High Stakes Poker Season 7 Premieres on GSN

By Mike White - Mar 01, 2011

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Season 7 of the GSN cash game franchise “High Stakes Poker” kicked off on Saturday night. Needless to say, the show was noticeably different from when we last saw it in Season 6. Longtime host Gabe Kaplan is no more and, in his stead, comedian Norm Macdonald called the shots. PartyPoker pro Kara Scott provided commentary from the floor of the Bellagio, the series’ new home, and the minimum buy-in was $200,000. “High Stakes Poker” is sponsored by PokerStars, the world’s largest site.

It didn’t take long for two major pots to build. After the flop came 4-9-3, Victory Poker pro Antonio Esfandiari fired out a bet of $17,100 with 10-9 for top pair and Treasure Island Las Vegas owner Phil Ruffin smooth called behind with pocket threes for a set. PokerStars pro Vanessa Selbst pushed it to $63,800 with pocket queens and Esfandiari got out of the way after Ruffin tried to 3bet out of turn.

Ruffin ultimately raised to $117,100 and Selbst gasped, “I didn’t expect that.” After some contemplation, including asking Ruffin if he had a good hand, Selbst moved all-in. Ruffin snap-called and told Selbst that he only wanted to run it once. The turn and river were both sixes and Ruffin raked in a massive $475,000 pot. Selbst bought back in for another $200,000 and Season 7 was off and running.

Shortly thereafter, retired businessman Bill Klein raised to $3,000 pre-flop with pocket aces and David “Viffer” Peat came along with J-10 of hearts. Ruffin, feeling a little frisky, called with J-4 of spades and was the only one to whiff when the flop came K-10-5 with two hearts. Klein put in a continuation bet of $7,000 with an overpair and Peat made it $24,000 with middle pair and a flush draw. Ruffin wisely abandoned ship and Klein 3bet to $67,000.

Peat responded by 4betting all-in for $209,000 and Klein called to put Peat at risk. Once again, the turn and river were run just once and Peat spiked a heart on the final card to double up and rake in the $428,000 pot, the second largest of Saturday’s kickoff episode.

At the midway point, Barry Greenstein was up $83,000 and Peat was $231,000 in the black. The show’s big winner was Ruffin, who had piled up $241,000 in profit after a case of the run-goods.

In a curious hand, Ruffin picked up A-K and raised to $3,300 before the flop. DoylesRoom front man Doyle Brunson peeked down at pocket queens and called behind to bring a seemingly harmless flop of 7-3-4. Brunson checked, Ruffin led out for $20,000, and, despite perfectly setting the trap, Brunson abandoned ship and folded.

Macdonald questioned Brunson’s poor decision making: “Perhaps Vanessa’s queens running into Ruffin’s set of threes earlier is playing tricks with Doyle’s mind.” After showing down a set against Selbst and then trumping the “Godfather of Poker,” Ruffin was up $251,000 and seemed to be the man to beat at the table.

Another brand new component to “High Stakes Poker” on GSN is the “High Stakes Legends” segment. The feature, which PokerStars also sponsors, focused on Puggy Pearson, who is a four-time bracelet winner and former World Series of Poker Main Event champion.

Catch new episodes of “High Stakes Poker” on Saturday nights at 8:00pm ET and 11:00pm ET on GSN.

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