Tom Dwan Reclaims Record for Biggest Televised Poker Pot in History

  • At 22 years old, Tom Dwan broke the record for the biggest televised pot win in 2009
  • It was the moment online overtook live poker, with the internet kid besting Greenstein
  • 14 years later and he has done it again, this time for a staggering $3.1m pot
  • The kid from New Jersey continues to entertain, defeating Wesley Fei for the pot
Tom Dwan
Tom Dwan (pictured) has just reclaimed his record for the largest pot win in televised poker history.

A kid from New Jersey

What was the most significant hand in TV poker history? When I get asked that question, quite a few moments spring to mind – Johnny Chan trapping Erik Seidel to win the 1988 World Series of Poker Main Event, Stu Ungar binking his deuce to take down his third WSOP Main event title on Fremont street in 1997, Chris Moneymaker bluffing Sam Farha on his way to winning the 2003 WSOP Main Event. 

There is, however, another hand that stands out for me as an exemplar of the late 2000s poker revolution and it came during the fifth season of ‘High Stakes Poker.’ To put it in a romantic context, it is the moment for me when online poker finally overtook live poker. 

a 22-year-old kid from New Jersey wasn’t going to do what he was told

In a line-up littered with OGs, players who were scarred from decades of battle on the live felt, poker’s hottest internet player would give a masterclass in new-school poker, a rampantly hyper-aggressive fearless style that maximally exploited the tighter old-school high-stakes regulars. In one particular clash, it was not so much about the hand itself but what happened during it and the way a 22-year-old kid from New Jersey wasn’t going to do what he was told. 

The history-making hand

With the blinds $500/$1000, the action was folded around to reigning WSOP Main Event champion Peter Eastgate who raised to $3,500 with A♠️K♥️ in the cut-off. Barry Greenstein looked down at A♦️A♣️ and three-bet to $15,000 on the button. Tom Dwan flatted with K♠️Q♠️ from the small blind and Eastgate just called. 

With $47,400 in the middle, the flop came Q♥️4♠️2♠️ . Dwan lead for $28,700, Eastgate folded and Greenstein raisesd to $100,000. Dwan three-bet to $244,600 and Greenstein shoved all-in for $436,100 total. Dwan called and pot stood at a record-breaking $919,600. 

It is not unusual for players to decide to ‘run it twice’ in big pots and this one certainly qualified. However, Greenstein had a long-standing policy of only running hands once, his willingness to embrace the variance an implied weapon against any would-be villain who might be braver against him in spots where they knew they could flatten out the luck factor somewhat. 

Their hands were in a statistical dead-heat

With this pot so huge, Dwan obviously felt like Greenstein might make an exception and asked him if he would like to run it twice. Greenstein declined but made a counter-offer to Dwan that they each pull a couple of hundred thousand from the pot. (Their hands were in a statistical dead-heat.) Dwan declined and in the blink of an eye, the turn card was dealt – the Q♣️, a dagger to the heart of Greenstein who looked stunned. When the river came the 7♦️, Dwan took down the biggest hand in the history of televised poker:

The Million Dollar Game

Cut to 14 years later and Dwan took his seat in the much anticipated final night of Hustler Casino Live’s ‘Million Dollar Game’ this week. Poker has changed a lot since that record-breaking hand – training sites, Black Friday, solvers, Macau cash games, dodgy poker apps. Dwan, once fresh-faced, now too wears the battle scars. 

‘Rampage’ pulled the trigger on a magnificent and ballsy bluff versus ‘Handz’

Three nights of nose-bleed action has resulted in some humungous pots. Matt Kirk was felted by Jean-Robert Bellande. ‘Rampage’ pulled the trigger on a magnificent and ballsy bluff versus ‘Handz.’ Tony Guoga had his Aces cracked by Nik ‘Airball’ Arcot but got away as soon as his hand went behind. 

Tens of millions of dollars made their way into the middle of the table but, of course, no amount of action is ever good enough for the insatiable railbirds. 

“The game is too nitty!”

“Increase the blinds and make straddling mandatory!”

“Why don’t they release a lion into the poker room!”

There were also frayed tempers with Australian player ‘Huss’ stooping to racist jibes in an ugly confrontation with Hustler regular Wesley Fei. At one point, it looked like it might come to blows but even the lovers of red meat couldn’t be sated. The Million Dollar Game would need to be taken out of the mud. 

Polk provides the amuses-bouches

You couldn’t fault the lineup. When Dwan took his seat with Doug Polk, Rob Yong, Arcot, ‘Handz’, and Fei, there was something in the air, an effervescence of degeneracy. Polk fired $420,000 on the river into a pot $291,000 with 5-high versus the full house of Dwan:

Then Polk got bluffed off Aces in a hand versus ‘LSG Hank’ for what could have been a $2.2m pot:

Little did we know, however, that these million-dollar pots were but a collection of amuses-bouches for what was to come. 

The new biggest hand in TV poker history 

With the blinds $500/$1,000 and a $3,000 big blind ante, Dwan limped under the gun with Q♠️Q♣️ and then the action folded to LSG Hank who raised to $7,000 in the hijack with the A♥️8♣️. Fei three-bet to $30,000 from the button with the A♦️K♥️ and Dwan 4-bet to $100,000. Hank folded and Fei 5-bet to $275,000. Dwan called. 

The pot stood at $1.5m when the river came the 6♣️

With $562,000 in the pot, the flop came 8♠️8♦️3♦️. Dwan checked and Fei bet $125,000. Dwan called. With $812,000 in the middle, the turn came the 5♥️. Again, Dwan checked, Fei bet $350,000 and again Dwan called. The pot stood at $1.5m when the river came the 6♣️. For a third time, Dwan checked. Fei took little time before unloading an all-in bet of $786,000 and Dwan got himself a bottle of water. 

Multi-million dollar pots are a thirsty business, especially when you are up against a 27-year-old crypto-millionaire who has only been playing poker for 18 months. It is noteworthy that while Fei is known for his splashy style, he has come under fire from the audience for just how tight he had been playing these Million Dollar Game streams.  

After a lengthy tank, Dwan finally put in the call, plonking a stack of chips over the line, much to the dismay of Fei who had been in turtle-mode, his head buried in his folded arms for the duration of Dwan’s consideration:

It is the new biggest pot in televised poker history and it belongs to 36-year-old Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan, an internet kid who took on the world and is still entertaining the masses fourteen years later. Spare a thought though for Wesley Fei who had the courage to empty the clip. It took two to tango afterall.

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