High Stakes Poker Reviewed: Kid Poker vs. the Poker Brat

Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu

The popular show High Stakes Poker debuted in early 2006, with the first season lasting 13 episodes. Throughout the show's run, episodes were culled from multi-day sessions, so often the same players would be sitting around the table from week to week, although new players were frequently rotated in to change the makeup of the game.

Years later the shows remain highly entertaining, and can even be educational. For new poker players they introduce the game while illustrating many strategic concepts, while those with experience can watch and recognize how certain strategies have evolved over the years since the shows aired.

We're continuing our look back at Season 1, today reviewing Episode 11. One storyline being followed in this episode concerns Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Hellmuth both trying to bounce back after enduring six-figure losses in the previous show. Meanwhile Daniel Negreanu is around $725,000 in the hole for the season when this one begins.

Jerry Buss returns to the table as well after having won during his previous appearance. Jennifer Harman, Todd Brunson, and Johnny Chan likewise return to the game.

Hellmuth emerges during the second half of the episode as the center of attention (as usual). Gabe Kaplan foreshadows that development somewhat during the introduction when commenting on Hellmuth's cash game skills.

"Phil is not as bad as they say he is," says Kaplan, referring to the other players. "And Phil is not as good as he says he is."

Negreanu and Hellmuth clash in a couple of entertaining hands (at the 26:00 mark, then again at the 35:00 mark), with each player winning once. Spoiler alert — after the one Hellmuth loses, the censor has to bleep a lot of the Poker Brat's post-hand commentary.

Watch as well for the nice sequence of appreciations of Doyle Brunson delivered by some of the other players (starting at the 12:30 mark).

High Stakes Poker: Season 1, Episode 11

Originally aired:March 27, 2006
Location:Golden Nugget, Las Vegas
Players:Jerry Buss, Doyle Brunson, Todd Brunson, Johnny Chan, Freddy Deeb, Eli Elezra, Antonio Esfandiari, Barry Greenstein, Jennifer Harman, Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Shawn Sheikhan
Commentators:A.J. Benza, Gabe Kaplan
Game:no-limit hold'em cash game, minimum $100,000 buy-in
Stakes:blinds $300/$600, ante $100

Terms and Concepts

  • fast play — early on Negreanu flops a set of eights versus Doyle Brunson's pocket aces and raises the flop, choosing to "fast play" his strong hand — 4:00 mark
  • bet in the dark — Negreanu raises preflop and gets called by Freddy Deeb from late position, then Negreanu bets $4,000 "in the dark," meaning he is betting before the three flop cards arrive (something he'll do again later in the show in hand versus Hellmuth) — 10:00 mark
  • insurance — after flopping a strong hand and getting all in versus Barry Greenstein, Hellmuth asks Greenstein to give him "insurance" to protect him against a potential bad beat on the runout — 20:30 mark

Big Hand Alert

  • That early hand in which Negreanu flops a set against Brunson results in a $352,700 pot, the second-largest of the season to this point — 4:00 mark
  • A look back at S01E11 of "High Stakes Poker" in which censors had to bleep @Phil_Hellmuth (a lot).

  • Rewatching clashes between @RealKidPoker & @Phil_Hellmuth in an early "High Stakes Poker" episode.

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