The latest episode of High Stakes Poker featured a new lineup of familiar faces and the somewhat stale combination of unremarkable pots and constant table chatter. The theme of the episode, and we're guessing the next several, is whether Doyle Brunson will finish this season of High Stakes Poker in the hole, ending his streak of 16 straight profitable TV appearances. By the end of his first hour of High Stakes Poker this year, Bunson's got his work cut out for him. Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier made his HSP debut, but we'll have to wait until next week to see much from him.
Cast: Phil Ivey, Tom "durrrr" Dwan and Daniel Negreanu joined this week by Brunson, Mike Matusow, Eli Elezra, Grospellier, and David Benyamine (or David Benjamin according to Gabe Kaplan)
Set-up Hand: It took a real cooler to get the Godfather of Poker stuck over $100,000, Kid Poker hopping mad, and David Benyamine looking smug. The producers couldn't have done any better if they'd rigged the deck. Negreanu opened to $3,000 with , and Brunson did a "Phil Laak impression," just calling with . Benyamine came along from the small blind with . The flop fell , giving Negreanu top pair and both Negreanu and Benyamine flush draws. Benyamine checked, and Negreanu bet $8,500. Doyle flatted again, as did Benyamine. The turn was the real fireworks card - the .
But instead of fireworks, all three players checked. After the on the river, Benyamine checked a third street, and Negreanu bet $26,200. Brunson called and it was Benyamine's turn to check-raise his weaker flush. He made it $101,200, and Negreanu frustratedly talking himself into a fold, giving up the best hand. With Negreanu out of the way, Brunson then talking himself into a call with top set. Benyamine showed his seven-high flush, and Negreanu jumped out of his seat in disgust. Pretty impressive when a player can achieve both goals of betting at one time - getting a better hand to fold and a weaker hand to call.
Highlight of the night: While Brunson ended the episode down money, he won big points for his spot-on impression of Phil Ivey's Full Tilt commercial. It's worth watching the show just to see Brunson intone, "We're all playing the same game...Well, almost."
Proof Grospellier was there: At the beginning of the episode, the veteran players joked that between Dwan and Grospellier, they'd never be able to get into a hand. But Grospellier preferred to watch the action instead, barely saying a word and not getting involved in many pots. In the only big hand we saw him play, Grospellier raised to $3,000 with , and Ivey called him out of the blinds with . The flop came . Between Grospellier's middle pair and Ivey's top set, Kaplan predicted a giant pot. Ivey bet $5,000 on the flop, and Grospellier just called. Then on the turn, Ivey bet again, and Grospellier got away from it. So much for crazy Grospellier action.
The Matusow dilemma: What's the opposite of seen but not heard? Mike "the Mouth" Matusow. He talked throughout the entire show but never played a pot. Brunson snapped at Matusow that he was only running his mouth to get more air time. Negreanu called out Matusow several times for not getting involved on the felt, warning him that if he never plays a pot he won't be invited back next season. But Matusow said he wasn't worried. He'd be back for sure because he keeps the show interesting with all his chatter. It's a real question. What's more important for the success of a poker TV show? High-action pots or high-volume banter?
We might get an answer next week, when Phil "OMGClayAiken" Galfond joins the show. Galfond may be the opposite of Matusow, letting his chips do all the talking at the table but scarcely going a hand without making a statement. See how Galfond's entrance changes the dynamic and whether Brunson can get some of his cash back on next week's episode. High Stakes Poker airs at 8:00 pm EST on the GSN.
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