Gold Wins (Most Of) Record-Breaking HSP Pot
Last Monday night, I was watching an episode of “High Stakes Poker” on the Game Show Network. This was a special session where the buy-in was $500,000, and they encouraged the players to bring pounds of cash to the table. Can you imagine the $50,000 “bricks of cash” (five $10,000 packets of $100 bills, all wrapped together) piled high in front of each player? It was quite a sight to behold. And can you imagine the size of some of the pots? After all, more than one player bought in for $1 million.
Let’s just say this: It was a good day to get lucky.
We shot “HSP” over three days, filming three eight-hour sessions. Each session was turned into four one-hour television shows, and three days of filming turned into 12 episodes of “High Stakes Poker.” Personally, I played the first two days — when the buy-in was $100,000 — but I skipped the $500,000 buy-in, even though I was up $300,000 after the first two days of play. Risking $500,000 in one hand seems a little bit crazy — even to a guy like me.
The participants in the game were Sammy Farha, Barry Greenstein, David Benjamin, Patrick Antonius, Jamie Gold, Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson, Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari and Cirque du Soleil founder, Guy Laliberte (who was donating most of his winnings to his charitable foundation). I believe good money management dictates that a player should have at least $20 million in cash in order to play in this game. Although this group has been very successful over the years, I’m not sure how many of them have deep enough bankrolls ($20 million in cash!) to play in this game, other than Laliberte. However, it is common practice among the poker players to sell a “piece” of yourself when you play in a huge game like this one.
The blinds were $300-$600-$1,200 — it is very unusual to have three blinds — with a $100 ante. With about 10 minutes to go in the show, a monster pot came up. Antonius opened for $4,000, with A-J. Gold made it $14,000 to go with K-K, saying, “I hope everyone folds, I would like to win the pot.” When the flop came down Qd-10h-3s, Antonius checked, Gold bet out $15,000 and Antonius called. The turn card was the Kh. Antonius made the best-possible hand (an ace-high straight), and Gold made three kings. Antonius bet out $45,000, and Gold announced, “I raise.” Gold then counted his chips for about one minute, before he announced, “I’m all-in.” Gold called the $45,000 bet, and raised a whopping $296,000. Antonius called immediately, making this a $743,000 pot — the biggest in “HSP” history. Then Gold asked, “Do you want to run it three times?”
In other words, Gold offered Antonius the option of dealing three separate “last cards,” each worth almost $250,000 (one-third of the pot). Dealing more than one last card takes some of the luck out of the game, and it is common practice in the high-stakes side games.
Antonius — a 77-to-23 favorite — agreed to three times, and Gold hit a queen to win the first one, a three to win the second and finally, Antonius hit an eight to win the third.
Let’s take a closer look at this record-setting pot. I liked Antonius’ opening bet of $4,000 with A-J, I liked Gold’s $10,000 reraise with K-K and I liked Antonius’ $10,000 call. On the flop, Gold’s $15,000 bet was fine with me (some players would have bet more, say, $25,000, as the pot contained $32,000 or so), as was Antonius’ $15,000 call. On the turn, I loved Antonius’ $45,000 bet. Too often, players check when they make a strong hand to try to lure their opponent into betting. Antonius fired right out! This $45,000 bet should have given Gold pause. I mean, if the king made him trips but Antonius was the one who bet out big, what was Antonius likely to have? (Hint: not a king.) Thus, Gold should have just called on the turn — not raised — because he risked getting $350,000 into the $62,000 pot as an over-3-to-1 underdog. Also, by simply calling the bet on the turn, he would give Antonius the chance to bluff again (in case Antonius was bluffing), or bet his two pair again (in case Antonius had Q-10 or something similar). So I hate Gold’s raise on the turn — only the hand that beats him can call.
The king on the turn was an “amateur trap,” and it is tough for an amateur to not raise it up in this situation. However, a seasoned pro is supposed to see that trap and avoid falling into it — having fallen into it a few times myself.
When you make trips and your opponent gets excited:
A) Slow down and look at all of the possibilities
B) Bet very aggressively
C) Fold your hand
D) Move all-in immediately.