High-stakes online poker player Phil Galfond (who plays online as OMGClayAiken) wrote about his experience playing High Stakes Poker on 2+2. Some excerpts:
So I got on this next season of HSP thanks to a friend of mine putting in a good word for me.
I was 2nd alternate on day 2 and starting on day 3.
Day 2 was a 100k min buyin and day 3 was 500k min. I brought 720k with me, planning on playing with 220k max on day two if I got a seat (which the producer made to sound unlikely) and saving the last 500k for the next day, or whatever I had leftover from day 2.
I showed up for day 2 around 2pm, just after taping started. Mori, the producer, was extremely nice. He let all of my friends come on set (there were not many people on set). He made me feel very comfortable there, as did all of the other producers and everyone working on the show.
It was cool on set. Free food. Random pros walking around. I did some on camera hand analysis for a GSN.com feature, which I wasn't prepared for, but I think I did okay. I was watching the game for hours. Extremely loose action. People were calling down when someones entire range is ahead of their hand. I almost had a boner about it.
I got into the game with 2 hours left of taping on day two. I don’t know if I can say exactly who was playing, but I’ll say that the table was very loose and aggressive (in a good way for me) and very talkative. It was the best game I’d played in all year. I was glad I got in, but bummed that I only had two hours. Not to mention that it was live and on a TV set, so I was probably dealt 40 hands the whole time. The players were very friendly for the most part. Jamie Gold was actually a really nice guy (I say actually because I didn’t expect him to be) and improved a lot since last season. Negreanu also played much much better than he had in previous years, and is a great guy from what I can tell. I’m gonna stop listing off players in case I’m not supposed to.
I had 100k on the table and 100k in my pocket and was saving the rest for day 3. 90% of hands were straddled and a few were double straddled. That left me with ~40-80bbs effective. With that, and no one folding preflop, the game got really boring for me. I basically had to play 10% of my hands if I wanted to max my EV. Phil Hellmuth called me a nit, which is probably the most embarrassing thing that I can remember happening to me in my lifetime.
Overall though, it was a boring day for me. Lots of anticipation and only got the chance to play for 2 hours with a small roll since I was saving 500k for the big day.
Just before going to bed that night, I was informed that 3 of the TV Pros from day 2 decided last minute that they wanted to play on day 3, and that I wasn’t good TV because I was so tight and didn’t talk enough to the players who don’t know me. So, I lost my spot on the table. To say the least, I was very mad. Had I not been saving $500k for day 3, I would’ve been able to play a much more open game. I guess nobody there had any idea of my reputation and playing style, because I have never been accused of being a nit before that day. Usually I get ‘station’ ‘monkey’ or ‘FPS-machine’. I also had less than 50 hands to show what I had. Hellmuth spent over 15 minutes negotiating and discussing insurance deals when he was all-in.
Not to mention the fact that I had to fly halfway across the country and move $720k twice (not easy for me, and probably will get me audited) to play for 2 hours and get bumped from my guaranteed spot by people who have been on the show many times, live in Vegas, and aren’t affected at all by being on the show one more day.
Another frustrating aspect of it is that I didn’t get a chance to prove myself. America still thinks that my whole Day 2 table (besides me) is full of the best poker players in the world, when I would’ve salivated over playing any of them HU. (Maybe wouldn’t have salivated over one or two but would surely be a favorite) I know that I need to get over this part. It shouldn’t bother me what the public thinks, and I’m working on not caring as much.
After getting angry for a while, I looked for somewhere/someone to place my anger. That’s when I realized that there was really no one to be angry at. I was lied to, in a sense, which is my number one pet peave by far. But the players we almost all extremely friendly, and I’m positive the ones who wanted to play the next day didn’t consider the effects on me. Mori gave me a shot at being on one of the most watched poker shows on TV. He was nothing but nice and accommodating. While I’m sure he had a lot of say as to whether I got to keep my day 3 spot, I don’t blame him much for his decision. He doesn’t want to upset some of his biggest name players, and I didn’t show him anything on day 2 that he could show to execs to defend his decision to keep me on the show. As far as he knows, I am a complete nit and maybe not even good at poker.
I think it’s really unfortunate that America would rather watch bad, loud poker than extremely high level thinking from the true best players in the world, but I guess they don’t know any better.
Later in the thread Phil challenged any "live TV pro" other than Phil Ivey or Patrik Antonius to a heads-up match.