High Stakes Poker lineup changes present new table dynamic

Mo Afdhal
Posted on: October 16, 2023 15:35 PDT

The first string of episodes on this season of High Stakes Poker harkened back to the old days of the show. The lineup to start the season consisted of, among others, Jean-Robert Bellande, Rick Salomon, Andrew Robl, and Rob Yong.

The balance of players worked to perfection and the $1,000/$2,000 blinds, with the $4,000 straddle, provided plenty of carnage for audiences to delight in. The week-long wait between episodes felt agonizing in a time when most shows release a full slate of episodes all at once. Thankfully, the content was worth the wait and each episode built on the last.

New faces, same old fun

Now, in the ninth episode of the season, the lineup has undergone significant changes. JRB, Salomon, and Robl take their leave, replaced by Matt Berkey, Jason Koon, and Farah Galfond. The stakes have dropped a tad, down to $200/$400, but that didn't stop the money from flying around the table.

Jennifer Tilly continues to charm and delight the table with her talkative play style, while not-so-secretly playing some seriously good poker. She runs an ill-timed, but courageous bluff against Koon and then finds a way to shut things down on the river, perhaps sensing, accurately, the strength of his hand. Ferdinand Putra and DoorDash co-founder Stanley Tang round out the rest of the table, both quietly going about their business, both winning big pots.

The newcomers each bring their own element to the table, adding their own new spice to the High Stakes Poker blend. Galfond's first significant involvement came against Yong in a three-bet pot, with the straddle in play as well. The river saw Yong improve his hand to the ace-high flush after somewhat deceptively checking back the turn.

Galfond seized the moment and moved all-in, only to be called instantly by Yong. The play from Galfond may have been ill-timed, but the move made a statement. Nick Schulman, from the commentary booth, chimed in, "I liked it from Farah, though."

High Stakes Poker Antonio Abrego

Berkey takes the worst of it

The deck, importantly, continues to cooperate with the desire for action. The first four hands of Monday night's episode each saw one of the players at the table make a flush. Two of them came at the expense of Berkey. The first saw his wager on the river, a bluff, confronted with a raise from Tilly, who held the nut flush. Once Tilly's raising chips go in, Berkey exclaims, "Oh, you tricked me!"

The second hand, this time against Tang, saw Berkey pay off a chunky river bet with two pair. For the fourth time in a row, the winner, this time Tang, showed down a flush. The faintest scent of tilt seemed to emanate from Berkey as the chips went the other way, a little steam around the ears.

High Stakes Poker Antonio Abrego

It wouldn't be the last time Berkey lamented his bad luck this episode. The session didn't go well for the Solve For Why founder, particularly in hands that saw him start with a big pair.

There were two big hands, the first with aces, the second with kings. Both times, Berkey goes up against the seven-six off-suit. Both times, he loses the pot. In the first hand, Berkey gets it all in on the turn after an ambitious check-raise on the flop from Yong resulted in him making the nut straight. Berkey's aces were drawing stone dead to Yong's seven-six. The second hand, this time against Tilly, saw Berkey's kings hold up through the turn, but the river spelled doom for the cowboys. This time, at least, Berkey correctly folded the river when Tilly made a large wager. Still, the damage was done.

High Stakes Poker Antonio Abrego

The reinvigorated, modern era of High Stakes Poker continues to find its stride, with episodes airing each Monday night on PokerGO at 8:00pm ET. If you're not tuning in yet, there's only one question to ask: what are you waiting for?

All Images Courtesy of PokerGO