The Full Tilt Durrrr Million Dollar Challenge TV show was recorded 14 years ago to the week at Les Ambassadeurs Club in London. And it ended in flames for Sammy George when he sat down to play on November 20, 2009.
Dwan won $750,000 off George in a brutal session, with pretty much all the drama condensed into this one hand.
“This hand will go down in history”
The hand is one of the best from an era when Dwan was changing the game. It’s got everything, from a young Ike Haxton on commentary – “this pot will go down in the history of TV poker, this is just incredible” – to the cruel 7-2 rule that saw a shattered George having to stump up an extra $10k after being shown the bluff.
Dwan announced he had 7-2 after making an uncharacteristically large pre-flop raise, and that fact came back to haunt George in the post-hand analysis.
Dwan: “I thought you had a flush you were thinking for so long.”
George: “If I had a flush I’d call you instantly.”
Dwan: “You can’t call instantly.”
George: “Yeah I can, I thought you…you know something, you made it six thousand and I…[sigh] cool…nice hand.”
Jesse May: Dwan was a class act
Writing in the late PokerPlayer magazine, May offered up some first-hand insight from that fateful night.
“I got into the TV truck about five minutes after the money had gone in, to find the production crew in a state somewhere between a hushed silence and an excited frenzy,” May wrote.
“Tom Dwan had shipped all-in on the river for $479,000, and seeing as there was $180,000 already in the pot and Sammy George had $360,000 behind, a call would make the pot near enough to one million bucks. Sammy had two pair. The board was A-J-6-3-3 with the first three cards hearts. Sammy had A-6 offsuit and he was in one hell of a tortured state. He was counting his chips and then picking his cards up off the glass. He was talking to himself and talking to Dwan: ‘…And then you bet that on the river because it’s the only way you can win.’
“It was the most important thing Sammy George had said all day. Because Dwan was on the bluff. He had 7-2 – we could see his cards under the glass – 7-2 offsuit. Nothing. Zero. But looking at his cards through the camera feed was the only way you were ever going to know that’s what Dwan had.
“‘For the first time,’ I heard the vision mixer say, he who has sat through literally thousands of hours of televised poker over five years of watching every card played via the under-the-table cameras. ‘For the first time,’ he said, ‘I think I really understand what it means to be a good poker player.’”
May said more about Dwan that went unseen as well.
“Towards the end of his last match with Sammy George, Sammy went a little off the rails. He had played great all day, but down over $700k his eyes got glassy and $50k went like paper burned. Sammy called for half a million more. This great match was about to turn into a rout. And Tom spoke up softly to Sammy, saying it’s been a great day, you’ve been unlucky, we’ll play again soon – don’t you think it’s time you call it quits for the night? With half a million dollars being put on a platter, he talked to his opponent about the smart thing to do. That says a lot about the class of Tom Dwan.”
George disappeared off the scene shortly after the Durrrr Challenge, reportedly with a lot of unpaid debts, including one of $750,000 to Dwan, according to Bluff Magazine. Dwan might have won a lot of fans with this hand, but there’s more than a little doubt about whether he actually got paid for it.
You can watch the full Tom Dwan vs. Sammy George match below: