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Watch: Sammy Farha Runs it Twice in Classic High Stakes Poker $129k-Hand

For years the average poker player was in the dark as to what went on in the biggest poker cash games in the world but GSN’s High Stakes Poker opened everyone’s eyes in dramatic fashion.

The TV show featured some of the best cash game players in the world going to battle with each other and playing with their own money.

Cash game poker is strikingly different than tournament poker and there are a number of concepts that you just don’t see at the World Series of Poker.

One such cash game specialty is “running it twice.”

That’s why it was a big deal when, in one of the first episodes of the first season of High Stakes Poker, Sammy Farha played a huge hand against Todd Brunson and told the dealer to “hit it twice” with $129,000 on the line.

For most poker players (who grew up watching tournament poker), it was a “We’re not in Kansas anymore” moment and a sign of what was to come on the groundbreaking poker TV show.

(The hand in question begins at the 6:15 mark of the video above)

The Setup

The hand in question took place in the first 10 minutes of the fourth episode of season 1 of High Stakes Poker.

As a reminder, all episodes of High Stakes Poker have been uploaded to YouTube and are absolutely worth checking out if you have any interest in poker at all.

The game is once again No-Limit Hold’em with blinds of $300/$600 and a $100 ante. There’s approximately $2 million in real cash on the table spread between poker pros Barry Greenstein, Jennifer Harman, Shawn Sheikhan, Todd Brunson and Daniel Negreanu (who took a vicious beat in a previous episode) in addition to former LA Lakers owner Jerry Buss.

It’s the same game that’s been running since episode 1 of the show but an infusion of new players, in particular Sammy Farha, has injected new life into the game.

Farha, a high-stakes pro who famously finished runner-up to Chris Moneymaker in the 2003 WSOP Main Event, has been giving the table fits by playing practically any two cards. Farha is the definition of a “feel” player and built a career off reading people and/or confusing them with speech play.

The Action

Shawn Sheikhan opens for $2,300 from early position and Daniel Negreanu (who’s flying high with $1 million in front of him) bumps it up to $5,500 from middle position. Todd Brunson makes the call from the cutoff and Sammy Farha decides to defend from the button and come along for the ride.

The flop comes Qs-9d-6d and suddenly players seem to quiet down and get serious about the hand.

Farha checks, as does Sheikhan, but Negreanu fires $9,000 into the pot. Brunson makes the call but Farha announces a raise. It turns out that Farha isn’t messing around and shoves all-in for a total of $53,000. That immediately chases Negreanu and Sheikhan from the hand but Brunson thinks deeply about his course of action.

Brunson seems pained by his decision but Farha appears very comfortable and keeps talking the entire time. Farha says that he’s happy if Brunson calls or folds. He even offers to get Brunson a drink at one point.

Finally it appears that Brunson is concerned about the potential for Farha to be bluffing a draw and decides to make the call. It turns out the players are holding:

Farha: 9s-6c (Two pair)
Brunson: Qc-10c (Top pair)

Farha is a massive 70 percent favorite to beat Brunson by the river.

“You want to do it twice?” asks Brunson.

“Yeah, why not, you’re my friend,” responds Farha.

The players agree to run it twice, which means the dealer will put out the turn and the river twice. The chance of a chopped pot goes way up. Brunson is hoping he’ll be able to hit on at least one of the boards and avoid losing everything.

This is how it all shakes out:

Board 1: 3d Turn, Qd River
Board 2: 5h Turn, 4h River

Brunson wins the first board with his rivered trips thanks to the queens while Farha’s two pair holds up on the second board.


The hand ends up essentially being a push.

Sammy Farha doesn’t seem that disappointed despite the fact he was a 70 percent favorite with his two pair after all the chips were in the middle.

In fact, Farha has to be somewhat relieved he didn’t choose to run it once because Todd Brunson would have scooped the entire pot thanks to the unlikely queen on the river.

Instead, both players avoid disaster and pull back their stacks. Each player receives about $64,000, which includes some extra cash for both of them mostly thanks to Negreanu (who had pocket jacks).

“I should have kept my mouth shut,” Brunson said after the hand.

The reason professional poker players like to run it twice is that it gives them a chance to avoid losing everything on one unlikely turn of events.

Running it twice effectively lessens the variance in a game that’s known for its volatility. On the other hand, players who have big bankrolls or like to gamble will likely decline to run it twice. It’s very much a personal choice.

So should you institute running it twice in your home game? Probably not.

Unless you’re dealing with life-damaging sums of money, you don’t really have to protect yourself against variance. You’ll probably survive losing $5 when your pocket kings somehow get cracked by ace-king.

On the other hand, it can be a fun way to juice up a hand with multiple boards. Just make sure you and your opponent agree to run it twice before the dealer puts out the rest of the board.

Farha Makes Lasting Impression

If there’s one takeaway from the early episodes of High Stakes Poker, it’s that Sammy Farha is one heck of a character.

The Beirut-born poker pro just oozes charisma as he ends up being one of the most talkative players at the table and one of the most successful.

Unfortunately, Farha eventually decided to stop playing on as many TV poker shows because he felt he was giving away huge elements of his game.

There might be something to that as Farha is the definition of a “feel” player and relies on his reads of opponents. His “any two” mentality is also something that could be exploited by experienced players once they figured out what was going on.

Regardless it’s worth watching the early episodes of HSP just to see Farha at his best.