The return of High Stakes Poker after a nine-and-a-half year hiatus was met with high expectations. The first seven seasons of the show created some of the most memorable moments in televised poker history and showcased cash game action in a way that had never been done before.
Season 8 delivered on the nostalgia by bringing in some of the stars of the first seven seasons, including Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, and Phil Hellmuth, and mixed them in with some new blood, such as Michael Schwimmer, Rick Salomon, and Brandon Steven, who were all unafraid to mix things up. The result was 14 episodes that felt like a continuation rather than a reboot of the original show. Here are the five biggest pots from Season 8.
#5 – Bryn Kenney Kicks Tom Dwan Out of his Full House (Episode #5)
From UTG, Bryn Kenney raised to $2,500 with . Steven called from the cutoff with before Dwan raised to $12,000 from the button with . Both Kenney and Steven called to build a pot to $38,000. The flop gave Dwan top two pair with Kenney picking up top and bottom pair. After action checked to him, Dwan bet $22,000 and just Kenney called. The turn gave Kenney a full house and he check-called Dwan’s bet of $55,000. Kenney checked again when the completed the board. Dwan reached into his stack and bet $55,000 only to have Kenney click back with a raise to $285,000. The raise made Dwan visibly uncomfortable and after considering his action for 30 seconds, Dwan folded to let Kenney win the $572,000 pot and take a $198,000 profit.
#4 – Michael Schwimmer Also Falls Victim to Bryn Kenney (Episode #8)
John Andress bumped things up by straddling for $1,600. Dwan called with and and Jean-Robert Bellande called from the button with before Schwimmer raised to $4,000 from the small blind with . Kenney defended the big blind with , Andress called with and both Dwan and Bellande decided to see the flop. Schimmer led out for $15,000 after the flop gave him top pair. Kenney took the opportunity to raise to $52,000 with middle set getting Andress, Dwan and Bellande to all fold. Schwimmer called and then checked the turn. Kenney bet $71,000 and Schwimmer called. The river gave Schwimmer two pair and after taking some to consider his action he checked to Kenney who bet $165,000. Schwimmer called all in and was shown the bad news. Schwimmer left his seat following that hand.
#3 – Sean Perry Brings Jean-Robert Bellande Along for the Ride (Episode #8)
Dwan opened to $2,500 with only to have Sean Perry raise to $8,000 from Dwan’s direct left with . From the small blind, Bellande re-raised to $30,000 with . That forced a fold from Dwan, but Perry made it $70,000 to go and Bellande decided to call. The flop gave Bellande top pair but he checked to Perry who bet $40,000 and Bellande called. The turn gave Bellande outs to a straight and he check-called Perry’s $70,000 bet. The river changed nothing for either player and Bellande checked a third time. Perry moved all in for $136,000. Bellande took a long sip from his Las Vegas chalice while contemplating his decision. He asked for a count and then decided to call only to have Perry turn over the winning hand to take down the $637,700 pot.
#2 – Rick Salomon Double Straddles His Way to an $868,200 Pot (Episode #2)
Straddles were a pretty common occurrence when Salomon was in the game. Just moments after his tablemates bet on how long the table could keep a no straddle agreement in place, Kenney straddled for $1,600 and Salomon double-straddled for $3,200. Action folded to Steven and he called in middle position with . Everybody else got out of the way until Kenney called with and then Salmon raised to $22,000 with . Steven decided to bow out, but Kenney opted to call and see the flop. The dealer spread out giving Kenney middle set with Salomon picking up an open-ended straight draw. Kenney checked, Salomon bet $30,000 and Kenney called. The turn gave Salomon a straight and an opportunity to improve to a straight flush or flush. Kenney checked again, Salomon bet $55,000 and Kenney called. The river changed nothing for either player and once again, Kenney checked to Salomon. With $219,200 in the pot already, Salomon moved all in and Kenney called off his remaining $324,000 which was immediately sent to Salomon after he tabled the winning hand.
#1 – Three Times was Definitely a Charm for Dwan (Episode #5)
While no pot broke the million dollar mark, the biggest hand of the season got awfully close. Bellande straddled to $1,600 before Salomon raised to $4,000 with . Steven, Dwan and Lynne Ji all called to put action back on Bellande. The former Survivor castaway looked down at and raised to $11,000. Salomon and Steven followed up with calls before Dwan raised to $54,000. Ji then moved all in for $163,000 with and Bellande move all in over the top of Ji for $399,000. Salomon folded and Steven threw his into the muck. Dwan took a moment before calling. The three players first decided to run it twice before Dwan suggested running three boards and Ji and Bellande both agreed.
Despite flopping an open-ended straight draw and turning a flush draw on Board #1, Ji was unable to improve, allowing Dwan to win. Dwan then flopped a set on Board #2 and Bellande couldn’t find a ten to make Broadway giving Dwan the first two runouts. He then flopped a full house on Board #3 leaving Bellande hoping for an ace or a king on the turn or river. When neither came, Dwan won the third board to scoop all three run outs win the $985,000 pot. With their chips being moved to Dwan, both Li and Bellande left the game at this point.