The sheer amount of money that high-stakes poker professionals play with is only a dream for most of us. Phil Ivey, whose name consistently comes up when people talk about the greatest ever poker player, has won a ‘measly’ $14 million over his career. Compare this to Antonio Esfandiari’s $22 million and you can see just how much money these guys are raking in (although over $18 million of those earnings came from one tournament). So it’s no wonder that when they get together for high-stakes games with buy-ins of up to $200,000 that the pots get ludicrously big. We take a look at the biggest pots in televised poker history and the lucky players who won them.
Dwan vs. Ivey
This was the biggest single pot in televised poker history. The Full Tilt Poker commentators are originally backing Ivey who has been dealt Ac 2d. Dwan has suited connectors, 7h and 6h, and when the flop kicks up Jc 3d 5c both players make a straight draw. Both players are hoping for a 4 on the turn or the river. Amazingly, the turn card is the 4 of hearts. Ivey makes the ‘wheel’ while Dwan has him beat with the higher straight; but Ivey is convinced that he has Dwan beat so calls all-in. So used to making great calls, Ivey is utterly gobsmacked when Dwan reveals his hand and takes the pot of a staggering $1,108,500.
Dwan vs. Unknown Chinese Businessman
It was reported in May of last year that Dwan had also gone on to win the biggest pot in poker history in Macau, the Chinese Las Vegas. The exact details are hard to come by but it seems Dwan hauled in a record $3.8 million when his A-10 beat A-2 on an A-10-2 flop. Sam Trickett and Gus Hansen are also rumoured to have won pots of over $2 million in China. If you’re a beginner and these kinds of bets are only a pipe-dream, then look to casino sites which also offer online games for those who’ve never sat down at a real table.
Guy Laliberte vs. David Benyamine
These two players managed to create one of the biggest pots in history, $1,227,900, only to reduce it to $238,900 in an act of chivalry on the part of Laliberte. Benyamine was holding out for a flush when he went all-in with Ac 8c and Kc 3d 5c on the flop. Laliberte had 2 pair with kings and fives and, after calling, knew he was the favourite. After negotiation, the two agreed to undo the previous raises and the turn and the river were never revealed, despite the protestations of the other players.
Patrik Antonius vs. Sammy Farha
These two racked up a pot just shy of $1 million in season 4 of High Stakes Poker. Antonius ended up winning almost $750,000 with only a pair of nines on the flop. Farha himself only had a king-high flush draw and called Antonius’ all-in. They agreed to run the turn and river four times, with Antonius winning three out of the four scenarios.