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In a low-limit hold’em game, after several hours of play, I was a bit behind. I thought of calling it a night but I didn’t want to break my winning streak. Besides, it was the ideal “table” – loose and not too much raising pre-flop.

With patience and perseverance, I was confident I could come out ahead. Besides, I wasn’t tired so I decided to play on.

I was in seat No. 2, in the big blind, with Q-8 offsuit. That’s not a hand I would want to play – at best it’s a very marginal drawing hand. With no raises pre-flop, and four opponents staying to see the flop, I saw the flop for free in a multi-way pot.

I watched as the dealer turned up the flop. Boy was I lucky:

My holecards:  8 of diamonds and Q of spades

The Flop: Q of clubs, Q of hearts and 8 of spades

Queens full of eights! I could hardly believe my eyes. What are the odds against catching such a full-house on the flop? Let me tell you: It’s 2,177-to-1 against! Trying to contain my excitement, I thought to myself: “George, try to build the pot. You have the nuts on this hand. Build the pot and go home a winner.”
I realized I wasn’t out of the woods as yet: What if someone had pocket aces and the board turned up another ace? But, at this point, I held the nuts so I slow-played and checked from the blind. Sure enough seat No. 3 made the bet.

Two other players called, and then an elderly lady in seat No. 7 raised. I considered re-raising and decided to hold off and just call. Seat No. 3 also called the raise. Now this is important to our story: The turn was the 6 hearts. (Keep this in mind.)

I checked and again seat No. 3 obliged by making the bet. Then, you guessed it, the lady in seat No. 7 again raised. With the bets doubled, I decided this was the right time to build “my” pot; so I re-raised – betting for value. Faced with a double raise, seat No. 3 decided to fold his hand and watch the action.

Then, to my surprise, seat No. 7 didn’t just call. She re-raised! At that point, with the river yet to come, I decided to keep her victory dreams alive; I just called so I might better extract more chips from her on the river.

The river was a “brick,” it couldn’t help anyone. With no ace or king on the board, I held the “nuts.” Should I bet out or go for a check-raise? I knew the lady played aggressively when she held a big hand; and, the way she was raising, she must have had a “monster.”

I studied my hole cards and the board. With a pair of queens on the board, there was no way she could have quads since I held a queen; and a straight flush was not possible. The best she could have was a full-house smaller than my queens-full-of-eights.

If I checked, hoping for a check-raise, there was a chance she would just check behind me. So I came out betting on the river, hoping to gain one more big bet from her. She had several stacks of chips in front of her and would certainly call my bet with such an outsized pot on the table. She raised me!

Without hesitation, I re-raised. Caught up in the frenzy and excitement of the moment, she promptly raised again. The table grew silent. I re-raised. So did she.

We went at it until she bet her last three chips. As I called her final partial bet, she sat up in her chair, looked around the table and proudly announced to all: “I have a full-house!” as she turned up her hole cards: Q-6. Queens-full-of-sixes!

My turn to showdown my hand. “I have a full house, too,” I calmly stated, as I turned up my Q-8. I was too busy scooping up the HUGE pot to watch her reaction.

Shortly after, I racked up my chips and cashed out – and went home with my winning streak still intact!

“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher of poker in West Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors’ Poker Hall of Fame. E-mail him at [email protected]


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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