Two weeks of telecasts have taken place, and two players, Phil Hellmuth and Andreas Hoivold, have been felted and chosen not to rebuy. All of the players agree that this lineup is about as tough a murderer’s row of poker players as have ever been seen on television. Starting tonight’s action, Phil Ivey continued to be the big winner with a profit of over $250,000, with Gus Hansen up $135,000. Let’s see how the third week played out:
Ivey opened the first hand with a raise to $3,000 with . Daniel Negreanu continued his tight play by FOLDING A-10. Hansen called with , and Dario Minieri also called with pocket fours, not having seen that Tom Dwan had exposed the four of hearts when he mucked his hand. Eli Elezra also called with J-10. Minieri hit the case four when the flop came Q-4-J, and he checked. Elezra bet $6,500, and Ivey called. Minieri then raised to $23,000, and the other two wisely folded.
Hansen limped in on the next hand with . Dwan then raised to $4,000 with , which Antonio Esfandiari called with K-J, having just been chastised for how few hands he had been playing. Minieri then raised to $18,300 with , which only Dwan called. When K-10-10 came on the flop, both players checked. The turn card was a 9, and Dwan bet $31,800 into the $44,000 pot. Minieri folded the best hand, and commentator Gabe Kaplan stated that maybe one player in a hundred was capable of winning that pot with J-7. Kaplan fell in love with Dwan’s play during the last season, and he is clearly still impressed.
Next, Ivey limped with 6-4, as did Hansen with J-5. Dwan completed in the small blind with K-9 and Esfandiari checked his option with 6-3. The flop of J-Q-J gave Hansen three jacks. Dwan led out for $2,800 with his inside straight draw. After Esfandiari folded, Ivey CALLED, obviously looking to make a play later in the hand, and Hansen called as well. The fell on the turn, and after Dwan checked, Ivey bet $9,000 into the $13,000 pot. Hansen called once more, and Dwan folded. After the came on the river, Ivey checked and then folded to Hansen’s bet of $22,200.
At this point, Jason Mercier entered, after an interview with Kara Scott during which he seemed somewhat apprehensive about the table and the size of the stakes. He also was somewhat taken aback to find out that the ante on each hand is $200, and in addition, arrived just in time for an Eli Elezra-inspired round of straddles. Mercier was dealt pocket deuces, and raised to $5,500. However, when Dwan popped it to $19,200 with A-3 on the button, Mercier folded, inspiring side bet action from Elezra about which of the two players had the better hand. Elezra offered 3 to 1 odds that Mercier’s hand was better, and got substantial action from Esfandiari. Elezra won the bet when Mercier actually revealed his hand, gleaning some information in addition to Esfandiari’s money.
Next, Hansen raised to $5,600 with A-K, which Ivey called with pocket eights. On a flop of 5-J-J, Hansen made the continuation bet of $6,800 after Ivey checked. Ivey made the call, and then called again when another five came on the turn and Hansen bet $13,200. When the river brought a seven, Hansen refused to fire the third bullet, and Ivey took down the hand.
After a chopped pot between Minieri and Mercier, when both players had A-J, Elezra limped with Q-10, only to have Ivey raise to $5,000 with 10-9. Negreanu called with , as did Hansen with and Elezra. The flop brought 7-J-J with two diamonds, and everyone checked. After the came on the turn, the first three players checked again, so Hansen decided to try and take the pot with a bet of $18,800. Negreanu called, but both checked the on the river, and Hansen’s ace high was good.
In the second biggest pot of the night, Hansen started with a raise to $4,200 with ! Dwan called with , and so did Elezra with . The flop was K-9-3, with one spade and one heart. Elezra checked and Hansen bet $9,900, which Elezra called after Dwan folded. The was the turn card, and Elezra checked again. Hansen continued right on with his bluff, this time betting $25,500 into the $34,400 already in the pot. Elezra called once again. Now, the came on the river, and after Elezra’s check, Hansen fired one more time, this time $62,200. Kaplan mentioned that Elezra had thrown away pairs of kings in similar situations in seasons past, and that maybe Hansen had watched the shows. This time, Elezra called, and Hansen lamented his play in a post-hand interview with Kara Scott, as he felt that the river bet, with the ace falling, really looked like a bluff, since if he had kings, he really shouldn’t like the ace.
Minieri started the action on the next hand by raising to $3,000 with . He was called by Elezra (A-9 offsuit), Dwan () and Esfandiari (). Dwan hit two pair on a 2-5-4 flop but checked his hand, as did all the other players. When a king hit the turn, Dwan still refused to bet, and it was checked around one more time. Another 5 came on the river, a card Dwan could not have liked to see. Esfandiari took a shot at the pot with a bet of $9,000, but after Elezra called with his ace-high, Dwan folded the best hand! Afterwards, he lamented how badly he had played the hand.
Mercier limped in to the next deal with , and was followed into the pot by Negreanu with and Dwan with A-7. Esfandiari then raised to $6,100 with on the button. Elezra called with pocket deuces, and so did Mercier and Negreanu. Dwan, somewhat out of character, decided to fold. The flop was . Elezra and Mercier checked, but Negreanu, with top pair, decided to bet $12,000. Esfandiari and Elezra folded, but Mercier check-raised to $29,200, and Negreanu made the proper laydown.
The final hand of the night saw some fireworks between Negreanu and Dwan. After Negreanu raised to $3,000 with , Dwan made it $11,200 to go with pocket queens. Ivey called with a pair of eights, and so did Negreanu. The flop was 4-9-J, with one diamond. Ivey and Negreanu checked, but Dwan bet $18,200 into the pot of $35,400. Ivey folded, but Negreanu pushed for his last $88,400. Dwan called, and agreed to run it twice. Dwan took the first round with the and on the turn and river, but after the turn the second time around left Negreanu hanging by a slim thread, he hit the on the river for a split of the pot.
Tonight’s action saw some loosening of the reins, particularly by Negreanu and Elezra, leading to some very interesting play, although there was still a paucity of huge pots that have been seen so frequently on High Stakes Poker. This season has been quite entertaining through the first three weeks, and there is no reason to think that the action will be any less enjoyable in the weeks to come. See you next week!