Two nights, three hands: More tales of free poker

May 12, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
May 12, 2014

Thursday night. I’m at the final table. This isn’t a particularly impressive feat, as the tournament started with fewer than 20 people. Still, I’m there, and I’m in the running for the top three.

But I felt more comfortable at the other table. There, I was getting cards. Here, at the final table? Eh, not so much.

Then I’m dealt paired face cards. This pleases me. I go all-in.

I get one caller, a player whose name may or may not be Mike. (Let’s call him that.) He’s a tall, well-built gentleman, evidently of Hispanic heritage, with his black hair cut extremely short on the sides. He also, I have come to know, has a propensity for playing pure junk.

Such is the case in this hand. When the pot is right, we flip our cards. I reveal my pocket queens. Mike shows…eight-two? (I can’t recall if they were suited or not.)

Out comes the flop. It has no effect on either of our hands.

Then comes the turn, an eight. Mike gets one pair, but I am still ahead.

Some hands end on the river. This time, the river ends me.

It’s a two, and it gives Mike two pairs. His pairs are small, and each on its own would be vastly inferior to my ladies. But two pairs always trump one, no matter how pretty that one pair might be. Mike wins, cleaning out my stash.

Friday night. The late game. We start with three tables. Early on, I’m dealt queen-jack. The flop includes two jacks. I can’t believe my good fortune, to the point that I check my hole cards to make sure that I didn’t imagine those face cards.

I didn’t imagine them. I’ve flopped a set, and that’ll be hard to beat. I hesitate when the action comes to me, but ultimately I check.

The turn is a king. A player (I don’t know his name either; Mike? Bill?) goes all in. He doesn’t have a ton of chips — somewhere around 7,000, I think. I count the bet   out from my stack and consider what to do.

I think my three jacks are dominating. I don’t believe this guy has me beat. Still, he might have two kings, in which case I’d be sunk. But I’d still have a few thousand chips remaining even if I did lose, and… Well, dang. It’s hard to walk away from three jacks.

I call. My opponent has a king — just one. His two pairs, kings and jacks, lose to my set of jacks, and I clean him out.

Later on in the tournament, a tall, dark-haired 20-something man named Caleb (I think) is sitting to my right. He’s on a hot streak — everything he bets nets him more chips, and he bets nearly everything.

“I can’t lose,” Caleb says time and again, repeatedly flashing garbage hands after everyone has folded to Caleb’s bet of 3,000 notional chips.

I’ve got a decent stack, thanks to the guy I knocked out earlier, but Caleb’s treasury dwarfs mine. Still, I feel that it’s time to make a move.

I do so when I’m dealt the ace and king of clubs. I go all in. There’s just one caller — Caleb, of course. He’s got a face card — a jack, I think — and a six. I shake my head, fearful that I’m about to be dealt a bad beat.

A woman to my immediate left is dealing. The cards come out too fast for my fearful mind to register, and by this point, the music in the bar is so loud that conversation requires more concentration than I’m able to muster. Caleb says something when the dealer shows the turn, but I don’t catch it. Then I see the river, a six, and I convulse. Bad beat! I think, crying aloud inarticulately and convulsing in despair.

But I’m wrong. As Caleb had tried to tell me, I had a straight — 10, jack, queen, king, ace, which together comprise Broadway. I was the winner, not the loser; the six, far from delivering a cruel coup de grace, was harmless, superfluous. The dealer is baffled by my convulsions, and Caleb explains my confusion as I shakily collect my chips.

I would finish second in that tournament. And that is that, at least for now.


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