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It was about 1 p.m. when I arrived at the Hustler Casino and signed up for my usual game of $4-$8 limit hold’em.

From the start, I was amazed at how well I was doing, winning much more than my fair share of hands. I was far ahead, so I decided to move up to $8-$16, doubling the stakes; and my good fortune continued. I calmly sat there and watched my chip stacks and racks grow and grow. The poker gods were smiling on me. This was my lucky day!

Late in the evening, I took a break and enjoyed a leisurely dinner; then I took a brisk walk around the casino and decided to move up to the $10-$20 game. Maybe I was being a bit greedy. I smiled to myself. For a recreational player, that is an unusually big game. I was doing quite well but it was getting late, so I decided this would be my last round for the session.

On the button, I was dealt pocket Aces. That is always a good way to start a hand. It is the best starting hand — and also quite rare. On average, you can expect to get one out of 221 hands.

Usually, with pocket Aces, my goal is to compete against three or four (never more) opponents, and I bet or raise accordingly. But somehow this hand was different. The Under-the-Gun (UTG) — a loose-aggressive player — raised; and, then a middle-position reraised — a 3-bet. So, when the action got to me, I decided to make it a 4-bet. With more than two players in the pot, there is a 4-bet limit.

Nice pot. Three of us saw the flop. The flop came down: A-9-Q rainbow. My set of Aces looked so good! Again, the UTG opened the betting, and was raised (a 2-bet) by the middle-position. Continuing the aggression, I raised for a 3-bet. And the UTG closed it off with a 4-bet.

Big pot. I felt so confident with the strength of my set of Aces. The turn was another 9, giving me a full house, Aces over 9’s. Wow, what a pot!

There was no doubt in my mind this was my pot. There was another round of bets and raises. In all my poker career, this has to be the biggest pot in which I had ever played.

The river — ah the river — put a second Queen on the board: A-9-Q-9-Q. Now I had Aces-full-of-Queens. Once again, UTG opened the betting, followed by a raise by the middle-position. I reraised, making it a 3-bet. The UTG called my 3-bet. And, then the middle-position reraised — a 4-bet.

I stopped to think. What was going on here? Thinking about how the cards had fallen and his loose-aggressive playing traits, I figured him for Queens-full, and decided that my Aces-full surely had him beat. So, without further hesitation, as I glanced at the monster pot spread out and piled across the board, I called his raise.

In the showdown, the middle position turned up his hand. He had caught four Queens — quads — on the river. The UTG showed his 9’s-full of Queens. My Aces-full was second-best.

That hand took almost all my chips. It was a monster pot and I didn’t win it. Time to go home.

Then I woke up. It was almost 3 a.m. I am glad it was just a dream — but so real!

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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