It was recently announced that the new season of Poker After Dark will be shifting focus from traditional six-player tournaments to cash games. This didn't come as much of a surprise considering the excitement television cash games generate. After all, who doesn’t want to see hundreds of thousands of dollars flow around the felt, especially compared to a measly $20,000 tournament buy-in? Perhaps no moment better exemplifies that point than the Poker After Dark cash game when the likes of Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Tom “Durrrr” Dwan, Gus Hansen, Daniel Negreanu, and Patrik Antonius decided to flip for a hundred grand apiece.
The aforementioned incident began when players suggested that everyone put in $100,000 blind and run out the hand. There would be no betting, it was simply winner take all. Antonius, Dwan and Ivey were down immediately, while Hansen said he was in if they had at least five people, meaning either Hellmuth or Negreanu had to join. Hellmuth, who one could say is a bit on the conservative side, politely declined. Negreanu opted out at first, but after a little prodding the rest of the table talked him into it, which is unfortunate as he’d soon be quoted as saying, “What a waste of $100,000.” So, with $500k in the pot, the players received the following down cards:
For entertainment’s sake, Hellmuth was dealt in with his , though he was ineligible to win. There was a lot of conversation and speculation after the cards were on their backs. Players began reciting their outs, calculating their odds and hoping against hope. With half a million dollars at stake, the flop fell which kept Antonius in the lead with his pair of fives; however, many of the other players had flopped draws of various sorts. The dealer slowly burned and turned the . Suddenly the picture was becoming a little more clear. Dwan was drawing dead, Hansen needed an eight, Negreanu a four, Ivey a six, and Antonius just needed to dodge his opponents’ outs. He did just that as the peeled off on the river. Just like that, Antonius won the $500k pot with two pair, jacks and fives with an ace kicker.
The fun didn’t stop there. The losing players were left with a bad taste in their mouths and decided to gamble again. Antonius and Hellmuth both sat out leaving the other four players to play for a $400k pot.
Both Hellmuth and Antonius were dealt in but remained ineligible to win. The former looked down at while the latter held . Hellmuth offered his opinion on what was going on: “They’re all great players and they’re all great guys, and they’re just gambling. They’re having fun and they play pots as big as this on the Internet all the time. So, I’m still somewhat sane and a little more conservative.”
The flop came down , giving Hansen a pair of eights and a 72 percent chance of winning the hand. Had Hellmuth played, he would have been sitting pretty with a flush draw and two overs. The on the turn left both Dwan and Ivey drawing dead, leaving only Negreanu alive needing another deuce or a five on the river to win. Hansen and Negreanu agreed to run it twice with the first run coming the , giving the first half to Hansen. Interestingly enough, Hellmuth would have had the winning hand with a pair of nines had he played. As if that were not enough, the second river was the , another card that would have given Hellmuth a win, had he not been “somewhat sane and a little more conservative.” Instead, it was Hansen who scooped both halves of the pot and profited a smooth $300k.
Watching these top professionals set aside their skill for the thrill of pure gamble, with hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line, was exhilarating and exciting. If this is the high-quality entertainment experience that will result from a cash-game format, it is no surprise the producers have decided to take it in that direction. If you want to check out the action mentioned above, check it out on YouTube.