The sixth episode of GGPoker and Poker After Dark’s hybrid show Game of Gold was the most exciting episode to watch so far. With the blend of poker action and reality TV thrilling fans worldwide, viewers were captivated by the conflict away from the felt as much as the drama at the table.
Just like the perfect bluff in a game of poker, Game of Gold got the set-up just right. From the introduction of players in Episode 1 to the tension and excitement of Episode 2 and Episode 3, the producers of the newest and biggest poker hit of the year were on point. When Round 1 concluded in Episode 4 the poker world stood still as Team Club, featuring Daniel Negreanu, and Jason Koon, crashed out of the competition. In Episode 5, there was ‘No Turning Back’ as one-on-one clashes began with the excitement at fever pitch levels back in each new team’s green room.
Now deep into Round 2, the Team Heads-Up Battle round, 12 players remain, with everyone battling for just one eventual winner’s prize after 12 episodes, a massive $456,000.
In this and every article in this series, we’ll be discussing the episode of the title as well as any and all episodes leading up to it. We won’t be spoiling any further into the series, so if you’ve only made it this far, don’t worry, you won’t find out anything you don’t want to about the drama to come.
Now… let’s get to the GOLD in this week’s episode.
Team Nikita Shot Down in Flames
“I feel manipulated, actually.”
When we left the action, Olga Iermolcheva faced a call for her tournament life, but she made the fold to live to see another hand. Soon after, however, she moved all-in with and Johan snap-called with . The flop of kept Johan ahead and the turn ended matters, meaning his teammates Kyna England and Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates were through to the final without needing to even contemplate a hand of poker.
The team featuring Nikita Luther, Lukas ‘Robin’ Robinson and Olga Iermolcheva had lost and would need to win their heads-up team match the next day to survive.
That was not where the drama ended, however, as Johan’s return to his team’s green room met with wildly different reactions from his teammates.
“Yay!!!” yelled Kyna England in celebration, leaping up for a hug from the man known online as ‘YoH Viral’. Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates, overlooked for first pick in the heads-up battle, was less congratulatory.
“I feel manipulated, actually,” he said, his expression stony. “There’s a massive difference between playing first today and playing first tomorrow.”
On camera, Jungleman was raging. “I’m the superior player; he should be grateful to have gone first at all. The real trigger is that he just doesn’t ***king get it.”
Back in the room, Johan said they should flip next time. To which Jungle was unrepentant, demanding Johan should shut his mouth, in the most colorful of terms. Even Kyna’s kind words after Johan left the room didn’t diffuse the human timebomb.
“I get it, it’s upsetting not to play, I wanted to play too.”
“That’s not it at all!” he raged at her.
On X, formerly known as Twitter this week, Both Jungle and Johan discussed the spat, with Daniel ‘Kid Poker’ Negreanu wading into the conversation.
Re the the Game of Gold Hu sng round
Indisputably I am the biggest asset in this round. While I think @Yohviral and @Kyna_CooL are good people, I believe it is unethical for them to even claim they should play more than their place, because that translates into some % money (ie…
— Daniel Cates 🇺🇸 🌎 (@junglemandan) November 22, 2023
Fedor Goes First, Carrel Flips the Script
“I could be making a huge mistake.”
The next two teams looked a lot more evenly matched as they approached the second Team Heads-Up stand-off. Fedor Holz, Josh Arieh and Maria Ho have a wealth of experience between them, with Arieh alone being a six-time WSOP bracelet winner. With Maria Ho’s legendary poker career and Fedor’s reputation as one of the best poker players in the world, they looked like a tough team to stop.
Against ‘Team Fedor’ were Team Charlie. Headed up by British player Charlie Carrel, they also featured Andy ‘stacks’ Tsai and David Williams. Fedor and Charlie were put forward by their teams but by very different methods. Fedor was elected after a conversation between him and his teammates, while Charlie, Andy and David all flipped for who would go first, Charlie being that player.
“I’m a little irritated that I’m going last,” said Arieh. “I don’t think I’m giving up that much, but I could be making a huge mistake.”
Whoever won a heads-up match in the round would earn another 30 gold coins, with the potential to scoop three wins in a row like Johan, a process that won him personally 90 gold coins. Winning the final between the two winning teams would earn all team members 100 coins each, but in the first Heads-Up Match, that wasn’t the case.
‘Guys in Fedor’s team, I think you got taken advantage of,” teased Charlie as he received the first deal. “Look at YoH Viral, [he] got 90 coins; his teammates got nothing.”
That match ending meant another match had to begin, with Charlie Carrel, Andy ‘Stacks’ Tsai and David Williams taking on Fedor Holz, Maria Ho and Josh Arieh.
After a long time, the stacks were virtually even, with Maria Ho commenting “It’s a battle.”
“Charlie’s good.” Agreed Josh Arieh in the seat next to her as both of Fedor’s teammates rooted on the German poker crusher.
When Holz dropped to 1.7m at a big blind of 120,000, he shoved with and was called by Charlie with 2.3m holding 9c]. The flop of immediately gave Charlie top pair.
“The ten of spades.” Called Arieh.
The turn was the .
“OK, now the ten of spades.”
But it wasn’t to come. The river of a sent Fedor to the rail and gave Charlie the win… and 30 coins.
Hero Fold Prompts Epic Comeback
“I feel good about this one for me.”
The next competitor from Team Fedor was Maria Ho, who took on Charlie Carrel to see if she could even up the teams to only having two players each. In the very first hand, there was a seismic all-in and a time bank that cost one player almost their tournament life. It was possibly the best hand of Game of Gold so far as a board of prompted a river shove from Charlie with . Maria had a massive decision to make with and used two gold coins to give herself another 30 seconds… to eventually fold.
“I forgot that you have to put two more coins in to [extend] the time bank.” She admitted after the hand which saw her cards folded automatically for her as she preserved a stack of 1.4 million. Charlie said he’d forgotten too.
In Team Fedor’s green room, he and Josh were beside themselves with happiness.
“It’s almost worth going out there to let her know how happy we are with her!” said Josh.
As the battle raged on, Maria was put to tough decision after tough decision.
“Poor Maria!” said Josh.
“She’s already done 1.4 million times better than us!” said Fedor, referencing the previous stack Maria had saved. Losing 480,000 chips to a river bet on a board where Charlie hit runner-runner trip queens, Maria looked low, but doubled back into contention when her outran Charlie’s .
“I feel good about this one for me.” Said Maria.
The flop of gave her no help.
“Is it coming on the turn or river?” Asked Charlie with a smile.
“That I don’t have a feeling.” Maria smiled.
The turn of wasn’t the one but the river exactly was, as Maria got herself right back into the match.
“That was easy.” Quipped Josh Arieh.
Doubling up again with ace-king, Maria took the lead and she won a huge hand after that where she turned a gutshot straight, taking a chunky one against Charlie’s flopped top pair of queens with a king kicker.
Moving into the lead, Maria was all-in with against Charlie’s and eliminated her younger opponent after the board of , completing a remarkable comeback for Maria, who has won over $4.5 million in live tournaments alone in her career.
Josh and Fedor danced with joy as Andy and David bemoaned the luck in their green room.
“She’s such a lovely person to play with,” said Charlie after his elimination. I think strategically and psychologically, we have the edge.”
As Maria began her next match against Andy Stacks, an intriguing early board landed with 380,000 in the pot. Maria’s was winning and if she took the hand it would put her up to 2.6 million. Could Andy find a bet with just though?
“He’s gonna give up.” David said.
“He’s got to give this up – it’s Maria.” Charlie agreed.
“I think he’s done.” Arieh said.
“I think he’s not done.” Fedor said but for once the German was wrong.
A check back and Maria had the pot.
“Oh, Andy.” Said Charlie.
“Spicy… I like it!” said Fedor, grinning with glee.
Who will be smiling when this match is over? We’ll find out in the next episode of Game of Gold.
Watch Episode 6 of the show everyone in poker is talking about right here: