Landing big pot a great feeling in poker

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Here is a hand that is almost hard to believe. It happened several months ago.

I was at a $4-$8 limit Texas hold’em game with a full table. Pre-flop, I had mucked my hole cards, leaving seven or eight players in the pot. But this hand somehow seemed different.

It was a loose, fairly aggressive game, with lots of chips moving around the table. The Under-the-Gun position opened the betting and was raised by Jeff in the UTG+2. From my middle position, I promptly folded when my two hole cards failed to meet the Hold’em Algorithm criteria.

Then my friend, Molly, who was on the Button, re-raised, making it a 3-bet. Molly is a delightful woman in her 80’s and we often play at the same table. I enjoy her company and root for her to win. Unfortunately, she rarely does. Making such a big bet before the flop, I knew she must have a very strong starting hand.

Several opponents called her raise, and we all watched as the dealer turned up the flop. And what a flop it was with lots of possibilities:

Ah-Kd-10h

At this point, let me tell you about the hole cards that Molly and Jeff held, as were later revealed during the showdown: Jeff had been dealt Ace-King (“Big Slick”); and Molly had pocket Kings.

The flop gave Molly a set of Kings. I could see that she was excited, as she grabbed a batch of chips before her turn to act. I think Molly does not understand the concept of tells. And it gave Jeff top two-pair — Aces and Kings. Both had flopped powerful made hands; and Molly had the near nuts.

An early-position player who had just recently joined the game opened the betting. A loose player, I figured him for a pair of Aces or a draw to a big straight. Then Jeff raised to $8 and was called by a late-position. Molly was next, and she reraised with her set of Kings. The others all called her 3-bet. The pot was growing fast!

The dealer then dealt out the turn card. Would you believe it was a second 10, giving Molly Kings-full-of-10s — a monster hand. And she knew it! She was even more excited. Meanwhile Jeff still held his big two-pair, Aces-and-Kings.

The betting was checked to Jeff who made the opening bet. Molly promptly followed with her raise to $16 and was called by Jeff and one other player. The pot grew.

The river card was a blank. Once again, Jeff opened the betting and was quickly raised by Molly after pausing and peeking once again at her hole cards. She seemed to be quite confident. Apprehensively, while looking at the piles of chips in the pot, Jeff called.

With all that betting and raising, you can imagine the size of that pot. For a $4-$8 limit game, it was huge! All eyes at the table were fixed on Molly as the showdown commenced. A few players at the next table had gathered around behind us. I mouthed, “Good luck, Molly,” as I gave her two thumbs up.

The smile on Molly’s face seemed about to explode as she turned up her two hole cards: pocket Kings! What a hand, Kings-full-of-10s. Loud cheers from the others at the table and the onlookers quickly followed.

Understandably dejected, Jeff revealed his A-K in the hole, shaking his head from side-to-side and closing his eyes. But, always the gentleman, Jeff then turned his head to Molly, and quietly mouthed “Good for you.”

As the dealer prepared to deal the next hand, Molly asked to be dealt out. With the help of the player seated to her right, she racked up her piles of chips, and then, head held high in the air, Molly briskly walked over to another table to tell her husband the good news. Well it was different — very special — for her.

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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