But I was ahead at first! All-in on a pair of 10s

April 19, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
April 19, 2014

Free tournament; no cash at stake. Final table. Five people. I am, I believe, the first to act on this hand. My hole cards are a pair of 10s. I go all in: Eight gray chips, with a notional value of 5,000 units each and an effective value of zero.

Dwayne is sitting to my left. He glances at his cards and calls. Everyone else folds, including the blinds.

We flip our cards. Dwayne has the seven and eight of clubs. One of my 10s is a club, too.

The flop comes out: jack, queen, king. Only one of them is a club. I’m sitting pretty, and Dwayne says something to that effect.

The turn is a heart, either a seven or an eight.

That isn’t very helpful. But I’m still ahead — my pair is bigger than his — and Dwayne’s possibility of getting a flush has now vanished.

In fact, there are now just three cards that can beat me: The remaining sevens and eights would give Dwayne either three of a kind or two pairs.

Anything else gives me the win. Another ten gives me a set (that is, three of a kind). A nine gives me a king-high straight. An ace gives me Broadway, the highest straight: 10-jack-queen-king-ace. A face card gives both of us two pairs, but my second pair (10s) would be higher than Dwayne’s second pair (sevens).

A card lower than seven would be harmless, leaving the situation unchanged: One pair apiece, with mine still higher than Dwayne’s.

So what comes on the river?

It’s a heart. And it’s one of the cards that can beat me.

Dwayne winds up with two pairs.

“I’m sorry man,” he says.

I try to shrug it off. It’s poker, I say. It happens. Don’t worry about it.

Then I try to be funny about it. I jokingly raise my voice and call for a paper bag in which to hyperventilate.

I look up. Donna, the woman sitting to my right, has stood up from her chair to make room for me to leave the table. I rise and begin to make my way home.

That’s poker, man. That’s poker.


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