Although the age-old game typically takes center stage on GSN’s “High Stakes Poker,” a prop bet between Antonio Esfandiari and “The Notebook” director Nick Cassavetes stole the televised cash game show this week.
Sunday night marked the second episode with the second group of contestants. The players have been relatively quiet so far, focusing more on prop bets than poker, but in the second hand of the show, Team PokerStars Pro member Daniel Negreanu raised to $2,500 with 5-6 of spades. Patrik Antonius made the call with A-10 to see a flop of 4-3-8 with one spade. Negreanu bet out $4,000 and Esfandiari called. “High Stakes Poker” commentator Gabe Kaplan noted on Antonius’ call, “He feels if he catches an ace or ten, he’ll have the best hand and could take down the pot.” Sure enough, the turn was the ace of spades. Holding both flush and straight draws, Negreanu bet $10,000 and Antonius called. The river was the four of spades, giving Negreanu a runner-runner flush. Negreanu checked, Antonius bet $18,000 and Negreanu just flat called, taking down the $71,800 pot.
Several hands later, the two tangled again. Antonius peeked down at pocket sevens and raised to $3,500. Negreanu made the call with K-J of clubs and the flop came J-2-J. Negreanu checked, Antonius bet $5,000, Negreanu raised to $17,500 with trips, and Antonius called. The turn came an ace and Negreanu check-called $27,000. The river was a nine. Negreanu once again checked, but this time Antonius checked right behind him, shipping the $98,000 pot to “Kid Poker.” Negreanu had won two straight pots and was looking to right the ship after losing two buy-ins during the first six episodes of “High Stakes Poker” Season 5.
Esfandiari won $1,000 off Cassavetes in a pushup prop bet. The famed director did not think “The Magician” could perform 35 pushups. After a heated debate as to what constituted a full pushup, three plates were placed underneath Esfandiari and had to be hit each time. Cassavetes was edgy during the contest, yelling, “Your chest has to touch the ground!” If Esfandiari broke a plate, he automatically forfeited the bet. In the end, Esfandiari easily surpassed the 35 pushup mark, ultimately tallying 47 according to an official counter provided by GSN. Other side bets discussed during the show included what rating Cassavetes would give the original “Matrix” movie and at what age Esfandiari was the number one newspaper salesman. Neither bet played out during the course of the one hour show, whose new episodes air at 9:00pm ET on GSN every Sunday.
In the final hand of the evening, Phil Laak raised to $3,600 with 10-7 of spades and 2005 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Joe Hachem called with K-3 of hearts. The flop came 2-6-5 rainbow, giving Hachem an inside straight draw. The action between Laak and Hachem went check-check and the turn came a three. Hachem bet $3,000 and Laak raised to $13,200. Kaplan speculated on what went through Laak’s head: “You don’t have a four. I have an overpair and I know it’s good.” Hachem called Laak’s raise and the river came an ace. Hachem tanked before firing out a $20,500 bet. Kaplan added, “I don’t believe Joe Hachem thinks he has the best hand. He knows if he checks and Phil Laak bets, he has to throw his hand away.” Laak folded, giving the $56,100 pot to Hachem.
As part of an ongoing stipulation, all hand winners had to expose one card. In the final hand, Hachem flipped over his king, prompting a bet of $500 from Esfandiari that the other card was a four. Hachem promptly turned over a three, Laak did his best Phil Hellmuth impersonation and angrily walked away from the table, and Hachem added another $500 to his stack.
Next week, “The Simpsons” co-creator Sam Simon leaves the show, prompting the arrival of Tom “durrrr” Dwan, whose willingness to gamble created the largest pot in “High Stakes Poker” history of $919,000 earlier this season.