Season 5 Episode 5 of High Stakes Poker aired last night, and the hand of the night featured a $200,000 bluff from Barry Greenstein that succeeded in getting his opponent to lay down top pair.
If you're a poker player you know where you'll be at nine o'clock Sunday night: plunked down in front of your TV watching eight of poker's best flinging money around like it's going out of style.
Without fail, each episode brings us at least one hand worth discussing in more detail, and Episode 5 was no different.
This week, everyone was talking Barry Greenstein's $200,000 semi-bluff-check-raise on the turn. So let's take a closer look.
Tom "durrrr" Dwan
Ilari "ziigmund" Sahamies
Game: High Stakes Poker, $500/$1,000 with a $200 ante
Greenstein Bluffs Elezra
Greenstein kicks the hand off with a raise to $3,500 from early position.
It's folded to Eli Elezra, who makes the call in the cut-off, and ziigmund calls on the button.
Eastgate calls in the big blind, and we are four-handed to a J♦ K♣ A♦ flop.
Eastgate checks, and Greenstein bets $7,000. Elezra raises to $19,000 and ziigmund and Eastgate fold.
Greenstein makes the call and the 8♣ comes on the turn.
Greenstein checks and Elezra bets $45,000.
Greenstein tanks before check-raising to $200,000; Elezra folds, and Greenstein rakes the $100,000 pot.
Greenstein raises to $3,500 from early position with 5♦ 6♦. Not a standard play by any means, but perfectly acceptable to mix up his play and balance his range.
If you only raise aces and monsters from up front at a table full of pros, they're going to pick up on it. So raising 5♦ 6♦ is a great way to balance your early-position opening range.
Eli Elezra makes the call from the cut-off with A♥ 2♠. Not a play I advocate versus an early-position raise.
A weak offsuit ace is just too easily dominated to make it a good play to call versus an under-the-gun raise.
But hey - at least he's got position on the preflop raiser.
ziigy also makes the call, on the button with J♥ T♥, a move so standard it's hardly worth mentioning, and Eastgate calls in the big blind with 3♣ 2♣, getting like 10-1.
When the flop comes J♦ K♣ A♦ Eastgate checks his nothing, and Barry c-bets $7,000 with his flush draw.
Greenstein knows that he should be given a ton of credit for betting this flop into three live players, and this is the exact board that is likely to have helped an early-position raiser.
Eli Elezra chooses to raise to $19,000 with his top pair, no kicker. It's a weird bet, that's for sure.
Maybe he doesn't entirely believe Greenstein, or maybe he is trying to milk a flush draw or random pair and straight draws like K-Q or J-T.
ziigy folds - although he has a pair and a straight draw, there is just way too much action for his hand, so he insta-mucks it, as does Eastgate.
Greenstein calls with his flush draw and they are heads-up to an 8♣ turn.
Greenstein checks and Elezra bets $45,000 into $50,000ish.
At this point it really feels like Elezra is turning his top pair into a bluff.
When Elezra bets the turn this big a worse hand is never going to call. The bet is just too big. His goal may be to turn his top pair into a bluff and get Greenstein to fold a better ace like A-T or even A-Q, or to end the hand now if Greenstein has a flush draw.
Greenstein tanks before check-raising to $200,000.
Greenstein has a ton of history with Elezra. Maybe he knows that Elezra does not bet made, big hands so strongly on the turn. The bet sizing may be a tell for Greenstein, and he may see it as a weakness rather than a strength.
Whatever the reason, it really is a great play: he feels Elezra is weak and acts upon it.
Because he has a flush draw with the 5♦ 6♦, even if he gets called by a monster like A-K or A-J or even Q-T, he won't be drawing dead. He can still be bailed out by one of his flush cards.
Greenstein semi-bluffs, hoping his opponent will fold, but knows that even if he is called by a monster he still has an escape hatch.
It's a great hand played by the Bear, showing you exactly what it takes to be a winning poker player - well-timed aggression, and the ability to go with your reads. A++. It almost makes up for that abominable hand Greenstein played last week versus durrrr.
More Strategy Snapshots: