Archive for May 22nd, 2019

Pennsylvania pokerpalooza 2019: Part 3

May 22, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
May 22, 2019

Nancy A—, North Carolina player, was moved to our table perhaps 90 minutes into the national championship finals. At some point, a universally beloved World Tavern Poker employee named Scooty walked up to our table with a smirk on his face and told her, “You drive however many hours and end up playing with this yahoo?” The three of us chuckled.

There was a wild hand sometime around noon. A man in late position made a big bet. Action folded to Mickey, the woman sitting on my right, who was in the small blind. After some consideration, she pushed all in.

I had Mickey covered, and I think she had the aggressor covered, but there were a lot of chips at stake, and I turned out to have unsuited seven-two in the hole. That’s the worst starting hand in holdem (check the bottom-right corner of the chart on this page), so after a fleeting flirtation with making the call, I mucked my cards.

The dealer sorted the pots. Mickey showed her cards, which were pocket jacks. The original bettor showed his cards, which were the other two pocket jacks. The table gasped when when we realized that pair was pitted against identical pair.

In a heads-up all-in situation like this, the pot is typically chopped, meaning that the chips in the middle are split equally between the participants because their hands are of the same strength. In fact, in a these circumstances, there’s only one way to avoid a chop: Four cards of a single suit have to appear on the board, thereby giving one of the players a flush.

There was a seven on the flop. If I’d called, I would have been extremely excited. Mickey and her rival could not hit a set or four of a kind because all of their outs — the cards that could help them — were in their hands and therefore no longer able to be dealt as a community card. However, a third player who hits a pair on the flop has as many as six outs. In my case, had I participated, my outs would have been the other three sevens and the other three deuces.

The river, of course, was a deuce. “I would have had two pairs!” I exclaimed. “I folded seven-deuce! Of course, that’s what I should have done, but…” I shrugged; the pot was chopped; and play continued.

Around 1 p.m., our table — which still had five of its original 10 players — was the scene of a dramatic hand involving yours truly. It would turn out to be the last hand at that table.

Mickey, the woman to my immediate right, shoved all in for 82,000 in early position. I looked at my hand as her chips were being counted and discovered pocket jacks. “I’m going to need a minute,” I mutter, half to myself, half to the dealer and the rest of the table.

Mickey did her all-in chair dance, patting her shoulder blades with alternating hands and saying, ”Good luck, Mickey. Good luck, Mickey.”

I had 55,000, and my sneaking suspicion was that Mickey had shoved somewhat light, meaning that her hand was not super strong; I put her on pocket nines.

After a minute or two, I called. Everyone else folded.

We put the cards on their backs. She had pocket kings, meaning that I was in a world of hurt.

Mickey addressed Brian, our dealer. “No jack, no jack,” she implored.

The flop included a jack. I turned my head and looked away, over my left shoulder, as the next two streets were dealt. Mickey asked for a king, and I think she also tried some reverse psychology and asked for another jack, but I could tell without looking that my set remained good. The win was a huge relief for me, not to mention a big score chip-wise.

And that was a wrap for that table. We racked our chips, collected the laminated red-and-white cards bearing our seat assignments, and went looking for our new spots.

To be continued

Pennsylvania pokerpalooza 2019: Part 2

May 22, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
May 22, 2019

Shortly after 10 a.m. on Monday, May 20, flight one of the World Tavern Poker national championship finals got under way. For this, my second event of Open 26, I was assigned seat six at table 124, which was located in the back of the ballroom, near one of the large video screens. I would keep that seat for the better part of three hours.

I got into trouble during an early level when I woke up on the button with the ace and seven of hearts. I raised, deterring perhaps two limpers but leaving us four-handed going to the flop.

The flop featured two hearts, which left me this close to securing an ace-high flush. Of course, a third heart never found its way to the board, although an ace appeared on fifth street, giving me top pair with a weak kicker; the community cards also included a pair of deuces. My rival, a guy sporting a Boston Red Sox T-shirt and baseball cap, made some sizable bets on the turn and river — 3,500 each time, I think — and I called. Ultimately, he turned over ace-nine; unfortunately, his kicker played, leaving me roughly 10,000 chips poorer than when the hand had begun.

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