Dreams can be all too strange yet real

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The other day, I had another fascinating poker dream. This one was so strange, albeit quite realistic. At 6:40 a.m., I got out of bed and carefully hustled my aging bones to the computer. I did not want to forget this rare and very strange dream about Texas hold’em. The scene was the Freda Mohr Multipurpose Senior Center. It involved three of our fast-learning regulars in our Seniors Poker Group.

Picture this if you dare – playing $2-$4 limit hold’em, the following hands were dealt out:

• Judy, in the Under-the-Gun position, looked down at Ad-Ac – pocket Aces. Wow!

• Helene, seated to Judy’s immediate left, held Ah-Qh.

• Jeff, seated next to Helene, had Ac-Qc in the hole.

These are all powerful starting-hands. Judy raised the Big Blind, hoping to thin the field so her pocket Aces would have a better chance to keep the lead all the way to the River. Helene decided to re-raise, making it a three-bet. Jeff and Judy called along. All the others at the table mucked their hands.

The flop was even rarer. Strange things can happen in poker: Kc-Kd-Kh.

Judy had caught Kings-full-of-Aces – a monster hand – certainly a big winner. She decided to slow-play to build the pot size. Knowing Helene was a fairly aggressive player and had shown strength when she re-raised preflop, Judy was sure Helene could be counted on to open the betting; so she checked to her.

As expected, Helene made the opening bet. Jeff called; and Judy followed along. Undoubtedly, she was smiling to herself, assuming her hand was the nuts.

Along with the other players who were closely watching the action (especially with three Kings on the board), they anxiously awaited the Turn card.

The Turn was a disappointing 2c – a lowly “rag.” This time, Judy wisely decided to try for a check-raise. It seemed like the smart thing to do to build “her” pot. After she checked, Helene came through with her bet. Jeff called, as Judy expected. Then Judy slowly completed her check-raise.

After studying her hand, Helene re-raised. Jeff contemplated the situation. Focusing on the already-huge pot and then glancing at his holecards, he called once again. But then… It surely should not have been a surprise: Judy raised again, making it a four-bet; and her two opponents called this final bet to see the River.

The River was very rare, indeed – the King of spades! That put quad Kings on the board. The odds against that happening were almost 50-to-1! Judy, first to act, pondered a few moments, studied her holecards, and stared out at her two opponents as if trying to read their minds. Her Kings full-of-Aces would take the pot – a gigantic pot – using the Ace kicker for the best five cards in the hand. She probably never considered that one or both of her two opponents might also hold an Ace in the hole.

I could imagine her thinking, optimistically: “There is no way either Helene or Jeff could possibly beat my Quad Kings with Ace kicker.”

With all the betting and raising, can you imagine the size of that pot? Judy bet out on the River. Helene re-raised, and Jeff made it a three-bet. Undeterred, Judy closed the betting with a third raise.

Showdown: All three, Judy, Helene and Jeff, in sequence, turned up their holecards. Each held the same “winning” hand – quad Kings with an Ace kicker. The pot was split three ways. You might ask: Who won all the money? They shared the blind bets – and that’s all. But it sure was exciting – all the way from start to finish. Mind you, Judy was only one out away from scooping up that whole monstrous pot: the King of spades. One card can make such a big difference in the results.

Even when you consider there are 2,598,960 possible five-card poker hands in a deck of cards, this one was really strange. So rare, indeed!

But, then, it was only another dream.

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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