AJ Benza didn’t grow up taking part in playing cards, and has never gambled for big sums of cash, nonetheless the New York City native has change into entrenched within the poker world for his work on for certain one of the crucial iconic reveals the industry has viewed.
Benza co-hosted High Stakes Poker with Gabe Kaplan for the first 5 seasons of the show conceal, which premiered in 2006 and speedily grew to alter into standard with every professionals and amateurs staring at at dwelling.
After the fifth season of the show conceal in 2009, the duo became broken up and sooner or later modified altogether with comic and avid poker enthusiast Norm Macdonald in season seven. Nonetheless after more than a decade away from the game, PokerGO introduced assist every Kaplan and Benza to revive the notorious cash game series for an eighth season.
High Stakes Poker featured world class poker execs and prosperous businessmen who were fascinating to position helpful piles of chips within the center, nonetheless it became Benza and his Welcome Support, Kotter star partner within the commentary sales space that gave the show conceal its initial legs at the prime of the poker allege.
“It is miles so important enjoyable to be assist within the sales space with Gabe,” acknowledged Benza about his return. “I indubitably include helpful admire for his poker details and his comedic timing.”
With several years working collectively, the 2 include developed rather a rapport. Kaplan, who has trip taking part in excessive-stakes cash video games and first started attending the WSOP in 1978, serves because the professional. Benza, who has had many important on show conceal credit score equivalent to Mysteries and Scandals, Rocky Balboa, and Monumental name Match Club, serves as his straight man.
“There are times where I include like Ginger Rogers to his Fred Astaire, attributable to clearly he leads and I must watch,” acknowledged Benza. “And it’s no longer repeatedly easy since I enact no longer know the intricacies of poker like Gabe does. I am comfy in my plan [speaking for] the guy sitting at dwelling who doesn’t rather heed your complete terminology and odds and outs and percentages.”
No matter having a entrance row seat to a pair of the ideal poker minds on the planet at work, the 58-one year-outdated doesn’t are attempting to have interaction up any strategy suggestions. He right wants to trip the drama and be ready to crack jokes with Kaplan along the procedure in which.
“It veteran to drive me exasperated attributable to I desired to are attempting to have interaction up, nonetheless that’s no longer potential,” acknowledged the actor and stale gossip columnist for E! Entertainment Tv. “So while I love the action and the drama, I at final popular the indisputable fact that I’ll never be wherever shut to Gabe’s level of trip. Nonetheless what I indubitably include heard from so many members I escape into is that they just like the indisputable fact that I request ‘uninteresting’ questions or on occasion get stuff irascible, attributable to it permits many members to learn at dwelling as they lunge.”
The C.W. Put up College graduate furthermore takes pleasure within the authenticity of his work and feels lucky to work alongside any individual he respects.
“I love that I’m assist within the sales space voicing the ideal poker show conceal there’s ever been, with a man who’s better than the rest,” acknowledged Benza. “And at any time when things get a shrimp bit sophisticated, I have interaction comfort within the indisputable fact that we’re right two guys from Brooklyn. We include a shorthand.”
As any individual who became quiet green in his poker details when he took the job, the sheer amount of cash on the table took him with out be aware. He started asking himself the acquire a query to every non-poker player staring at the show conceal asks themselves.
“In the beginning, it became the sum of cash laid out that caught my attention,” acknowledged Benza. “I remember seeing Daniel Negreanu making a bet 1,000,000 bucks in season one and it felt unsuitable. I couldn’t imagine what became taking place. These stacks looked unsuitable, nonetheless they were accurate.”
“Clearly, I became a neophyte at poker when I got the job, so I couldn’t imagine the sum of cash on the table,” acknowledged Benza. “Nonetheless some fingers stand out for assorted reasons.”
Benza recalled a hand from the first season between Daniel Negreanu and Barry Greenstein as for certain one of his favorites. Negreanu raised with K 9 and Greenstein three-bet out of the minute blind with A J. Negreanu called and the flop came down 7 3 2.
Greenstein bet $10,000 and Negreanu took two $50,000 bricks of cash and acquire them within the center. Greenstein called with the nut flush draw and became all in for a pot of right over $200,000. The three-time bracelet winner drilled a club on the river, taking down for certain one of the first helpful pots of the season.
“Barry caught the jack of golf equipment on the river to clutch and I knew factual then… holy shit, right here’s accurate money.”
The hand between the 2 poker legends became doubtless more memorable to Benza than some more casual poker fans attributable to it became the first time he saw money of that measurement commerce fingers, all while the 2 fighters involved reacted the an analogous as anyone would at a $5 dwelling game.
“I do know there were many battles between two of my favorites, Eli Elezra and Sammy Farha,” acknowledged Benza. “I loved seeing the procedure in which they battled and stayed pals all over all of it. It didn’t matter if the pot became price $50,000 or $500,000.”
Nonetheless even Benza, who has viewed hundreds of High Stakes Poker fingers up shut and non-public, isn’t proof against the classics.
“I remember the hand when Brad Gross sales space tossed out three bricks with right four-excessive against Phil Ivey’s pocket kings,” acknowledged Benza. “I remember seeing that sooner than Ivey laid his hand down.”
With $300-$600 blinds, David Williams raised to $1,800 from the lojack with J 9 and Gross sales space three-bet to $5,800 from the cutoff with 4 2. Phil Ivey became within the helpful blind with K K and chilly four-bet to $14,000. Williams folded and Gross sales space called. Gross sales space had equipped in for $1 million and Ivey started the hand with about $300,000 in his stack.
The flop became 7 6 3 and Ivey bet $23,000. Gross sales space moved all in, placing $300,000 in cash into the center. It grew to alter into an iconic scene in excessive-stakes poker lore and caused Ivey to disclose, “I need you had acquire the chips in. The cash right looks so candy.”
Benza acknowledged it in accurate time, asserting, “It is miles a piece intimidating,” as Ivey tanked for what became almost one more two minutes sooner than laying his hand down.
And naturally, even supposing it’s miles from for certain one of the crucial latest episodes, Benza acknowledged the laydown made by Doug Polk against Phil Hellmuth became for certain one of his well-liked fingers to sight.
“It is for certain one of the ideal lay downs within the history of the show conceal,” acknowledged Benza. “It became right amazing.”
At some stage in its early days, the show conceal captured fans for the reason that program became in difference to any other poker show conceal accessible, pitting the most standard players around against every other. Tournaments with helpful prize swimming pools made for sharp TV as neatly, nonetheless the lineup of players became unpredictable. High Stakes Poker ensured that the arena got to see the most bright personalities at the table.
After staring at many poker reveals approach and lunge over the years, diehards within the poker community would veritably reminisce about the outdated episodes of High Stakes Poker with a total bunch cash being thrown around. And now that the show conceal is assist, about a of the younger players who came up staring at it include now even made it onto the broadcast.
“A lot of the guys on season eight continuously talk about how they grew up staring at it as children and now they’re taking part in against inviting execs,” acknowledged Benza. “I web to listen to guys talk about how High Stakes Poker became the show conceal where they discovered how to play. And right here they’re a few years later and we’re quiet calling the action. It’s very sharp.”
The game has clearly modified over the years as options and styles evolve. Nonetheless, what drives the drama hasn’t modified at all. It’s quiet right a struggle of wits for helpful sums of cash with an even amount of luck involved.
“What stands out to me is how repeatedly an [amateur] will lunge up against a pro and clutch,” acknowledged Benza. “I will repeatedly just like the balls on these guys, and how their play has improved over the years. I love shiny that Gabe and I – and the procedure in which we called the video games – had a hand in that.” ♠
Doug Polk Makes Unimaginable Fold In opposition to Phil Hellmuth
The one year is much from over, nonetheless it’s going to be tough to search out an even bigger televised play in 2021 than what Doug Polk pulled off in a latest episode of High Stakes Poker against 15-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth.
The no-restrict defend’em game featured blinds of $200-$400, and a rotating lineup that furthermore consisted of Jake Daniels, Brandon Steven, James Bord, John Andress, Bryn Kenney, Phil Ivey, and Tom Dwan.
Hellmuth opened the action by elevating to $1,100 from the hijack with Q 10. He became called by Bord on the button with 2 2 and Polk defended from the helpful blind with 10 7. The flop came down J 9 8, giving every Hellmuth and Polk a straight. The action checked to Bord, and he bet $2,000.
Polk compare-raised to $7,000, and Hellmuth very much surprised the table by transferring all in for $97,200. Bord speedily acquire his underpair into the muck, and Polk went into the tank for several minutes, bright Hellmuth in some table talk sooner than making his resolution.
“Since Phil raised sooner than the flop, I’d positively be striking him on a topic,” acknowledged Kaplan to the dwelling viewers. “Doug’s got to call. He can’t presumably be striking Phil on Q-10.”
No matter Kaplan’s assertation, on the opposite hand, Polk became hesitant.
“This is insane,” acknowledged Polk. “It’s right this form of monster raise. Phil, what enact you got over there? I’m involved in making a truly helpful laydown. A genuinely, very helpful laydown.”
Hellmuth, sensing he might maybe presumably even be ready to lose a customer, replied with, “I might maybe presumably even with out issues include…” sooner than Polk interrupted.
“What might maybe presumably even you with out issues include?” asked Polk incredulously. “You right bet loads into shrimp or no.”
Hellmuth persisted to chat, telling Polk he might maybe presumably even include a topic, blockers with a hand like pocket tens, or a helpful drawing hand like A 10.
“Oh, now you’re busting out blockers? God, if I fold this and I’m irascible…” acknowledged Polk.
It became then that Hellmuth made up our minds to pause speaking, even supposing the far side of the table became busy placing bets on whether or no longer Polk would call.
“I contemplate I’m ineffective loads, given this,” Polk acknowledged, referring to Hellmuth’s table talk. He then confirmed his playing cards to the rest of the table, which ideal introduced more disbelief from the opposite players. No matter their shock, he quiet made up our minds to muck.
“That’s no longer a fold, are you crazy factual now?” asked Steven, who had bet on the pause consequence. “If he’s got Q-10, then he’s got Q-10. Pay the particular person and let’s transfer on to the subsequent hand.”
Hellmuth made up our minds no longer to show conceal his playing cards on the night time the episode became filmed, and even asked to rabbit hunt the turn and river, implying to Polk that he had a topic. Nonetheless, he couldn’t cloak from the actual fact of the topic as soon as the show conceal aired.
“Take into consideration making like 15 helpful blinds right here,” Polk jabbed, tweeting along with a screenshot of his laydown.
Hellmuth, to his credit score, took the ribbing in poke.
“Issue. I will see why you order that this became the ideal fold of your occupation. Good fold Doug! [You] saved $90,000 that every person else would include lost. All americans else! That’s $90,000 that is just not any longer in my monetary institution account.”
Kaplan agreed, closing out the broadcast of the hand by asserting, “Doug Polk is for certain one of the few other folks on the planet that might maybe presumably include folded there.”