Why Tom Dwan belongs on every episode of High Stakes Poker

Geoff Fisk
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Posted on March 1, 2021 6:55 pm EST

Legendary player persists as an indispensable personality on Season 8

Phil Hellmuth, on a bit of a rant midway through Wednesday’s latest episode of High Stakes Poker, calls out Tom Dwan for playing every hand. Hellmuth isn’t too far off in that evaluation, as Dwan found a way to get in the mix with several marginal holdings.

Even 32 in the big blind was good enough for Dwan to enter a pot preflop, in a hand that resulted in Dwan collecting a $9,700 pot.

Dwan hasn’t been in every single hand on Season 8 of High Stakes Poker, but he’s been involved in many of the most memorable ones. The PokerGO reboot of High Stakes Poker hits the home stretch in March, with three episodes remaining in Season 8.

Episode 11 of the new season aired Wednesday, with Dwan playing peak maniac-style poker. After spending much of Season 8 as a more conservative version of his usual self, the Dwan we saw on Episode 11 harkened back to the days of the original High Stakes Poker run.

Dwan’s presence essential to the High Stakes Poker remake

Dwan’s legendary knack for winning in the original run of High Stakes Poker makes him the perfect character to anchor each episode of the new season. He’s the only player to appear in all 11 episodes so far.

Dwan ended the latest episode with $723,000 in the stack, making him by far the biggest winner of the night. While some of the big hands Dwan won earlier in Season 8 revolved around premium hands, Dwan got out of line multiple times on Episode 11.

Every time he did so, Dwan seemed to find a way to win. Dwan’s 32 magic came in a hand that began with Lazaro Hernandez opening from the hijack to $3,000 with T♠7, Jake Daniels calling on the button with K♠4♠, and Dwan calling from the big blind in the $400/$800 game.

The flop comes 4♣5J, Dwan checks, and Hernandez just mucks, not even bothering to check. Daniels bets $3,300, and Dwan check-raises to $17,500, prompting Daniels to fold.

Hernandez’s bizarre line in that hand might have resulted from frustration over the previous hand. Dwan begins the hand with an under-the-gun straddle with J5, and Hellmuth raises to $3,800 with AT.

Hernandez three-bets to $8,500 with A♣K, and Dwan doesn’t think twice before making the call. A visibly frustrated Hellmuth folds, sending Dwan and Hernandez heads-up to the flop.

Dwan hits top pair on the J2♣9 flop. Dwan checks into Hernandez, who bets $15,000 and gets a call.

The turn comes the 4♠ and Hernandez double barrels for $25,000. Dwan calls again, swelling the pot to $102,800.

The river falls 4, putting a possible flush on the board. Dwan checks again, and Hernandez goes for the river bluff. Hernandez bets $30,000, and Dwan thinks it over for a bit before making the call.

Did we just see the craziest hand of the new High Stakes Poker season?
High Stakes Poker Season 8 episodes wouldn’t be the same without Tom Dwan. Image source: Twitter

That pot pushes $162,800 Dwan’s way, and leaves Hernandez stymied for the remainder of the episode. Later in Episode 8, Dwan catches another big bluff attempt, this time from Daniels. 

That hand starts with another straddle from Dwan, who looks down at 97. Hellmuth raises with K♠9♠ and Daniels three-bets to $11,500 with A♣9.

Dwan, in typical form, calls the big bet, while Hellmuth stays true to his own form by folding. Daniels fires three bets in the hand with just ace-high and is actually ahead in the hand until the river.

Dwan hits a flush on fifth street, however, and after calling the third barrel from Daniels rakes in a $169,000 pot.

Episode 11 featured Dwan in classic form. Whether it’s the more reserved version of Dwan from earlier in Season 8 or the vintage “durrrr” character from the poker boom era, Dwan builds the perfect bridge from the old and new runs of High Stakes Poker.

Featured image source: PokerGO