PokerStars 10th Anniversary: Ten of the biggest cash game hands ever played on PokerStars

10th-ann-thumb.JPGIn December of 2010, PokerStars announced the singing of one of poker's most notorious names -- "Isildur1," the online legend who had won and lost millions on the virtual felt. Many in the poker community were shocked to see Isildur1, a high-stakes cash game player, sign with a site known primarily for tournaments, leading to rampant speculation that PokerStars was attempting to cultivate a reputable cash game division to compete with the competition.

At the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January, the worst kept secret in poker was finally revealed, exposing young Swedish player, Viktor Blom, as the enigmatic Isildur1, which ultimately lead to the establishment of the SuperStar Showdown, a series of high-stakes heads-up matches between Blom and anyone willing to step up to the plate. Slowly but surely, the cash games on PokerStars began to get bigger and better.

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Between August and October of 2011, PokerStars saw the biggest ring action the site had ever seen. In honor of PokerStars' 10th Anniversary, we present the Top 10 Cash Game Hands from that time period:

10) Turn Earns Blom $240K Pot

In a heads-up battle on August, 25, 2011, Viktor "Isildur1" Blom squared off against Ilari "Ilari FIN" Sahamies in a "friendly" game of $100/$200 PLO. Not surprisingly, these two would be involved in more than a few hands on the Top 10 list. In this particular hand, Blom ($120,242) opened for $600, Sahamies ($181,380) three-bet to $1,800, and the Swede four-bet to $5,400. Sahamies decided to put in a five-bet to $16,200 before Blom made the call and the dynamic duo saw the flop come down 2♣Q♣6♥.

Sahamies fired out a pot-sized bet of $32,400, Blom called, and the A♠ appeared on the turn. Sahamies led out for a big bet of $97,194, and Blom called off for $71,644.

Showdown
Blom: A♥2♦3♥4♦
Sahamies: Q♦K♦[10s]9♠

Sahamies had flopped the best hand, but the turn gave Blom two pair and the lead. While the K♥ river gave Sahamies two pair of his own, it was inferior to Blom's aces and deuces, shipping the $240,482 pot to the Swede.

9) Pair of Kings Wins Blom $247K Pot

The month of September was full of action, as evidenced by a $100/$200 PLO game that ran on the Sept. 9. The four-handed game saw Viktor "Isildur1" Blom ($185,445) raise to $860 from the button after Phil "MrSweets" Galfond folded. Ilari "Ilari FIN" Sahamies ($123,804) then raised to $2,940 from the small blind, Ta-Chih "socutiesf" Geeng folded the big, and Blom four-bet to $9,180. Sahamies pushed back to the tune of $27,900, Blom called, and the 2♥9♦K♣ was run out on the flop. Sahamies led out for $56,155, Blom moved all-in for $157,505, and Sahamies called off his remaining $39,749.

Showdown
Sahamies: Q♥Q♦A♣J♠
Blom: K♦Q♣J♣7♦

Sahamies held queens with a gut-shot straight draw, but it was no good against the kings and multiple draws of Blom. The 4♠ river was a blank, and Blom earned the $247,883 pot with kings.

8) Sahamies Takes $251 Pot After Blom Misses the River

On August 27, 2011, Viktor "Islidur1" Blom and Ilari "Ilari FIN" Sahamies were engaged in a heads-up battle at the $100/$200 PLO tables and locked horns in the following hand. Blom ($145,326) opened from the button for $600 only to have Sahamies ($125,848) three-bet to $1,800. Blom made the call and then watched Sahamies fire out a bet of $3,598 on the J♥6♣9♠ flop. The Swede wasted little time in putting in a raise to $14,392, Sahamies called, and the A♣ appeared on the turn.

Sahamies checked, Blom bet $32,382, and the Finn woke up with an all-in check-raise to $109,656. Blom made the call and the cards were turned up:

Showdown
Blom: K♠Q♣8♣5♥
Sahamies: A♠8♠J♣9♦

Sahamies had turned top two pair and was ahead of Blom, who held multiple straight opportunities and a flush draw. Unfortunately for the latter, the 6♠ bricked on the river and the $251,694 pot was shipped to his opponent.

7) Sahamies' Aces Hold Against the Kings of Geeng

On Wednesday, September 7, 2011, action had dropped to three handed at a salacious $200/$400 PLO game when Ilari "Ilari FIN" Sahamies ($134,920) raised to $1,400 on the button. Ta-Chih "socutiesf" Geeng ($125,834) exercised his option in the small blind with a three-bet to $4,600, Andreas "Skjervøy" Torbergsen ($113,786) called from the big blind, and Sahamies four-bet to $19,800. Never one to back down, Geeng five-bet to $59,800, Torbergsen got out of the way, and Sahamies moved all-in. Geeng only had $66,034 behind and committed it to the pot.

Showdown
Geeng: K♦K♣A♥Q♦
Sahamies: A♣A♠K♠3♣

The classic aces-versus-kings mêlée created a massive pot. There would be no trickery as the board ran out 4♦3♥8♣8♥5♦ and Sahamies' aces held, giving him the $256,266 pot.

6) Heavyweights Collide: Blom vs. Sahamies

On August 25, 2011, two of online poker's biggest stars battled at the $100/$22 PLO table and played one heck of a pot. It originated when Viktor "Isildur1" Blom ($134,418) opened for $600 on the button and Ilari "Ilari FIN" Sahamies ($390,663) exercised his option in the big blind with a three-bet to $1,800. From there, Blom four-bet to $5,400, Sahamies five-bet $16,200, Blom six-bet $48,600, and Sahamies made the call, leading to the K♠4♥9♣ flop. Sahamies checked, Blom moved all-in for $85,818, and Sahamies snapped.

Showdown
Sahamies: K♥K♣A♣3♦
Blom: A♦4♦J♠J♣

The Finn had flopped top set and was in great shape to take down the $268,834 pot, which he did when theA♥ fell harmlessly on the turn followed by the5♦ river.

5) Sahamies Hits a Straight to Win $283K Pot

Wednesday, September 7, 2011, proved to be quite the historic day on PokerStars as that was the date of many record-setting pots. One occurred at a five-handed $200/$400 pot-limit Omaha table when Andreas "Skjervøy" Torbergsen ($83,126) opened for $1,000, Ta-Chih "socutiesf" Geeng raised to $3,400 from the small blind, and Sahamies called from the big. With action back on Torbergsen, he four-bet to $21,400, both his opponents made the call, and the flop came down 9♣A♠8♣.

At this point, Geeng checked, Sahamies fired out $40,795, and Torbergsen moved all-in for $68,526. Geeng then moved all-in over the top for $165,669, Sahamies called off for $44,593, and suddenly there was $283,102 on the line.

Showdown
Geeng: Q♥A♣J♣[10c]
Sahamies: 7♦6♦[10s]8♦
Torbergsen: K♣K♥A♦3♥

Everyone had a piece of the flop, with Sahamies holding a massive straight draw, Geeng an open-ended straight flush draw, and Torbergsen a pair of aces. The 5♠ turn gave Sahamies the said straight and the lead, while the 3♦ river kept him there. Just like that, Sahamies took down a pot that, at the time, was the second largest pot ever tracked on PokerStars.

4) Galfond vs. Torbergsen for $287K

The Wednesday, September 7, 2011 game, which already featured two hands on this list, lasted approximately ten hours, and in yet another big hand, Phil "MrSweets28" Galfond ($197,093) squared off against Andreas "Skjervøy" Torbergsen ($143,580) in heads-up action. Galfond was on the button and put in a raise to $1,200, which Torbergsen reraised to $3,600. Galfond made the call and watched the flop come down 6♣Q♠5♥. Torbergsen led out for $3,200, Galfond raised to $12,600, Torbergsen three-bet to $35,200, and Galfond four-bet to $125,398. Torbergsen made the call and then bet his last $14,582 when the K♦ appeared on the turn. Galfond called and the cards were turned up:

Showdown
Galfond: 7♥2♥6♦6♥
Torbergsen: 8♣7♠4♣9♠

Galfond was ahead with a flopped set of sixes, but he needed to sweat his opponent's massive wrap. That's exactly what he did as the 2♠ blanked on the river and Galfond took down the $287,160 pot, which contributed to his $370,000 win in the game.

3) Once Again, Sahamies' Aces Hold Against the Kings of Geeng

On September 9, 2011, a four-handed $100/$200 PLO game sprung up that saw Ta-Chih "socutiesf" Geeng ($153,481) open for $600 under the gun and Ilari "Ilari FIN" Sahamies ($360,965) raise to $2,160 from the small blind. The big blind got out of the way and Geeng responded with a four-bet to $6,840, Sahamies five-bet to $20,880, and Geeng six-bet it to $63,000. Not surprisingly, Sahamies raised yet again and Geeng called off, creating a monster $307,237 pot.

Showdown
Sahamies: A♦A♣J♦8♣
Geeng: K♦K♥A♥[10s]

Anytime a player picks up kings and runs into aces, it's going to be a big pot. This hand was no different. Unfortunately for Geeng, the board ran out 2♣[10c]9♠4♥J♣ and he was unable to improve.

2) D'Auteuil Gets Maximum Value with the Nuts

Mondays tend to be slow days, but not on October 24, 2011. It was on that date that a six-handed $200/$400 no-limit hold'em game took place that saw the second largest pot in PokerStars' history occur (the only NLHE hand on this list we might add). It began when Phil "takechip" D'Auteuil ($256,623) raised to $1,000 from the button holding A♦K♥ and was called by "LiangYu" ($173,260) in the small blind.

When the flop fell 6♦[10h]J♣, LiangYu checked, D'Auteuil bet 1,400, and LiangYu check-raised to $4,400. D'Auteuil made the call and then watched the Q♠ spike on the turn to give him the nuts. Much to his delight, LiangYu lead out for $4,000, which D'Auteuil raised to $23,400. LiangYu made the call and then lead out for $60K on the 5♣ river. D'Auteuil, who still held the mortal nuts, moved all-in for over $227K and LiangYu called off for his remaining $84,460. D'Auteuil rolled over the nuts to claim the $346,915 pot while LiangYu's hand remained a mystery.

1) Sahamies Wins the Biggest Pot in PokerStars History

Given Wednesday, September 7, 2011 was the single most action-packed day in PokerStars history, it is only fitting that Ilari "Ilari FIN" Sahamies won the largest pot ever played on PokerStars on that day, one worth $421,826. The hand occurred at a six-handed $200/$400 pot-limit Omaha table and began when Sahamies ($247,909) raised to $1,400 from the cutoff. Andreas "Skjervøy" Torbergsen ($30,208) called from the button, "bernard-bb" ($195,609) came along from the small blind, making it three handed to the K♠2♥3♠ flop (the other players at the table were Ta-Chih "socutiesf" Geeng, Phil "MrSweets28" Galfond, and Rafi "refaelamit" Amit). Bernard-bb was first to act and checked, opening the door for Sahamies to bet $4,595

Torbergsen responded with a raise to $18,380, both his opponents made the call, and action checked to Torbergsen on the 9♥ turn. He promptly moved all-in for $10,428, bernard-bb check-raised to $91,019 and Sahamies called. When the 3♥ peeled off on the river, Bernard-bb bet $84,810 and Sahamies called. The former rolled over A♦2♦A♠7♠ for aces and threes, but it was no good against the Finn's A♥K♥6♥4♣ flush. Torbergsen sent his cards to the muck without a showdown, and Sahamies raked in the $421,826 pot, the largest in PokerStars' history.

Not only was the hand important as the largest ever played on PokerStars, it served as a symbol that PokerStars had successfully cultivated a high-stakes cash game reputation to compliment its status as online poker's premiere tournament authority. It was a lofty goal set back in late 2010, and one that was accomplished less than a year later. With that said, the cash games continue to grow, so we'd be surprised if this list wasn't obsolete come the 11th Anniversary.

Chad Holloway
@PokerStars in News