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BBZ Picks: the best poker hands from TV

BBZ Picks: the best poker hands from TV

BBZ Picks is a new series of articles in which our coaches and streamers select their top pick for different categories.

Millions of poker players first discovered the game after the Moneymaker Effect had worked its magic. The poker boom not only got more people playing than ever before, but it also inspired a golden age of poker television.

From the World Series of Poker (WSOP) coverage on ESPN to the World Poker Tour on Fox, tournament poker was must-watch television on mainstream networks.

Then there was cash game content including High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark which kept millions of us refreshing our old-school internet browsers, again and again, waiting on edge for the next new episode to drop.

Daniel Negreanu, Eli Elezra and Tom Dwan on the iconic TV show High Stakes Poker

This week we’ve asked BBZ coaches Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond (a.k.a. BBZ) and Jonathan “apestyles” Van Fleet, as well as BBZ Twitch streamer Conor “ccOOnnOOrr” O’Driscoll, to take a walk down memory lane and select their favourite hand of TV poker.


BBZ’s selection for his favourite hand of televised poker comes from High Stakes Poker Season 5 and features poker legends Tom Dwan and Barry Greenstein, as well as 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Peter Eastgate.

As you’d expect from the man behind so much strategic content, BBZ’s pick is based purely on Dwan’s strategy rather than nostalgia.

“Dwan raises into a situation that has no natural bluffs, blocking the second nuts (1010) with a backdoor flush draw,” says BBZ. “At the time this hand was played, and even today, most players will have 0% bluffing components in this situation and have a range weighted to 100% value bets.”

Today, Dwan is a poker legend and is sure to be a first-ballot Poker Hall-of-Famer once he becomes eligible (he’s still only 34). But back then, Dwan was already miles ahead of his competition in terms of No Limit Hold’em strategy.

“The turn didn’t improve Dwan’s hand but he barreled anyway because his opponents were likely playing strategies that are too binary: they thought ‘either I’m good or I’m not’ instead of mixing and acknowledging Dwan had a more balanced range,” says BBZ.

“It’s unlikely the big blind has A2 given the bunching effects and blockers from the other seven players in the hand, not to mention how wide the big blind calling range was (that range even includes 42-offsuit).

“Greenstein is never opening 42-offsuit from early position, limiting him to only two combos of A2-suited at best.

“Greenstein is a tight player and might have been willing to fold A2-suited from that position preflop. Dwan blocks 1010 and that blocker is very powerful against the ranges in play.

“The fact that Dwan knows Eastgate had a deuce is further evidence of the advantage he enjoyed at the time this hand was played. He probably got very close to 95%+ folds from both of his opponents on the turn.”

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Apestyles is a tournament crusher and one of the biggest winners in online poker history, so it’s no surprise to see his favourite hand comes from an MTT.

The hand in question comes from the now-legendary heads-up battle from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) in the Bahamas, back in 2007.

“I was there watching my buddy Ryan Duat dual it out with Isaac Haxton,” says apestyles. “I remember thinking there was something odd about the timing and body language of Haxton after he bet on the Q river with three-high. I thought his body language and timing looked a little weak. I mentioned it to a friend and I then said, ‘I hope Daut raises here’.

“Daut had picked up on something as well because he chose to bluff raise the river with seven-high, which wasn’t like him at all. Haxton went into the tank and realized that Daut didn’t have very many QX with this line.

“Haxton went for the all-in river re-re-bluff! It was cool to see these absolute legends get into a levelling war in person.”

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BBZ Twitch streamer Conor O’Driscoll’s favourite hand also comes from an old season of High Stakes Poker and features two indisputable legends of the game.

It was hard for him to pick, though.

“I was going to talk about the hand between Jamie Gold and Sammy Farha where Gold talked Farha out of betting the river with aces vs kings,” says O’Driscoll. “I also love the Phil Hellmuth blow-ups, they’re some of my favourites for the sheer entertainment.

“But I guess my favourite hand of televised poker would have to be the hand between Gus Hansen and Daniel Negreanu.”

“Negreanu doesn’t come close to folding but knows he’s beat with fives full,” says O’Driscoll. “I thought the way Gus plays it was so cool at the time.”

What are your favourite hands of TV poker? Let us know on Twitter: @BBZPoker.

ApestylesccOOnnOOrrJordan “BigBluffZinc” DrummondPicks

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