Aces prevail: My woeful tale from the free poker table

April 10, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
April 10, 2014

I played free poker Tuesday night and had a decent run in the first tournament. Dealt ace-king, I went all-in with 5,100 chips. I got one caller, who had a low pair — fives, I believe. The flop included both an ace and a king, and I came away from the hand with more than 10,000 notional units of value.

Later, with the blinds at 500 and 1,000, I bet 3,000 chips on a hand that I forget. Two people went all-in on me; each had 5,500 chips. I called readily, since I had more in reserve. My hand won out, and the chip-up break came shortly afterward. I had 22,000 chips to my name. I wound up finishing ninth or 10th in the game.

But the truly intriguing hand came early in the second tournament.

As the first player to act, I was dealt king-six, both spades. I bet 600.

“Is that too big?” I asked the other players. In the previous hand, I’d had a pair, and I’d bet 2,400; no one called, with an opponent complaining that my bet was too large.

Player after player folded, and I asked how this bet could be too big, given that it was a fourth the size of my previous one.

I got one caller: Andrew, sitting immediately to my right in the big blind.

Out came the flop. The middle card was, I believe, a jack. The first and third cards were, I know for sure, sixes.

Andrew checked. I peeked at my cards. I bet 600.

He put 1,200 into the pot.

I answered by raising to 2,400.

“All in,” Andrew said.

I had a set of sixes — three of a kind. I didn’t think Andrew had a better hand than me. I called.

He showed his hand: pocket aces. I grinned and showed my hand.

There was one card that could beat me. “No ace,” I said. “No ace…”

The turn was an ace. I didn’t believe it. I screamed.

Now Andrew had a full house, aces over sixes. I had one and only one shot: If the river was a six, I would have quadruple sixes, and I’d win. I didn’t for a second believe that it would happen.

It didn’t. I started fiddling with the chips, but it became clear that Andrew had me covered. “Good hand,” I muttered, and stood up.

I sat down a short distance away to pay my bill. I spent some idle time playing with my phone, digesting the sequence of events. After a few minutes, I looked up and turned to Andrew.

“You know,” I said, “I don’t normally think of a pair of aces as a suckout, but you kind of sucked out.”

Andrew nodded.

Another player said: “First you sucked out, then he sucked out.”

It was true. King-six is obviously inferior to dual aces. (Every hand is inferior to dual aces before the flop.) So when the flop came and improved my hand, I’d sucked out on Andrew. Then the tables had turned with the emergence of the third ace.

“My suckout got sucked out,” I concurred.

And that, readers, was that.


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