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Esfandiari and Brunson Win in Super High Roller Cash Game; Bellande and Kirk Lose

Doyle Brunson


  • The Super High Roller Cash game got rolling on Monday. Find out what happened in the first half of Day 1.

The highly-anticipated Super High Roller Cash Game kicked off at ARIA on Monday with a 10-hour session. Between six and eight players sat at the table playing no-limit hold'em with blinds of $400/$800 and an ante of $200, minimum buy-in of $250,000.

The lineup for the start of the first half of the session consisted of (in order of seat): stock trading guru and former blackjack crusher Bob Bright; high-rolling personality and cash regular Jean-Robert Bellande; poker legends Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, and Antonio Esfandiari; actress Jennifer Tilly; and 10-time bracelet winner Johnny Chan. Shortly after the session began, a new player arrived and took a seat between Tilly and Chan – Australian Matthew Kirk, who has been battling Ivey at heads-up Pot-Limit Omaha online, according to the cash game commentary team.

Most players seemed to be in for the minimum buy-in or close to it, with the exceptions of Bellande and Esfandiari, who each sat with roughly $1 million.

Things got underway in a hurry, with Tilly and Esfandiari getting all in just a half hour into the game with Tilly's {k-Clubs}{q-Hearts} against Esfandiari's {a-Hearts}{q-Diamonds} on a {6-Hearts}{k-Hearts}{5-Hearts} flop. The two agreed to run it twice and ended up chopping.

Ivey has long been seasoned in some of the most aggressive online games in the world, but he kept a low profile for the first half of the session. Kirk, on the other hand, mixed it up liberally, opening plenty of pots and calling raises in others. His action-oriented style got him nowhere, however, as he shipped off two $250,000 buy-ins. His last $100,000 or so went in with top pair against Bright's aces, failing to catch up. Then, Kirk tried leading all in against Ivey, who had barreled down a {6-Spades}{9-Spades}{2-Diamonds}{8-Clubs}{7-Diamonds} board, but Ivey had hit a straight on the river with {q-Hearts}{10-Hearts} and snapped Kirk off.

The other major felting of the first half came at Tilly's expense when she flopped a six-high straight with {3-Clubs}{2-Clubs} only to run into Brunson's {8-Hearts}{7-Clubs}. They ran the last two streets three times but Tilly failed to run clubs.

It's always difficult to say which way the money moves in a cash game when players can reload at will, but the hours leading up to the 6:30 p.m. dinner break appeared to belong to Brunson, Esfandiari, and Bright.

While television producers didn't release official numbers at the end of the night, it appeared the biggest winner of the game was Esfandiari, while Brunson also booked a nice win. On the flip side, Kirk and Bellande were the game's biggest losers. Meanwhile Bright, Tilly, and Chan more or less broke even.

Remember, the Super High Roller Cash Game will continue on both Tuesday and Wednesday as a new lineup of players takes to the felt. The games are expected to last from 2 p.m. through 2 a.m., so be sure to join us then to follow the action in the live blog. You can also watch the action on the Poker Central channel on Twitch.

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