High Stakes Poker awards: The best of Season 8

Geoff Fisk
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Posted on: March 18, 2021 9:00 pm EDT

First season in the new run of High Stakes Poker wraps up on PokerGO

High Stakes Poker commentators Gabe Kaplan and A.J. Benza stuck to a longstanding tradition on the Season 8 finale of the show. The iconic duo came up with their own end-of-season awards, dubbed the “Gabejays,” to deserving members of the Season 8 player rotation.

Wednesday’s episode on PokerGO marked the 14th and final chapter of Season 8. The PokerGO revival of the classic show played out as a worthy successor to the High Stakes Poker lineage, and we only hope Season 9 comes around soon.

In honor of the “Gabejays,” Poker.org gives out its own High Stakes Poker Season 8 awards:

Player of the Season: Tom Dwan

Tom Dwan dominating on High Stakes Poker this season carried on a long-standing tradition on the show. Dwan seemed to never lose in the original run of the show from 2007-2011.

The 2020-21 reboot of the show featured more of the same from Dwan. While he did lose an occasional big pot or two (“crazy calls” aside), Dwan was on the winning end of most of the major hands he played during Season 8.

The biggest hand across the entire season pushed $985,000 Dwan’s way, with his pocket queens somehow holding up through three boards in a three-way all-in preflop hand against Lynne Ji and Jean-Robert-Bellande.

Dwan managed to win big pots with decidedly non-GTO preflop moves. Episode 14 featured a hand that saw Dwan raise to $5,000 over a $1,600 straddle with 62, and hit backdoor running hearts to take down John Andress’ flopped set of eights.

That hand sent another $185,000 to Dwan, who ended up as the only player to appear on all 14 episodes in Season 8. Putting Dwan in every player rotation was the right move, as he’s the perfect player to place as the centerpiece of the show.

Hand of the Season: Doug Polk’s all-time great laydown

Doug Polk stopped by the PokerGO Studio for just a brief session in Season 8. Coming off a big win in his heads-up challenge against Daniel Negreanu, Polk appeared in two episodes in the new season.

Episode 12 ended with a hand for the ages. Facing an all-in cold three-bet shove from Hellmuth on a J♠9♠8 board, Polk managed to fold T7♣ against Hellmuth’s Q♠T nut straight.

Hellmuth’s hand was the only holding Polk could possibly lose to in that spot. That fold saved Polk $90,200, and was the talk of the poker community for weeks in the aftermath.

Kaplan called Polk’s fold the “best laydown we’ve ever had on High Stakes Poker,” and that accolade might never be topped.

Dream lineup for Season 9

Season 8 featured four different player rotations, with a couple of players stepping in and out of the game at various times throughout.

High Stakes Poker Season 8 brought Dwan, Polk, and Phil Ivey for rare television appearances. New faces like Michael Schwimer fit right in with the show’s stalwarts, while the presence of Rick Salomon added his big bankroll and maniac-style play to the fray.

Poker.org’s biased dream lineup list for Season 9 looks like this:

PlayerWhy we need them for Season 9
Tom DwanIconic High Stakes Poker character; plays virtually any two cards
Phil IveyStill a fascinating character; mystique is still there
Doug PolkBiggest modern-era star in the game
Phil HellmuthNever disappoints as far as entertainment value
Rick SalomonPoker’s most entertaining recreational high-stakes player
Nick PetrangeloPetrangelo’s presence was the hidden gem of Season 8
Lynne JiNot afraid to five-bet shove over two players with queen-ten suited
Wild CardLet’s put Daniel Negreanu, Joey Ingram, or Landon Tice in this seat

Looking to brush up on the rules of poker? Check out Poker.org’s hand rankings chart.

Featured image source: PokerGO