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Television's original cash game returns deep stacked and on the attack!

Recaps by Joe Van Ginkel, GSNN

AJ Benza & Gabe Kaplan
Henry Orenstein, Mori Eskandari

Packager: Poker PROductions & Echo Entertainment
Origin: Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas
Airs: Sundays at 9p ET on GSN

Streaming Online

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Episode 5.1
March 1

Believe it or don’t, GSNN readers. It’s the return of two favorites: yours truly, the “Game Show Man” Joe Van Ginkel, doing my first project for GSNN in many moons, and the far more anticipated return of television’s best poker show, High Stakes Poker, hosted once again by those Knuckleheads from New York, A.J. Benza and stand-up comic-turned-sitcom star-turned-poker pro Gabe Kaplan, who is as brilliant as ever, both in his analysis of the game and in his wisecracks. This season, the game has returned to its original home, the Golden Nugget, and the buy-in has been upped to $200,000 from its original $100,000. Last season, the last few shows featured a buy-in of $500,000 (making for some wild pots), but this season, the $200,000 is for the entire season.

One of the themes for this season is young guns vs. veterans, pitting numerous fixtures of HSP against a number of younger players who’ve come up through the ranks, making tons of money. At the start of the game, this is the line-up at the table, in order, going clockwise:

Eli Elezra (veteran cash game player)
Ilari “Ziigmund” Sahamies (brash Pot Limit Omaha specialist from Finland)
Daniel Negreanu (tournament and cash game superstar, regarded as the master of “small ball” poker)
Peter Eastgate (2009 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion)
Doyle Brunson (two-time WSOP Main Event Champion, author of SuperSystem and SuperSystem 2)
Barry Greenstein (computer scientist turned cash game specialist; known as the “Robin Hood of Poker”)
Tom “durrr” Dwan (renowned online player; equally adept at live play)
David Benyamine (French poker pro; two-time WPT titlist)

Sahamies, Eastgate and Dwan are newcomers to HSP. The rest are veterans of the show.

Let’s get it on…

First hand:
Benyamine folds under the gun. Elezra calls the blinds with 9d 6d, Sahamies folds, Negreanu calls with Qc 3c, Eastgate raises to $5,000 with 9c 8c, Brunson and Greenstein fold, Dwan raises to $16,600 with Kh 9h. Elezra and Negreanu fold, Eastgate calls.

Eli and Doyle try to spook Dwan by saying they’re gonna call the clock on him on every hand; Dwan is known for taking his time to place a bet.

Flop – Ks 5d 4c
Dwan flops top pair, and checks, hoping to trap Eastgate. The 2009 WSOP champion bets $20,000 and Dwan calls.

Turn – Jc
Eastgate is drawing dead now. Dwan checks and Eastgate checks behind him.

River – 10c
Both players check. Dwan wins the pot, $77,200.

Eastgate grins at Doyle’s complaint that in the old days, they’d never play King-nine.

Second hand:
Sahamies folds under the gun, Negreanu calls the blinds with Qh 5h, Eastgate folds, Brunson calls with 10c 7c while Greenstein folds 10h 7h. Dwan calls with Ah 9h, Benyamine raises to $6,900 with Ac Qd, Elezra, Negreanu and Brunson all fold while Dwan calls, making it heads-up.

Flop – 8h Kc 5d

Dwan has a backdoor flush draw, but right now Benyamine has the best hand. He bets $12,000 and Dwan folds.

Third hand:
Negreanu gets his “small ball” on and raises under the gun to $2,500 with 10h 9h. Eastgate folds. Brunson gets Ks Kc and calls Negreanu’s raise. Greenstein, Dwan, Benyamine, and Elezra fold. Sahamies (whom Gabe refers to as “Ziggy”) calls with Qh 9c.

Flop – 6h 2c 7h

Negreanu has an inside straight flush draw. Ziigmund checks. Negreanu bets $5,500 and Doyle returns fire with a raise of $10,000. Sahamies gets out of the way. Daniel chews on the situation and just calls.

Turn – 7s

Doyle now has top two pair. Both men check.

River – 10s

Negreanu now has middle two pair, but Brunson has the best hand. Daniel checks, and Doyle fires $30,000 immediately. Negreanu doesn’t show his hand, but still tells everyone what cards he has as he throws them away.

Fourth hand:
Brunson and Greenstein fold. Dwan raises to $3,000 with 2h 2d. Benyamine folds, but Elezra, sick of folding calls Dwan’s raise with Jh 8s. Ziigmund calls with…6d 3c?!? WTF? Negreanu also calls with Ah 3h. Eastgate folds.

Flop – 3d 2c Qh

Dwan has Huey, Dewey and Louie: a set of ducks. Daniel checks, and Dwan attacks with $8,300. Eli gets out of the way, but Sahamies, with a pair of threes, reraises to $26,500, causing Daniel to fold. Dwan, with his set, calls.

Turn – Jd

Ziigmund is drawing dead. Dwan checks, hoping to sandbag Ziigmund, but Sahamries checks behind him.

River – 10c

Dwan bets $54,300 to get Sahamies to think he’s bluffing, but Ziigmund sees through it and folds.

Fifth hand:
Greenstein raises under the gun to $2,500 with Ah Js. Dwan calls with Kd 5d. Benyamine folds, Elezra calls with Jc 8c, Sahamies and Negreanu fold. Eastgate calls from the small blind with 5s 4s and Doyle calls from the big blind with 10c 9c.

Flop – 8s 3h 3c

Eli flops two pair. Eastgate and Brunson check, but Greenstein fires a continuation bet of $7,000. Dwan folds, but Elezra calls. Peter and Doyle both get out of the way.

Turn – Qc

Elezra now has a flush draw. Greenstein checks, and Eli follows suit.

River – Kh

Gabe thought Eli should’ve made a move on the turn, and he turns out to be right as even though Eli has the best hand, he quickly throws it away when Greenstein fires $25,000.

Dwan whines that he didn’t look at his hand after the flop and thinks he might have had a three. Gabe: “There’s as much chance of Dwan thinking he had a three there as there is of Doyle buying an iPod Nano.”

Sixth hand:
Dwan puts on a straddle (a third blind, double the size of the big blind). Benyamine folds under the gun, while Gabe makes fun of his “Gerard Depardieu hair.”

Gabe: “He will bluff you and he will fluff you. He’s got Gerard Depardieu hair.” Nice Kim Carnes reference, Gabe. Shouldn’t that be “Bette Davis Eyes?”

Elezra picks up 4s 4d, and raises to $6,000. The table folds around to Dwan who calls Eli’s raise with Qh Jd.

Flop – 3d As 7c

Garbage flop for both players. Dwan checks, and Eli, feigning disinterest while he tells a joke or two, bets $11,000, driving Dwan out.

The other players continue to try to psyche out Dwan by suggesting that he needs a mouse under his hand while he plays.

Some of the veterans comment on the younger players’ style, particularly Dwan and his willingness to gamble. Brunson: “He (Dwan) reminds me of the way I used to play.” Negreanu: “Durrr is very capable; Ziigmund, he’s got 75 different gears. It’s tough to just steal a pot.” Elezra: “When a guy don’t care to bluff one-fifty, two hundred thousand, they’re very dangerous.”

Seventh hand:
Elezra, Sahamies, Benyamine and Negreanu all fold, but Eastgate opens for $2,500 with Ah 6h. Doyle calls with Ad Js. Greenstein does likewise with Jc 10c. Dwan also calls with 7c 6c. Hmm…

Flop – 6d 5h 3d

Peter and Durr both have top pair, but the champ has the best kicker. Tom, however, has a gutshot straight draw. Greenstein checks, but Dwan bets $7,700. Eastgate calls and Doyle and Barry get out of the way.

Turn – 6s

The case (i.e., the fourth and final) six gives both men trip sixes. Dwan bets $20,200, and Eastgate calls, with Gabe mocking him all the way.

Gabe (as Peter) “How can you bet into me? I have three sixes! I’m the World Series of Poker champion! I call!”

River – Ks

No help for anyone. Eastgate has the best hand. Dwan bets $53,900, using the same tactic he tried on Ziigmund earlier, hoping Eastgate will call, unaware that Peter has him beat. Eastgate calls and takes down over $175,000. Dwan is dumbfounded and makes a face like he’s just been bitch-slapped…which he has.

Dwan’s shocked reaction immediately sets off mockery from Daniel, while Barry reminds Dwan that “this is our reigning World Champion.” Peter grins while the ribbing from Negreanu continues.

Eighth hand:
Elezra and Sahamies fold, while Daniel limps in with Qs 2s. Eastgate, Brunson and Greenstein fold, while Durrr raises to $4,200 with 9c 6c. Benyamine calls with Kh Js, and Negreanu folds.

Flop – 8d 6d 6h.

Here we go again with the sixes…Dwan once more has trip sixes. Tom fires $8,300 and Benyamine folds. Don’t think for one second that Dwan’s seen the last of Benyamine.

Ninth hand:
Ziigmund folds under the gun. The table folds around to Dwan who limps in with 5h 4h. Benyamine raises $5,400 with Qd 9h. Elezra folds and Dwan calls.

Flop – Kh Jc 10h

Yes, friends, it’s on and poppin’. Benyamine flops the second-nut straight (an Ace would give him the nut straight), but Dwan has a flush draw. David bets $8,400. Dwan calls.

Turn – 2s

No help for anyone. David takes a moment to survey the situation and finally bets $17,500. Dwan calls him.

River – 9d

<The Commodores>Brick…house.</TC> Benyamine’s got the best hand here, without question. David bets $12,000. Gabe calls it a “tickle bet,” but Dwan refuses to be tickled and mucks his hand.

Negreanu wonders out loud why Dwan can play so many games online at the same time and yet be so slow when playing live. Brunson calls Dwan the slowest person he’s ever played with. Dwan counters by saying he plays so many hands that everybody’s always waiting on him, so it seems like he’s slow.

Tenth hand:
Negreanu folds under the gun. Eastgate, Brunson and Greenstein follow suit. Dwan raises to $3,000 with Kh Js. David calls with Jc 10s. Eli calls with…7s 5d? Oh wait, I got worried for a second. I forgot that this is “Crazy Eli” we’re talking about. Sahamies calls with 4c 2c.

Flop – 10d Jh 7c

Benyamine has top two pair. The table checks to David who bets $9,300, driving Eli and Ziggy out immediately. Durrr calls. It’s “The Dwan and Benyamine Show” again.

Turn – 9s

An eight on the river would chop the pot. Otherwise, it doesn’t look good for Dwan. Both players check.

River – 10c

Tom now has two pair, but David now has a boat, tens full of Jacks. Dwan checks, and Benyamine fires $27,700. Dwan takes a minute to chew on things and finally throws away his hand. Some surprisingly cagey play by Durrr on this hand.

Elezra gets up from the table briefly to bring Brunson some food from the buffet in the other room. Gabe: “Doyle’s got his vittles.”

Eleventh hand:
Brunson is under the gun and folds.

Doyle (talking to the hole-card-cam): “See, that’s why I don’t straddle.” Gabe: “Doyle’s talking to Verne Troyer, who’s down there with the mini-cam.”

The Durr Show continues as Dwan picks up Kh Kc, raising to $3,000. Benyamine folds, but “Crazy Eli” calls with 9s 2s. Sahamies folds, as do Negreanu and Eastgate.

Flop – 8h 3c 5d

The password is…”crap.” (ding!) Dwan bets $7,100 and Eli folds.

Twelfth hand:
Greenstein folds under the gun. Dwan folds (?!), as do Benyamine, Elezra, and Sahamies. Negreanu limps in with Jc 2c. Eastgate, however, has Ah Kd, and quickly raises to $4,000. Brunson calls from the big blind with Jh 10d. Negreanu, with good position on both men, calls as well. Gabe still can’t believe that Dwan folded.

Flop – 2h 2d Kh

Here come the nephews again, but this time it’s Daniel who has the three twos. Eastgate has two pair and bets out $6,000. Doyle bails. But Daniel tries to hide the strength of his hand by calling. Good move because…

Turn – Jd

Now Daniel’s got a boat, deuces full of Jacks. Horrors. Eastgate can still beat him with a King on the river, though. He bets out $14,000. Daniel looks at his cards, and then just calls, setting the trap for the river…

River – 8s

Negreanu has the best hand, and a firing solution targeting Eastgate’s stack. The champ makes a value bet of $18,000. Daniel fires a full salvo, raising to $59,000. Peter is dumbfounded, but obviously knows he’s beat and avoids the cannonade by laying his hand down.

The show ends here, but not before showing tonight fifth hand, with Barry Greenstein bluffing Eli Elezra’s best hand out on the river.

Can the young guns continue to outplay the veterans? Can anyone stop the juggernaut that is Tom Dwan? Can Gabe Kaplan get any funnier? Find out next time on High Stakes Poker, Season Five. For GSNN, I’m the “Game Show Man, “Joe Van Ginkel, reminding you that Reality Bites…Watch More Game Shows!

To see this episode in its entirety, visit GSN's official YouTube site at