My oldest child is almost six years old, and the anticipation of Christmas morning is growing to a fever pitch in our house. For kids, the best part of the holidays is receiving gifts. For most adults, the saying "'Tis better to give than receive" holds true. I'm looking forward to seeing the joy on my kids' faces more than I'm looking forward to receiving gifts myself.
That maxim, however, does not apply at the poker table. There's nothing worse than giving away your chips on an ill-advised call.
There have been some truly jaw-dropping calls on televised poker shows over the past decade. Here are the top-10 calls that truly demonstrate the spirit of giving.
10. Hellmuth's two pair vs. a Loose Cannon's nuts
Phil Hellmuth didn't have a great record on The PokerStars Big Game. But he always provided plenty of entertainment, and this hand is no exception.
Don't get me wrong, I always rooted for the "Loose Cannon" on this show. But the amateur in this case, David Fishman, basically screams to Hellmuth, "I have the nuts!" once he hits the Broadway straight on the river. His attempt to cover up the strength of his hand is so obvious that Hellmuth actually calls his hand exactly. And then he calls anyway. But, as Bill Perkins reminds Hellmuth after the hand, he still has "trunks full of money."
9. Dwan calls almost $100K with no pair
Facing a raise of nearly six figures and getting less than 2:1 on his money, Tom Dwan decides to call Patrik Antonius holding just ace-king with no pair on the flop in this Poker After Dark cash game. The crazy thing is Dwan was probably in the best shape he could hope to be in, holding two over cards to Antonius's top pair. He could have easily found himself drawing even slimmer had Antonius held an ace or a king in his hand as well.
8. Ralph Perry is generous to Tony G
This clip remains one of my all-time favorites. Tony G somehow gets Ralph Perry to call off all his chips with king high, and the antics ensue. The only thing Perry couldn't give Tony G in the hand was his bike, because he needed it to get home from the Intercontinental Poker Championship.
7. Laborda puts Giannetti in the November Nine
Okay, Matt Giannetti didn't get to the November Nine just because of the chips he took from Hilton Laborda. But they certainly helped.
On two separate occasions, Laborda saw his flush shrivel up against Giannetti's full house, and while Laborda found himself leaving the tournament in 36th place, Giannetti saw his stack move from roughly 6 million to the tournament chip leader with 16 million. Giannetti rode the momentum all the way to the WSOP Main Event final table, eventually finishing fourth for more than $3 million.
6. Brunson doesn't believe Tony G
Part of the genius of Tony G's playing style is that players don't believe him when he does have it. On this episode of The PokerStars Big Game, Tony get's Doyle Brunson to put nearly $70,000 into this pot drawing dead, even after Tony correctly guesses that Brunson is holding pocket 10s.
5. Hellmuth gift wraps $60K with two pair
On another episode of The PokerStars Big Game, Hellmuth once again found himself in a terrible position. After snap calling a $25,000 bet by Dani Stern on the turn, Hellmuth failed to improve his two pair on the river and found himself looking at a board with four cards to a straight and three hearts. Somehow he finds a reason to call Stern's $35,000 bet on the river, and let's just say Hellmuth's attitude after seeing Stern's straight is less charitable than his donation to Stern's poker bankroll.
4. Matusow calls Negreanu's hand, then calls
Mike Matusow knows that Daniel Negreanu's favorite hand is 10-7. And he references the fact that Negreanu could be holding the only hand that crushes Matusow's 9-7 on a 9-8-6 board, as he and David Grey were inappropriately discussing the hand while it was still going on. But he still found a way to call another $11,400 on this hand on Poker After Dark with just three outs to a chop.
3. Dwan calls with nine high
Yes, you read that right. Somehow, on this episode of High Stakes Poker, Tom Dwan convinced himself that he had the best hand with nine high and gift-wrapped $28,200 for Negreanu.
2. Meltzer drops more than $250K to Dwan
It can be pretty hard to lay down a monster hand, especially when you're an amateur player and you think a pro is trying to steal a pot from you. But pocket kings shrink up awfully fast when there's an ace and a pair on the board. Alan Meltzer was unable to lay this hand down and ended up handing over $146,800 to Dwan.
1. Steve Dannenmann vs. Joe Hachem
It's difficult to say if there's ever been a more charitable call than Steve Dannenmann's call of Joe Hachem in the final hand of the 2005 WSOP Main Event. Dannenmann called with a pair and an open-ended straight draw, but was drawing dead to a chop after Hachem flopped a straight. He needed one of just three sevens remaining in the deck and found himself watching the ensuing celebration. But I will say one thing for Dannenmann – he's the only one on this list who actually looked happy while making his gift.
Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.