Sunday, January 13, 2008

News flash: Grump hits a one-outer on the river

This is an unprecedented event for me.

Palms casino tonight. I have pocket 5s and call a pre-flop raise, as does one other guy. Three of us see the flop of K-10-5 rainbow. One opponent and I quickly raise and reraise each other all-in. He has pocket 10s. Ouch! Set over set is a rare bird. (I think I've been on one side of it or the other maybe four times in the year and a half since moving here.) It's one of the most dreaded scenarios in no-limit hold'em, because it's nearly impossible not to go broke when you've got the bottom end of it, as I did. I did not even have any runner-runner straight or flush possibilities.

The turn card was another king, giving us both full houses, mine the lower one. There was only one card in the deck that could save me--a bit over 2% chance.

Well, I've already announced the end of the story: I got there. I not only raked in a huge pot, but picked up the Palms's $50 four-of-a-kind bonus on top of it.

I might ordinarily label this post with "non-grumpy content" in the title. However, that would not be entirely true, as somebody at that table got quite grumpy indeed. I'm not naming any names, but it wasn't me.

To the best of my recollection, I have never before been in a situation in which I had just one possible card that could come on the river for me to win, and hit it. I hope it's a good, long time before I get my money in that bad again and need such a miraculous save. I'm not sure the poker gods bestow such gifts more than once in one's lifetime.

I snapped the photo above with my cell phone while we were waiting for security to OK the bonus (they have to check the surveillance camera to make sure they have captured a view of everything that happened, in case there is later a question about the legitimacy of the hand). But the dealer was just about to sweep everything away, so the combination of the motion of his hands and mine, rushing to get the shot, made the picture too blurry to really see anything. With a little imagination, though, you can see my pocket 5s in the foreground, the two other fives on the board pushed away from the dealer, and the two kings. The cards on the black shuffler are my opponent's 10s.

Although it seems hard to believe at first glance, this is not the most improbable beat I have ever inflicted on another player. That one remaining 5 in the deck gave me about a 4% chance to win when the money went in. But on another occasion I hit a 3% likely outcome with runner-runner full house to beat two opponents who had flopped flushes (see, and in another case, I got it all in on the flop as a 98.4%/1.6% underdog (see, again hitting runner-runner full house. (That perversely sounds like bragging; it's not meant as such.) On the bad end of things was a bluffing opponent hitting runner-runner straight to match my made straight, splitting the pot, which had been 99.1% likely to be mine alone (see

So it all kind of evens out in the long run, I suppose. But don't try telling that to the guy who had the 10s tonight--he might snap your head off.

If this hand had played out in an online poker room, some players would almost certainly see it as proof positive that online poker is rigged. They might run off and never come back, posting the hand history all over the forums, and demanding an investigation. Those players just have no clue how frequently bizarre, freakish improbabilities will hit when a brick-and-mortar card room deals out several thousand hands a day. It's just the way this game is, whether played at the Palms or on Party Poker.

Bonus story

Other poker bloggers might tell you just one remarkably improbable tale, make a post of it, and call it a night. Not me. Nosirree. You're getting a BONUS story thrown in for no additional cost!

Same Palms session tonight. I was one off the button and had been card-dead for a while, so decided to raise with 10-9 offsuit and just see what happened. When one has been playing tight, either by choice or by being dealt no playable cards, one can basically play any two cards as if they're a big hand. Often just a continuation bet will win the pot from a scared opponent, and sometimes you hit a flop in a way that nobody could guess. I was hoping for one of those two outcomes.

One of the blinds and two previous limpers called.

Flop: A-K-K. Action is check-check-check, and I join the table-tappers, since that flop has convinced me this is not a good spot for a bluff/continuation bet, lest I be check-raised out of my shorts. I'm not putting another penny into this pot. Period. I just know that somebody flopped a monster there, and is waiting for me to step into the trap. I politely decline so to step.

Turn: A (now with four different suits on board). Action: checkcheckcheckcheck.

River: 2. Action: checkcheckcheckcheck.

I get to show last (for which I'm grateful, so I can muck my loser while retaining some dignity). I am astonished when my three opponents roll over, in order, pocket 7s, pocket 5s, and pocket 4s. Their pairs are all counterfeited by the double-paired board. (For those not familiar with the lingo, this means that their best five-card poker hands no longer include the pairs they started with; their hands are AAKK7, AAKK5, and AAKK4, respectively.) My 10 plays! (I.e., I have AAKK10, for the winner.) I turn it over and join everybody else in a good laugh at the improbability of it all.

Then I rake in the chips, patting myself on the back for being such a genius at this game. Anybody can win when dealt aces, but beating three opponents with a 10-9 offsuit, now that takes real skill!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thought I'd weigh in on the new font size you're using...with all due respect, I'm finding it a little too big and hard to read. Otherwise, I really appreciate your blog - great stuff!