Tom Dwan

Watch: Poker Pro Tom Dwan Loses Soul-Crushing $2.5-Million Pot

Over the years iconic poker pro Tom “durrrr” Dwan has raked in some of the biggest pots ever recorded but this week he found himself on the wrong side of an eye-popping $2.5-million monster.

The hand was actually recorded during a cash game session of the famous high-stakes Triton Series, this time at Jeju in South Korea last month, but this is the first time it’s been shown to the public.

In the hand, Dwan got into a raising war with prominent Malaysian businessman/poker player Paul Phua.

By the time the dust cleared, Dwan had ace-queen against Phua’s pocket aces with $2.5 million US (or $2.6 billion in South Korean won). It was the biggest single pot that’s ever been televised.

Dwan has been on the right side of some of the biggest hands in the history of televised poker but this one is going to sting for a while.

The Set-Up

This particular session of high-stakes cash game poker took place at Landing Casino in Jeju, South Korea, with blinds of 3,000,000/6,000,000 in South Korean won (with a $1.1-billion buy-in). It’s worth noting that the game takes place using South Korean currency so the numbers are astronomically high. All the following figures are in won.

The table included high rollers Paul Phua, Mikita Badziakouski, Patrik Antonius, Dominik Nitsche, Jason Koon, Sam Greenwood and Tom Dwan. Dwan was the big blind and Phua was on his direct left.

Dwan had been trending up when Phua decided to put on a straddle to $12 million. For those unfamiliar with a straddle, it’s a bet that’s worth twice the big blind that’s made without a player looking at their cards. It’s similar to an ante and it’s usually made in an effort to pump up the action of a hand.

German poker pro Dominik Nitsche opened the hand for $30 million from the cut-off with Kh-Qc. Dwan, who was sitting on $1.2 billion to start the hand, opted to three-bet to $120 million from the big blind with As-Qh.

Phua looked down to find pocket rockets (Ah-Ac) and decided to four-bet to $320 million.

Nitsche folded and that sent Dwan deep into the tank as he pondered his decision. Roughly four minutes later, he announced he was all-in for $1.2 billion.

Phua snap called and Dwan let out an expletive, knowing he was crushed. In fact Phua was a 92 percent favorite to win the hand.

The board ran out Kc-7h-4d-3h-Qd and Phua scooped the entire $2.6-billion ($2.35 million US) pot.

A dejected Dwan headed for the exit.


Dwan gets stuck in a really unfortunate spot in a blind vs blind situation.

You could probably make the argument that Dwan leveled himself by overthinking his loose image at the table and whether Phua would try to take advantage of him.

Either way it can’t feel good to lose a $2.3-million US pot with ace-queen.

The hand is further complicated by the rumors that Dwan swaps action with some Malaysian businessmen such as Phua. There’s no knowing exactly how much of his own money Dwan lost in the hand.

The Rise of High Rollers

After several years of declines, the size of televised pots has been rapidly ascending thanks in large part to the Triton high roller series and the Malaysian businessmen.

Just last spring, high-stakes pro Jason Koon won the biggest pot ever at the time against Elton Tsang during a Triton event. The pot was worth just over $2 million US but that record didn’t even last six months.

At the rate the Triton games are going, it wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see another record pot before the end of the year. You can watch all the highlight-reel hands on the Triton YouTube channel.

Prior to the rise of Triton, the biggest televised games tended to take place on the GSN TV show High Stakes Poker where Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius and even Dwan gained notoriety.

The biggest straight-up High Stakes Poker hand remains the $919,600 stunner that Tom Dwan won off Barry Greenstein where he turned trip queens vs pocket aces.

Of course all the aforementioned games are just the ones that are televised. There are private cash games where the stakes are rumored to be even higher.  High-stakes pro Dan Cates alleged that he once saw Dwan lose a $20-million pot in a set-over-set situation.