The PokerStars Big Game is rapidly becoming the most interesting poker show on television. Combining the huge bets of High Stakes Poker with a staked Loose Cannon who MUST gamble with the $100,000 he’s been given to play is proving to be an amazingly entertaining format. At no time was that more true than this week, when an explosive lineup sat down, featuring, in order of seating: Loose Cannon Aaron Jensen, Tony G., Vanessa Rousso, Daniel Negreanu, Scott Seiver, and Todd Brunson. The variety of styles represented by these six figured to provide fireworks all session, and we were not disappointed at any time during the week.
Prior to the last show, many noteworthy things had taken place. Tony G. ran into an extraordinary series of unfortunate events very early on in the week. It began in just the fourth out of the 150 played hands, when he raised to $1,200 in the small blind with 6-5, and Rousso decided just to smooth-call with pocket aces in the big blind. Tony G. bet $2,000 in the dark, and hit a huge flop of 6-J-5! Rousso now showed the strength of her hand by raising to $5,000, but Tony G. made it $20,000! Rousso decided to slow down and call, and then hit the on the turn, which also brought a third spade to the board. Tony G. bet $10,000 and Rousso called once again. Tony G. now checked in the dark, and the river was a sick . Tony G. started goading Rousso into making a huge river bet, and she obliged, pushing all-in, which Tony G. snap-called, only to see that Rousso’s full house was better than his. She won a pot of nearly $200,000.
From that point on, things only got worse for Tony G., and, after rebuying, he was finally felted when a flush draw failed to come in against Seiver’s flopped two pair. Tony G. didn’t even make it out of the second night of the show, and lost a whopping $278,600!
After Lex Veldhuis took Tony G.’s seat, play continued, with the other major story being the demise of the Loose Cannon. While Jensen played at a level much more like the professionals at the table than the previously staked players, making some very creative moves to take down pots along the way, he ran into some bad cards and eventually some bad timing as the week progressed. Having been whittled down to about $65,000 with a little more than 30 hands left, he got involved in a hand which began with Negreanu raising to $1,500 with J-9, which Seiver called with Q-J. Jensen now made it $5,000 with A-Q and the other two players called. The flop was 7-9-K, and Jensen shoved for his last $60,000. Negreanu made the good read and called with middle pair, and when the turn and river brought a five and a six, Jensen was eliminated from the game.
To give you an idea of what the action was like almost all week, consider this hand: Negreanu raised to $1,200 with . Sevier called with . Brunson, who was by far the tightest player all week, also called with K-Q, as did Veldhuis with pocket sixes. Rousso now made a pot-sized raise (remember that the Big Game is pot limit pre-flop, no limit afterwards) to $7,800 with a pair of eights! Negreanu and Seiver called, and Brunson folded, but Veldhuis now re-potted to $40,700, which was almost his entire remaining stack! Not to be outdone or outplayed, Rousso now came up with another raise to $139,800 to isolate Veldhuis, and induced folds from the other two players. This play was rewarded when the flop brought , which would have given Negreanu the nut flush! Rousso made a set on the turn and won the $99,600 pot.
Going into the final night, Seiver, who had gotten involved in over HALF the pots all week, was up $218,000, having also won more than ¼ of the hands played. Rousso was $176,000 to the good, Brunson had ridden his tight style to a profit of $47,000, and Negreanu was ahead $6,900. Besides the players who had left the table, Laak was down about $9,000 in limited action, and Veldhuis was $61,000 in the red.
In a confrontation between the big winners, Seiver raised to $1,500 with A-6, and Rousso called with in the small blind. The flop was 4-5-2, and Rousso bet $2,000, which Seiver called. The , which was a third club, came on the turn, and this time Rousso bet $7,000, which Seiver called once again. The fell on the river, and Rousso checked. Seiver now bet $12,000 into the $22,000 pot, and Rousso called, only to be beaten by a higher straight. Seiver took down the $46,000 pot.
Negreanu and Seiver clashed repeatedly all week, and this hand was typical of just how much the best of it Seiver had over Negreanu. Negreanu raised to $1,500 in the small blind with A-K, and Seiver re-raised to $4,100 with (he continually kept pressure on his opponents all week with bets like this one). Negreanu called, and the two saw a flop of 10-5-2, with two clubs. Seiver bet $6,800 and Negreanu called. The turn was the , and both players checked. Seiver then spiked the on the river, and won a pot of $22,400 when both checked it down.
Next, Negreanu raised to $1,500 with , which Seiver called with pocket eights. Brunson now three-bet to $5,500 with A-Q, but Rousso, also with A-Q put in ANOTHER raise to $15,000. The other three players all folded, with Seiver clearly concerned that Brunson, still to act behind him, could have a better pair. But Brunson decided his A-Q was unlikely to be good against Rousso, who had also played tighter than the rest of the table during the week, and he folded, saying that Rousso was the only one to whom he would have made the laydown.
Seiver raised to $1,200 with Q-9, which Laak called on the button with , as did Rousso in the big blind with A-3. All three checked the flop of 8-A-6, but the turn card of the gave Laak a straight. Rousso, still with top pair, bet $2,500, but Seiver, with an open-ended straight draw, put the pressure on with a raise to $10,300. Laak called, and Rousso, realizing top pair was not going to be good, folded. The river card was the , Seiver checked, and Laak bet $22,400, causing Seiver to fold.
In one final confrontation between Negreanu and Seiver, with Veldhuis straddling, Negreanu raised to $3,000 with pocket sixes. Seiver called on the button with J-8, as did Brunson with in the small blind. The flop was 2-8-5 with two clubs. Brunson checked, and Negreanu led out for $5,500. The other two players called. The turn card was the , Brunson checked once again, and Negreanu bet $11,000. Seiver quickly called and Brunson folded. The came on the river, and this time, Negreanu checked. Seiver now bet $40,000 into the pot of $49,300, making it look like he was trying to run a huge bluff. Negreanu tanked for a long time, doing a respectable Phil Laak impersonation trying to analyze the hand. Meanwhile, Laak snuck over to hostess Amanda Leatherman, saying he thought Seiver had J-8 of clubs, a very fine read. Negreanu, clearly completely frustrated by Seiver outplaying and outdrawing him all week, finally made the correct fold.
Veldhuis raised the next hand to $1,500 with , and Rousso made it $4,000 with (yes, it was just that kind of week!). Seiver naturally four-bet to $12,100 with pocket fours, and then when Veldhuis went to $30,600 and Rousso folded, Seiver pushed it up to $96,600, finally getting Veldhuis to fold, and then showing the as he threw his hand away.
When all was said and done, Seiver’s profit of $251,200 was the largest seen on the show to date. He was followed by Rousso, who banked $131,500, Brunson (+ $47,300) and Laak (+$40,800). The losers, besides Tony G. and Jensen, were Negreanu (-$4,600) and Veldhuis (-$87,900). It was a remarkable week of entertaining poker, highlighted by Seiver pulling out almost every play conceivable in 150 hands of play, as well as the others being forced to match his creativity in order to survive. Leatherman spoke for all the viewers at the end of the show, telling Seiver he was welcome back any time. Hopefully, that time will come very soon.
See you next week!