Archive for March 26th, 2014

Good hands and bad hands: Ruminations on recent poker plays

March 26, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
March 26, 2014

I think the first time I ever played poker was in college; senior year, if I recall properly. I played occasionally with friends and friends of friends since then, but never regularly — until last year.

After making the top 10 of a charity poker tournament in early 2013, I decided to start playing World Tavern Poker. This is a free no-limit Texas Hold ’Em league hosted by hundreds of bars around the country. There’s no money at stake, and there’s no signup fee. (The business model of the league seems to be that people playing poker at bars and restaurants are more likely than not to purchase food and drinks at said establishments, which splits revenue with the organizers.) It’s been an interesting ride.

Recently I’ve had a stretch of playing WPT a few nights in a row. (The prospect of simultaneously playing cards and watching college basketball motivated me to play on Saturday and Sunday.) I wanted to write about some hands that I played on Sunday and Monday.

On Sunday, I won…not a single hand. (There may — may — have been one walk, which is what happens when no player calls the big blind, and she or he recoups that blind plus the small blind, if applicable.) I don’t think I played particularly badly; things just didn’t fall my way.

There was one memorable hand that I didn’t play early in the evening. I believe it was queen-nine off-suit, a combination I won’t normally bet. It stuck in my head because the pot ended up being split between two players holding queen-ten; as it turned out, my queen-nine would have been the winning hand with two pairs.

Bars typically host two holdem tournaments at a time, often starting at 7 and 9:30 p.m. I lasted past the break of the second-tournament. I went all-in with my last black chip as the small blind. One player called the big blind of 2,000 chips, so the main pot was three black chips with a side pot of two black chips: 5,000 in notional currency at stake in all.

I was holding ace-seven. Out came the flop. It included an ace. No one bet. The turn came, and then the river. Still no bets.

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