Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tom’s Adventures in Durrrrland

Tom’s Adventures in DurrrrlandBarry Greenstein keeps what they call an “audio blog” over at Poker Road called “Tips from the Bear.” His entries come fairly infrequently, with some being genuine “tips” and others just recounting various hands or happenings. In the latest (dated 3/9/09), Greenstein discusses that amazing hand from the most recent episode of High Stakes Poker -- the final one of the episode primarily involving himself, reigning World Series of Poker Main Event champion Peter Eastgate, and the guy everybody’s talking about these days, Tom “durrrr” Dwan.

“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 AhAc 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 QcTc. Then David Benyamine calls with 3d3c, Eli Elezra with Jd9s, Ilari Sahamies with 7h6s, Daniel Negreanu (button) with Kd4d, Eastgate (small blind) with 4h2d, and Doyle Brunson (big blind) with As9c. 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 2cTd2s. 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 7d 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.

Tom 'durrrr' Dwan on the cover of 'Bluff'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!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm definitely looking forward to listening to Greenstein's commentary on the hand. Thanks for the link to that, Shamus!

I still think Eastgate HAS to reraise after that flop, but, yeah ... when I make decisions like that it's against shitty casino players for 200 bucks, as opposed to against Dwan for $200,000.

Also, thanks for including my site in your blogroll. I appreciate it.

3/10/2009 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me (as a humble 100 nl player)

1) Eastgate bought in way too deep for his comfort level. He had already shown durrrr he was playing scared with the trip 6s hand in the previous episode. He slowplayed himself into a bad spot. It reminded me a little bit of the hand with Gold, Binger and Wasicka where Wasicka folds the OESFD. He (Eastgate/Wasicka) starts out thinking he has the best hand, but runs into action (that wouldn't have gone down in the same way if he bet) and gets worried considering the amount of money involved, and ends up folding the best hand. Also I don't get the flop cold call, then check-fold a blank turn. That can't be a good plan.

2) Barry is awesome and everything, but I just don't get his play on this hand. His UTG raise seems way too small given that there are antes. The pot is 2800 preflop, why not at least pot it to 4400 or go for the limp-reraise, cliched as it is. Plus pretty much every player at the table loves to see flops. Then on the flop, multiway, leading out seems okay although completely transparent. I really don't get calling the extra 27K hoping to spike a boat like he talks about in the podcast.

3) durrrr is the man.

For added sickness, I can't help but wish Eastgate called the turn though, I think durrrr could have fired a 3rd bullet for 250K and it would have been even greater.

3/10/2009 5:15 PM  
Blogger spritpot said...

nice post...I posted an analysis of the hand (as part of a recap of the first two episodes of the season) here: http://spritpot.blogspot.com/2009/03/high-stakes-poker-season-5-recap.html

A commenter on my post led me to yours...


3/11/2009 12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dwan is an absolute sick player. His thinking behind everything he does is second to nobody.

Looking forward to seeing him clash with Ziigmund at some point

3/11/2009 12:42 PM  
Blogger Gene said...

Martin Amis once wrote an essay about the Karpov-Kasparov title match and he said that even the grandmasters providing commentary couldn't figure out what the two players were doing. Their thinking was so advanced that even other grandmasters couldn't grasp it. Amis wrote that it was as if Edberg and Becker were playing at Wimbledon and not only couldn't John McEnroe tell who was winning, he couldn't even see the ball. To a certain extent, that's what the Dwan-Greenstein-Eastgate hand was like.

3/11/2009 4:12 PM  
Blogger TripJax said...

I'm amazed by the end comments. Dwan immediately notes that Eastgate had the best hand.

I think at any regular level this hand plays out differently. I think anyone - even high stakes players - have a hard time dropping $100k on a hand that is questionable. If that is $100 or $1000, they are in there just to see what happens. $104,000 is a different story. Holy smokes. That is my mortgage with 1 bet!!!!!!!

I love this game.

3/11/2009 11:53 PM  

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