10. Phil Ivey vs. Brad Booth – the Tale of Phil Ivey, Brad Booth, Pocket Kings and 4-high.
In one of the memorable bluffs of High Stakes Poker history, Booth pulls off a well-timed and very gutsy move. This clip is one of the most played High Stakes Poker clip on YouTube, and the amount of commentary on it is staggering.
David Williams opens with J-9 off-suit to $1,800, Brad Booth with a nice looking million stack re-pops it to $5,800 with of spades and Phil Ivey, looking down at two Kings jacks the action up to $14,000. Williams gets out the way and after asking how much Ivey has left, Booth calls the additional $8,200.
The flop comes out 3-7-6 with 2 diamonds and Ivey bets out $23,000. Brad Booth thinks for a while before calmly placing three $100,000 bricks in the middle – effectively putting Phil Ivey all in with his 4-high.
It was such a brutally high-pressured play and for one of the first times, Ivey looked dumbfounded. Could Booth have flopped a set? Two pair? Does he have a hand like 4-5 of diamonds? A-4 of diamonds? Ivey reluctantly folds and this hand is forever engrained as one of the greatest hands on High Stakes Poker.
9. Patrik Antonius vs. Jamie Gold – This Ain’t the WSOP
The last few episodes of season 4 featured a minimum 500K buy-in from all players. Needless to say, this plus the straddle and aggressive players created some monster pots.
Here’s the first one. Antonius opens up for $4,000 with A-J off-suit. Jamie Gold looks down at Kings and says a little speech “feels like Aces” and re-raises to $14,000. Antonius calls the $10,000 and they take the flop heads-up.
It comes out 3-Q-10, giving Antonius an inside straight draw and one over card to Gold’s Kings. Antonius check-calls Gold’s bet of $15,000. The turn brings the ultimate action card – a King – giving Antonius his straight and Gold a set of Kings. Now here’s the beautiful move, Antonius leads out for $45,000 – a perfect bet – which induces Gold to shove his $340,000 stack.
They agree to run the river three times and Gold miraculously manages to draw to a fullhouse on two of them – giving him two thirds of the $750,000 pot. This was the case of a WSOP main event winner butting heads with a veteran cash game pro – it got ugly for Jamie but his luck held up, creating one of the greatest hands on High Stakes Poker in the process.
8. Sam Farha vs. Barry Greenstein – Sammy’s Always the Favourite
When Sam Farha sat down in season 1, he completely dominated the table with sick bluffs, good cards, good flops and well-timed aggression. That is, until this eventful hand. It was the last hand of the night and Barry Greenstein picks up Aces and opens up for $2,500.
On the other side of the table Farha looks down at Kings and re-raises to $12,500. Greenstein, ready to build up the pot, raises an additional $50,000 – a great raise size. It’s really saying to Sammy, let’s get it all in preflop – it makes Farha know that’s it’s either raise or fold this point.
Faced with a $50,000 raise, Sam knows he’s most likely in trouble. Chances are Greenstein has the Aces, it’s unlikely he’s got the other two Kings and probably wouldn’t play two Queens that quickly.
Sam ponders his decision for a few minutes and eventually moves all in. Greenstein instant calls; Farha asks if he wants to run the board twice and Greenstein politely rejects. Miraculously Farha catches his dream King on the flop and proceeds to win the $361,800 pot. Bad luck for Greenstein.
7. Phil Hellmuth vs. Mike Matusow – 7-2 Baby!
In the first few episodes of season 4 they introduced a little side bet where if one player won a hand holding the dreaded 7-2, then players on the table would pay them $500 each. Well Phil Hellmuth decided he wanted to be the first to win the side bet and in doing so, created one of the most interesting hands on High Stakes Poker.
Matusow opens up for $1,800 with K-K and Hellmuth with 7-2 re-raises to $7,000. Mikey just calls and they head to the flop. It comes out Q-6-J and it goes check-check.
An 8 on the turn prompts Hellmuth to bet $17,000 and Mikey just calls. A 6 comes on the river and Hellmuth fires a massive $40,000 bet. Matusow mutters to himself and flips the two Kings up in the muck. Hellmuth, grinning to himself shows the 7-2 and the table erupts.
Based on comments after the hand, Mike thought Hellmuth had a hand like Queens or Jacks which would explain the check on the flop. Also he thought Hellmuth never bets big on the river unless he really has a hand.
This was an example of how good Phil Hellmuth is when he’s in top form. He did everything correctly in the hand and got Mike to fold Kings with surprising finesse. Excellent play by Hellmuth and definitely one of the greatest hands seen on High Stakes Poker.
6. David Benyamine vs. Antonio Esfandari – A Jack/Deuce Hand
Now this was a very interesting hand to watch, not because it was a massive pot, but rather because of the complex thinking process required behind it. I think amateur poker players watching this particular hand will realise just how much thinking you need to do in these high stakes.
On the small blind, David Benyamine raises it up to $2,300 with J-2 offsuit and Antonio Esfandiari on the big blind calls him with 4-3 of spades. Even at this point, I think the two players are in the pot strictly because of their position, not because of their cards.
The flops comes out 9-J-A giving Benyamine middle pair and he fires $4,000. Antonio calls with the sole intention to bluff him out on the turn and river. A 2 on the turn doesn’t slow things down and Benyamine bets $18,000. Antonio then raises it up to $42,000 with his gutshot and position on Benyamine.
Benyamine with two pair pushes it up to $72,000, a very small raise, hoping to induce some more money from Antonio. The two of them start talking hoping to extract some information – Esfandiari asks if Benyamine has 3 Aces and Benyamine, grinning, swears he doesn’t have Aces.
Esfandiari then proceeds to 4-bet Benyamine to $112,000. At this point, I think Benyamine knew he had the best hand, so he decided to just call and check the river blind. An 8 of clubs hits the river and Antonio gives up. Benyamine rakes in $237,400 with his two pair and Antonio is left regretting his raises.
5. Patrik Antonius vs. Sam Farha – The Farha-Antonius Wars
During the last few episodes of Season 4, Patrik Antonius and Sam Farha had been butting heads for a while. The last time they clashed – it resulted in the biggest pot in High Stakes Poker history at the time. Antonius’ pair of 9s went up against Sammy’s King-high flush-draw and the former managed to win three-quarters of the near-million dollar pot, despite it being close 50/50 match up.
In this hand, Sam gets his revenge. Greenstein opens up the pot with A-J to 4K. Sam calls with K-6 of diamonds and Antonius – on the steal – raises to $16,000 with 9-7 of clubs and pushes Greenstein out. But Farha, on the button, calls the additional $12,000 and they take the flop heads up. It comes out A-J-K, all spades.
Patrik bets $30,000 practically drawing dead and Farha calls with middle pair. A 6 of hearts comes on the turn, giving Farha two pair and Antonius fires $80,000. Farha makes the call again and the river blanks. With 9-high, 3 spades on the board and a heart of steel, Patrik makes a $150,000 bet on the river.
Farha doesn’t even hesitate and lines up his chips to make the call. A meek “you got it” from Antonius; Farha takes down the $500,000 pot and the hand ends with the whole table talking about it.
This is what happens when two gamblers, with a lot of money go up against each other. Against anyone else, Antonius may have won the pot with that river bet but against Farha and with the history between the two, it ended badly for the Finnish superstar.
4. David Benyamine vs. Doyle Brunson vs. Daniel Negreanu – Brilliant Benyamine
To watch David Benyamine play on High Stakes Poker is to watch a true high stakes veteran in his zone. Some people are sceptical about this hand – they’re not totally convinced that Benyamine knew exactly what where he was at all times but I think he did. Negreanu opens for $3,500 with 10s9s, Brunson smooth-calls with Queens and Benyamine joins in with 7s5s.
The flop comes out 9-8-3 with two spades. It’s a massive flop for Negreanu who now has a pair and flush draw to boot. He leads out for 20K, Brunson calls with his overpair and so does Benyamine with his straight draw and smaller flush. The turn brings a Queen of spades completing both flushes as well as giving Brunson top set. It’s checked around and the river brings an Ace of hearts.
Benyamine checks, Negreanu value-bets 28K, Brunson calls and then Benyamine makes his move. He check-raises it up to about 100K, and in doing so squeezes Daniel in between himself and Brunson. Negreanu, clearly frustrated and very confused folds the best hand, and Doyle, getting roughly 3:1 odds with his top set makes the call. Upon realising he folded the best hand, Negreanu slams his chips down frustratingly.
What a brilliant play. Based on his comments after the hand, Benyamine wasn’t planning to bet/raise on the river, but when Daniel bet and Doyle called, he thought there was a chance he could take the pot down. This is a prime example of poker playing in its purest sense – knowing exactly where you are each step of the way and manipulating the hand/pot in your favour.
3. Gus Hansen vs. Daniel Negreanu – Icy Cold Cooler
I wish I could say Daniel Negreanu’s horrible luck on High Stakes Poker ended with this hand. But this was only the beginning. Gus Hansen opens up with 55 for $2,100 only to have Negreanu re-raise him with 6-6 to $5,000. Esfandari folds A-Q out of pure respect for the two veterans and Gus takes the flop heads up with Negeranu.
And what a beautiful flop it was 9-6-5, giving both players a set. Gus checks-raises Daniel’s bet of $8,000 to $26,000 which Daniel only smooth calls. The turn brings another 5, giving Gus his quads and Daniel 6s full. Gus leads out for $24,000 and Daniel – slow playing his monster – just smooth calls again.
An insignificant 8 lands on the river and Gus checks it over to Daniel who puts out a value bet of $65,000. To the latter’s shock and horror, Gus comes over the top for an additional $162K+. Daniel reluctantly calls and Gus scoops the biggest pot in High Stakes Poker history at the time. Gus managed to hit his one outer and Daniel’s luck would go downhill from there.
2. Tom Dwan vs. Greenstein vs. Eastgate – Fearless
Tom Dwan sure shook things up when he arrived in Season 5. Before Dwan – big pots usually involved big hands vs. big draws – something like nut flush draw vs. a set, or big coolers AA vs. KK, flush vs. fullhouse – basically the standard plays you always see. When Dwan came along, big pots with nothing became the norm – players contesting with the flimsiest of holdings. Here’s a hand for the poker books. Greenstein opens up with A-A to $2,500 only to have everybody on the table call to see the flop.
The flop comes out 2-10-2 giving Peter Eastgate trip deuces (4h 2h), Greenstein the overpair and Dwan (Qc 10h) a pair of 10s. Eastgate first to act checks his trips, Greenstein bets $10,000 and Dwan makes a raise with the worst hand to 37K. Eastgate and Greenstein both call. A 7 comes on the turn and Eastgate and Greenstein check to Dwan who bets out $104K. Eastgate folds and Greenstein after some thinking lays it down.
I think the crucial moment was when Dwan bet 104K on the turn. It basically sent out the message that he knew what both players had and he was STILL willing to bet that much. That could mean that he had a hand like A-2, K-2, Q-2. The turn bet was his way of saying “the river bet is going to be a lot more boys, who wants to gamble?” Like Gabe Kaplan said “Dwan had the worst hand but the biggest heart”. Who can disagree with that?
1. Tom Dwan vs. Phil Ivey – Heart of Steel
The sickest hand EVER. Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan were the two biggest stacks on the table having busted Phil Hellmuth, Dario Minieri and Jason Mercier. They both had about 700-750K when the hand started.
Phil Laak opens up for $3,900 with A-9 offsuit, Eli calls with A-7 of clubs, Negreanu calls with J-3 of clubs and Ivey with A-6 of diamonds. However, when it gets to Dwan, he makes it an additional 25K with 9-8 of spades. Everybody else folds but Ivey.
The flop comes out 10-Q-K with two diamonds, giving Ivey the nut flush and straight draw. Dwan bets $45,800, representing a hand like Q-Q or K-K. Ivey calls with his draw.
The turn brings a 3 of spades and Dwan bets out $123,200 which Ivey calls again. At this point, Phil is probably putting Dwan on a pretty big hand, which could only explain why he’s just calling – the money he could win if he hits his flush is potentially big dollars. A 6 of clubs hits the river; Ivey misses all his draws but picks up a pair.
There’s about 400K in the pot at this point and Dwan fires the third bullet $268,200. To his credit, Ivey thought about calling for about 10 minutes. Perhaps he thought Dwan on complete air and he could make the sickest call. But he ultimately lays down his pair and Dwan picks up $676,900. Absolutely brilliant play by Dwan and definitely the greatest hand on High Stakes Poker of all time.
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