A Huge Pot on High Stakes Poker

With GSN's High Stakes Poker recently kicking off another new season, I wanted to take a look back at a great hand played on that show in 2007. If you don't know already, HSP is a high-stakes, no-limit Hold 'em cash game. At the time, the buy-in was $100,000 but for the second half of the game, the buy-in was increased to an incredible $500,000.

I only played when the buy-in was $100,000. I decided to skip the $500,000 buy-in even though I was up $300,000 when the stakes were raised. Risking as much as a half million dollars on one hand of poker just seems a little bit crazy to me.

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The players in the big game were Sammy Farha, Barry Greenstein, David Benjamin, Patrick Antonius, Jamie Gold, Doyle Brunson, Antonio Esfandiari and Cirque du Soleil founder, Guy Laliberte. In this particular hand, the blinds were $300/$600 with a $1,200 live blind plus a $100 ante.

Patrick Antonius opened for $4,000 with A-J and Jamie Gold raised it to $14,000 with pocket kings, saying, “I hope everyone folds, I would really like to win the pot.”

The flop came Qd-10h-3s. Patrick checked. Gold bet out $15,000 and got a call.

The Kh fell on the turn. Patrick made the nuts – the best-possible hand – with an ace-high straight while Jamie made his set of kings. Patrick bet out $45,000 and Gold announced a raise. He counted his chips for about a minute then said, iI'm all-in.i

Wow! Jamie Gold just raised a whopping $296,000. Of course, Patrick made the call, making this a $743,000 pot – at the time, the largest pot in HSP history.

But it wasn't over yet.

Gold asked Patrick if he wanted to run the pot three times. In other words, Gold offered the option of dealing three separate river cards each worth one-third of the pot, or almost $250,000 each. Why? Because dealing more than one river card takes some of the luck out of the game; it's a common practice in high-stakes cash games.

Patrick agreed to the deal as a heavy 77-to-23 favorite.

Well, Jamie hit a queen to win the first hand and a three to win the second. Patrick hit an eight on the third river card to win the last hand.

Let's take a closer look at this record-setting pot.

I like Patrick's opening bet of $4,000 with A-J and I like Gold's $10,000 reraise with K-K. Patrick's call was standard. On the flop, Gold's $15,000 bet was fine with me although some players would have bet more, say, $25,000, as the pot was worth about $32,000 at the time. Patrick made a reasonable call. I love Patrick's $45,000 bet on the turn. Too often, players erroneously check when they make a strong hand, trying to lure their opponent into betting.

The $45,000 bet should have given Jamie Gold reason to pause. Look, the king on the turn had given Gold his set but, still, Patrick was the one who bet out big. What did Jamie think Patrick had? Jamie should have just called. His big raise of nearly $300,000 as a 3-to-1 underdog into a $62,000 pot was a critical mistake.

Jamie's raise on the turn was a disaster because only a hand that had him beat would be willing to make the call! Betting the king on the turn was an amateur mistake. True, it's tough to hold back a raise in this situation. But a seasoned pro should be able to recognize that trap and avoid falling into it.

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