Behind the Scenes of Aria’s Massive Super High Roller Cash Game

Seven elite poker players took a break from the WSOP to head down to the Aria for the ultra exclusive Super High Roller Bowl cash game today.

Each player was required to buy-in for a minimum of $250,000 with blinds of $400/$800 and a $200 ante. In other words it’s a huge game, one of the biggest ever televised.

The game started with Doyle Brunson, Jean-Robert Bellande, Phil Ivey, Antonio Esfandiari, Johnny Chan, Jennifer Tilly and businessman Bob Bright. They were later joined by Australian Matt Kirk.

Esfandiari Books $1m Win

Scroll down to see a timeline of highlights over the first four hours of play. Be sure to go all the way to the bottom to see a photo gallery of the event.

1:20 pm: First off, it’s a beautiful set. Definitely up there with the WPT and WSOP TV tables.

1:30 pm: The start time has been pushed back a little because of TV production issues.

1:45 pm.: Folks at the Aria have assembled arguably the most-professional looking table of snacks for the players ever.

Jennifer Tilly
Jennifer Tilly

2:10 pm: Jennifer Tilly is ready go: “Good luck everyone, especially me!”

2:11 pm: Cards in the air!

2:15 pm: Phil Ivey takes the first pot - of course. It’s just a small one from Bob Bright.

2:40 pm: Antonio Esfandiari has a catch phrase for every Johnny Chan raise: “Heeeeeere’s Johnny.”

2:45 pm: Esfandiari keeps requesting food: “I’m becoming a grumpy b*$&#!”

2:50 pm: Organizers get Esfandiari food.

2:55 pm: Jennifer Tilly is the most talkative player at the table although Esfandiari is close.

3:00 pm: Tilly brought up Jean-Robert Bellande’s recent second-place finish at the WSOP. Bellande admitted it was pretty soul-crushing.

“You guys all have bracelets but it was tough to be that close and not win it,” he said.

“I know what it’s like!” exclaimed Chan who famously finished second to Phil Hellmuth in 1989, which ended his shot at a three WSOP Main Event titles in a row.

“I’m surprised you even remember that,” joked Tilly.

3:10 pm: Jennifer Tilly and Antonio Esfandiari chop a massive $500k pot.

3:16 pm: Matthew “Aussie Matt” Kirk is apparently going to take a seat. Reportedly one of the best cash game players in Australia.

3:30 pm: Kirk takes the eight seat in between Jennifer Tilly and Johnny Chan. Tilly tells a story about the time she almost got arrested in Australia because she had a package of beef jerky.

Cash game table
The gang

3:45 pm: Phil Ivey has not been very talkative in this game.

4:00 pm: Esfandiari’s father stops by to wish him luck in the game. It’s probably a good thing because Esfandiari always seems to win big when his Dad is around (Remember this?).

4:10 pm: Bob Bright manages to stack Matt Kirk when Kirk makes an ill-timed shove with Q-J. Bright snaps him off with pocket aces on a J♦ 7♥ 3♦ flop. No help on the turn or river and Kirk decides to reload for $250k.

4:15 pm: Lots of straddles although Doyle Brunson isn’t a huge fan.

5:00 pm: Doyle Brunson stacks Jennifer Tilly in a straight vs. straight situation with 8-7 against 3-2 on an action flop 6♣ 5♠ 4♣. The pot is well over $500,000. She immediately reloads for $250k.

Tilly laments her loss with 3-2 suited:

“That used to be my favorite hand because it was so easy to get away from,” she said.

5:45 pm: Ivey and Kirk play out a massive pot that gets them all the way to a 9♠ 6♠ 2♦ 8♣ 7♦ board. Eventually Kirk goes all-in and Ivey insta-calls with Q-T for the straight. Kirk mucks and heads for the exit after losing two straight buy-ins for a $500k hit.

5:59 pm: Antonio Esfandiari wins a massive $400k pot when Ivey makes a big laydown on a T♠ 8♥ 7♠ K♥ board.

6:00 pm: Dinner break.

6:01 pm: Brunson swings by media row for a bit over the break. Sounds like he’s having a good time. Thinks Aussie Matt is a bit of maniac.

6:02 pm: Brunson, Ivey and Esfandiari appear to be the big winners in the game after the first four hours of play. Esfandiari is close to $1m.

You can keep following the action via the Poker Central stream.

Aria Cash Game Closed Set
Aria Cash Game
Aria Crew
Phil Ivey3
Phil Ivey Doyle Brunson
Esfandiari Tilly
Matt Kirk
Ivey Brunson 2
Jean Robert Bellande 3
Johnny Chan2

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