-3, whereupon Sahmies raised to 90,000 with absolute air! Ivey called, and then both players checked down a turn 6 and the river 4.
The big winner for the two-week show was the redoubtable Ivey, who walked away with over 320,000. For fans of high-stakes poker, the combination of this group of players and a six-player table was as good as it gets. The play showed why all of these players are at the top of any list of great cash-game specialists. One can only hope that Poker After Dark will continue to bring together these types of players in this type of format in future weeks.
See you next week!
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