"The price of poker is going up!" as Mike Sexton would say.
Just when you thought that action at the nosebleed tables was already ridiculously high, the stakes have been elevated. Tom "durrrr" Dwan and Ilari "Ziigmund" Sahamies engaged in several $3,000-$9,000 heads-up pot-limit Omaha matches. The two normally played with $500-$1,000 blinds, but they agreed to make it at least $9,000 to see the flop. Ziigmund alluded that he wasn't all that comfortable playing so high, but with the lack of available high stakes opponents, he really had no choice.
"I hope I won't do it anymore," wrote Ziigmund on his blog. "That's sick, sick big game."
The swings have been immense. Durrrr won and lost a couple of million dollar sessions during the first week of escalated blinds. Eventually the two were involved in a pot so big that it set a record for largest pot-limit Omaha pot of all time. It was also the second largest pot ever played online. In case you were wondering, the largest pot on record was set in no-limit hold'em when Di "Urindanger" Dang won the pot in excess of $723,000.
Ziigmund was on the winning end of a $703,000 pot against durrrr. Durrrr made it $27,000 to go pre-flop and Ziigmund called. The flop was Js-10h-2s. Both players checked. The turn was the 7d. Ziigmund bet $54,000. Durrrr raised to $216,000. Ziigmund moved all in and durrrr called. Durrrr held Qs-10d-8s-5d for second-pair and a flush draw along with a gutshot. Ziigmund held Jd-9d-8c-7s. He was ahead with a straight and two-pair. The river was the Jc and Ziigmund won the hand with a full house. Ziigmund dragged the largest pot-limit Omaha pot in online poker history.
Despite losing that pot, durrrr was on a heater through the month of May. He was up $1.6 million at the virtual tables. David Benyamine wiped out a losing month with a nice score at the $200-$400 pot-limit Omaha tables. The Frenchman finished the month up more than $700,000.
Ziigmund is one of the many young pros from Finland who regularly plays in the biggest games on Full Tilt. He posted a $663,000 profit over the last four weeks. Conversely, Gus Hansen has been on a $1.2 million downswing, along with Sami "LarsLuzak" Kelopuro and Phil Ivey, who were both stuck around $800,000 apiece.
Although this is not quite the halfway point of 2009, the upcoming WSOP is sort of the demarcation line for the poker year. Through the first five months of the year, Patrik Antonius leads his peers with over $5.4 million in online earnings. Hac "Trex313" Dang has won close to $2.8 million in 2009, while Ziigmund (up $2.3 million), Aussie pro Mark Vos (up $1.8 million), and Gus Hansen (up $1.5 million) are off to a positive start. On the negative side, the biggest online loser so far in 2009 is LarsLuzak with a $2.3 million deficit. Durrrr is one of two players who are stuck at least $1 million in 2009. The other? Papa ninja.
In no-limit cash games, Luke "__FullFlush1__" Schwartz is big winner in 2009 with over $1 million in earnings. In pot-limit Omaha cash games? Gus Hansen has been crushing the competition with $3.6 million surplus, with Phil Ivey not too far behind with $3.6 million. It appears that durrrr's biggest leak is pot-limit Omaha because he's stuck over $3 million at those tables.
The nosebleed games on Full Tilt will tail off during the WSOP, while the pros focus on winning bracelets and playing live cash games around Las Vegas. The action will resume when the WSOP ends in mid-July. Who knows which pro will have a monster score this summer, move up in stakes, and take a shot at the nosebleed tables? Those sharks would definitely love some fresh meat to feast upon.
Paul 'Dr. Pauly' McGuire is the author of the upcoming book 'Lost Vegas'. You can read his poker blog, Tao of Poker, over at www.taopoker.com.