Tom Dwan is back for Season 8 of High Stakes Poker

Jon Pill
Published by:
Posted on 10/29/2020

High Stakes Poker is back this December. And with its reappearance, Tom Dwan has popped up again too.

After nigh on a decade of “Where is Tom Dwan?” articles, he tweeted a video clip of him sitting down in the new purpose-built set. The video showed his fellow players and had the caption: “Hope I run as good as last time.”

The video also confirmed that at least one of the star-studded line ups will include Phil Hellmuth sitting to Dwan’s immediate left and a surprisingly cheery-looking Phil Ivey. Also in the clip are high stakes pros Brandon Adams, Ben Lamb, John Andress, and Jason Koon.

There is still no confirmation of whether A J Benza and Gabe Kaplan have been coaxed back to the fold. Their inimitable mix of cogent analysis and good-natured ribbing was a large part of what made the original show work as well as it did.

This new season of HSP will be airing on PokerGO the same week as their revival of Poker After Dark. Do anti-trust laws apply to the market of legendary late-noughties poker shows?

What’s the big deal?

For anyone who doesn’t remember High Stakes Poker, it was a show that ran on GSN for seven seasons. In it, a murderers row of sharks played a nosebleed cash game with the odd celebrity cameo. The play was broadcast more or less unedited but for ad breaks and a swear-horn.

Nowadays we have Live at the Bike, Stones Live, and the Dusk Till Dawn Livestream. The idea of unedited cash games is as familiar to us as household words. But in 2006, when HSP launched the only other shows on air were heavily-cut highlight reels of thirty and sixty minutes. The vast majority being final-table push-fold tournament poker.

In HSP we got to see the best of the best playing two hundred big blinds deep. We got to see all the small hands. The side bets, and table talk. We saw rivalries form, moods change, tempers flare, and bricks of cash move back and forth across the felt.

With its popularity, in season 5, HSP introduced Tom Dwan to the wider world.

The GOAT

The online community already knew Tom Dwan when HSP hit their screens. His avatar “durrr” was a terrifying LAG that tore through the biggest heads up and nosebleed games online. But the live poker community was in for a shock.

On camera, he seemed like a non-presence at first. A gangly, quiet-spoken, and physically slack-jawed kid in his early twenties. Seated at a table of big characters, he was a charisma vacuum. But that didn’t matter once the cards were in the air.

Dwan was responsible for many of the most exciting moments of televised poker ever. Including a $920k pot against Barry Greenstein. He might not have talked a big game, but his play spoke for itself.

Gape Kaplan, while commentating on HSP, once compared Dwan to the almost mythical Stuey Ungar. And back then, with this quiet little internet kid pulling breathtaking plays at a table of staid, old-school live pros, that assessment felt spot on.

The game has changed in the last decade, and Dwan’s been swimming in the softer pools of high stakes whale-heavy junket games in Macau for a few years now. This will be the first time we get to see him playing for anything approaching a serious chunk of hands in years. 

PokerGO tweeted that “IT. IS. HAPPENING.” on “December 16!!!”

It’ll be interesting to see then how Dwan’s play has evolved. And if he’s still got it.

Featured image source: Flickr