After a previous episode that felt more like the final table of a big tournament than a deep-stacked cash game, High Stakes Poker was back in familiar territory this week. Four of the eight players at the table were felted last week, but the pace was a little slower during episode six, as a new lineup took their time getting acclimated. It took a few commercial breaks for the action to get juicy, but the new group promises high drama for the rest of the season.
Cast: Phil Ivey, Tom "durrrr" Dwan, and Daniel Negreanu returned this week, while Patrik Antonius, Barry Greenstein, Andrew "Good2cu" Robl, Lex Veldhuis, and Dennis Phillips joined the party. Of course, the character that did the most talking was the $2.6 million on the table.
Theme of the week: The power of "durrrr" river. Credit for that pun goes to announcer Gabe Kaplan, who repeated it enough this week to make sure we all got it. The moral of episode six is just stay out of durrrr's way. If he's not ahead yet, he'll get there. Too bad his repeat victims were both players who earn their money by being poker's nice guys, or we'd have had some actual drama. First Dwan rivered two pair to best Dennis Phillips' top pair, top kicker and earned a rarely seen pout from the trucker. Then he binked middle two pair on the river to take a pot from Negreanu's top pair and got paid off again. A few minutes later, Dwan rivered a straight against Phillips. Durrrr held on a suspicious board and got Phillips to call his three-quarter pot-bet on the river with just . Durrrr's steamrolling wasn't over yet. He also turned a straight and earned a pretty pot when Negreanu rivered two pair.
Spot the amateur: After getting rivered the first time by Dwan, Phillips wanted to show the table he could hang with the big dogs. He already looked proud of himself when he raised to $3,500 with . Durrrr called with . The flop came , and Phillips threw out a continuation bet. Dwan folded, and Phillips couldn't resist showing that he'd won the tiny pot with bottom pair bottom, bottom kicker. Sure, it might get him paid off later, but really he just wanted to show the cool kids that he could act like them, too.
Best live player burn: Daniel Negreanu turned a king-high straight flush but didn't get to showdown after everyone folded. He asked to rabbit hunt the river since he'd never made a royal flush before. The river didn't change that, and Lex "RaSZi" Veldhuis and Andrew Robl couldn't believe that Negreanu had never hit a royal before. "Well, you're a live player," said RaSZi. "You play like 300 hands a year."
Biggest disappointment: At the end of last week's episode, we were promised a clash between Phil Ivey's pocket kings and Patrik Antontius' pocket aces, and we were all expecting something very explosive and very expensive. Turns out it was neither cataclysmic nor bank breaking. At least we didn't have to wait long for the anti-climactic moment. The hand occurred less than five minutes into the show.
Barry Greenstein opened to 3,000 from early position, and Phil Ivey looked down at and raised to $13,000. Mr. Antonius found when he checked his hole cards and put in another raise to $36,400. Greenstein got out of the way, and Ivey decided to flat call. The flop came , perhaps the perfect flop to save one of these two a lot of money. Antonius checked, and Ivey checked behind. It was check-check again on the even uglier turn. The fell on the river, making Ivey a king-high straight. PA checked, and Ivey bet $45,000. Antonius paid to see it, and Ivey scooped the large-but-not-large-enough-to-satisfy-us pot. After the hand, Ivey told Kara Scott that they made have played it differently had it been later in the session or had they been sitting behind a measly $200,000 rather than half a million dollars a piece.
Seen but not heard: We were told Barry Greenstein was on the show, and we think we caught his mug in a few shots, but we never heard him say a word. He opened one hand and snap-folded after getting reraised by Ivey and four-bet by Antonius. Don't think we saw him in another hand all night. Feeling OK, Barry?
Kaplan Speaks the Truth: Sometimes the poker veterans know what they're talking about. Our favorite Kaplan gem of the night: "Poker players are notoriously lazy. If a poker player goes to the bank and the laundry in the same day, it's a huge achievement. For some guys, just getting 'em to go to the laundry is a huge achievement."
Best European-on-European Violence: Patrik Antonius tried to muck his hand before realizing he was the big blind and holding on to it. Veldhuis quickly swooped in and raised to $3,500 with . Phillips and Ivey also called, so Antonius came along with . And he was glad he did when the flop came . Antonius checked, and Veldhuis bet $12,800. Phillips and Ivey folded, and Antonius called. He again checked the turn and called when RaSZI made another $31,500 stab at the pot. The river was the . P.A. checked again, and Veldhuis finally gave up and checked behind, shipping the $104,200 pot to the Finn.
Donation of the night: See above for a description of professional-bluffer Veldhuis donating to trip queens. A few hands later, he paid the price for three ladies once again. We were starting to think Andrew Robl had joined Barry Greenstein in napping through the episode. Negreanu opened to $3,000 with , and Veldhuis repopped to $11,000 with the much, much better . Robl finally decided to join the action when he squeezed , opting to flat call Lex's three-bet. The flop came , giving Robl top set. Negreanu checked, Veldhuis bet $23,800, and Robl called. Negreanu ducked out, and the two Internet powerhouses were heads up to see the on the turn. Robl checked, and Veldhuis didn't take the bait. But he did fall for it when Robl checked the on the river. RaSZi bet $54,000 into the $82,000 pot, leaving himself about $85,000 behind. Perhaps thinking he's only get called by broadway, Robl decided just to call. "I have a set," Robl said. "It's probably good," Veldhuis deadpanned.
MVP of the episode: Since Lex was the big loser of the night, we thought he deserved his own award to cheer him up. Thank you, RaSZi, for turning a few of this episode's hands into good television and spicing things up with some great one-liners.
Verdict: We'll wait until next week to pass judgment on the latest HSP cast of characters. We already know that Ivey, durrrr, and Antonius are high-stakes ninjas. High Stakes Poker will need to extract more than that from this lineup to keep us interested. Dennis Phillips is the most out of his element, and RaSZi might just be flat-out nuts, which should be the story lines that keep on giving this season. We also hope to hear more from Greenstein and Robl in the coming weeks. It's not fair to make Negreanu do all the talking.
Don't miss the action next week! Patrik Antonius picks up pocket aces again, and this time, we're promised an all-in confrontation with Andrew Robl. Daniel Negreanu and Dennis Phillips also get involved in dramatic pots. High Stakes Poker airs on Sundays at 8:00 p.m. on GSN.