The final group of players sat down to continue a highly entertaining season of High Stakes Poker, which thus far has featured more imaginative play, particularly pre-flop, than any previous year. Joining holdovers Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu and Tom Dwan were High Stakes Poker veterans Doyle Brunson, Eli Elezra, Mike Matusow and David Benyamine, as well as first-timer Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier. Once again, Dwan and Ivey bought in for $500,000, while Negreanu left the $341,0000 he had after the last session in play, Brunson played $300,000 and the other four $200,000. Incidentally, Brunson entered play with an amazing streak of 16 straight televised cash game appearances in which he has been profitable. Let’s see how tonight show played out.
Tom Dwan, who had been a big winner in the first two sessions, got off to a good start when he found under the gun. He raised to $3,200 and was called by Elezra in the big blind with Q-10. Both players checked the flop of 8-J-6, with two hearts. Another six came on the turn, and Elezra bet out $4,500, which Dwan called. When a 10 fell on the river, both checked, and Elezra took the first pot with his rivered pair of tens.
Brunson limped into the next pot for $800 with A-10. Benyamine called with K-9, as did Ivey, with Q-9. Negreanu then raised to $6,800 with , which only Brunson called. The flop brought 9-2-5, with one heart, and both players checked. The turn card was the , and Brunson tried to take down the pot with a bet of $15,500 into the $18,000 already in the middle. Negreanu called, and both checked the river . Negreanu took the pot, while Brunson sarcastically said, “Nice play Doyle.”
Next, Ivey raised to $4,000 with 10-5, Negreanu called with 4-2 and Brunson also played with . Two spades and a club were part of the 4-9-5 flop. Ivey bet $10,000. Negreanu folded, but Brunson called with his open-ended straight draw. When the hit the turn, Brunson checked again, and Ivey bet $26,000 into the $34,000 pot. Brunson called again. The river’s gave Ivey trips, and after Brunson checked a third time, Ivey bet $60,000 hoping that Brunson actually had a hand, but Brunson folded his missed draw.
Four players limped into the next hand, as Negreanu (J-9), Elezra (Q-9), Grospellier (small blind with K-8) and Benyamine (big blind with 8-2) all played. The flop brought 5-J-10, and Negreanu bet $3,500 on the strength of top pair, which only Elezra called, with his straight draw. Elezra hit his hand when an 8 appeared on the turn, and he just called Negreanu’s bet of $10,200. The river was the , and Negreanu bet again, this time $18,600. Elezra raised another $40,000, and Negreanu made the proper laydown.
Dwan raised the next hand to $3,200 with , Negreanu re-raised to $15,200 with A-9, and Dwan called. The flop was 4-J-6, with two hearts. Negreanu bet $23,500, and Dwan called. When another jack fell on the turn, Negreanu gave up the lead in the betting by checking, and Dwan, quick to recognize the opportunity, bet $56,800, pushing Negreanu off the best hand.
The next hand was the best one of the night, featuring both questionable and outstanding play. Negreanu started it by raising to $3,000 with . Brunson, as has been his habit with big pairs in past seasons of the show, just called with pocket queens, and Benyamine also called with . The flop brought 9-3-8, with two spades. Negreanu bet $8,500, and the other two players called. The turn card was the , making huge hands for all three players. All of them decided to check, and the river then brought the . Benyamine checked, and Negreanu bet $26,200. Brunson called with his set of queens, but then Benyamine RAISED to $101,200! In a post-hand interview with Kara Scott, Benyamine said that he felt that Negreanu likely had a slightly better flush than he did, but with Brunson calling, he felt he could put Negreanu in an uncomfortable position in the middle of the other two and get him to fold, and then, with Brunson getting good odds, have Brunson call with the type of hand he actually had. That is exactly what transpired, as Negreanu folded and Brunson called, and Benyamine took down the huge pot.
Elezra raised the next pot to $3,000 with A-K, which Brunson called with pocket threes. Benyamine, also holding A-K, then three-bet to $18,700, which Elezra called. Brunson got out of the way, and the two remaining players saw a flop of Q-4-9, with two clubs. Both players checked, and another club, the three, fell on the turn (it would have made Brunson a set). Both checked again, and the came on the river. Elezra bet $22,000, Benyamine called, and they chopped the pot.
Brunson limped into the next hand with . Benyamine followed with the same hand in hearts, Elezra also called with A-6 and Dwan checked in the big blind with 7-4. The flop was 4-3-7, with two diamonds. Three players checked to Benyamine, who tried to steal the pot with a bet of $3,300. Elezra called with his inside straight draw, but Dwan, with top two pair, raised to $19,600, and the others folded.
Negreanu raised to $3,000 with pocket jacks, which Elezra raised to $13,000 with A-9. Negreanu called the bet, and the two saw a flop of 10-Q-2. Negreanu played passively by check-calling Elezra’s $19,900 bet, and then, when another queen came on the turn, check-calling another bet, this time $25,000. His desire to keep the pot small then backfired when the fell on the river. For some reason, Elezra didn’t make a value bet, but still took the $118,600 pot.
Ivey opened with a raise to $4,000 with A-10, and Brunson once again smooth-called with a big pair, this time kings. The flop came with all diamonds, the 3-2-10. Brunson checked and so did Ivey. Brunson, who had the only diamond, made his flush when the was the turn card, but he checked again, as did Ivey. The was the river card, and this time Brunson bet $5,500, and Ivey paid him off.
Elezra raised the next hand to $3,000 with , which Dwan called with . The flop of K-4-5 had one spade and two hearts. Elezra bet $5,200 on his middle pair, and Dwan raised him to $18,600. Elezra called. The on the turn and the on the river saw both players check the hand down, and Elezra won the pot with his pair of fours, causing him to say, “Tom Dwan. You don’t need much to beat him.”
Grospellier finally played a hand, raising to $3,000 with J-7, and Ivey called with pocket eights, and promptly flopped a set on a board of 2-7-8 rainbow. Ivey bet $5,000, which Grospellier called, but when the hit the turn, and Ivey bet $15,000, Grospellier made the good laydown.
The final hand of the evening saw Ivey raise to $4,000 with , which Elezra called with A-J, as did Dwan with K-Q. The flop came 5-4-J, with two diamonds. Elezra and Dwan checked, and Ivey bet $10,000, which Elezra called, while Dwan folded. The was the turn card, and Elezra called Ivey’s bet once again, this time $25,000. The came on the river, Elezra bet $38,800 and Ivey folded.
Two things of note from tonight’s episode: Doyle Brunson was down $150,000, putting his winning streak in serious jeopardy right off the bat, and Mike Matusow, despite his usual stream of running commentary, did not play a single hand, drawing some good-natured abuse from his fellow players. The play tonight continued the strong trend of the entire season, highlighted by Benyamine’s inventive river raise. The show looks as if it is headed for a strong finish, and next week’s teaser promised the appearance of Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond adding to an already stacked lineup.
See you then!
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