The Greatest Poker Hand In History

Posted at 01:44 2009-02-19

What does it take to be the most memorable cash game hand in history? Could it be the biggest pot ever played? I like to argue not, as this title probably rests safely at the hands of some crazy Russian Oil tycoons in some seriously lavish private club in Moscow. The kind of game that changes the price of oil for the next 6 months or turns off gas to half of Europe ;). My problem with a hand like this is that the hand will most likely never make it out of the room in which it was played hence only making it memorable to those in the game.

Could it be the biggest pot played on television? This title currently sits with two players on the upcoming season of High Stakes Poker that will air in the USA on April 5th. The pot size was $919,600, and while there have been pots with more money in them, this one has the current record as this particular hand was not ran twice and there were no saves for this particular hand. The names of these players is a closely guarded secret, so you will just have to wait until the next season airs to find out who they were. Once again, I would like to argue that this hand not be considered as the most memorable of all time as both the players are most likely not that affected by the outcome of this hand too much. I mean, lets face it, neither player has their entire bankroll on the table in this game, and it’s not like any of the player’s in that game are about to quit poker after a losing a buy-in, even if it’s a million dollars. The net worth and net bankrolls of the players that play in that game is astonishing, making this some of the best televised poker on the market, but to classify one completely massive pot as the most memorable hand of all time, I think not.

Throughout my career in poker, I have been fortunate to witness an astonishing number of poker hands. You could say that I have seen it all, but such a statement always seems to invalidate itself over time as sooner or later, you see something you have never seen before. This year, the Aussie Millions delivered exactly that, a hand so special, so memorable, and so completely unbelievable, that you simply had to see it to believe it. It is this hand that has completely inspired me to write this story.

The hand in question is one that I would like to officially nominate as a candidate for “the most memorable cash game hand in history”. Vote as you like, but my vote is in, and I vote yes.

It was during this years Aussie Millions that a few of the biggest cash game players in the world came together for one big buy-in game. The initial buy-in for this game was set at AUD$1,000,000. At the beginning of the days play, only two players took their seat at the table, Patrick Antonious and online poker prodigy Tom Dwan. After 4 hours of heads up nose bleed play, Patrick found himself up a rather handsome AUD$523,000. That’s the equivalent of 4th place money in the main event of the Aussie Millions, only difference is, he managed to win that in 4 hours, not 4 days!! After this little session, the two decided to lower the buy-in requirement for the game to a rather modest AUD$200,000, which inspired 4 other poker players to join the game.

The line up now looked something like this.

Seat 1: Jamie Pickering
Seat 2: Phil Laak
Seat 3: Patrick Antonius
Seat 4: Niki Jedlicka
Seat 5: Andy Robl
Seat 6: Tom Dwan

With the buy-in set at a minimum of $200K, the guys agreed that they would play 20 hands of NL Holdem followed by 20 hands of PLO. The blinds would be set at $500/$1000-$200 ante for the No Limit and $500/$1000 for the PLO.

On hand number 37; Patrick Antonius held the button with Andy Robl in the big blind. Action was folded around to Patrick who raised the action to $3,500. Niki folded the small blind bringing the action to Andy Robl, who re-raised Patrick to $12,000. Patrick called and we were heading to the flop heads up.

Here are the starting hands and percentages pre-flop.

Patrick Antonius     {5d} {6d} {8d} {9h}         40%
Andy Robl              {As} {Qs} {Qd} {Jc}        60%

Once the flop landed, to say these percentages changed would be an understatement.

Flop {4d} {Ad} {7s}

New %’s

Patrick Antonius     {5d} {6d} {8d} {9h}        69%
Andy Robl              {As} {Qs} {Qd} {Jc}       31%

With this flop, Andy Robl decided that a continuation bet would be the way to go, and he fired out a bet of $16,000. With his up and down straight draw and flush draw, Patrick decided to put an end to the obvious shenanigans of Andy and promptly raised it to $72,000. Well, I am not quite sure what read Andy got on Patrick, but when the action came back around to him, his move of all-in could only be construed as wrong. The all-in move by Robl was for an additional $31,100 on top of Patrick’s bet, so it could hardly be a move to push him off his hand as he was giving Patrick 7-1 for his call. Rather this bet could only be seen as a straight up gamble on all accords.

Patrick made the obvious call and the question that was raised next was, how many times should we run it? For those that are not familiar with high stakes cash game play, it is often the case that players will agree to run the remaining board cards more than once. This minimizes variance over time and helps players control swings in their bankrolls during these massive pots. First Andy asked Patrick, “How many times?” and they agreed to run it 3 times. It was at this point that someone suggested that they run it four times as it would be much easier to calculate the pots at the end of it all. So it was settled, they would run the turn and river an incredible 4 times.

**Side note – With 6 players, that totals 24 initial cards. Now add 4 for the first flop (1 burn + flop). We are at 28 cards. With the dealer running the remaining board 4 times, they will be using an additional 16 cards, (burn for every turn and river) taking the total to 44 cards needed to run the hand in this fashion. If they wanted, they could have run the turn and river only 2 more times for a total of 6 passes.

The first turn and river produced the following

1st PASS

Flop {4d} {Ad} {7s}
Turn {Kh}
                                                                      Flop %        Turn %
Patrick Antonius      {5d} {6d} {8d} {9h}         69%             48%
Andy Robl                {As} {Qs} {Qd} {Jc}        31%            52%


First blood to Andy Robl. With the first pass out of the way, Andy was at least guaranteed to win $65,800 of the $131,600 that he had invested in the pot regardless of the remaining 3 passes. Andy 1- Patrick 0

2nd PASS – Keep in mind the new dead cards from the previous turn and river

Flop {4d} {Ad} {7s}
Turn {Jd}
                                                                    Flop %        Turn %
Patrick Antonius     {5d} {6d} {8d} {9h}         71%            90%
Andy Robl              {As} {Qs} {Qd} {Jc}        29%            10%

Finally Patrick hit’s one of his gazillion outs, but that particular diamond has also given Andy two pair.


Incredibly, Andy managed to find a bullet on the river for his full house. 2-0 Robl and a guaranteed even proposition here on out for him.

3rd PASS

Flop {4d} {Ad} {7s}
Turn {Th}
                                                                   Flop %        Turn %
Patrick Antonius     {5d} {6d} {8d} {9h}        71%            61%
Andy Robl               {As} {Qs} {Qd} {Jc}      29%            39%


It was as if God himself had reached down and plucked out yet another one of Patrick’s dead cards for Andy from the deck. At this stage, the normally emotionless face of Patrick is looking a little bewildered. At this point in time he is looking to be in the hole for a minimum of $65,800 for the hand no matter what the 4th pass brings. Andy 3-0

4th PASS

Flop {4d} {Ad} {7s}
Turn {3s}
                                                                    Flop %        Turn %
Patrick Antonius     {5d} {6d} {8d} {9h}         73%            77%
Andy Robl              {As} {Qs} {Qd} {Jc}         27%           23%

Once again, Patrick hits the turn completing his straight to the seven, giving him a solid 77% advantage heading to the river. But we all know where this story is going by now. Although the 3s managed to give Patrick his straight, it also unlocked the back door flush draw for Andy.


After the {Ts} hit, I knew that surely I had just witnessed one of the most memorable hands in poker history. At the end of the 4th pass, Andy had found himself $131,600 richer, and on his way to the nearest lotto office to buy a ticket. Maybe he is born in the year of the Ox? Maybe he is the luckiest player in the world? When the chips went into the middle, statistics tell us that the following outcomes are possible given the player’s cards and dead cards.

Chances of Andy winning 0 from 4        23%
Chances of Andy winning 1 from 4        41%
Chances of Andy winning 2 from 4        27%
Chances of Andy winning 3 from 4        8%
Chances of Andy winning 4 from 4        Less than 1%! 0.92%

This is the Statistic that makes this in my opinion one of, if not the most, memorable hands in poker history. Well done Andy, and folks, don’t be too upset for Patrick, he still has the money he won from Dwan earlier to keep him warm at night, so while this beat was simply horrific and incredibly unlucky, he will still be eating sushi and wagu next time you see him.

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