On Sunday, the final challengers of Season 2 of the PokerStars “Million Dollar Challenge” took to the stage to battle for $100,000 and a crack at $1 million. Ray Reid, a 29 year old son of a pastor looking to turn his life around, was the first contestant of the one-hour episode.
Reid squared off against celebrity defender Gary Payton, a former pro basketball player, in the first round. The match was the shortest in the history of the “Million Dollar Challenge” and lasted just one hand. In it, Reid bet 4,000 on a board of K-9-7-4 with J-9 for a pair of nines and Payton moved all-in over-the-top with A-10 for two overcards. Reid used his lone timeout of the match to consult with show front man Daniel Negreanu, who told him it was “close,” but given the pot size, he should call.
Reid trusted his coach’s advice and made the call to see he was well ahead. He ducked an ace or ten on the river and took home a $5,000 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure trip.
Next up for Reid was PokerStars pro Barry Greenstein. This time, $25,000 in cash was on the line and Negreanu was seated in an isolation booth, where he could see Reid’s hole cards and communicate with him via an earpiece. In turn, Greenstein could invoke the Dome of Silence twice during the match, severing all communication between Reid and Negreanu.
Only a handful of pots were shown and, in the final one, Reid checked with Q-10 on a flop of 8-9-4 for a gutshot straight draw. Greenstein fired out a bet of 4,000 with 9-7 for top pair and Reid min-raised to 8,000. Greenstein quickly used a “Dome of Silence” and pushed all-in. Reid, whom Negreanu had told to ship it all-in earlier in the hand, made the call and gleefully watched as a jack on the turn filled his straight. Reid banked $25,000 and had Greenstein drawing dead.
“Million Dollar Challenge” host Chris Rose asked Reid if he wanted to take his $25,000 and run or risk it to play Negreanu heads-up for $100,000. His friends and family encouraged him to go forth and Reid consented, setting up an epic showdown. In the largest pot of the match, Reid raised to 2,800 before the flop with 9-7 of spades and Negreanu called behind with A-10. The action flop came A-10-K, all spades, giving Reid a flush and Negreanu two pair. Both players checked to another ace on the turn.
The second bullet gave Negreanu the re-suck with a full house and he checked, disguising the strength of his hand. Reid bet 3,000 with his flush and Negreanu check-raised to 6,000. Reid moved all-in and Negreanu called for his tournament life, sending Reid’s chip stack plummeting to just three big blinds. He was eliminated several hands later, but still received a trip to the Bahamas.
Also appearing on Sunday’s show was Nicole Rowe, a breast cancer survivor who fell in the opening round to former NFL quarterback John Elway. An overly aggressive Rowe shoved all-in with Q-8 on a flop of A-A-4 and was virtually drawing dead when Elway called with A-5. Elway and Negreanu both wore pink ribbons in honor of breast cancer awareness throughout the match.
On December 12th, the finale of the second season of “Million Dollar Challenge” will air. The four top finishers during the cycle will face off in the Challenge of Champions, whose winner will battle Negreanu heads-up for $1 million. The series airs following NFL coverage on FOX.