The 5 Biggest Online Pots of all time…

Remember the high stakes games on Full Tilt? Will we ever see their like again? Probably not. These were the glory days of high stakes of online poker. For just three crazy months towards the end of 2009 pots at the highest level of PLO were regularly reaching the $300K. In fact, the top five biggest pots all occurred within one week of each other, all PLO $500-$1,000, and featured just three players. Isildur1 had recently sent durrrr scuttling and had built up a bankroll of more than $5 million. Now, finding it difficult to get anyone to play him at heads-up NLH, he turned to PLO, at which he was relatively inexperienced. Enter Phil Ivey and Patrick Antonius…

No. 5
November 21st 2009
Isildur1 vs. Phil Ivey

Ivey: 10♣−7♠−3♠−8♣
Isildur1: Q−10−9♣−J

Pre-flop we’d take Isi’s hand here with its sexy straight possibilities and suited hearts. Ivey’s hand plays OK, but looks a bit three-legged to us. It’s double-suited, but the 3♣ doesn’t play so well.

The 9♠−2−6♠ flop changes all that, and now Ivey has a small flush draw and an up-and-down straight draw, as well as a semi-wrap draw. Meanwhile, Isildur hasn’t flopped a hell of a lot here, just top pair. He bets $15K and Ivey just flats.

Isildur picks up a lot more when the 8 comes on the turn, but Ivey now already has the straight with a redraw to the flush. When Isildur bets 42K, you’d imagine him to be a lot stronger than he actually is. Ivey might be ahead with his straight, but he has to worry that his redraw might be no good. Ivey raises to 157K and Isildur1 moves in for just under 390K. This is an interesting hand and we wonder whether Ivey might have been trying something with his bet sizing there, like he’s giving himself the chance to fold if necessary, probably because he thinks his spades might be crushed. It’s pretty hard to fold a straight here, however, although you’re always going to be sweating the river card, as Isi could have a massive draw.

The 7♣ arrives on the river and Isildur’s not-so-massive draw gets there. Ivey presumably spits coffee all over his monitor.

No. 4
November 21st 2009
Isildur1 vs. Phil Ivey

Ivey: Q♣7♠3♣A��
Isildur1: 3663♠

Ivey doesn’t have to wait long to wreak his double-suited revenge. Just over an hour, in fact. Pre-flop Isildur has a bag of spanners, essentially two set draws and some small hearts. Maybe this is his inexperience showing – hold’em thinking applied to PLO, or maybe he’s on tilt. Essentially he needs to flop a set or baby flush draw. Ivey, meanwhile, is happier with his hand. He’s nutted in spades and he’s got the queen-high flush draw in clubs. This is one of those hands where it’s hard to see, pre-flop, how all the money would go in later. But it does…

Isildur1 4-bets pre-flop – nothing unusual when Isi’s around – and Ivey calls. It comes A-6-4 with two clubs. Ivey flops a gutshot straight draw, the second nut-flush draw and top pair, whereas Isildur flops middle set. We’re not sure why Ivey check-raises the flop here rather than opting for pot control. But what do we know? We’re just journalists. Isildur moves in and Ivey has to call off all is chips as a 60-40 underdog in one of the biggest pots in the history of mankind. Like we said, Phil – pot control. He gets there, though, with the K♣ on the river and scoops a pot worth more than the combined worth of all our flats.

No. 3
November 16th, 2009
Isildur1 vs. Patrick Antonius

Antonius: 6A♣Q♠9��
Isildur1: Q10K♠A♠

Antonius and Isildur1 start off pretty evenly stacked here, with about 440K each. Antonius doesn’t have much pre-flop, effectively just nutted hearts. Isi’s hand is far more playable A-K-Q-10 with nutted spades. Antonius’ hand is trickier – he’s looking to flop hearts or a nut straight and he’ll be without redraws.

Pre-flop, it goes open raise and a flat call. This is bizarre because all pots around this time were at
the very least 3-bet by our mad Swedish friend and his opponents. We guess it’s a reflection of Antonius average hand.

The flop comes Q-7-5 with two hearts. Antonius flops the world: top pair, a gutshot straight draw and a nut flush draw; pretty much everything he could have hoped for. Isildur has top pair, top kicker and backdoor spades for the nuts. And that’s enough for these two to go to war.

The hand’s pretty easy for Antonius to play on the turn. Isi’s calling range is fairly polarized – he can’t really call without two pair or a set. They both turn two-pair and Isildur now has a wrap straight draw. Antonius leads, Isildur pots and it all goes in. The river comes a brick, 8♦ and Antonius takes the pot.

Could Isildur1 have got away from the hand? To some extent, perhaps, but because of the stack sizes they’re both fairly committed. Turning top-two was bad news for Isi, especially with his redraw to the straight.

No. 2
November 23rd 2009
Isildur1 vs. Phil Ivey

Isildur1: K45K♣
Ivey: ????

Ivey’s hand is unseen. Isildur1 has a pair of kings and diamonds suited and the 4-5 to go with it, which is a nice medium-strong heads up hand, but it’s not the sort of hand you’re going to go absolutely berserk with. Ivey 4-bets pre-flop and Isildur flats it and promptly flops the second nuts when it comes J♠K♠J♦.

Isi checks the flop and it gets checked behind by Ivey. The turn brings diamonds. The interesting thing is that Isildur1 doesn’t really care about the flush draw getting there but he’s got two diamond blockers in his hand, so he knows that, if Ivey’s playing to diamonds, it’s got to be the nut flush.

Isildur1 checks the turn, Ivey makes it 41,000. Isildur1 raises to 177,000, Ivey flat calls. The river
brings another diamond and all the money goes in. What did Ivey have? Hard to say, really, because it’s a tricky business trying to second-guess God. He might have had a turned boat with pocket tens, or maybe he even had a broadway straight, but the nut flush looks most likely to us. This hand is significant because Isildur1 checks those two streets and that’s probably the only time he’s ever checked two streets in a row in his whole crazy, glorious life.

No. 1
November 21st 2009
Isildur1 vs. Patrick Antonius

Isildur1: 69♠78
Patrick Antonius: A3♠K♥K♠

This one gets 5-bet pre-flop. Antonius has kings and is double-suited in hearts and spades, nutted in the hearts – a premium hand, especially heads up and against someone like Isildur1. He’s also got one blocker to an ace-high flop, which he obviously really doesn’t want to see, but his hand is going to play well post-flop, providing the flop is not dripping wet with diamonds or clubs.

Isildur1’s hand is single-suited in diamonds, but it’s far “wrappier” (we love making up words); two
pretty premium hands of very different character.

To get 81k in there pre-flop when you’re playing $680k deep seems a little speculative on Isildur1’s part, but we guess it’s not out of keeping with the way he plays and we understand there’s a whole load of meta-game thinking going on that we’re not really seeing.

Antonius flops the idiot end of the straight when it comes 4♠5♣2. There are no flush draws out there, but he has backdoor hearts to the nuts and backdoor spades for the second nuts. These backdoor draws are regarded a little more highly than they are in hold’em and the good players always add them into their reckoning.

Isildur1 has flopped the wrap draw and has oodles of outs, although he’s still a small underdog to Antonius’ hand. Antonius bets 91K, half the pot, Isildur1 commits himself by re-raising and it all goes in on the flop. The turn and the river brick out and Antonius picks up $1,356,947 with his straight. Beers on him tonight, then!  

February 2012