And then there were six--Maria Ho leads as Game of Gold enters final round

Mo Afdhal
Posted on: December 3, 2023 11:59 PST

The penultimate episode of GGPoker and Poker After Dark's Game of Gold aired Monday, overcoming technical difficulties to bring the content to the fans.

In the opening minutes of the episode, audiences say goodbye to Team Nikita as their team captain and namesake, Nikita Luther, was unable to overcome the tough spot she found herself in. At a steep chip deficit, up against Andy Stacks, Luther needed to make the comeback to keep her team alive, but the cards didn't fall for her.

When both players picked up an ace pre-flop the chips went in the middle. Luther's A-2 needed serious help up against Stacks' A-K, but couldn't find the assistance required from the runout.

Round 3--Indian Poker

With Team Nikita eliminated--and Team Fedor already in the final round--the remaining two teams, Team Charlie and Team Johan, still had one last challenge to overcome before securing their spot at the final table.

Game of Gold host Ali Nejad took to the stage to introduce the players to the format for the third round: Indian Poker . It's a simple game, at least on the surface, but when you go a little deeper, there's in-depth strategy involved. Daniel Negreanu broke down the optimal Indian Poker strategy with Terrence Chan and Adam Schwartz on the most recent recap show for their DAT Poker Podcast.

Nejad tells the remaining six players--David Williams, Kyna England, Johan Guilbert, Charlie Carrel, Andy Stacks, and Dan 'Jungleman' Cates--that they have ten minutes to pair off with a partner. Immediately, Carrell calls for Jungleman and the two of them form the first duo. Next, Guilbert and Stacks pair up, almost instinctually. England and Williams form the final partnership by simple process of elimination. There's a slight twist to the selection process, however. The teammates that each player thought they were selecting turned out to be their opponents for the Indian Poker challenge.

Win or go home

The stakes for the challenge were simple: win or go home. The first match saw England square off against Williams. In an unfortunate turn of events, Williams mis-clicked, putting out raising chips when he meant to just call. England took the opportunity to move all-in and Williams had to call given the price, but couldn't win the pot. The mistake cost Williams dearly and, not long after, England finished the job to book her seat at the final table.

Charlie Carrell Indian Poker

Next, Carrel and Cates went head-to-head in a battle of math vs. live tells. The atmopshere during their match was lively and jovial, with both players clearing enjoying the challenge of playing a new game and learning on-the-fly. Carrel and Cates each forced folds from the other when they held an ace, a move that halves the stack of the one who folds, but Cates managed to do it twice. Those beats left Carrel with the short stack and Cates managed to end the match soon after, securing his place in the final round.

The final match saw Guilbert face off against Stacks. The two traded pots back and forth for a while before the big one came--a disgusting set-up hand that left Stacks on fumes. With Guilbert in the small blind and Stacks in the big blind, both players were dealt an ace. Thanks to his position, Guilbert acted first and moved all-in. Stacks, unable to call as he could see Guilbert's ace, had to fold his hand only to see that he too held an ace. The ace fold penalty took half of Stacks' chips, decimating his chances at winning. There was no comeback in the cards this time and Guilbert finished the match soon after to advance.

The three winners--England, Cates, and Guilbert--join Maria Ho, Josh Arieh, and Fedor Holz at the final table of the competition. The Gold Coin rankings headed into the fourth and final round are as follows:

  1. Maria Ho - 261
  2. Johan 'Yoh Viral' Guilbert - 239
  3. Josh Arieh - 220
  4. Fedor Holz - 195
  5. Dan 'Jungleman' Cates - 109
  6. Kyna England - 81

The Good

This quote from Dan 'Jungleman' Cates: "I'm not too experienced with Indian poker...even though I've been to India. I may have an advantage because I'm not sure if Charlie's been to India." Where to even begin with this one? It's hilarious any way you look at it. If he's being sarcastic, he's doing it dryly enough to convince us all that he might be serious. And, if he's being genuine, well, that's funny for its own reasons.

Kyna England makes the finals. We couldn't be any happier to see England make it to the final round. She's the show's ultimate dark horse to take it all. If she manages to pull off a win--not at all out of the realm of possibility--it'll be one of the great upsets and come-from-behind victories. As the saying goes...all you need is a chip and a chair. Go get 'em, Kyna.

The Bad

Team Nikita eliminated. This one hurt – no one wanted to see this team head home, but the game is the game and someone had to go. Team Nikita, underdogs from the jump, quickly became fan favorites in the Round 2 proceedings. They fought hard the whole way, but couldn't overcome another hurdle to keep their team's hopes of winning alive.

Fedor Holz's chip twirling. Maybe we're being a bit nit-picky here, but the chip rolling looked way less cool than Holz thought it was going to look. I mean, who does he think he is, Captain Jack Sparrow ? The coin roll just didn't do it for us, but, to be fair, it's nearly impossible for anyone to look as cool as Captain Jack does, so we gotta cut him some slack.

The overall pacing of the first season. It's taken way too long for us to get to the final round of competition. There are four rounds of competition to get through before crowning a victor and only twelve episodes to work with. Ten of the twelve episodes were devoted to the first two rounds of play--too much in our opinion. The show needs to get us to the endgame faster, that's where the real fun stuff comes into play. When the win is close, but there's still work to be done. That's where the drama stems from, the arguments, the jabs.

Game of Gold Season One concludes this Friday with a special two-hour final episode airing live at 12:00pm UTC on GGPoker's YouTube channel .