Poker postseason stories, winter 2019: Part 1

February 20, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 20, 2019

I was involved in a remarkable World Tavern Poker hand the other evening.

Playing the button — that is, dealing, which puts me last to act after the flop — I saw four players limp into the pot for 400 chips. When I looked at my hole cards, I had eight-six off-suit. I decided to limp in, meaning just call for the amount of the big blind. The small blind and big blind, who act after the dealer before the flop, did the same. That left us seven-handed going to the flop.

The flop came seven, nine and 10 with two clubs. It was a pretty good board for me, giving me a 10-high straight right out of the gate.

Much to my delight, M—, in the small blind, bet 800. Then the big blind, D—, bet 1,600. One of the table’s short stacks, P—, playing in first position, called. Two players folded; then H—, seated in the cutoff, called.

I paused. I had a made hand, there were a bunch of chips in the pot, and I didn’t want someone to hit a lucky draw and beat me out. I figured that P—, who began the betting round with 7,100 chips, was going to call me no matter what; the trick would be to get everyone out but him.

After some hesitation, I re-re-raised to 10,300, expecting that I’d get maybe one caller besides P—. That’s… not exactly what happened.

M— re-re-re-raised to all in with about 28,000 chips. D— then went all in for slightly less. P— went all in for 7,100, as I’d imagined he would, and H. folded.

That left me.

Calling M— would require about 95 percent of all my chips. I wouldn’t have much minded doing that — if it weren’t for the fact that I needed beat both him and D— to collect the side pot. I decided that one of them was on a flush draw, while the other might have jack-eight, which would result in a higher straight than my 6-7-8-9-10.

I announced my reasoning, said I was folding and showed my cards. The other gentlemen opened up too.

M— had the same hand as me, 6-8 off-suit. D— had two clubs, one of them an ace. And P— had pocket nines, meaning he’d flopped a set.

We settled the pots and I dealt the rest of the hand. The turn was a brick, but the river was a seven, and not a club. That gave P— a full house, nines full of sevens, and won him a very lucrative main pot. M—’s 10-high straight beat out D—’s busted flush draw, earning him with a quite profitable side pot.

Looking back, I think my fold was the right decision. If just M— or just D— had shoved, I’d have called confidently. But during the betting, they represented such strong hands that I had no confidence in my ability to beat both of them.

D— was eliminated in the hand; M— soon bombed out, as did H—. I went out in seventh place, while P— made it all the way to third.

This tournament, incidentally, represented the (belated) end of the latest World Tavern Poker championship season, more of which I’ll recount in coming posts.

To be continued

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