Week 8 of PokerStars.net The Big Game saw the Loose Cannon, Russ Harlow, return for a second week to take his shot at turning a big profit and the elusive North American Poker Tour Passport. Standing in his way were some established poker professionals including Daniel Negreanu, Doyle Brunson, and Barry Greenstein; also joining them were two successful young guns, Justin Bonomo and Lex Veldhuis. Harlow, a delivery driver from Manchester, Connecticut, was hoping to win some more money, having won $16,400 in the first week, toward the purchase of a farm for his wife and three kids. Unfortunately, he found himself without a penny at the end of 150 hands. For the details, just keep on reading.
Format refresher course: The Big Game, which is played with $200/$400 blinds and a $100 ante paid by the player on the button, is a cash game played for 150 hands. The contestant of the week, called the "Loose Cannon," is given $100,000 by PokerStars to play in the game and any profit earned over the initial stake is his or hers to keep. Trying to stop the Loose Cannon, and turn a profit of their own, are five pros, who may rebuy at any time for up to $500,000. At the end of the season, the most profitable Loose Cannon will be awarded a $50,000 North American Poker Tour Passport in addition to any winnings he or she may have amassed.
Early Double for Bonomo: The Loose Cannon, Russ Harlow, raised to $1,200 with and Lex Veldhuis reraised to $4,000 from the button with . Justin Bonomo called from the small blind with , and Harlow mucked behind. Both players flopped a flush draw on the board, but Bonomo checked to Veldhuis who bet $6,700. Action took off at that point as Bonomo raised to $18,000, Veldhuis moved all-in for $107,000, and Bonomo made called.
Bonomo offered to run it twice, but Velduis respectfully declined. The on the turn killed all of Veldhuis’ pair outs and left him drawing to one of the four remaining nines. The on the river was not one of them, and Bonomo doubled to $221,800 while Veldhuis took an early hit.
Negreanu Pays Off Brunson: Barry Greenstein looked down at and raised to 1,400. Daniel Negreanu called with his , and Doyle Brunson reraised to 6,600 from the small blind with . Greenstein got out of the way and Negreanu called with his suited two-gappers. Brunson continued to bet on the flop to the tune of $18,000 and again Negreanu called.
“I guess I’ve just got enough for one bet,” Brunson said as he moved all-in for $86,100 on the turn.
“Every time I watch, Doyle has kings,” Negreanu laughed. “I don’t feel like you have kings though.” Even though he was right guessing that Brunson didn’t have kings, Negreanu was in bad shape. “I like Doyle either way right, so if I win the money I’ll be happy because I’ve won, and if I lose it goes to a good guy. It’s like a win-win situation. The only thing I could do that’s bad is fold, get bluffed, and feel stupid. So I’ll just call it.”
Negreanu made the call and saw the bad news. The two agreed to run it twice, but neither the nor the could help Negreanu, and Brunson took down the pot worth $223,800.
Couch Cannon: In a new segment called “Couch Cannon,” viewers are able to play along with the Loose Cannon because only his or her cards are revealed. In this edition, Russ Harlow straddled and was last to act. Ahead of him, Justin Bonomo raised to $2,500 from the button, and Daniel Negreanu reraised to $8,000 from the big blind.
Harlow, as well as the audience, looked down at and decided to make a call. Unexpectedly, Bonomo four-bet to $25,000, and Negreanu folded back to Harlow. After he called, the flop came down , Harlow checked, and Bonomo bet $30,000. Harlow gave it a little thought before he ultimately mucked. Good thing, too — Bonomo held .
Veldhuis Aggression Doesn’t Pay Off: Through 42 hands, Lex Veldhuis was not doing too well. He was clearly playing aggressively, raising 100 percent of the time from the button, but his $300,000 buy-in had shrunk to just $106,400 (-$193,600).
Loose Cannon Flops a Flush: Justin Bonomo raised to $1,400 with , and Daniel Negreanu limped with from the small blind. Russ Harlow called with from the big, and the three saw the flop come . Action checked to Bonomo who bet $4,000. After Negreanu called, Harlow min-raised to $8,000. Bonomo thought better of it and mucked while Negreanu put in the additional $4,000.
The dealer burned and turned the and Negreanu checked to Harlow who fired out $13,000. Once again, Negreanu called as the fell on the river. This time Negreanu led out for a bet of $32,000, which caused Harlow to squirm. Although he looked uncomfortable, Harlow made the call and took down the $114,800 pot while Negreanu’s woes continued to mount.
Conversation of the Week: Doyle Brunson: “Kick-boxing is one of the few things that would be one of my least favorite things.”
Lex Veldhuis: “Well the training towards becoming good at it is so intense and it’s so good for you . . .”
Brunson: “It’s good for ya, getting’ kicked in the head?”
Veldhuis: “Driving around the country playing home games with shotguns in the back of the car doesn’t really increase your life expectancy either.”
Barry Greenstein (laughing): “Yeah, but he made it.”
Blind Versus Blind: Doyle Brunson raised to $1,600 from the small blind with and Lex Veldhuis called from the big with . The flop hit both players, giving Veldhuis a set and Brunson the nut flush draw. Brunson bet $2,500, Veldhuis raised to $8,200 and Brunson reraised to $33,200. Veldhuis opted to just call and the fell on the turn, leaving Brunson drawing dead.
Nonetheless, Brunson bet $75,000. Veldhuis immediately moved all-in for a total of $112,200, and Brunson reluctantly called. After the was run out on the river, Veldhuis took down the $294,600 pot, the biggest of the week, and essentially evened up.
Four High: With just 25 hands left to play, Veldhuis raised to $1,400 with , and Negreanu called from the small blind with . Russ Harlow also tagged along in the big blind with his . The flop came down , and both blinds checked to Veldhuis who bet $2,700. Surprisingly, Negreanu check-raised to $7,200. Even more surprising is that Harlow, who held the best hand and had grown somewhat short-stacked, insta-mucked behind! Veldhuis floated with a call and the two players watched the fall on the turn.
Both players checked to the on the river, at which point Negreanu bet $9,000. Veldhuis called with his king-high, which was good enough to take down the pot. “What did you put me on exactly?” Negreanu joked, “Four high?”
Loose Cannon Cut Loose: On the very next hand, Justin Bonomo raised to $1,400 with , and Barry Greenstein reraised to $5,000 with . Russ Harlow looked down at in the small blind and called as did Bonomo. The flop came down and action checked to Greenstein who bet $8,000. Harlow, who started the hand with $62,600, simply called as Bonomo got out of the way.
The was put out on the turn and Harlow checked. After Greenstein bet $20,000, Harlow moved all-in and Greenstein immediately made the call. Clearly demoralized, Harlow was looking for a ten on the river to keep his dream alive. Unfortunately for him, it was the , and the Loose Cannon was sent packing. He left empty handed and was replaced by pro Allen Bari for the remainder of the match.
Stats: Below are some statistics that have been compiled throughout the match. Note the following abbreviations: VPIP (Voluntary $ Put In Pot), Raise (Preflop Raise), BR (Button Raise), and FTSA (Fold To Steal Attempt).
For a complete list of stats, click here.
Final profit/loss: Justin Bonomo (+$246,700), Barry Greenstein (+$241,900), Lex Veldhuis (+$48,100), Allen Bari (+$14,900), Doyle Brunson (-$101,800), Russ Harlow (-$116,400), Daniel Negreanu (-$333,400)
Think you'd make a great loose cannon? Qualifiers for the Big Game are running daily on PokerStars.