I am a poker content super consumer. I watch vlogs on YouTube, old WSOP bracelet events, training videos, streamed cash games, and episodes of High Stakes Poker. You name it, I watch it. As I am two hours away from the closest casino in a state without regulated online poker, my options for playing are limited. So when it comes to being able to play at the best casino sites online, that’s unfortunately a no-go until I enter a regulated jurisdiction. The poker content I watch holds me over until the next casino trip, and (hopefully) improves my game.
Thanks to the popularity of vloggers and PokerGO, there is a wealth of content to watch. You would think with all this amazing content there would be a huge representation across poker variants. You’d be wrong. It’s safe to say that about 98% of poker content available is for No Limit Holdem. I get it, NLH is the variant everyone knows how to play. It’s easy to explain, easy to deal, and makes good use of RFID cards. But I love the other games.
Mixed games, short deck hold ‘em, and Pot Limit Omaha are all amazing games that don’t get televised as often as they should. So here are my top five televised non-NLH hands.
5. €423k Pot, partypoker Live PLO Cash Game Germany
partypoker hosted the Big Game Germany, in which an online qualifier got to play in a massive PLO and NLH mixed cash game with some pros. This game saw two of the biggest mixed game names return to the limelight, with Viktor “Isuldur” Blom and Tony G sitting down at the table. It appears this was a €50/€100 game, but in true high roller fashion, a frenzy of straddles turned this particular hand into €50/€100/€200/€400/€800/€1,600/€3,200/€6,400. No, I am not kidding; six straddles were put in after the blinds.
After a few folds, The Wolf decides to limp in with a raggedy KQ45 three heart hand from the €800 straddle, Rob Yong then looks down at AA22 single suited in spades from the €3,200 straddle. Rob, knowing who is left to act, decides to just call. Now, on to the €6,400 straddle and one of my favorite poker personalities, Tony G. Tony looks down at A987 double suited with the red suits and decides to raise. Tony pumps it up to €20k and the Wolf puts in the call. Rob’s trap worked and he decides to spring it, potting it to €82,400. This would put The Wolf all in, so he folds his junk, and Tony puts in the call leaving himself €118k behind.
The flop is Jc9s6s, giving Rob the nut flush draw along with his AA, and giving Tony G second pair and an open ender. With the flush draw Tony loses a few outs, but when Rob pots the flop, Tony calls off his remaining €118k. Tony needs to make two pair or hit his straight with a non-spade 5 or 10, while Rob can seal it with a spade or just dodge the previously mentioned outs. The turn comes Qd which is no help, but the 8d river gives Tony the magic two pair.
What happens next is why I love Tony G so much. Tony proclaims “Date with an eight,” asks the table if he is the greatest, and orders a round of champagne for the casino. He then gets up and starts spouting out catchphrases, saying in that Aussie accent that he has the heart, he took everything, he qualified, and then ultimately, that he played it like a set, alluding to a famous NLH hand he played some years ago. Add a couple of needles about how Rob is on full tilt and that The Wolf needs to play the hand to win, and it’s a classic Tony G monologue. As entertaining as he is, I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of one of those speeches. Rob takes it like a great sport.
4. $941k partypoker Live PLO Cash Game North America
2018 saw more partypoker PLO cash games. Each day the game got bigger and bigger, culminating in a short-handed $1,000 / $2,000 (or so it seems) PLO cash game. This hand starts in the middle of the action, so I am not sure if the blinds are $1k/$2k with a $4k straddle, or if it was simply $2k/$4k blinds. Either way, Leon Tsoukernik and Sam Trickett call $4k before Matt Kirk raises to $20k with AAQ3 (Ace high spades). Rob Yong with QJT4 (Jack high hearts), Leon with A887 (three clubs), and Sam with J62 (Jack high spades and a mystery card) all call.
With $80k in the middle, the flop is 69T with two hearts. Leon flops the nuts with his A887, while Rob has a pair, open ender, and flush draw with his QJT4. Leon checks his option, Sam and Matt follow, then Rob bets $30k. With the action back on Leon, he pots it to $170k and it folds to Rob. Rob has just over $400k behind as he ponders his decision. After checking his cards and crunching some numbers in his head, Rob decides to go with the hand and shoves all in for his remaining $400k. Leon snap calls.
The two casino owners head into the turn and river only running the hand once, which I believe was standard for this cash game series. The 5c on the turn changes nothing, but the 9h on the river seals the hand for Rob. Rob lets out a sigh of relief as $941,000 is pushed his way in an absolutely massive pot.
3. Triton Short Deck Hold ‘Em Cash Game, 4-way All-In for $1,000,000+
The Triton High Roller Cash Games showcased some of the greatest pros and biggest whales in the world as they played in Macau. It is no surprise that a lot of the biggest names in poker are in China playing these crazy nosebleed games. That community of high rollers gave birth to a new form of poker: short deck hold ‘em. I know what you’re thinking, I thought this was a list of non-NLH hands? Well it is. Short deck may be a variant of NLH, but it is certainly not NLH. The equity runs much closer, straight draws are more valuable, and flushes actually beat full houses. Short deck plays similar to NLH, with the exception of hand orders and the fact that all of the 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s have been removed from the deck. You may also occasionally see the game played with an ante and a single blind on the button rather than traditional small and big blinds.
The buy-in for this game was US $300k, and the stacks were pretty large, but not in terms of the blinds. The players are playing with Korean Won instead of US Dollars, and there is a 4 million Won ante with a single blind of 8 million on the button in this hand. This equates to roughly a $3.5k ante and $7k blind using today’s conversion rate. The game is televised with a US$ total, but each individual bet is shown in Won. Elton Tsang starts the action by limping with 10Jdd, a very strong hand in short deck. Jason Koon calls behind with 68hh, Mikita Badziakouski calls with 10Jo, Tan Xuan comes along with black 77, and Rui Cao wakes up with KKhd and raises to 54 million (~$47k). Tsang calls with his suited 10J, Koon throws his 86 away, and the remaining two limpers (Badziakouski and Xuan) feel they have enough to call.
With the pot already at US$ 212,400, we see a flop of Q97 with two clubs. The clubs don’t really matter, but both Tsang and Badziakouski flop open-ended straight draws, which in Short Deck is quite valuable. Meanwhile Xuan flops bottom set, and the preflop raiser, Cao, has an over-pair. Action starts on Tsang, who open jams his remaining 225 million Won. After some thought Badziakouski comes over the top for his 324 million. Xuan and Cao are deeper stacked than the other two, and Xuan doesn’t think long before shoving his 546 million with his bottom set, getting a surprising snap call from Cao with 526 million left.
After this string of all-ins, the pot has ballooned to US $1,022,400. To recap, we have two open-ended straight draws, bottom set, and an overpair. The straight draws can go ahead and hit the cashier, because the Q on the turn seals their fate, giving Xuan a full house. This leaves only four outs for Cao (one of the remaining two kings or queens). However, the river is the 6c locking up the full pot for Xuan.
After this monster pot, the billionaires at the table are laughing and joking as if they just lost $5 and it doesn’t matter whatsoever. It’s clear that losing that money doesn’t mean much to them, but it certainly wasn’t $5. This is an incredibly entertaining hand, and it makes you feel like someone snuck a camera into one of those super high roller games in the movie Molly’s Game.
2. $50k WSOP Players Championship Final Table, 2-7 Triple Draw Bad Beat
At the final table of the 2019 $50k Player’s Championship, which most pros will tell you is the most prestigious WSOP bracelet, we saw quite possibly the worst bad beat ever. With about four big bets left, the game is 2-7 Triple Draw. For those who don’t know, the best possible hand in Triple Draw is 23457 unsuited. The goal of 2-7 is to make the lowest hand possible, straights and flushes count, and aces are bad. Thus the nuts (or “wheel”) is 23457. The blinds are 75k / 150k, so the big bet in these limit games is 300k.
With four players left in the tournament, the massive chip leader Josh Arieh looks down at AQ653 on the button and completes for 300k. The short stack, Bryce Yockey, who started the hand with just under four big bets, re-raises to 450k with the second nuts (or number 2), 23467. This is a beautiful pat hand for Yockey, and he does just that after Arieh calls. Facing a 3-bet pat, Arieh jokes about getting out of line and throws away his A and Q. Nick Schulman on the broadcast points out there is a path to a win here if Arieh draws a 2 and 4, then gets rid of the 6 and draws a 7. But all of this is incredibly unlikely, with the odds being less than 1%.
The first draw brings Arieh a 2 and a Q, so he has improved to a 2346 draw, which is a tricky draw, since a 4 gives him a straight. Yockey throws in 150k and Arieh calls before throwing his Q away. The second draw brings in that annoying 4, giving Arieh a 6 high straight. Yockey bets 300k, leaving himself only 280k behind. After some thought Arieh calls, thinking a 7, 8 or even sometimes a 9 will make him good. Little does he know that he is drawing to only a 7. Yockey bets his last 280k before Arieh looks and the RFID gives away that, incredibly, he makes the wheel with the 7 of clubs. After some confusion over whether or not he threw the right card away, Arieh starts to slowly peel up his card (as those mixed-game players do) first revealing that it is a 3 across and warning his opponent, then finally revealing that he made a wheel.
Yockey is in disbelief as he flips hip his pat number 2. You can’t help but feel for him as he looks stunned, seeing a pure double up get pushed the wrong way. An absolutely insane hand in a very high stakes scenario. Yockey took $325k home for his efforts that day, and Arieh fell short in the 5-hour heads up match against Phillip Hui. However, Arieh still took home 680k for his runner-up finish, thanks in part to the worst mixed game bad beat I’ve ever seen.
My favorite non-NLH poker hand was played by Patrik Antonius against Andrew Robl in what has to be without a doubt the greatest PLO hand ever televised. It has everything I love: big name pros from the mid-2000s, the deal-making negotiation of a big pot, needling, and the statistical anomaly of a bad beat. In the hand, we have some high rollers playing $500/$1,000 PLO and it folds around to Antonius in late position. Antonius looks at 5689 with three diamonds and opens to $3,500. Robl is in the small blind with AQQJ with Ace high spades and decides to re-pot it for $11,500, Antonius puts in the flat call.
On an A47 flop with two diamonds, Robl keeps the betting lead and fires 2/3 pot for $16,000. Antonius has a monster draw with a wrap and flush draw, albeit a weak one. It’s a flop he wants to pile money into, and that he does. Antonius pots it to $72,000 and after thinking for a bit, Robl decides to go with his top pair and shoves all in for $119,100 total and gets a snap call from Antonius. The pot is $262,200 and Robl has only top pair!
The two then decide how many runouts they want to see, an interesting aspect of the live high stakes cash games that I enjoy. Robl suggests three and Antonius needles him a bit about complicating things, so he changes the suggestion to four. Antonius agrees. With Robl showing top pair and no draw (to be fair he has a diamond blocker) he holds only 27% equity in the hand. Antonius says “Wow, good luck buddy, good call by the way…oh good raise, good re-re-raise.” I love this hand so much, with the not-so-subtle needle Antonius sends for calling with top pair, and Robl deciding to run it four times with only about 1/4 of the equity.
Then comes one of the craziest beats in PLO I’ve ever seen.
The first turn card is awesome for Robl, with Kh and another brick on the river in the 2h securing him 1/4 of the pot. Equity-wise, Robl should now lose the next three runouts. It looks as if that is the case on the second turn when a Jd gives Antonius a flush. but the Ac on the river changes everything, giving Robl a full house. Robl is now running above his equity with half of the pot secured. Amazingly, the third runout comes 10h and Ks, again giving Robl another third of the pot. Okay, time for the last runout. This one HAS to go to Antonius right? The turn is the 3s, giving Antonius a straight. But lo and behold the 10s hitting the river gives Robl the back door flush.
What an absolutely insane runout! It should have been an easy fold from Robl, but instead he won all four runouts, which has a 1% chance of happening. Watching the dealer slowly crucify Antonius one quarter at a time is absurd. You can’t help but feel for someone who hits their draws twice and still loses four out of four runs.
I hope you enjoyed these hands. Hopefully with the current poker content boom we will start to see some more mixed games and other non-NLH streamed games. Who knows, maybe in a few years Cardplayer Lifestyle can have a feature table streaming mixed games at the Mixed Game Festival?