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Through the years, in the world’s biggest events, the PokerStars cameras have been rolling, catching some of the greatest moments in the game. Join us for the biggest and best hero calls, sick coolers, blow-ups, bluffs and bad beats…
TOP 5 POKER MOMENTS
12 years of covering live events and producing TV shows has led to some pretty memorable moments for PokerStars. From footballer Ronaldo making a huge splash at the Caribbean Adventure (where he finished in a creditable 26th place), to an amateur taking on Daniel Negreanu for a seven-figure sum.
There was another million up for grabs when two of the best players in the world, Negreanu and Phil Ivey, battled it out in the finale of the Sharkcage TV show, but there could only be one winner.
The final table of the EPT 9 Grand Final was ridiculously stacked, with Jake Cody, Steve O’Dwyer, Jason Mercier, Daniel Negreanu and Johnny Lodden all battling for the first prize of €1,224,000. It’s a line-up that hasn’t been matched since outside of the super high rollers.
But the greatest moment is something that can never be repeated. After nine years and nearly 100 Main Events the European Poker Tour had never crowned a two-time winner.
That record was broken at EPT 10 San Remo, when the first ever woman to win an EPT Main Event did it again. Victoria Coren-Mitchell has taken a step back from the game recently but this is something the poker world will never forget. Who would have thought poker could be so emotional?
TOP 5 HERO CALLS
Sometimes you’ve just got to go with your gut instinct. You haven’t got much but you’re pretty sure they haven’t either. And you really don’t want to let someone bluff you off a monster pot. So you make a hero call, with just Ace-high or bottom pair and then let out a sigh of relief when your opponent sighs and insta-mucks.
Outside of running a huge bluff yourself and getting away with it, making a correct hero call is one of the best feelings in poker.
Of course, it’s fairly easy to do when you’re playing in your home game. But what about when you’re playing for life-changing sums of money and the TV cameras are on you?
Erik Seidel might be one of the best players in the world, but even he was pushing it when he made a hero call at the final table of the EPT Grand Final Super High Roller with just Jack-high. The problem here is that even if you’re right you’re losing to a load of bluffs. The look on the face of Dimitry Urbanovich is priceless.
But pride of place here goes to a young Jason Mercier at EPT 4 San Remo in 2008. Mercier hadn’t got any live cashes to his name at the time, but was on the final table when he made an incredible call on the river after a shove from Eric Koskas. Lucky? $17.4m in live earnings since say that it was probably more a sixth sense. Koskas only made three live cashes after this crushing moment.
TOP 5 FANTASTIC FOLDS
Picture a poker winner and you’ll probably see someone raking in a mammoth pot and sitting back with a huge grin as he prepares to stack them – probably in the shape of a spaceship or something similarly outlandish and, erm, winnerish.
But consistent winners know that making good folds is just as important as winning big pots. Tournament poker is all about conserving chips and making a bad call can turn your impressive stack into a shortie before you can say, ‘i can’t beat that.’
Are you capable of making a massive laydown? How about this one? You’re heads-up on the final table of an ePT Main event and you’ve got Q♣-8♦ on a 7♣-9♠-2♠-6♣- 5♥ board. Your opponent has overbet the river, and you have to call 1,200,000 from a stack of over 4m. What would you do?
If this section wasn’t called ‘Fantastic Folds’ we imagine that you’d snap us off with a smile on your face. As it is, the fold that Dany Parlafes made is almost unbelievable. There’s only one hand that’s beating him and it turns out his opponent had it this time.
Unfortunately, Parlafes still went on to lose, but who said poker was fair? At least Parlafes will always have this hand on record to show his grandkids.
TOP 5 BIGGEST BLOW-UPS
Pro players are supposed to be in control of their emotions, but they’re only human (apart from Fedor Holz), and occasionally they let the game get the better of them. And we’re extremely happy about that. Poker’s supposed to be fun and, in our opinion, there’s nothing more entertaining than a couple of pros going at in on the table. The louder the better.
Like Max Greenwood at EPT 10 Barcelona when he was sat with Kings against Jacks with just one card to come. You can guess what the river card was, but you might not be able to tell us what he shouted at the top of his voice before vacating the poker room. At least he had the good grace to Tweet an apology afterwards.
Of course, the number one spot goes to a certain Mr Phil Hellmuth. The man who’s had more blow-ups than a retired demolition expert is on fine form here in hands against Dario Minieri and arch-needler Tony G.
G prompts a walk-off from Hellmuth, who sits back and lets the table know exactly how unlucky he’s been. G tells him he’s a ‘disgrace to the game,’ which doesn’t go down too well with the Poker Brat. He takes a moment before saying, ‘i wish i wasn’t a bad loser… But it’s ten times as bad to be a bad winner, and you’re a bad winner my friend.’
For once, we’re actually in total agreement with Hellmuth.
TOP 5 BEST BLUFFS
If you learned your poker by watching TV shows you probably started off your own career thinking that every other hand is a monster bluff.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case but it does mean that when you pull a big one off – creating a credible story, getting your opponent to believe it, and finally succeeding in getting them to muck a superior hand – there’s nothing better in the game. Other than winning a mammoth stack of money, of course.
But getting bluffed by Miss Finland on a TV show? We’re not sure that we’ve seen anything like that before.
TOP 5 BAD BEATS
You’ve probably heard more than your fair share of bad beat stories from your mates. You can’t understand why they think you’d be interested in the fact that their Aces got cracked by a runner-runner straight… Until the same thing happens to you at a live event, and you can’t sleep until you’ve got the hand off your chest. Umpteen times.
Watching other people suffer them is hugely therapeutic though, especially in the case of Mikel Habb in the Main Event of the 2016 Aussie Millions. Jason Somerville on comms says what we were all thinking.
TWO ALL-TIME CLASSICS
1. NEW-AGE HELLMUTH
For years after we first saw this incredible clip from the 2003 WSOP, we’ve been waiting for ESPN to tell us it was all a set-up. Now, just over 13 years on we’re finally going to accept that this montage of Phil Hellmuth was genuine, from the toilet roll by the bed, to the scrawled note that says ‘Do not disturb until 1pm’ and the electric toothbrush fail. As Hellmuth says, ‘You have to expect great things to happen to you.’ Watch this video – the real action starts at 4min 35secs – and we guarantee that at least one great thing will happen to you today.
2. PHIL IVEY V PAUL JACKSON
The 2005 Monte Carlo Millions was a $25k buy-in event that showed the poker world two things. Firstly, that Phil Ivey was the real end boss. (He won the $1m first prize and an extra $600k in the seven- handed Full Tilt Invitational – click here for more on that.) Secondly, that if you wanted to be like Ivey you needed to play without fear and a super-sense about what was going on in a hand. This bluff-on- bluff-on-bluff was heads-up, with Ivey against Brit Paul Jackson, in a time before today’s aggression had red up the game.
TOP 5 SICKEST COOLERS
So you think you got it bad when you got it in with Aces against Kings and your mate spiked the flop? Watch these uber-coolers and you might stop believing you’re the most unlucky person to play since Wild Bill Hickock was dealt Aces and eights at Nuttal & Mann’s saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory in 1876. How about poor Alexandre Gomes at the 2009 PCA? He picked up Aces and pulled in the ultra-aggressive Benny spindler to a J-J-J flop. He thought he was trapping until spindler turned over his K♣-J♣ and sent him to the rail in disbelief.
Or Paul Tedeschi, who thought he had just made gin when he flopped top set on the relatively harmless looking Q♥-8♣-4♣ flop. UK player Phillip McAllister was still in the hand with K♥-T♥ and he was rewarded when the board ran out J♥-A♥ to deliver him a runner-runner royal flush. Tedeschi didn’t hang around to join in the fun afterwards. But most of our sympathy is saved for French pro Adrian Allain heads-up at the ePT 12 Grand Final table with Jan Bendik. Allain flops a set of eights and Bendik hangs around to make his own set – of Tens – on the turn. That cooler was worth a chunky €384,000 to the Slovakian and Allain could hardly believe it.
TOP 5 POKER RIVALS
Spend your time travelling the poker circuit and you’ll end up getting to know a lot of other players. Most of the time that works out fine, but some players just rub others up the wrong way. Think Daniel Negreanu and Annie Duke and you won’t be going too far wrong here.
Tony G could rub Mother Theresa up the wrong way and unleashes all of his theatrical bombast on quiet internet pro Andrew Robl on the Big Game Tv show. Robl’s crime? Taking more than 30 seconds to make a decision, which leaves G fuming and threatening to walk out. ‘He’s thinking 20 minutes every f♣♥♣ing hand he’s playing. F♥♣♥ing nit,’ G says. ‘You play online and you take two seconds, bang bang, you’re pressing buttons. They come here and freeze up.‘ Robl eventually folds, Negreanu shows the bluff in this hand and the two seasoned pros yuck it up in a poor show of etiquette. And Tony G comes back to celebrate taking the top spot here, in a hand that will actually make you feel bad for Phil Hellmuth. G lies about looking at his hand and gets Hellmuth to ship all his money with A-J. Tony G snap-calls with A-K and lets Hellmuth know that he did look and knew exactly what he was doing. Hellmuth leaves at the end of the hand in the face of another needle from G, takes a loan off him and throws it back in his face.