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Hustler Casino Live, with the help of the World Poker Tour, stole the spotlight from the 2021 World Series of Poker for 48 hours this past weekend by bringing in poker legends Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan to take a seat and battle in their high-stakes broadcast.
The livestream was incredibly compelling. But what made it great was not necessarily the reasons one might think when sitting down to watch a pair of poker legends zero in on a high-stakes cash game. Certainly, the poker was exciting, with players needing a minimum of $100,000 just to lock up a seat, but it was some of the unexpected moments that made these broadcasts into hours of entertainment.
Mikki Mase Is Must See TV
In the early action of Day 1, the hype was around the arrival of Ivey but all the action surrounded “Professional Gambler” Mikki Mase. Mikki, may have needed no introduction for loyal viewers of the program, but with Hustler Casino Live drawing in plenty of new eyeballs (breaking viewership records across the two days), this was many fans’ first interaction with the wildcard.
“We plan on seeing a lot of action out of him, a lot of hands being played. He is not shy to mix it up,” said co-commentator Nick Vertucci.
Vertucci was 100% correct. Mikki was immediately in the mix calling raises, overcalling, and applying pressure. There’s a chance that with players like Ivey, Garrett Adelstein, Matt Berkey, and Gal Yifrach in the lineup that Mikki was actually brought in as a V.I.P. of sorts. However, it didn’t take long for the hunted to become the hunter as Mikki was seemingly putting everyone in the blender.
The hand of the night for Mikki came against Adelstein when both players were sitting with roughly $300,000 in their stack. Adelstein raised to $300 from under the gun with and from the small blind, Mikki put in a three-bet to $4,000 holding the . When the action came back to Adelstein, he four-bet to $15,000 and Mikki literally snap-called. The flop came and Mikki took a few seconds, rechecked his cards, and led out for $15,000.
“I mean, I love Mikki, but in a four-bet pot against an aggressive player, this is a suicide mission,” Vertucci said.
Adelstein made the call. The turn was the and Mikki fired again, this time for $20,000. Adelstein, shot Mikki a glance and made the call, sending the pot to just over $100,000. The dealer put out the on the river leaving Mikki with 5-high. Undeterred, Mikki slid out a final bet of $60,000 which sent Adelstein in the tank.
“So many tough decisions against you, I’ve been wrong every time,” Adelstein said, working through the hand.
As Adelstein winced, Mikki, looking relaxed, grabbed his vape and took a hit.
“He’s going to try and vape his way to a fold…” Vertucci said.
Eventually, Adelstein again made the wrong decision and tossed his cards in the muck. The torture for him continued when Mikki showed the big bluff as the massive pot was shipped his way.
And it wasn’t just this one hand. Mikki proved to be great for the game, ready to enter almost any pot, and not satisfied to lock up a win. On Day 1, viewers tuned in for Ivey but instead, they got the Mikki Mase show.
The Age of Adelstein
No one would dispute that Garrett Adelstein is a cash game beast as he’s widely recognized as one of the very best in the game today. He’s fearless at the table and one of the most fascinating modern-day players to watch on any livestream.
It feels like the importance of Adelstein doesn’t even need to be stated. But when he was featured in the same game as Ivey and Dwan, it showcased just how much Adelstein actually needs to be appreciated.
Over the course of two days that Ivey sat in the game he looked wholeheartedly…bored. He didn’t get very good card distribution, had his phone taken away for RFID security reasons, and just couldn’t get much going. You never know with Ivey, as he’s got one of the best poker faces in the game, but it just looked like the whole thing was a chore for him. An assignment even. And as the minutes turned to hours the notions of having “The Phil Ivey” we really wanted to see in this high-stakes cash game dwindled. It wasn’t his fault exactly, he couldn’t find spots, was unwilling to flippantly make them, and eventually, on both days, he made an early exit.
But while waiting for Ivey to be Ivey, we were entertained by watching Adelstein do what he does. He played big pots fearlessly, made incredible plays, and when he took a big hit, he went into his bankroll and added on for more, unwilling to play with anything less than the biggest stack at the table.
Of course, we want more Ivey. We want him at the WSOP. We want him on TV. We want to see the man behind the mystique. But it may be fair to say that we want what we remember about him and that’s rarely as we see him. It’s a crapshoot.
But Adelstein is right here, right now giving us everything we want to see out of a high-stakes beast. Unlike Ivey where we only get glimpses, Adelstein is featured on a near-weekly basis either on Hustler Casino Live or Live at the Bike. He consistently plays like we’re hoping to see Ivey or Dwan play.
This is the Adelstein Era and if you didn’t know, he’s already achieved GOAT status. One day, we’re going to look back, when, perhaps, like Ivey, he’s taken a step away from being in the spotlight, and we’re going to wish for just a glimpse of Garrett as he is today.
But until then, if you weren’t already, it’s time to enjoy what he brings to the table right now.
Watch Day 1 right here:
Table Talk Made For the Most Interesting Moments
There was a small, innocent, moment at the beginning of Day 1 that took many by surprise. Soon after Ivey sat down, Adelstein leaned into the table and looked at Ivey and said “I’m Garrett, Phil.” and gave a small wave. Phil simply nodded in reply.
“That is quite the moment right here,” said Bart Hanson. “Garrett to Phil Ivey, meeting each other for the first time.”
It was a bit of a shock. Was this really the first time these two heavyweights had met in person? One would only assume that two players with such huge reputations in poker would have crossed paths in the past. Especially, with Adelstein being very open about his affinity for Ivey.
That was just the beginning of many captivating snippets of conversation that kept the game feeling fresh, proving, yet again, that one of the best parts of poker is the social aspect.
Sure, there were some big pots being played but it was equally fascinating to hear Ivey talk about the Paris casino robbery and how the robbers stuck a machine gun in his gut. Mikki Mase getting candid about how he’s been having his tattoos removed and the judgment he goes through on a daily basis. Dwan helping himself to some of Ivey’s chips while complaining about how many times he lost his passport and how he couldn’t go to play in Dubai (where Ivey had recently traveled). There were times that the cross-talk was just as engaging as the thousands of dollars at stake. It made it so if you just fast-forwarded to the big hands, or read a recap, you missed the full flavor of the game.
The two-day Ivey and Dwan cash games are on-demand on YouTube, but the Hustler’s live-stream grind continues with daily shows Monday-Friday at 5 pm Pacific.
Watch Day 2 right here: