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Hand of the Week: Tom Dwan Makes Impossible Possible on HSP
We're looking back at a milestone moment in poker this week starring one of the most inventive players of all time.
In this classic hand from the legendary TV show High Stakes Poker, Tom Dwan takes on two opponents at once and somehow manages to make both of them fold.
He wins a $237,000 pot, but how it was even possible is the real highlight of the story.
Flop to River
High Stakes Poker ran for several seasons and gathered the best cash-game players in the world around its table.
In this hand action is 8-handed and the blinds are $400/$800/$200. There's $2,800 in the pot before the first card is even dealt.
Barry Greenstein finds in 1st position. He raises to $2,500.
Tom Dwan calls behind with
All the other six players call, too! Now, in a cash game things like this happen but it’s still a rare situation. Players and hands are:
- David Benyamine -- 3♥ 3♣
- Eli Elezra -- J♦ 9♠
- Ilari Sahamies -- 7♥ 6♠
- Daniel Negreanu has K♦ 4♦ on the button
- Peter Eastgate -- 4♥ 2♦
- Doyle Brunson -- A♠ 9♣
There's $21,600 in the pot and we see a family flop of
Eastgate and Brunson check from the blinds. Greenstein opens with a bet of $10,000 but Dwan then raises to $37,300.
Benyamine, Elezra, Sahamies and Negreanu get out of the way. Eastgate calls. So does Greenstein after Brunson folds.
There's $133,200 in the pot. Effective stacks are about twice as large. The turn is the
Eastgate checks his trips and Greenstein checks his aces, but Dwan bets $104,200. That brings the pot up to $237,400.
Eastgate takes a long time and finally decides to fold. Greenstein tanks a little longer and also folds his pocket rockets. The whole pot goes to Dwan. Watch the hand as it played out:
In the middle of a complex scenario, Tom Dwan comes up with an extraordinary idea which enables him to win the pot with the worst hand.
Sitting in first position Barry Greenstein finds pocket aces and somehow gets entangled in the worst possible situation – everybody calls!
After Dwan (Q-T) and Benyamine (3-3) make rather loose calls, the sh*t hits the fan as they say.
The pot odds get better and better so one player after another feels compelled to call and could do so mathematically with almost any two cards.
Greenstein has the best hand and feels like he’s in the worst spot. How is he supposed to re-evaluate the strength of his hand on the developing board?
There aren't many cards that can help him, but the flop looks pretty benign. T-2-2 rainbow is about as dry of a board as possible and the only hands that beat him are pocket tens and x-2.
Considering there are seven opponents the second option is more likely than the first. Greenstein decides to bet small. He wants to get rid of opponents and get more information.
Now Dwan, sitting directly to Greenstein’s left, conceives of a plan that is just as incredible as it is perfidious.
A Third, Treacherous Option
Yes, he’s hit top pair with his ten but that doesn’t really matter with six players still behind him.
As Greenstein has bet from early position, Dwan must believe that his hand is weaker than Barry’s. Also, each of the players behind him could have a stronger hand than he does.
In this spot a fold would definitely be a correct move. A call does not make much sense, considering he feels like he has a weaker hand.
But Dwan manages to find a third option, and it’s a treacherous one. He raises and thus represents a deuce or a full house.
The raise is for over $37,000 and none of the other players see any reason to pay that much money to stay in the hand.
None except Eastgate, that is, for he actually does have the deuce and now holds trips without a kicker.
Both Dwan and Eastgate have shown enormous strength, which makes Greenstein's aces look weaker. But the pot odds are still very good so Barry calls and waits for the turn.
The 7♦ on the turn is a total brick. You’d have to play 7-2, the worst of all NLHE starting hands – to add value to your hand.
Eastgate Mucks, Greenstein Cracks
When Greenstein checks, Dwan takes a moment to reflect upon the hand. Greenstein’s play really smells like an overpair – he raised from first position, c-bet on the flop and then called Dwan’s raise.
Dwan might be able to exert enough pressure to make a hand like this fold. But there's also Eastgate. The 2008 WSOP champion from Denmark is an even bigger problem for Dwan.
Eastgate called pre-flop from the small blind because of the ridiculous pot odds. He check-called a bet and a raise on the flop, showing tremendous strength. You can almost see the deuce written on his forehead.
To win the pot Dwan has to rely on Eastgate having a weak deuce so he can still force the champion to fold.
Dwan bets $104,200 and clearly represents A-2 or T-T. He’s asking Eastgate straightforwardly if he really wants to risk his complete stack with a weak deuce.
How well Dwan analysed this hand becomes apparent when Eli Elezra (after the hand) remarks that Greenstein folded the best hand and Dwan replies that Eastgate had the best hand.
Dwan’s plan works perfectly. Eastgate mucks reluctantly and then Greenstein cracks under the pressure of an imminent all-in on the river.
Dwan Exploits Absurdity Perfectly
At first glance, what looks like a badly played top pair by an amateur is actually Tom Dwan winning a huge six-digit pot with the worst of three hands.
The cards are really of minor significance in this hand.
The ten in Dwan’s hand only helps him to practically eliminate the chance of someone else holding pocket tens.
In a situation where a bluff seems to be absurd, he manages to exploit exactly that absurdity and forces the two better hands to fold.