Poker pro Tom Dwan calls down bluff for $3.1M, largest pot in broadcast history

Tom Dwan thought for nearly four minutes before making a call for a $3.1 million pot. (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
Tom Dwan thought for nearly four minutes before making a call for a $3.1 million pot. (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Tom Dwan knows when to hold 'em.

The poker pro made history Tuesday night, calling down multiple bets from self-proclaimed cryptocurrency millionaire Wesley Fei for a $3.1 million pot, the largest ever seen on TV or a live stream.

The game was no-limit Texas hold 'em cash with a $1 million minimum buy-in. It was streamed on Hustler Casino Live from Los Angeles and featured some of the biggest names in the game including Dwan, Doug Polk and Nikhil Arcot, aka "Nik Airball."

The hand had $500 and $1,000 blinds plus an escalating big-blind ante that was $3,000 at the time. Dwan also put in a voluntary $2,000 third blind called a straddle that's intended to up the stakes of an already nose-bleed stakes game.

This means that there was $6,500 in the pot before any of the eight players at the table saw their hands. Dwan had roughly $1.5 million in front of him before the hand started. Fei had $2.8 million.

These guys were here to play big pots.

Strange start sees Fei expose his hole cards

The hand got off to a weird start before betting even started. Polk told Fei, his neighbor at the table, that he saw his cards. Fei was on the button, meaning he was the last to act pre-flop before the blinds.

A player who goes by LSG Hank raised ahead of Fei to $7,000. Fei looked down at AK offsuit (ace of diamonds, king of spades), one of the strongest pre-flop holdings in poker. Despite Polk having seen his cards, he raised to $30,000. You don't fold AK here.

Polk folded his poor holding, and the action turned to Dwan in the straddle. The RFID card reader didn't identify his hand. But he put in another raise to $100,000. LSG Hank folded, and Fei was faced with a decision. Call, fold or raise. He chose raise to $275,000. Dwan called, and the pair saw a flop with $562,000 in the pot.

Again, this is a cash game, not a tournament. Those figures represent actual dollar amounts.

(Warning: NSFW language in the video below)

The flop came out 3-8-8 (3 of diamonds, 8 of spades, 8 of diamonds). Fei's hand did not improve. He held just ace-high, but that ace of diamonds held the possibility of completing a flush with two diamonds on the board and two more cards to come.

Dwan, whose hand we still didn't know at the time, was first to act. He checked. Fei then asked Dwan how much money he had left. A previously chatty table went silent, acknowledging the gravity of the hand being played. Fei bet $125,000. Dwan thought for several moments, then called. The pot escalated to $812,000.

Fei bluffs all the way

The turn was the 5 of hearts, leaving Fei still with just ace-high and eliminating his long shot at completing a flush. Dwan checked. Fei bet again, this time $350,000. Dwan again took his time to think about the decision before putting in a call. We still didn't know what he was holding.

The river came out 6 of clubs. Fei's hand did not improve. He held ace-high on a board that completed potential straights, full houses and quads. Dwan checked again. Fei declared "All in," meaning that Dwan would have to put in his remaining $786,000 in chips or cede the now-$2.3 million pot to his opponent.

Dwan takes nearly 4 minutes, comes up with the call

Dwan, facing the last action of the hand, got up from the table to grab a bottle of water. Fei put his head down in his arms on the table, not wanting to give off any tells. Dwan talked his thought process out loud, including the fact that Polk had seen Fei's hand. Had Polk's knowledge of Fei's hole cards influenced Fei's aggressive line of action?

As he talked out the hand, Dwan moved his cards on top of the card reader, where we could finally see that he was holding two black queens. It was the best hand, but one that could be beaten by several holdings on a paired board with three cards to a straight.

After nearly four minutes, Dwan grabbed a stack of chips and placed them in the pot for a call. Fei picked up his head to see the bad news. Dwan's pair of queens was the best hand, and the $3.1 million pot belonged to him. Fei lost more than $1.5 million in the hand.

Other players at the table were awestruck and congratulated both players for their bold play. The win put Dwan's profit at the time at $2.1 million. Fei was now the biggest loser in the game with a $1.7 million loss.

Fei explains decision to bluff

Fei explained his decision to bet all-in on the river to Hustler Casino Live.

"He didn’t snap call, so I think I did the right thing," Fei said. "I can’t just bet, bet and give up on the river. That’s not what I do. I have to do three bets, give him the max pressure."

He also wondered if exposing his cards to Polk influenced Dwan's decision to call.

"Maybe if I don’t expose my hand, maybe I can bluff it out and have success," he said.

Fei gets some back with the second-largest hand in broadcast history

The game wasn't over. The record-breaking hand was one of several massive pots in a game that started at 3 p.m. PT Tuesday and didn't end until nearly 4 a.m. Wednesday. And Fei got a big chunk of his money back on what turned out to be the second-largest hand in broadcast poker history.

He took the same betting line this time with five bets pre-flop and a bet on every street including an all-in on the river. This time he turned three of a kind to beat LSG Hank's pair of queens for a $2.25 million pot.

When the night was done, Fei had recovered nearly $1 million of his losses. He finished with a $753,000 loss. Dwan gave some of his winnings back, but finished the night as the big winner with a $1.6 million profit. Airball was the biggest loser of the game with a $997,000 loss. Polk wasn't far behind, finishing down $928,000.