If you like watching High Stakes Poker, here is the episode you could not wait to see. On 11/5, GSN aired the most anticipated episode of HSP yet, the $500,000 buy-in! Every player that bought in had to buy-in for at LEAST a half million dollars, and some did for more than that. This means there is always $5,000,000 or more on the table at once! Easily the largest cash game ever televised. Even some of the seasoned pros and legends said that they thought they couldn’t afford to play this high. Doyle Brunson was quoted saying “There’s only one guy sitting in that game that can really afford to play this high, and that’s Guy [Laliberte].”
Just put this in perspective. In most poker tournaments today (with the exception of the main event) if you were to win $500,000 that would be a very large win. Now, these players are risking $500,000 or more every single hand that they play. You can expect to see a $1,000,000 pot or higher, which will shatter the old record of High Stakes Poker. Enough, talk, let’s get to the action.
The game starts with most people that have played on HSP before, except one. Around the table we have Antonio Esfandiari, Sammy Farha, David Benyamine, Patrik Antonius, Guy Laliberte (amateur poker player, he is a billionaire that is a co-founder of Cirque du Soleil), Jamie Gold, Doyle Brunson, and Barry Greenstein. The first thing I noticed was the amazing mounds of cash that surrounded the players. It was unbelievable to see that much money on the table! Even Greenstein said “Doesn’t it seem like we have too much cash on the table?” I am pretty sure he has played in high stake games before, but most of them would use only chips not actual cash.
The blinds are set at $300/$600 with a mandatory $1200 straddle and $100 ante from every player. The action started off fast, with Benyamine raising to $4000 with 88. Right next to him Patrik Antonius called with 32, Guy Laliberte calls with AJ, and Jamie Gold called with 84 on the button. The blinds fold and it was a 4 way pot that saw the flop of 6TA. Benyamine was first to act and checked, Antonius checked as well and Guy bet $12,000. When it got to Gold he immediately declared raise (he has nothing but 8 high!) and made it $32,000 to go. Benyamine and Antonius fold and when it gets back to Guy he re-raises and makes it $82,000. Gold laughs and shows his 84 and Gabe Kaplan says, “Lesson number one for the potentially best bluffer in the world, don’t try to bluff billionaires.”
The next hand Benyamine limped in with 55 UTG and Guy makes it $4000 with JJ. It folds around to Sammy Farha who calls with 32 and Benyamine calls. The flop comes down TJ4, and it checks around to Guy, who fires out $12,000. Sammy called and Benyamine folds. The turn drops a 5 and Sammy hits his flush (Benyamine would have also hit a set) and this time Sammy fires out $50,000 into a pot that was only $37,700. I guess Sammy overbet the pot because he thought Guy would have a pair and maybe a higher club, and he is a billionaire so he would call. Guy eventually does call and now the pot is $137,700. He needs the board to pair, and low and behold the river brings the 5 (remember Benyamine’s hand? He would have had quads!) Farha fires out $80,000 and Guy after some stalling re-raises $200,000 making it $280,000 to go. Sammy eventually folds his low flush and Guy wins the $297,700 pot.
The next hand starts off with Jamie Gold limping with 97 which then creates a round of limping behind him, Doyle Brunson with T8, Antonio Esfandiari with Q8, Sammy Farha with 96, David Benyamine with A3, and Antonius checks his 22. This is a 6 way pot seeing the flop of K4J. Players check around to Doyle who bets $6,000. It folds back to Gold who just calls. The turn dropped the dream card for Doyle, the A, and Gold quickly checks. Doyle bet $25,000 into a $20,000 pot and Gold said “I came here to do one thing, take a big pot from Doyle. I promised I would bluff him out of a big pot today, but I might have a hand. I raise.” He then makes it $125,000 to go. His demeanor is very confident and Doyle keeps staring him down. I think at this point Doyle realized Gold had a flush as well, but now came the tough part, was it a higher flush? After thinking some more, Doyle eventually threw away his ten high flush which had Gold drawing dead. I was pretty shocked to see him fold, not because it was a terrible fold, but just because it was Doyle Brunson. It goes to show that even the best can’t be perfect at this game.
In that hand Doyle must have thought that if Jamie had a flush, it had to be higher than his. He trusted his instincts and folded and even though they were wrong, he went with his gut. I highly doubt he was playing with scared money, but he was worried about the size of the bet he would face on the river because if Doyle called, the pot would be nearly $300,000. He made the decision to fold rather than calling and folding to a river bet, since he didn’t think Gold was bluffing. I’m not claiming to be anywhere near Doyle skill wise, but if there was one person I would think about felting this hand against it would be Gold. I think the would play 32 the same way here. But I guess it is a lot easier writing all of this rather than calling with my own money. Pretty sick hand, and Antonio shows his radar was working today because he said “I think Doyle mucked a flush.”
I think Guy made sure his luckbox was on before he came, because he already won a few sizeable pots and was making pretty strange plays. In this next hand, Doyle limped with KQ UTG, and 4 others joined him, Greenstein with A6, Benyamine with T7, Guy with AT, and Gold checked his K9. The flop came down 875 and it checked around to Benyamine on the button who bets $4000. Guy decides to call here, with only ace high and some runner runner draws. This is definitely not a standard play, but maybe he thought since the money was so deep it was worth seeing a turn card (or maybe he is just a billionaire?). Barry also calls and 3 way action to the turn, which falls the Q. The players check around, and the river drops the 2, which is gin for Guy. He fires out $17,000, Barry folds, and Benyamine thinks for a few before eventually calling. Guy then scoops up the $53,100 pot and is on fire in his first episode of High Stakes Poker.
Later in the episode it folds to Gold with K4s on the button who makes it $5200. Doyle is in the small blind and wakes up with AKo, but just decides to flat call here. Then when it is on Barry in the big blind, he senses his hand is probably good and re-raises to $32,000 with TT. Antonio folds his 62o in the straddle, but looked like he might make a play, Gold folds and Doyle says “OK Boss” and throws away his AK. Barry wins the the $44,400 preflop pot which is his first of the day.
There wasn’t too much preflop action, and I assume it had a lot to do with how deep the players were (or the quality of hands dealt) and there was more limping. In this hand, Guy started it off by limping with A7, Gold then called with J7, Doyle with T6, Greenstein with QT, Esfandiari with A8, and Farha checked his 85. The flop came 523, and it was checked to Farha who bet out $5,000. Guy was next to act with just the bottom end of a gut shot straight draw and ace high, but calls. This is even worse than the call he made earlier because now he had 4 people to act after him. Even if he were to hit his straight I doubt he would get paid off since the board would read 2345. The turn came the J, Sammy checked, and Guy also checked behind. The river was of course the 4, and Sammy check/folds to a $10,000 bet from Guy. Guy continues to hit good and win pot after pot.
Finally we see some real action in the next hand. It starts with Guy limping in with 97, Gold also calls with KT, Esfandiari calls with A9, and Benyamine in the straddle raises to $21,200 with 72. Guy folded, Gold instantly calls, and Esfandiari folds. Benyamine is pulling a little Jamie Gold talk and says “Alright now we get to see a bluffing pot.” The flop was 683 and Benyamine and Gold keep chatting about who is going to bluff who out in this hand. Benyamine eventually fires out $38,000 into a $46,200 pot and says “that’s the low cards I was scared about but I have to gamble.” Gold keeps talking back and eventually makes the call with just king high. The pot is now $122,200 and both players have nothing. The turn comes J and after some deliberation Benyamine eventually fires a second barrel for $80,000 and Gold instantly folds. I guess Gold called on the flop to take it away on the turn if Benyamine checked, but didn’t feel he would fire 2 shots. It was a good bluff by Benyamine and he proudly turned it up for the table to see.
The final hand of the night starts with Antonio limping in UTG with AA. This is something I have seen him do many times on previous episodes and he always likes to trap. He is hoping someone will raise, but no one will oblige as Guy limps with T7o, and Barry checks with 84. The flop is a dangerous one for Barry, 48A and he bets out $3000. Antonio just calls continuing to slow play or maybe fearing a flush. The turn brought the K and Barry bet $6,000, Antonio just called again. When the river fell the Q Barry bet $15,000. Now Antonio was acting as if he was going to fold by saying “This is so sick, I can’t believe I want to lay this hand down.” I am not sure why he would fold here, unless he was just messing around. He either thought Barry had a flush or a bluff, so didn’t see value in raising and just called the $15,000 winning a $53,300 pot. Everyone was pretty shocked to see top set from Antonio after the table talk, especially Barry.
That ended the action for the night and the first episode of the $500,000 buy-in. There wasn’t any huge pots or too many chips flying, but I still enjoyed it. I imagine the later episodes are going to start to get very interesting, and I can’t wait to see that one million dollar pot! (Assuming it will happen) In the previews for next weeks episode we see Guy tossing money around raising $150,000, and what looks like a HUGE pot between Antonius and Gold. It ends with Gold saying all-in and Antonus instantly calling. I can not wait to see the hands next week!
High Stakes Poker runs every Monday at 9:00 PM EST on GSN .