High Stakes Poker

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High Stakes Cash Game Action

Some years ago I was staked by a wealthy businessman to play high-stakes poker or what I considered to be high-stakes poker at the time which was $25-$50 blinds and $5000 buy-ins.

So my fascination with high-stakes poker arrived when I developed a feel for the game and this carried on into my reporting of high-stakes poker for both PokerNews, Poker Pro Europe and Online Poker Pro magazines.

So I want to present what I consider to be several of my favourite poker hands in live cash game televised action. The first one here shows a fantastic move by the online legend Tom Dwan. Actually it is unfair to label Tom an online player as he has equal success in both online and live high-stakes action.

In this hand the very solid Barry Greenstein raises UTG which kind of tells the entire table that he has a strong hand and quite a tight range. Given the stack depths of the other players then they are getting tremendous implied odds to call.

Dwan sitting next to him with the Qc-10c has no hesitation in calling because he will know exactly where he is on the flop.

Given the implied odds and the stack sizes then it isn’t surprising that we get a huge multi-way pot here. Even the ex-WSOP main event winner Peter Eastgate enters the action with 4-2 off-suit.

The flop comes 10-2-2 and with $21,600 in the pot Eastgate has just made the best hand with trip deuces. Greenstein bets an exploratory $10k which is essentially a value bet as this bet can get called by a lot of weaker hands.

Now Dwan is immediately onto the fact that Greenstein has an overpair like AA,KK or QQ but the fact that he has the Q-10 means that Q-Q is less likely and AA-KK is much more likely and so Greenstein has almost turned his hand face up to Dwan.

Dwan makes a raise to $37,300 but that bet freezes Peter Eastgate with the 4-2 as he has to be worried about his low kicker. Given the huge multi-way pot then Greenstein must be afraid that Dwan has either a deuce with A-2s or pocket tens. Here is the difference between deep stack play and short to medium stack play.

Dwan is capable of making big bluffs but the consequences of his opponents having second best hands are very severe in deep stacked play and Dwan turns the screw on his opponents and Eastgate only calls as does Greenstein.

After two checks Dwan follows through with an even bigger turn bluff of $104k into the $133k pot. Now this bet is facing his opponents with the possibility that they could lose an immense amount of money.

Notice though that Dwan is less fearful of someone holding 10-10 as he holds a ten. You hear the commentator say that Eastgate has $500k in front of him and that is a lot of money to put on a hand like low trips and Dwan knows that.

At the four minute mark on this clip, the look on Barry Greensteins face tells me that he is folding and has just resigned himself to losing the hand an cutting his losses…..WHAT A MOVE BY DWAN!! A great example of how to turn a made hand into a bluff when you know you are losing.


One of the key ways to beat high-stakes poker games is to take advantage of your image. I love this hand because this is exactly what Tom Dwan does to Phil Hellmuth. After the flop gets checked then Dwan hits trip tens on the turn….a huge hand heads up. He decides to make a bet of $27k into the $34k pot.

However Dwan knows that Hellmuth must be thinking that Dwan has only made this bet because Hellmuth checked the flop and appeared weak.

So Dwan is now value betting but this is a powerful value bet because Hellmuth must be expecting Dwan to bluff so if Phil has any piece of this flop like a queen or even a seven or pocket pair like nine or eights then he is likely to get Phil to call.

Dwan is known as a very aggressive player and Hellmuth certainly wouldn’t want to get pushed off the best hand.

The fact that the turn paired the ten also looks to Phil that it is less likely that Dwan’s hand has improved and of course Dwan is aware that Phil knows all of this.

We can see that Hellmuth quickly calls the turn bet and this indicates that he has already made up his mind that there is a high chance that Dwan is bluffing.

However Dwan bluffs big when he does bluff and Hellmuth knows that and so will expect a second barrel on the river and so Phil is actually committing far more money here than just $27k.

The pot is now $89k and the irrelevant five on the end doesn’t change things. Now Dwan has to figure out how to extract the maximum from Phil.

Dwan moves all-in which is a great move because Hellmuth’s read is that he is ahead and Hellmuth will know that Dwan will continue the bluff on the river if he is bluffing…which he isn’t.

Dwan knows he is ahead and he also suspects that Phil thinks he is bluffing and has something like a bluff catching hand.

So Dwan’s move on the river places massive pressure on Hellmuth given that he has just committed $27k on the turn in the belief that his hand is best.

The river bet is $120k and so is an overbet but that makes it look even more like a bluff. Dwan knows EXACTLY where he is in the hand while Hellmuth is guessing…..BRILLIANT HAND!


I love this next hand because it represents a great call by Lex Veldhuis….another one of the new internet online poker phenoms who are playing some great poker. The living legend Doyle Brunson decides to fire a bluff at Veldhuis on the turn.

Brunson calls from the BB pre-flop after Veldhuis places a $2000 straddle. Veldhuis makes it $11k and Doyle calls. Now Brunson views these internet players as very aggressive mainly because he has played with Dwan an awful lot.

So after calling the pre-flop raise and then seeing the flop checked around he decides that he can push Lex from the hand on the turn.

Lex calls the $20k turn bet of Brunson but he must be hoping that Brunson checks the river. However Brunson is a great player and when he smells weakness then he won’t stop at a single street bluff and is strong enough to follow through on the river.

Brunson having checked the flop is now telling Veldhuis that he is value betting after either flopping something and slow-playing or making something on the turn.

However he is polarising his range with the river bet and Doyle tries to represent the straight but Lex is getting 2/1 on Brunson bluffing and that is a good enough price given the action…..GREAT CALL!


This was one of the first “great” poker hands played in the televised era. Series 1 of the pivotal “Late Night Poker” series on Channel 4 pitted many of Europe’s best poker players with some amateurs and a few players from the USA.

There were satellites where the winner and runner-up got to the final table with the winner having double the starting chips than the player who came runner-up.

Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott won his heat and was sitting to the right of the dealer in the final. It had got down to three handed action between Ulliott, a solid player called Dave Welch and Peter Evans.

In the previous hands, Ulliott begins to exert his control when he raises from the small blind after Evans folds on the button…..Welch folds in the big blind and Ulliott takes the pot.

The next hand Ulliott raises from the button with A-9. These are the next two hands played after Surinder Sunar is eliminated in fourth place and the game goes three-handed. Welch 3/bets Ulliotts’ raise and with K-Qs and Ulliott 4/bets all-in for £20k.

Ulliott later told me that he really wanted to see what Welch was made of and to put him to the test straight away….he certainly did that.

Dave Welch stares at Ulliott and says “big move” and Peter Evans tries to talk him into a call or to talk Welch into a future call by saying “there will be more big moves ahead”. Welch folds and you can see that he isn’t happy with it.

Then we come to the hand……Welch makes it £3k on the button holding J-J, Evans folds and Ulliott calls in the big blind holding A-A. The flop comes 5-A-10 rainbow. Ulliott checks to Welch fully expecting to pick up his c/bet.

Welch bets £4k and Ulliott calls to draw him in. The turn is an eight and Ulliott checks it to Welch and Welch suspects that he has walked into Ulliott holding an ace and checks it back.

The river card is a four and Ulliott puts Welch all-in leaving Welch thinking that his jacks beats Ulliotts’ possible bluffing range……most players would have been afraid to play aces this way for such big stakes fearing an outdraw.

Welch called it when he said that “you either have a big hand or I could be ahead”.