High Stakes Poker Season 6 Observations

By Robbie Strazynski
March 11, 2010

Weeee! I want to start out by saying that I LOVE Antonio Esfandiari! While not as big of a name as Hellmuth, Ivey, or Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari’s mere presence at a poker table makes the whole atmosphere loads more festive. Even if he’s not actively involved in a hand, a simple “weeee” by Antonio never fails to get a laugh out of me, and often other players at the table.

Antonio Esfandiari

Anyhow, so the new player on High Stakes Poker in episode 3 was Jason Mercier – as they say: “Welcome to the big time!” Known more for his online success, this is my (and I’m sure most readers’) first real exposure to the young poker talent. While we “outsiders” may not know him well, Mercier has truly gained his chops and garnered a solid reputation within the poker circuit. He’s currently ranked #2 behind Phil Ivey on ESPN’s top 10  poker players list.

As for Mercier beginning his first session on High Stakes Poker, I don’t care how many hours you play online poker, or for how much money, you have GOT to be quaking in your boots sitting down with 200k on the line in a cash game with the greatest players in the world. How the heck a young 20-something can be so calm under the TV lights is simply beyond me, especially with proven greats ribbing him about being good only at online poker.

Speaking about being calm with lots of money on the line, we’re six seasons into High Stakes Poker now and have seen countless episodes with millions of dollars changing hands. Though the novelty might wear off for some, it never ceases to amaze me that they’re playing for hundreds of thousands, and sometimes MILLIONS of REAL dollars. I’ll raise you a car; I’ll re-raise you a house! Most normal people spend lifetimes paying off mortgages equal to an average-sized poker pot played out over less than 5 minutes between these guys. Now if that ain’t food for thought I don’t know what is!

What sums of money DO mean anything to these poker players? I mean in episode 3 we saw Tom Dwan and Eli Elezra trying to recall if a certain pot they once played was for $400,000 or for $200,000….when Eli ended off by saying “you know what, it doesn’t matter…” Right, like to you and me $200,000 doesn’t make a difference… Yeesh!

As for the poker action itself, we saw Eli Elezra really “get into the zone”, making great reads and calls to scoop some nice pots off Gus Hansen and Antonio Esfandiari. Those two pots alone totals almost a quarter million – nice going Eli!

Since Gabe Kaplan and Kara Scott seemed to make a big deal of it, I will too: maybe, just maybe, Daniel Negreanu’s history of losing on High Stakes Poker has started to reverse course? Hitting a miracle river 9 to chop $200K+ hand with Tom Dwan is the first hand I can remember Negreanu getting lucky…and I’ve seen every episode of all five seasons of the show up until now. I’ll guess we’ll have to stay tuned for the rest of the season to see if this has truly was the turning point. For all we know, if might just be Daniel’s postponing of the inevitable…



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Written By.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie founded in 2009. A veteran member of the poker media corps, in addition to writing and video presenting, Robbie has hosted multiple poker podcasts over the years, including Top Pair, the Red Chip Poker Podcast, The Orbit, and the CardsChat Podcast. In 2019, Robbie translated the autobiography of Poker Hall of Famer Eli […]


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