At times it hasn't even seemed like much of a poker show, as 75% of the table seems more intent on making prop bets than actually playing poker.
That said, Episode 8, which aired last night, wasn't completely devoid of poker content, as Daniel Negreanu and Patrik Antonius locked horns in a $72,000 pot that wound up being the most interesting hand of the episode.
Game: High Stakes Poker Season 5, Episode 8, $400/$800 blinds w/ $200 ante
Negreanu opens the hand for a raise from early position to $2,500. Immediately on his left, Antonius makes the call.
Everyone else folds and they take a flop heads up of 4♦ 3♠ 8♥. Daniel bets $4,000 and Patrik calls. The turn comes A♠. Daniel bets $10,000 and Patrik calls.
The river comes 4♠ and Daniel checks; Patrik bets $18,000 and Daniel calls.
Patrik tables A♦ T♣ for two pair, aces and fours, with a ten kicker but is behind to Daniel's 5♠ 6♠ for a flush, which is good for the $71,800 pot.
Daniel kicks the hand off with a raise from early position with the 5♠ 6♠.
Small suited connectors are Daniel Negreanu's bread and butter, and he loves them with good reason.
When suited connectors hit, they make big pot hands where you can win your opponent's entire stack.
Of course that doesn't give you license to raise every suited connector every single time you're dealt them. When they don't flop big, you're often left with tricky post-flop decisions.
But it's fine to mix up your play and open a hand like 5♠ 6♠ in early position to balance your range.
Patrik makes the call immediately on Daniel's left with A♦ T♣. A big ace is good enough to call in a deep-stacked cash game - especially when you have position on the original raiser and your name is Patrik Antonius.
Everyone else folds and the flop comes 4♦ 3♠ 8♥.
Daniel continuation-bets $4,000 with his open-ender.
He would c-bet this flop with a wide range of his preflop raising range, so it's an easy c-bet with an open-ender.
He also begins to build the pot so should he hit his straight he can get a larger bet in on the later streets.
Patrik calls in position with ace high.
He's probably thinking Daniel raised before the flop and is continuation-betting with his entire range, so he calls in position to steal the pot on the turn when Daniel checks.
The turn comes A♠. Daniel now bets $10,000.
On the turn, Daniel adds seven more outs with a flush draw. Couple that with the fact aces are, like, the best double-barrel cards ever, and this bet is as automatic as the Yankees overspending in the off season.
Patrik now has a pair and decides to just call. He probably thinks that if he has the best hand now, seldom is Daniel going to pay off with a worse one. And should Daniel be bluffing, it's better to let him continue to do so.
The river comes 4♠ and Daniel checks hoping to induce a bet from Patrik.
It's very unlikely Patrik has the backdoor flush as well, but Daniel may put him on an ace or a hand like a pair of nines that would want to value bet the river.
A plan that has a few holes in it. In this episode, there are a couple of hands where Patrik checks behind in position with a hand that has decent showdown value rather than go for the thin value bet.
It just seems to be that if he did have a hand like 9-9 he wouldn't value bet this river in position after Daniel bet two streets. He would rather just check it down and hope that it's good.
Daniel. by checking the river, opens the door for Patrik to check through with his one-pair hands that may have called a river bet.
In the hand though, Patrik does end up firing $18,000 with his top pair, decent kicker.
He must have thought Daniel had a hand like JJ or QQ, or a made hand that didn't like the turn or river, and thus shut down his betting but still may be willing to call a bet.
Daniel elects to just call with his six-high flush - a move that Gabe Kaplan questions.
In reality though, there's little value in a check-raise here.
Daniel has the worst possible flush on a paired board, and a check-raise screams strength.
Patrik would almost never call with a worse hand, and should Patrik have a full house it re-opens the betting when they are almost 300bb deep.
The only way to play this hand after checking is to just call and hope your flush is good, which it is.
Now, granted this hand isn't quite as exciting as some of the big numbers that were put up on the first half of the season, but it's an interesting hand nonetheless - and a welcome change from the constant chatter and prop bets of Antonio and Phil Laak.
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