The ultimate hand: Part 3 of a very limited series

February 16, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 16, 2018

The very first royal flush that I was ever dealt was by far the most dramatic and rewarding.

I was playing in a friendly game sometime at the tail end of 2010 (I think). It was a small tournament, maybe seven to nine players in all. My hole cards this particular hand were either the ace and queen of diamonds or the ace and jack of diamonds. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say I had AQ.

The flop was almost as good as it gets given my hole cards: king of hearts, jack of diamonds, 10 of diamonds. When I took stock of the situation, I realized that I had Broadway, a straight to the ace, and that I was just one card away from a royal flush.

A bunch of people were involved in the pot. I don’t remember the exact sequence, but someone (possibly me?) bet on the flop. I think it’s also likely that someone else raised. Obviously, I hung in there.

The turn card was the absolute best that it could have been for me: The king of diamonds, which completed my royal flush.

As I related the other day, getting a royal flush isn’t as much fun if you can’t get a lot of chips out of the hand. Fortunately for me, that wasn’t the case this time around.

Someone really liked getting the third diamond; someone else really liked getting the king. Someone went all in for less than me. Not only was that bet called, I think someone went over the top.

When the action came to me, I spent a long time pondering what I would do, checking my cards multiple times. Each peek confirmed what I already thought: My hand was golden, bulletproof, unbeatable — a real-life, honest-to-goodness, one-hundred-percent-genuine ace-high straight flush.

There’s a significant acting component in poker. The ideal player, I suppose, would never change her facial expression or comportment regardless of the strength of her hand, the cards dealt to the board or an opponents’ actions. Such stolidity conceals information from opponents.

Those who can’t achieve such supreme consistency frequently attempt to deceive their foes. When they’re strong, they act as though they’re weak in an effort to extract more chips from other players. When they’re weak and attempting to bluff, they act as though they’re strong in a bid to persuade their opponent to fold.

I was in a pretty good spot with this royal flush because I had the nuts and because there had already been a lot of action to this point. Moreover, the bet at that moment was actually more than I had. As long as I called, I was going to rake in a bunch of chips.

But there were still players behind me who had yet to act. The point of acting indecisively was to entice them to commit their chips, too. I wanted to get the maximum amount possible out of this hand.

Eventually, I declared all in, and at least one other player behind me followed.

I don’t remember what the river card was, but it was no help to my foes.

When we got to the showdown, it seemed that everyone had hit. One player had a full house (kings full of something); another had a flush; someone had a straight (to the king or maybe it was the ace); I think someone may have even hung in with two pairs (the kings on the board plus something else).

But I had the ultimate hand. And I raked in a whole bunch of chips.

(Why didn’t I get absolutely everything? Because I didn’t have all the other players covered.)

When the night came to an end, I only finished in second or third place. Still, it was fun, and I’ll always have the story of the time I raked in a ton of chips thanks to a wild and memorable and utterly invincible hand.

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