Poker Coverage: Poker Tournaments U.S. Poker Markets Sports Betting Poker Strategy

Brunson Falters, Dwan Soars on High Stakes Poker

Season Finale Highlighted by Lex Veldhuis' Great Call


Doyle BrunsonUsually, when Doyle Brunson (who has played fairly tight historically on this show) fires a $60,000 bet on the river and you’re only holding a pair of deuces, it’s probably OK to just muck your hand. But Lex Veldhuis defied logic and in doing so, made the best call of the night to win a sizable pot and ensure that Brunson’s TV cash game winning streak would come to an end.

Brunson’s picked off bluff and losing session was one of many storylines in the season six finale of High Stakes Poker. Some of the others — Tom Dwan went from looking silly to solidifying himself as the big winner this season; Phil Galfond is really good at folding full houses when he’s beat; and Veldhuis can play some cards.

Dwan started off the night with a hero call gone awry. He called Daniel Negreanu’s $28,200 river bet on a board of 7-7-3-K-Q board with just 9-5, clearly putting Kid Poker on a missed straight draw with 4-5 or 5-6 after he called Dwan’s flop bet. But Negreanu had been floating the flop with K-10, and got maximum value out of a rare misstep by durrrr.

“I guess my call is terrible then,” said Dwan, after seeing Negreanu’s cards. “I made one of them hero calls.”

Tom DwanBut Dwan would recover nicely, winning a huge pot off of Eli Elezra when he induced a re-raise to $173,300 from the Israeli cash game regular when he held an over-pair on a 9-7-3 flop. Dwan went over the top with his top two pair, and Elezra finally threw it way. With those winnings, Dwan finished the session up overall. He was a winner in all three sessions this season, as well as all three sessions last season.

Brunson, however, booked a rare losing session — thanks, in large part, to his failed bluff attempt on Veldhuis. The Dutch pro was back at the table to take Mike Matusow’s old seat and was hoping for a better performance than his last time there. Veldhuis made his High Stakes Poker debut earlier this season, but his aggression was turned against him when Phil Ivey five-bet pushed all in holding just 5-2 pre-flop to win $51,600 from the online pro.

This time, Veldhuis was on his game. He was pushing the action, and playing creatively enough to get his opponents to play out of character — no instance was more evident of that than when Brunson invested about $90,000 into a pot in a single hand, holding nothing but queen-high.

Brunson had limped into Veldhuis’ straddle with Q-9. Velhuis tried to bully him out with a pre-flop raise holding just 9-2, but Brunson defended. A 6-3-2 flop went check-check, and Brunson threw out $20,500 in chips when a jack came on the turn. When a 4 came on the river, putting four to a straight on the board, Brunson fired out an unusually large bet of $60,000.

Lex VeldhuisKnowing Brunson’s range was so polarized that he probably either had the straight or nothing, Veldhuis made the call — much to the shock of his fellow tablemates.

“Wow,” Brunson said softly. “Hmmph,” Elezra responded. “Don’t try to bluff that guy,” Negreanu offered.

That great call was certainly a highlight of Veldhuis’ performance, but he also won a $130,400 pot off Elezra to put him up nicely for his short stay at the table.

Galfond put himself into a number of tough situations and had another tough episode financially, but viewers had to be impressed with his ability to get away from big hands on the river. On two separate occasions, he correctly mucked a full house to a large river bet.

The first time he did it, he had no business being in the hand in the first place.

David Benyamine had opened the betting to $4,200 pre-flop with pocket tens, and Galfond three-bet the action to $16,000 with K-5. Unfortunately for Galfond, Elezra, who had just moments earlier paid off Veldhuis in a big hand, woke up with a monster — pocket kings. Elezra four-bet it to $40,500 and Galfond surprisingly made the call after Benyamine got out of the way.

Phil GalfondThe flop was a disaster for Galfond: K-9-9. Elezra bet $33,000 into the $88,600 pot and Galfond made the call. A 9 turn appeared to seal Galfond’s fate, as the young pro now held a full house. But when Elezra checked it over to him, he showed great restraint (or perhaps was just trying to disguise his hand) and checked it as well.

A queen came on the river, a card that perhaps allowed Galfond to justify his next play. Although it didn’t appear to change much, Galfond knew that he was beat if Elezra held any of the three big pocket pairs (aces, kings, or queens). Elezra pushed out $110,000 into the $154,600 pot, and waited for Galfond’s decision.

“I have a full house,” Galfond said to no one in particular, as Negreanu laughed at the scene. “I would’ve called a small bet.”

He mucked his hand, prompting an amusing stretch of dialogue at the table. “Folded a king?” asked Benyamine, reading the situation perfectly. “I had a king,” Galfond confirmed. “I don’t believe you,” Elezra responded. “I believe it,” Brunson insisted. “You had a king?” Dwan asked incredulously.

Galfond would make another great laydown after Negreanu made a nearly pot-sized bet of $75,000 on a K-8-3-8-K board with top boat. Galfond had an eight, but declined to pay Negreanu off.

In other news, Bertand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier became the final victim of a season that saw many players hit the rail. He refused to give up third pair on a board of 8-6-4-Q when he held A-6 against the unpredictable Dwan, who had put him all in on the turn. ElkY called, and let out a few curses when he saw that Dwan was holding aces.

Perhaps it was fitting that Dwan, the season’s big winner, won his final hand with pocket aces after winning so many before that with such a wide variety of hole cards.

We here at Card Player hope you enjoyed the High Stakes Poker recaps this season.

Details and dates for season seven of the popular TV cash game series have not yet been released, but if you’re craving high stakes action, PokerStars’ new cash-game show The Big Game premieres June 14 on FOX.

Editor’s Note: The hand between Elezra and Galfond was originally inaccurately reported as having a flop of K-K-9. In fact, the deck they used was legitimate, it had only four kings, and the real flop was K-9-9. And Brunson had Q-7 in his encounter with Veldhuis. Apologies for the confusion.



almost 11 years ago

Elezra has pocket K's, Galfond has K,5 and the flop is K,K,9. Lotta K's in that deck.


almost 11 years ago

Apparently Phil Galfond spits in the face of Zeebo's theorem.


almost 11 years ago

K,9,9 idiots


almost 11 years ago

Brunson had Q7 of spades in that hand where Lex calls with a pair of deuces so that's another error in reporting.

And surely once Galfond had played K5 like that it's a bad fold, you either fold preflop or call that extra bet, if you are calling big bets with K5o and then folding full houses surely that's -EV.


almost 11 years ago

mikey the flop was actually K 99