Everyone has that one hand that stands out – a massive pot that either added a ton of cash to your poker bankroll or simply destroyed it. Whether in a cash game or a tournament, sometimes a ton of chips are going in the pot, and you’re either going to be on the good end or the bad.
Here’s a look at some colossal poker pots and how they played out.
Dwan versus Ivey for a Million Bucks
No list of massive pots would be complete without this hand that played a few years back between Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan. The event came about in 2010 in the Million Dollar Cash Game in London. Dwan began the hand with $538,500 in front of him and Ivey a bit over $1.1 million. Patrik Antonius also was at the table, which was now three-handed when others hit the exit doors after 20 hours of play.
With blinds at $1,000/$2,000 and a $500 ante, Dwan called from the button with 7♥6♥ and Ivey raised the action to $23,000 with A♣2♦. Dwan made the call, and the two were heads-up with a flop that brought J♣3♦4♣. Both players now had straight draws, and Ivey bet $35,000 into a pot of $49,500.
Dwan made the call, and the miracle 5♥ fell on the turn, giving Ivey an inferior straight to Dwan’s nut-straight. Ivey led out with a $90,000 bet and Dwan thought a long time about his decision. After several minutes, he raised $142,000 more – ballooning the pot to $442,100. After a minute of contemplation, Ivey moved all-in, and Dwan made an easy call. The river brought a meaningless J♥, and Dwan raked a $1.1 million pot.
At the time, the pot became the biggest pot in a televised poker game, and commentator Robert Williamson III noted: “You just saw poker history made right here tonight.”
Dwan Strikes It Again
It seems Tom Dwan is frequently involved in huge pots, and he came out on the profitable side of this one again. In August 2017, he was one of the players in PokerGO’s “Poker After Dark,” a $200/$400 cash game with a minimum buy-in of $100,000.
Antonio Esfandiari was dealt K♥K♣ and raised up the action. On the button, Negreanu held Q♦Q♣ and re-raised to $3,500. On the big blind, Tom Dwan looked down at A♠A♣ and four-bet to $14,000. Esfandiari then five-bet to $41,000.
Negreanu called, but Dwan announced all-in for his remaining $328,000. Folding Kings seemed impossible, and Esfandiari finally made the call. Negreanu then folded his queens, and Esfandiari looked on at the resulting hand with disgust. They ran the hand twice, but it brought no help for Esfandiari, and Dwan took down a $697,100 pot.
The Gold Standard
In another high-stakes game from several years ago, Jamie Gold and Patrik Antonius were involved in a huge pot that left Gold in rough shape. With A♠J♦, Antonius raised to $4,000, and Gold looked down at K♠K♦. Gold said it felt like Antonius might have Aces but raised to $14,000 with only Antonius calling.
The flop brought the 3♠Q♦10♥, and Gold then bet $15,000. Antonius made the call, needing an Ace or a King for a straight to take the lead in the hand. Of course, the K♥ came on the turn to give Gold trips, but Antonius made his Broadway straight.
“That’s terrible luck for Jamie,” commentator Gabe Kaplan quickly announced.
Antonius then led out with a $45,000 bet, raising the pot to almost $106,000. Gold then eventually re-raised all-in the last of his $341,500 with bricks of cash laying on the table. Antonius made a quick call for a $743,500 pot. Gold looked on in disbelief at his luck, needing the board to pair to make a full house. Both players agreed to run the river three times for almost $250,000 each.
Amazingly, Gold hit a Queen on the river to win the first and then a 3 on the second for a full house and a $500,000 score. A 10 on the third run gave Antonius one “small” victory.
Phua Ships $2.5 Million
This hand came about in 2018 as part of the Triton Poker Super High Roller cash game in Jeju, South Korea, featuring a $1 million buy-in. The game is played using the Korean Won, and there was plenty of cash “won” in this one. A familiar name surfaces yet again, with Tom Dwan mixing it up in this nosebleed level cash game (at the 3:42 mark in the video below).
In this hand, blinds are ￦3 million/￦6 million with a ￦6 million ante and a ￦12 million straddle. With K♥Q♣, Dominik Nitsche opened the action with a raise to 30 million, which is re-raised by to 120 million by Tom Dwan with A♠Q♥.
Paul Phua then raised to a hefty 320 million with A♥A♣, moving the pot to a whopping $431,000. This time, however, Dwan would be on the wrong end of this big hand. He announced all-in after four minutes and received an instant call from Phua.
With a mountain of chips in the middle, the pot was valued at just under $2.5 million. The flop brought 7♥K♣4♥ with a 3♥ on the turn and a meaningless Q♦ on the river. Dwan stood up and made his exit after the crushing loss.
Ivey Makes a Huge Call for the Win
This interesting hand played out on the popular “High Stakes Poker” television show a few years ago near the end of that day’s session. Gus Hansen raised under the gun with Q♣6♦ to $4,200. After a few folds, Eli Elezra made a call with 9♣5♣ as did Phil Ivey with 9♠9♦. With A♥4♥, Jason Mercier raised to $22,100.
Only Ivey made the call, bringing the pot to $55,000. The flop brought 2♠3♦7♥ and Ivey looked to be in good shape. Mercier fired $28,700, and Ivey raised $50,000 more. Mercier thought a bit and then moved all in – a re-raise of $107,000.
Ivey thought a bit and muttered, “If you’ve got the overpair, then you’ve got me,” before making the call for a $425,400 pot. Mercier was left with only a 32 per cent chance to win and needed an Ace or a 5 for a straight. After Ivey just wanted to run it once, Mercier got no help on the turn and river, the 8♣ and Q♠. Ivey caught the bluff and raked a massive pot.
Quads Create a Cooler
High Stakes Poker produced another monster pot a few years ago, this time involving two of the biggest names in televised poker – Patrik Antonius and Daniel Negreanu. With 5♦5♣, Hansen opened the betting with a raise to $2,100 and Negreanu three-bet to $5,000 with 6♠6♥. The action folded around to Antonio Esfandiari, who folded A♦Q♣.
The flop brought some big fireworks with both players hitting trips after the dealer spread 9♣6♦5♥. Hansen checked, and Negreanu bet $8,000. After thinking about his options for a bit, Hansen raised to $26,000 believing his hand was good, and his opponent decided just to call. That changed when the 5♠ came on the turn. His quads were undoubtedly in a commanding lead. Kid Poker hit a full house that would probably spell doom.
After a bit more thought, Hansen led out with a bet of $24,000, and Negreanu took his time in making another move. Hansen stayed calm while his opponent mulled his options. Negreanu eventually made the call, slow-playing his full house and not realising his bad luck in this one. Only the last 6 in the deck would bail him out.
The river brought an 8♠ and amazingly, Hansen checked his hand hoping to induce a big bet from Negreanu. When he fired $65,000, Hansen moved all-in for $167,000 more. Negreanu then noted, “You might have the nuts,” but eventually made the call. The results are sick, and the Great Dane pulls in a $575,700 pot. It was quite a cooler for Negreanu and a miracle one-outer for Hansen.
“It’s a big pot,” poker legend Doyle Brunson can be heard saying in the background after that final hand. “But I’ve seen bigger.” Probably not too many as you may have seen from these poker hands. Poker is certainly on an upswing and no doubt some will be looking to play at these massive stakes. It takes an enormous bankroll – and plenty of nerves.