With nine episodes down and three more to go on this incarnation of High Stakes Poker, Episode 9 brought us our last roster change of the season.
Rotating in for the last session are Mike Mattusow, Elky Grospellier, David Benyamine and Doyle Brunson.
The episode itself was pretty boring and would have been a complete write-off if not for a few well-timed impressions. The first was Negreanu's short but sweet Tom Dwan impersonation but the real gem was Doyle Brunson parodying Phil Ivey's Full Tilt ad.
"We're all just playing the same game. Well ... almost"
Easily the funniest thing that Doyle's said on television poker.
There was some real poker too and the hand that had everyone scratching their heads was a three-way pot between Doyle, David Benyamine, and Daniel Negreanu.
Daniel Negreanu $340,000~
Doyle Brunson $300,000
David Benyamine $200,000
Daniel Negreanu raises from middle position to $3,000 with the blinds at $400/$800.
Doyle Brunson makes the call in the cut-off and David Benyamine calls in the small blind.
Three-handed to a 9♣ 3♠ 8♠ flop. Benyamine checks and Negreanu fires $8,500 into $11,400. Doyle flats in position and Benyamine thinks and calls as well.
The turn comes Q♠ and the all three players check.
The river comes A♥ and after Benyamine checks, Negreanu fires $26,200. Doyle calls and Benyamine check-raises to $101,200 after a bit of thought.
Daniel Negreanu disgustedly folds, and Doyle Brunson disgustedly calls.
Benyamine shows 5♠ 7♠ for a flush and Brunson mucks his three queens with the Q♣ Q♥.
Benyamine's $101,200 check-raise managed to fold out Daniel Negreanu's better flush, 9♠ T♠, to get heads up with Doyle's worse set of queens.
A questionable play, maybe, but it worked to the tune of a $265,500 pot.
When it's folded to Negreanu in middle position he's basically raising any two marginally connected cards when they're suited, obviously T♠ 9♠ more than meets that criteria so he sticks in $3,000.
Doyle Brunson elects to flat call with his Q♥ Q♣ in the cut-off.
Doyle is almost 400bb deep with Negreanu and just calls both to keep the pot small and to keep his range wider in order to trap Negreanu on a later street.
It's perfectly fine thinking but Negreanu has shown a propensity for calling three-bets both in and out of position. Since Doyle is in position he can control the size of the pot post-flop so a three-bet for value should be the more +ev play.
Benyamine is last to call with the 5♠ 7♠ in the small blind.
He's $200k deep effective and is guaranteed a multi way pot but he'll also be out of position for the remainder of the hand.
The flop comes 9♣ 3♠ 8♠ and Benyamine checks his gutshot plus flushdraw to the preflop raiser.
Daniel Negreanu also hit the flop and fires $8,500 into $11,400 with top pair plus a flush draw.
Doyle Brunson elects to just flat call with his over pair.
Looking to avoid a seriously difficult spot he calls and plays small ball hoping Negreanu will continue betting into him.
Benyamine chooses to just flat call with his robust draw.
For a moment he contemplates a raise but eventually thinks better of it. In a threeway pot he doesn't want to checkraise only to end up getting all-in vs a better flush draw, leaving him with only a gutterball.
The turn comes the Q♠ which hits everyone, yet everyone chooses to check.
Of all the checks Negreanu's is definitely the worst.
Negreanu has no reason not to bet his turned flush three-way. He's the pre-flop raiser and there are a ton of worse hands his opponents can call with.
Furthermore if he checks through and a fourth spade falls he's in pretty rough shape. But he checks and Doyle checks through praying for the board to pair.
The river comes the A♥.
Benyamine checks for a third time and Negreanu bets $26,200. Obviously once Negreanu doesn't bet the turn with his flush he has to bet the river when it changes nothing.
Doyle calls thinking his three queens have to be good. But here's where the hand gets interesting.
Benyamine check-raises to $101,200. He doesn't call, which would be the "standard" play.
When the hand is over he explains to Kara Scott that he knew his raise would make Negreanu fold the best hand and allow Doyle Brunson to call with the worse hand.
Now, that is what happened but it's tough to believe that was his intent.
It doesn't make much sense, he expects Negreanu to fold a made flush with all of the calling station tendencies he's shown in every season of High Stakes Poker?
Furthermore the point he made about Negreanu having to worry about Doyle's river call is moot.
Chances are if Doyle could beat a ten high flush he would have either bet it in position on the turn or he would have raised with it on the river. He's just not going to play a bigger flush that passively.
Negreanu doesn't need to worry about Doyle's call at all and should realize that if he calls the check-raise the action is finished, Doyle will very seldom overcall.
Which brings us back to Benyamine's river check-raise, more likely than not Benyamine put Negreanu on a hand like A♠ K♥, A♠ Q♦ or even A♦ A♠, any hand that was a pair with a redraw on the turn and pot controlled three way. Of those, almost all of them improve on the river with the A♥.
Benyamine's check-raise was more for value vs Negreanu's two pair+ range than a bet to get a flush to fold.
Benyamine likely felt Doyle had a one pair bluff catcher and was a non issue in the hand. Of course what ended up happening was Negreanu folding his ten-high flush.
A fold that, looking purely at perceived ranges, isn't very good.
When Negreanu checks the turn there probably aren't a ton of flushes in his range, more likely Negreanu has a pair plus draw hand that he's pot controlling.
So when he checks and then bets on the river he's actually near the very top of his range given the situation.
The bulk of his range however are two pair or set type hands which Benyamine can checkraise for value with his small flush.
Negreanu probably just over-thought the hand, and believed he had to worry about Doyle acting behind him.
The end result was him folding the best hand.
Finally, Doyle calls Benyamines check-raise. The last mistake in a mistake-filled hand.
Honestly, there isn't too much explanation for it other than he was angry how he played the hand up until this point and now was too angry to fold.
Add in to the fact that the whole hand was confusing as hell and he just stuck the money in and hoped for the best.
He wasn't good of course, and Benyamine's raise looks like one of the most unbelievably sick plays ever, successfully getting a player to fold a better hand, yet still getting action from a worse hand.
But that's results oriented thinking, it was a a bad read that ended up working 100x better than he could have hoped.
On the bright side it did make for an interesting hand.
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