Season 12 of the legendary show High Stakes Poker has already seen Nick Schulman settle well into his seat as co-commentator alongside AJ Benza on PokerGO. With $435,000 on the line, Maverick Casinos owner Persson attempted an audacious bluff against the legendary JRB, whose high-stakes chops have been proven time and time again over the years.

Before the Hand

Eric Persson isn’t always the dominating player in an episode of High Stakes Poker, but the Maverick Casinos owner lives up to the title of his gambling brand. He is a true maverick and can come up with any play at any time. Persson also has a recent track record of controversy. Just a couple of years ago, he beat Phil Hellmuth in the World Series of Poker’s Heads-Up Championship.

During the game, Persson won a big hand and flipped not only the bird (the middle finger) but two of them in The Poker Brat’s direction. Need to remind yourself of that magic moment in what Hellmuth rightly called an “obnoxious” match? Here it is.


That day, Persson hit the deck like a seasick ship’s mate after the floors have been polished with butter. On the latest episode of High Stakes Poker, that wasn’t the case, as JRB had the better hand. It would take the bluff of the episode to win the pot.

The Action of the Hand

“Now I just gotta get rid of you.” – Eric Persson

A lot of the action in the hand took place in just under two minutes from pre-flop to river. Choi straddled for $800 with ten-six offsuit, Jen Tilly re-straddled for $1,600 with pocket threes, but that was only the start of the pre-flop action. Robl pumped it to $5,000 with king-queen offsuit before Jean-Robert Bellande looked down at ace-king. He flat called the $5,000, and Eric Persson followed suit, showing Stanley Tang – who had folded – his hand of ace-nine of hearts.

Tilly and Robl called too, but after the flop of A-6-5 with one diamond, it was a heads-up pot. Bellande led for $12,000 and Persson alone called.

“We got rid of them,” said Bellande.

“Now I just gotta get rid of you.” Quipped Persson in reply.

On the ten of diamonds turn, Persson checked as it fell, then called Bellande’s bet of $30,000. Checking in the dark, Persson saw Bellande bet $65,000 on the river of an eight of diamonds. With three diamonds on the board, either man could have hit a flush. Neither man had.

“A very nice value bet there,” said PokerGO commentator Nick Schulman. “Persson only beats a bluff here.”

Persson however, wasn’t for folding.

“I raise… two hundred more.”

Raising to $265,000, Persson put JRB into the tank. Wanting a fold, Persson was silent. With a huge decision, JRB took a swig of red wine and placed his hands on the back on his capped head.

The Agony of Choice

“I’m thinking about letting it go. Look at all those chips!” – Jean-Robert Bellande

With a huge decision to make, JRB was deep in the tank. In fact, he was so far into the tank, he might have called for more oxygen as he plumbed the depths, deciding whether to sink $200,000 or swim on as he was in order to survive.

“Even if you’re bluffing, it doesn’t matter. Both are excellent plays, Eric. I like the check-raise if you’re bluffing, I like it if you’re not. I’m probably gonna fold but I’m not 100% – I’m a little uncomfortable with how you’re shaking over there. I think I’m gonna fold.”

If JRB could see Eric Persson shaking, no-one else could. The cash game regular knotted his fingers together in front of his face.

“I’m not rich enough to call you,” moaned JRB. “You played that rich man card, really? You looked like you weren’t sure you wanted to call, then you looked like your ace-queen wasn’t good enough here so you better raise. Maybe I have to call you. Maybe…”

Whilst not calling the exact cards, JRB was spot on in his read. Persson hadn’t made two-pair and only had a weaker ace. But the difference between figuring out the right thing to do and pulling the trigger – the ‘execution gap’ – was a chasm that required a huge leap of faith from the WSOP bracelet winner.

“I haven’t folded yet, but I have a very, very nice ace. I’m thinking about letting it go. Look at all those chips, oh my goodness. Must be the pot of the day.”

As the others at the table, including six-time WSOP bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu, chuckled at the drama, JRB leaned back in his chair, visualising two alternate paths the next few minutes could take.

“I have a video of me calling you and you saying ‘good call’, picking up your bag and storming out of here. I like that video. [I have ] another video of me saying ‘good hand, well played’ and going home the loser again. I hate that video! Most likely what we’re gonna get is he’s not gonna wait for us to see it on TV, he’ll show ace-jack.”

Having almost pinned the exact hand, JRB then announced that he was folding, and asked Persson to muck his hand quickly. Persson didn’t even consider the action for a moment.

The Aftermath

Persson turned over his ace-nine, and in the same motion, swung out his meaty hands and extended his short middle fingers in JRB’s direction. Robl was stunned.

“You called his hand too, basically.” He said, the words not one crumb of comfort to JRB as the pot was swept in Eric Persson’s direction. Persson was not about to enjoy the hand quietly.

“Oh it’s quiet JRB! It’s quiet JRB!” he gloated, to much laughter from the other players at the felt.

JRB looked severely steamed by how it had all played out but had enough about him to call the action of the hand.

“You played the rich man’s hand on me.” He nodded. “You played the rich man’s hand.”

Maybe Persson played it just right, maybe JRB got it a tiny bit wrong. But like always on High Stakes Poker, the genius is in casting the right players. Put stacks of money on the table and the right combination of players together, and it’s like lighting wet dynamite and standing well back. You know it’s only a matter of time before what is in front of you will explode.

You can watch the hand in all its glory right here:

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Paul seaton

Paul Seaton, a poker luminary with over a decade of experience, has reported live from iconic poker events, including the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour, and World Poker Tour. He's not just a spectator; he's been the Editor of BLUFF Europe Magazine and Head of Media for partypoker. Paul's poker insights have graced publications like PokerNews, 888poker, and PokerStake, where he's interviewed poker legends such as Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Phil Hellmuth, and The Hendon Mob’s, entire lineup. His exceptional work even earned him a Global Poker Award nomination for Best Written Content. In the poker world, Paul Seaton's expertise is a force to be reckoned with, captivating enthusiasts worldwide.
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