Pennsylvania pokerpalooza 2019: Part 8

June 1, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 1, 2019

Depending on the tournament, a blind at these national World Tavern Poker event can last 15, 20 or 30 minutes. (Meaning that whatever the blinds — 100–200, 3,000–6,000, anything — they stay at that level until the new blinds are announced.) Regardless of the blind length, however, a 15-minute intermission is staged after every fourth blind level.

I played past a trio of 15-minute breaks in the Patriot Poker tournament. Twice, the very last hand prior to intermission proved to be quite dramatic.

Near the end of level eight, with the blinds 4,000–8,000, Jackie raised to 14,000. I looked at my hole cards: a pair of jacks. Jackie had a pretty healthy war chest, and I didn’t want to limp in. I shoved all in for 31,800 — 17,800 more than her raise.

Glenn, a veteran, was sitting in seat one on the opposite side of the dealer. Like Jackie, he had a bunch of chips. With very little hesitation, he said he was calling my push. He moved about 35,000 past the commitment line.

This put Jackie in a big pickle. She looked at my bet and asked how much she owed. Once that was clarified, she looked at her hole cards and her chip stack. After a few minutes, she passed.

We opened up our hands: my jacks against Glenn’s ace and king of hearts. The board bricked out for Glenn, and I scooped a big pot.

Jackie was extremely unhappy. She said she would have won had she called my shove. I asked if she’d had pocket sevens, which would have given her a 10-high straight, I think, but she denied it. She never said what was in her hand, but I suspect it was jack-10 or queen-jack, which I believe also would have combined with the board for a straight. (There was no flush draw that I could see, and I don’t think the board paired.)

Jackie seemed to be steaming throughout the break, and I steered clear of her.

Before I get to the second extremely dramatic hand that occurred just as a break was beginning, I have to document a really unusual incident. With the ace and seven of clubs, I called the big blind and then called an all-in for not much more vs. a man who had, well, pocket fours (or maybe pocket jacks?). I needed to hit a pair to win the pot.

But the pair never came. As soon as the river appeared, I grimaced, picked up my exposed cards, turned them over and threw them down on the table.

However! someone pointed out that I had a straight. I immediately grabbed my cards, which were still right in front of me, and turned them once again on their backs. It was true: The river, in combination with my seven, had given me a nine-high straight.

My rival, who was standing, said that the pot should be his since I’d mucked my cards. But the dealer and at least one player at the table said that my cards had been shown and that the winning hand should prevail, regardless of what I’d done after the river. My rival protested, and I suggested he call the floor (a casino term for management). I mentioned that I wouldn’t say anything in favor of my collecting the pot other than that my cards had been showing during the runout.

A manager came over, and the kerfuffle was explained to him. The manager said that the pot should be awarded to the best hand. My foe stormed off; I acknowledged that I’d have been pretty emotional if I’d been in his shoes. Someone at the table suggested that my rival had been trying a hail mail; he hadn’t actually expected to collect the pot, but, as the other player said, regarding hail marys, “Sometimes it works.”

More prelude before I get to the next dramatic-pre-break-hand. A man named David, who sported a Rehoboth Beach, Del., visor, came to the table. This was a quirky individual who suffered from nearsightedness. Shortly after his arrival, while involved in a hand, he stood up from the table, held his hole cards up to his face, and peered intently at them and the community cards; the dealer quietly muttered an imprecation.

David wound up winning the pot, but afterward, I leaned over and advised him that if he persisted in picking his cards off the table as he’d just done, he probably wouldn’t like the result. (I’d heard that a World Tavern Poker player — who knows, perhaps this very one! — had been disqualified from a tournament at this casino after picking his cards off the table following a warning against such behavior.)

Before what would be my final break, I tangled with David out of the big blind with five-three unsuited. The flop came ace, four and six. David bet 20,000, and I considered folding until I realized that I was holding an open-ended straight draw. (A two would have given a six-card sequence, ace through six; a seven would have given me a seven-high straight, 3-4-5-6-7.)

David wasn’t happy with my call, saying aloud that I probably had an ace. We both checked the turn. A second ace came out, either on the turn or the river, and after a pause, I checked it down. As soon as David checked, I bemoaned my decision, saying something like, “I should have bluffed!” David had pocket jacks, beating my uncompleted straight draw.

This left me short-stacked. Following the break, I folded king-jack off-suit to a civilian Army auditor who revealed that he had raised preflop with pocket fours.

A few hands later, I shoved my remaining holdings (seven chips, each worth 5,000) with my own pair of pocket fours. Scooty called from the small blind, while the man in the big blind — who had just 5,000 in reserve after paying said blind — followed as well. I think Scooty hit a queen with ace-queen off and knocked both of us out.

To be continued

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