As was the case with the first three weeks of the series, PokerStars.net took a break from new programming this week to give us a compilation of highlights from weeks 4-6. This time, they even went back to include footage from the first three weeks to mix in with the newer material, so this week’s shows were more of a review of everything that has happened so far on the series. As with the first “best of” week, each day was themed, beginning with a night of big pots (all from weeks 4-6, with each pot over $100,000), and moving on to “Behind the Poker Face,” “Legends,” “Daniel’s Favorite Hands,” and “Young Guns Night.”
Once again, the best show of the week was the “Behind the Poker Face” episode. For those unfamiliar with the show’s format, one of the most fascinating aspects of The Big Game is how frequently the producers interview either one or both players involved in particularly interesting hands to see what their thought processes were while they played. While we can assume that there is a certain amount of dissembling and rewriting of history that takes place in the aftermath (these are poker players, after all), the players seem to be remarkably candid in taking us through how they put players on ranges and utilize the various levels of thinking in the attempt to take a pot down.
While a number of the segments on this episode were repeats of ones previously seen, two of them had never been viewed before (the only “new” footage in the entire week). Both of them involved Scott Seiver, who absolutely dominated the game during his week at the table. The first hand began with a raise from Daniel Negreanu with pocket sixes, which Seiver, sitting directly behind him and in position, called with J-8. Todd Brunson, who had been upholding his reputation as an absolute rock of a tight player, also came along for the ride in the blind with A-4. The flop brought 2-5-8 with two clubs (no one had clubs), and Brunson checked. Negreanu made a normal size continuation bet of a little less than half the pot, and both his opponents called. A queen fell on the turn, and Negreanu fired a second barrel, this time $11,000. Seiver quickly called, and Brunson got out of the way. When a jack came on the river, Negreanu checked, but Seiver put out a river bet of $40,000 into the pot of $49,000. Negreanu agonized for close to five minutes, and finally folded.
In the analysis, we got to see a back-and-forth of both players’ appraisal of the hand. Negreanu acknowledged how difficult it was to play with Seiver sitting in position over him all night, and knew from experience that Seiver’s pre-flop call could have been with any two cards. For his part, Seiver knew the types of suited connector hands that Negreanu loves to play, and felt comfortable making the call in position. Once the flop was out, Negreanu was fairly confident his pair was best with just one minor overcard on the board, however both players gave pause when Brunson also called the flop bet, not realizing that he was just hoping to hit a gut-shot straight. When the queen came on the turn, Seiver was concerned that Brunson also had an eight with a better kicker than his, and deliberately made the call of Negreanu’s turn bet very quickly, in order to try and get Brunson to fold a better hand. As it turned out, Brunson would have folded anyway. When the jack hit the board, Seiver was almost 100% certain that he was good, so he needed to try to put together the best bet size. Since he is known as a player who will keep firing at the pot whether or not he has anything at all, he wants to get paid off when he actually hits a hand. And so, he crafted a bet designed to look like it could have been just a huge bluff, to put Negreanu to the test. Negreanu finally recognized that was exactly what Seiver was doing, and made the proper laydown.
The second piece of new footage was a hand between Seiver and the Loose Cannon Aaron Jensen. Jensen raised in early position with and Seiver three-bet in the small blind with A-7. The flop brought 5-4-4 with two diamonds, and both players checked. The turn card was the , Seiver checked, and Jensen made about a half-pot sized bet. Seiver called, and the river was the . He checked, and when Jensen put out another big bet on the river, Seiver paused for a long time, and finally made the call, taking down the pot with just ace high.
Seiver began his analysis of the hand by saying that Jensen had just taken down a big pot from Lex Veldhuis with K-Q, and appeared to be feeling good about having gotten the chips and looked ready for more action. Therefore, Seiver felt that Jensen could be betting with a wider range of hands than usual, so he made the three-bet out of position hoping to take down the pot right there. Unfortunately, Jensen called, but after both checked the flop, Seiver began to narrow Jensen’s hand down to what he felt was likely two Broadway cards lower than an ace. When the jack came on the turn, and Jensen bet it, Seiver recognized that a jack was certainly within the range he had put him on, but he still felt there was a very good chance that Jensen was just trying to steal the pot. After the river card, Seiver saw that K-Q was about the only hand he could beat, however, if Jensen DIDN’T have a jack, it was also unlikely that he had a ten, since he would have a difficult time value betting just second pair, unless of course he had exactly J-10, in which case Seiver was beaten on the turn. So, going with that assumption, he felt there was a strong enough chance that Jensen had exactly K-Q to make the call, and he was rewarded by taking down a nice pot.
For those who have been following the show, this was the only night that was worth a re-visit, although if you watch it on the Internet, for some reason the web site was showing the FIRST best of series, rather than this one, so you would need to find it elsewhere. If you don’t regularly watch the program, there are lots of terrific hands to view, as well as some of the war between Phil Hellmuth and Tony G. from the very first week that never fails to entertain.
At this point, it is unclear when PokerStars will release new episodes of the show. Based on their earlier pattern, we can probably expect four weeks of reruns now before we see something new again. However, when that moment arrives, you can be sure we’ll be here to cover it.
See you then!