After two months of re-runs, Poker After Dark presented a new week of programming, with “Lonesome Shark” week. The concept for the tournament was to get six successful players together who were all bachelors, and have the table talk revolve more around their personal lives and loves rather than poker. The players, in order of seat position, were Erick Lindgren, James Akenhead, Antonio Esfandiari, Mike Matusow, David Williams, and Brad Booth.
Aside from the poker, played in the normal Poker After Dark format of a winner-take-all $120,000 tourney, there was an opportunity to hear about the ups and downs of living as a single, somewhat wealthy young man in a city such as Las Vegas, where all of the players other than Akenhead and Booth reside. Lindgren commented that he keeps telling his mother that he’s “just waiting for the right stripper.” Esfandiari pointed out that not only are 85% of the women that you meet from out of town, but also that they are behaving differently than they would at home, simply because they are in Vegas. Interestingly, the players, who usually seem so dynamic at the table, came across about as socially adept as your average Revenge of the Nerds character, and as Lindgren pointed out, you could see why they were all still single.
On the poker side of things, Williams raised an early hand under the gun to 600 with pocket aces, and Esfandiari three-bet to 1,700 in the small blind with queens. Williams chose just to call so as not to sound the alarm bells for Esfandiari. The flop brought 5-8-8 and Esfandiari bet 2,600, eliciting just a smooth call from Williams. Unfortunately for Williams, the turn card was the , and Esfandiari slowed down because of the overcard, checking over to Williams, who bet 4,200. Esfandiari called, but when a third spade, the 10, came on the river, Esfandiari folded to Williams’ attempt at a value bet of 5,000, saving a decent portion of his stack.
Lindgren has had a very bad history on Poker After Dark, and this week was no exception. Under the gun, he raised to 800 with pocket jacks, only to have Booth call in the big blind with K-5 offsuit. The flop was 10-5-2, and Booth made a small donk bet of 300, which Lindgren raised to 1,500. Booth called, and then hit the jackpot when the came on the turn. He checked, and Lindgren pushed for his last 6,550, which Booth insta-called. The river was the and Lindgren was eliminated in 6th place.
The next critical hand began with Esfandiari raising to 800 with A-J. Matusow, who was almost completely card dead all week, finally had a decent hand to play and called on the button with A-Q, and Williams made a somewhat loose call in the small blind with . The flop brought J-9-3, with one club. Williams decided to check and see what transpired. Esfandiari bet 1,600 and Matusow folded. Williams, not wanting to see the pot get too big yet, just called. The turn was the , adding lots of drawing outs for Williams. He checked once again, and Esfandiari bet 3,700. Williams, feeling that the river would be difficult for him to play whether or not he hit his hand, decided to utilize some fold equity by pushing all-in, which would force Esfandiari to make a decision for his tournament life. Esfandiari asked Williams what he wanted him to do, and Williams said he didn’t care. Esfandiari read that response as weakness, and made the call, however Williams hit the on the river to make two pair, take the chip lead and knock Esfandiari out in 5th place.
Booth had been cruising along in either first or second place for much of the early part of the week, until tangling with Akenhead in a hand that Booth admitted he played poorly. Akenhead raised to 1,100 with pocket deuces, and Booth made a somewhat odd min-raise to 1,800 in the big blind with . Akenhead called, and a huge action flop came down, with the board reading K-2-8, with two spades! Booth bet 1,200 and Akenhead smooth-called. The was the turn card, and Booth made a minimum bet of 400. Akenhead now raised to 3,700, but Booth didn’t slow down at all, re-raising to 17,400 and putting Akenhead all-in. Naturally, Akenhead called, and the on the river gave Akenhead the 41,000 chip pot.
Things went quickly downhill for Brad Booth after that. He limped under the gun with and Akenhead raised to 2,600 with K-J. The flop of 3-K-10 brought a check from Booth, an all-in bet from Akenhead and a call. The and the on the turn and river brought no additional help for Booth and he was gone back to the Yukon in 4th place.
With things down to the final three players, Matusow was becoming increasingly short-stacked, and with Akenhead literally raising every single button, Matusow’s K-10 in the small blind looked like it should be strong enough to be a favorite, and he shoved his last 8,600 into the pot. However, this time, Akenhead had A-8, and after a flop of 2-6-4, an ace on the turn finished Matusow off in 3rd place. As has been the case with almost all of Matusow’s televised appearances as of late, he really doesn’t seem to be into playing the matches very much, lamenting his perceived bad luck and just not having any fire for the game whatsoever. He seems to have become merely a shell of a once very dynamic poker player, and it is somewhat sad to watch.
Akenhead and Williams now engaged in the longest heads-up match in Poker After Dark history, over three hours. Williams felt he had picked up a tell on Akenhead, and exploited it early on in their confrontation. He raised to 1,600 with , and when Akenhead three-bet to 4,800 with K-7, Williams saw what he thought was that tell indicating a less than premium hand from Akenhead. He popped it once again to 14,100, and Akenhead folded.
Williams’ aggression, coupled with Akenhead’s lack of cards, caused Williams’ chip lead to grow to a little over 3:1, when the critical hand of the week occurred. Williams raised to 3,600 with , and Akenhead shoved his remaining 29,100 into the pot with . Williams called, and seemed to be safe when the flop brought 10-3-K, with two hearts. But the on the turn gave Akenhead the lead, and when the river didn’t bring a heart, jack or queen (it was the ), Akenhead had gotten back to even in one fell swoop.
From there, Akenhead continued his pattern of never calling or folding on the button, and David Williams went completely card dead, basically folding down from about 50,000 in chips to 25,000. With the blinds all the way up to 2,000-4,000, Williams was forced to push with , the first face card he had seen in quite a while. Akenhead decided to call with K-6. While those two hands would lead to a chop more than 1/3 of the time, the flop of 10-3-4 made it much more likely that the six would play, and the ace on the turn and eight on the river meant that James Akenhead, in his first appearance on Poker After Dark, was this week’s champion.
See you next week!