BY RUSS SCOTT
RELEASE: DECEMBER 15, 2009
‘Flipping’ for $70 or $500,000 Will Get Your Blood Pumping
The low-limit home games I played years ago had a designated ending time and we always would finish with a “cold hand.”
After enjoying dollar poker for five hours, trying to outmaneuver or outdraw each other for modest-size pots, we would end the night with everyone putting $5 or $10 in the middle and just dealing out the cards, best hand wins.
Sure, it was all luck at that point, but winning that cold hand for up to $70 either could erase losses from a lousy night of bad cards or double your winnings.
The poker hands we played involved skill, the cold hand was pure gambling.
Fast-forward now to last week’s Poker After Dark cash game on NBC, featuring six high-stakes marquee players: Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen, Tom Dwan, Patrik Antonius, Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth.”
Apparently bored playing no-limit hold’em with blinds of $200-$400, five of the players agreed to just shove $100,000 each into the pot and play a cold hand – they called it a “flip” – for half a million! Only Hellmuth sat out.
Hansen and Ivey appeared to be the instigators.
“Let’s all shoot $100K to the middle and gamble it up a little bit. I want to win something,” Hansen said.
“I’m in,” Ivey said quickly, followed by Dwan, who said, “I think I’m in, too.” Antonius chimed in: “Sure.” Negreanu took a little convincing, but ultimately joined the party.
The hand itself was unremarkable. When everyone exposed their hole cards, Antonius’ A-5 suited was ahead pre-flop and held up on a board of 5-7-J-3-J.
What made for good TV was the trash talk and laughter as the hand unfolded.
Negreanu peeked at his 10-6 offsuit hole cards before turning them face-up and said, “I’m dead! What a waste of $100,000! After I lose this, I’m gonna need more chips!”
The players laughed boisterously. I couldn’t help wondering if it was nervous laughter, with that much money on the line. It probably wasn’t. They seemed to enjoy the moment.
After the hand, show announcer Ali Nejad told viewers, “It’s tempting to believe the players are doing nothing but gambling, but there’s actually some method behind the madness. Four guys taking a $100K hit definitely loosens up the game.”
Apparently so, because just minutes later Ivey said, “I’m ready to put another $100K in there.” And so they did, except for Hellmuth, who explained that he’s still “somewhat sane”, and, surprisingly, big-winner Antonius, who smiled and announced, “No gambling today.”
Hansen’s mediocre J-8 offsuit held up easily when an eight came on the flop. Stacking his $400,000 he said, “We are sick, really sick.”
And seemingly really rich, too, to bet that much money on the simple turn of a card. Because I haven’t seen all 10 nightly episodes of this cash game, which concludes this week, it’s possible they played more “flips” and someone took a huge hit.
These six gamblers and others also play nosebleed limits online where recently there have been games with million-dollar pots and multi-million-dollar winners and losers in a single session.
I suppose it’s un-American, here in the land of the free, to suggest that such high-stakes action should be toned down. You can’t dictate how people spend their money.
But you also could argue that the degenerate-like games are bad for poker’s overall image with online legalization being pursued in Congress.
I know this: At least until the players go broke, it sure is exciting to watch!
E-mail your poker questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com or www.luckydogpoker.com.
COPYRIGHT 2009 RUSS SCOTT
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