The fourth season of High Stakes Poker!
Just like the previous 3 seasons you are going to see the top us poker site players at the tables this year including, Doyle Brunson, Eli Elezra, David Benyamine, Patrik Antonius, Barry Greenstein, Phil Hellmuth, Sam Farha, Jennifer Harman, Daniel Negreanu and Jamie Gold.
With the exception of a now beardless AJ Benza it looked business as usual with the familiar burgundy table and friendly looking cocktail waitresses. Phil Laak, Antonio Esfandiari, Todd Brunson and Mike Matusow all returned to the first game and were joined by amateurs Brian Brandon and Tony Salorio. Also joining them was high stakes cash player Haralabos Voulgaris and the return of a little known grinder called Phil Hellmuth.
The show really couldn’t have got off to a better start with the addition of the 7-2 side game. Esfandiari and Laak introduced this game they play regularly whereby if a player wins a hand with 7-2, everyone at the table has to give him an additional $500. I personally witnessed a cash game in Ireland featuring Laak, Esfandiari, the Devilfish and Andy Black where they played the 7-2 game and it created some of the juiciest action I’ve ever seen.
So it was only the 2nd hand of the night when long time friends and rivals, Matusow and Hellmuth, got headsup with Mikes pocket kings vs Hellmuths 7-2. After Matusow proclaimed of Hellmuth “I’ve got position on the Donkey” the gloves were off and Hellmuth pulled off a $40,000 bluff on the river of a queen high board. Upon showing the 7-2 the table erupted, Matusow went crazy and Hellmuth kept quiet……for about half a minute.
It seemed that hand was to be the discussion point for the remainder of the show, at least for Hellmuth and Matusow, and 7-2 was played very strongly for another 4 hands. Not everyone had as much success as Hellmuth, however, and in one particular hand we saw a player lose $117,000 trying to pick up just $3,500 from the table for showing 7-2.
As always the banter is constant, the pots are huge and the action is loose. Hellmuth seems to be much more composed for this outing than his previous game in season 1 and Matusow, love him or hate him, is as entertaining as ever. The action returns next week and later on in the season we will see a $500,000 minimum buy-in match between some of the really high rollers.
The cast of the fourth installment of High Stakes Poker has been set, and taping is scheduled to begin on May 13th. The complete list of players is still slowly leaking out, and as soon as we get a complete list of the players participating, we will post it on this site. For now, we can only go by what certain players have posted on their blogs.
Daniel Negreanu will indeed be participating, which is not a surprise given his participation on the first three seasons and general popularity with fans. You have to assume that Negreanu’s loose style contributed to the show’s decision to invite him on this year once again. Negreanu has stated that he will likely only be participating on the first day of taping, and not participating on the second and third days (it is a three day shoot.)
Brian “sbrugby” Townsend wrote on his blog today that he will not be participating. From what I understand, show producers declined to have Townsend back on the show this year. I am guessing that Townsend’s fairly quiet demeanor at the table was the deciding factor in producer’s not inviting him back this year. From what Townsend indicated, he had wanted to play again if invited.