“This hand will be remembered for a long time,” Greenstein begins, using the same sober tone he always employs when doing these audio blogs. I think he’s right. Already been a bit of buzz on the intertubes about it, and I imagine the hand will continue to receive a lot of attention over the next couple of months as people discuss it even further on blogs, forums, podcasts, and elsewhere.
If you have not seen the hand, I don’t want to spoil it for you. Before reading any further, take a look:
As Greenstein points out in his audio blog commentary, stack sizes are very significant here. Greenstein says he was one of the shorter stacks at the table with about $230,000. Meanwhile, Eastgate had bought in deep (and had won a few pots), and so had about $500,000 in front of him when the hand began. Dwan also had something in the neighborhood of a half a million. All of which means we’re talking hundreds of big blinds in each stack -- nearly 300 or something for the Bear, and twice that for Eastgate and Dwan.
To describe the action: The blinds are $400/$800 with a $200 ante. Greenstein picks up under the gun and open-raises to $2,500. Incredibly, all seven of his opponents call the raise. Dwan starts it by calling from UTG+1 with . Then David Benyamine calls with , Eli Elezra with , Ilari Sahamies with , Daniel Negreanu (button) with , Eastgate (small blind) with , and Doyle Brunson (big blind) with . Total pot is $21,600.
“Who opened this pot that got seven callers, that’s all I want to know,” says a sheepish-looking Greenstein.
The flop comes . As Greenstein says on his audio blog, about as good a flop as he could hope for (aside from flopping a set) when holding pocket aces and facing a table full of opponents. Eastgate checks his trips, Brunson checks, and Greenstein leads out for $10,000 -- just under half the pot. Dwan, who has paired his ten, then raises to $37,300. “I don’t know what he’s doing,” says Gabe Kaplan on the commentary. “He’s gotta know that Barry’s really got a hand here.” It folds around to Eastgate who silently calls Dwan’s raise. Greenstein calls, too. Pot now $133,500.
The comes on the turn, and both Eastgate and Greenstein check. Dwan (who has the weakest hand of the three) considers for a good while, then fires out $104,200. Eastgate folds, perhaps worried that Dwan has ace-deuce or something, and a very pained-looking Greenstein also folds. Dwan wins the pot.
Once the hand is over, Elezra pipes up to say “Barry fold the best hand.” Technically true, as Eastgate had gotten out, but I am not sure what Elezra thought Eastgate might have had. “Well, he had the best hand,” says Dwan, pointing to Eastgate as he stacks his chips. Dwan goes on to say he’ll make a side bet that Eastgate had the best hand, and it sounds like Brunson takes him up on it. Kaplan rounds out the commentary saying the only other player he could imagine making a play like Dwan’s would have been the late Stu Ungar.
I’m not even going to pretend to try to analyze this hand. For that, go listen to Greenstein, whose 17-minute commentary in his audio blog gives us novices a lot of other things to think about here. Instead, let me just list three reasons why this hand is so friggin’ fascinating to small-time punters like myself.
For one, the action is especially peculiar, utterly unlike anything we’ve ever seen previously when it comes to poker on television. The majority of televised poker is tournaments, where such “family pots” rarely occur (and are even more rarely shown). They don’t occur in cash games that much, either, especially high stakes games. As Greenstein says in his narrative of the hand, he open-raised and “something happened to me that has never happened to me before in an eight-handed game,” namely, the whole table called. Things get even weirder post-flop, and seem even more so to a lot of us given that we see the hole cards. So the sheer novelty of the hand is one element here.
Secondly, seeing the worst hand manage to push out not one but two better hands is also something most of us find amazing to watch. Those of us who call ourselves recreational players (or amateurs) watch a hand like this and with all three players discover that we are probably not personally capable of having acted the way each of them act. Take just the turn action: most of us cannot imagine ourselves betting out like Dwan, nor folding trips like Eastgate, nor folding pocket rockets like Greenstein. The whole hand thus has an “uncanny” feel to it wherein we recognize it is the same game we play, but we also recognize what we are watching is wholly unfamiliar to us.
Finally, the fact that the hand involves these particular players makes it all the more interesting. Thanks to his frequent participation over on Poker Road and on the forums, his well-regarded book Ace on the River, his long-term record of solid play, and his humor and generosity, Greenstein rightly occupies a fairly central position in our little poker world. When we watch High Stakes Poker, we’re usually more intrigued by a hand involving the Bear than a hand, say, between Benyamine and Elezra. Eastgate also fascinates, thanks to his youth and status as the 2008 WSOP Main Event champ. For a variety of reasons, we want to see how this youngster is going to handle himself on this difficult, challenging stage.
Then there’s Dwan. Of the “Durrrr Challenge.” Cover boy of the February 2009 Bluff. “He posterized me,” says a humble Greenstein in his commentary. Indeed, Dwan is poker’s current Michael Jordan. Dwan makes this hand happen, of course. But his involvement ensures it fascinates, too.
Earlier in the episode, in response to a false claim from Dwan regarding the strength of a hand he had folded, Kaplan cracks “He lives in a little cabin in Durrrrland.”
Dunno where that is. But, like Alice, I think we’re all becoming curiouser and curiouser!