The final episode of High Stakes Poker, Season 6 was all about looking like a stud. After Lex "RaSZi" Veldhuis convinced the crew to up the stakes to $500/$1,000 with a $300 ante and a $2,000 straddle, the players pulled out all the stops. Every hand featured an ill-timed bluff, a shocking hero call, or a huge fold.
Tom "durrrr" Dwan made one of the most heroic and most extremely wrong calls of the night, but it didn't keep him from bagging the biggest win of the season. That earned him the right to smash the High Stakes Poker ice sculpture at the end of the night.
Doyle Brunson, on the other hand, only dug himself further into the red, ending his streak of 16 profitable televised cash-game appearances in a row. We'll have to wait for next season to see whether Big Papa can get himself back on track.
Cast: Daniel Negreanu, Tom "durrrr" Dwan, Doyle Brunson, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Eli Elezra, David Benyamine, Lex "RaSZi" Veldhuis, and Phil "OMGClayAiken" Galfond
What? Nine-high no good?: Dwan was going for genius in this hand, but he didn't quite succeed. Veldhuis opened to $4,000 with , and Negreanu called from the small blind with . Dwan called from the big blind with any two, in this case they happened to be . The flop came . Definitely right in Dwan's wheelhouse. Negreanu checked, Dwan bet $10,700, and Veldhuis quickly folded. But Negreanu decided to float with his two overs. The turn was just what he needed, the . He checked, and Dwan checked behind. After the on the river, Negreanu bet $28,200 with his pair of kings. Dwan pondered the action and decided Negreanu had missed his straight draw with a hand like five-six or four-five. So he called ― with nine-high. Negreanu turned over top pair, and Dwan just shook his head. "I guess my call is terrible then, if you can float that," he said. "I made one of them hero calls."
OMG! Abandon boat!: Galfond made his share of incorrect hero calls on HSP, but he proved he's learned his lesson this week ― sort of. In one hand, Benyamine raised to $4,200 with , and Galfond reraised to $16,000 with the premium hand . Oops. Elezra woke up with and made it $40,500. Benyamine studied his opponent and found a fold, but Galfond wasn't able to come to the same decision. He made the call to see a deadly flop ― . Elezra bet $33,000, and Galfond called. The on the turn only made things worse, but both players checked it. The river was the , and Elezra went for a huge bet, $110,000, enough to set off alarm bells we all thought were missing in Galfond's head. "Pocket queens?" Galfond asked. He made a tough fold, and no one at the table could believe he'd folded a king. Later in the night, Galfond correctly folded on a board when Negreanu rivered a larger boat with . "He's the most bluffable person in poker," Dwan joked about Galfond's laydowns. "I just don't like to call with full houses. I like, like one pair or ace-high," Galfond responded.
Old School Gets Schooled: Brunson has gone for open-shoves and huge overbets this season. It has worked on occasion, but the 2.2345x generation might be on to the guy. Veldhuis stradded for $2,000, and for maybe the first time all season, action folded all the way around to Brunson in the big blind. He added the extra $1,000 with , and Veldhuis made it $11,000 with . Brunson called, saying "Just a little gift for you, son." "Thank you, sir," responded the always polite Veldhuis. The flop came , giving Veldhuis the lead with a pair of ducks. Both players quickly checked to the on the turn. That's when Brunson decided to make an uncharacteristic move with total air, betting $20,500. Veldhuis called, but the river wasn't a good one for him. The put four to a straight on the board ― and Brunson sure wished he had one. He bet $60,000 into the $66,000 pot. But his huge bet didn't ring true to Veldhuis, who called with just the pair of deuces to scoop a sizable pot. Veldhuis later told Kara Scott it was the most money he'd ever called in a cash game. "I'd rather look like a fool and go with my gut and learn from it than chicken out and fold," he said. Brunson had little chance to recover after that hand and took a back seat until the game and his win-streak were over.
Reality Dwans on Elezra: At the beginning of the episode, Elezra was the table's big winner, up over $400,000. Dwan, on the other hand, was in the hole and needed to dig out if he wanted to repeat last season's performance of winning on all three HSP sessions. This hand was a big help. After Negreanu straddled, Elezra raised to $7,200 with . Let the calling begin. Dwan called with , Benyamine with , Galfond with , and Negreanu with . There was already close to $40,000 before the five players took a flop. It came ― not too bad for Mr. Dwan. Galfond checked his top pair, Negreanu checked his gutshot, and Elezra bet $23,300 with his overpair. With top two, Dwan raised to $71,000. Galfond thought about calling but then thought better of it, and action folded back to Elezra, who made it $173,300 total. Dwan moved all-in for $426,300 without missing a beat. Elezra, looking miserable, gave it up. "I wish I listened to Doyle on this one. Small ball poker," he said. Elezra must have looked steamed enough that no one bothered to point out that that's definitely not the strategy Brunson has been employing this season.
Dwanaments Continued: Next hand, Dwan picked up aces. Almost unfair. Dwan straddled, and Grospellier raised to $7,000 with . It folded back to Dwan, who looked down at and made it $20,800 after asking how much Grospellier was playing. Grospellier called to see an flop. "That could be a nuisance six," said Gabe Kaplan, and boy was he correct. Dwan bet $26,400, and Grospellier made the call. The turn was the , and Dwan confidently announced he was all-in. Grospellier counted out his chips and talked himself into a call, saying "It's probably bad," as he did. And he was correct too. Grospellier decided to only run it once, and the river was the , not one of his two outs. "You're like a vacuum cleaner," Brunson said, as Dwan piled even more chips.
Still a Legend: Brunson's streak may be over, but he's still able to influence the young guns. On the last hand of the night, Galfond cost himself $94,000 making a play with Brunson's trademark hand, the ole' ten-deuce. Negreanu didn't buy it, moving all-in. "I got in trouble," Galfond said with a laugh. "I was trying to impress Doyle."
Bottom Line: This was one of the best High Stakes Poker seasons yet, filled with crazy action and creative plays. Next season we hope to see more from Phil Ivey and Dwan, and less (dare we say none at all?) from Mike Matusow. We didn't see much of Phil Hellmuth and didn't miss him. The show could stand to go a little lighter on Negreanu's self-love, as well. We could live without Grospellier, whose personality didn't come off nearly as colorful as his hair, but we loved the crazy, charismatic Veldhuis. And though Galfond has been criticized before for being quiet in the past, this season he was actually quite funny and certainly drove the action. We hope he'll be back, too. And we think most viewers would be willing to chip in to get poor Gabe Kaplan a better copy writer.
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