Lightning strikes same spot twice at the poker table

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There’s an old saying: “Lightning never strikes the same place twice.” How might that apply to the game of poker?

But first, that saying is merely a myth. Lightning can and has struck the same place more than once.

Did you know the Trump Tower, one of the tallest skyscrapers in Chicago, was hit by lightning eight times during a storm on June 30, 2014? 

Nature’s way of punishing Donald Trump? Not so. During that same storm, the Sears Tower received 10 strikes; and the John Hancock Center got four.

The same applies to the game of poker. Lightning can, indeed, strike twice.

Playing in a $4-$8 limit hold’em game at the former Normandie Casino (now Larry Flynt’s Lucky Lady Casino) in Gardena, Calif., I was in the Big Blind with pocket sixes. There were no raises preflop, and several opponents saw the flop with me. The first card out of the deck was a third six. I had a set of sixes – great hand! It was likely to take the pot even without further improvement.

With the flop showing 6h-7d-Jh, I bet out to protect my small set. Two middle-position players called. Then, the Button raised. He was a loose-aggressive (LAG) player, very likely to raise with a big pair. Since he had not raised preflop, I put him on a pair of Jacks – top pair on the board.

Three of us called his raise to see the turn. I considered re-raising, but decided to keep the two middle-position players in the pot – planning to build the pot by raising on the turn, confident I held the winning hand.

The turn was a blank – probably didn’t help anyone, I thought. I did consider going for a check-raise, but believed it might be checked through. I could not win many chips if everyone checked; so I decided to make the $8 bet. The two middle-position players called. And then, the Button raised again. I was not too surprised. My guess was he was sure his J-J was still the best hand. Little did he know I held a set of sixes. Rather than re-raising, I thought it best just to call his raise, hoping to keep the two middle-position players in the pot.

The river – ah, the river – It was the fourth six. Lightning had struck!

Now, with two sixes on the board, I decided to bet out – certain both middle-position players had decent calling hands, perhaps two-pair. The Button surely would call my bet. The two middle-positions did call my bet and then – surprise! – the Button raised again.

Figuring both of the other players would fold to his raise on the river, I re-raised (a three-bet). Only the Button called.

As I showed my quad sixes, the Button – obviously angry – threw his holecards into the muck. It was a good pot.

Lightning strikes again!

Shortly after, I was again dealt pocket sixes. Hmm, I thought – wishful thinking – maybe I could connect again on the flop. The odds were much against it – 8-to-1. With five or six opponents limping to see the flop, and no raise (satisfying the Hold’em Caveat), I too called from the Cut-Off position.

Would you believe: The flop was 6d-10d-Kc. A third six stared up at me. The Small Blind bet out; four others called. I decided to raise, knowing most of them would call after having invested one bet to see the turn. As expected, they all called my raise.

Guess what! A fourth six fell on the turn. Lightning had struck again! Quad sixes – the nuts again for me! The Small Blind bet out and was raised by a middle-position. I then re-raised (a three-bet); and both called.

The river was a blank. After both remaining opponents checked to me, I made the big bet. Both called; and then mucked their hands when I turned up my quad sixes.

Several players commented on my good luck. I agreed, pleased that lightning had struck twice for me in so short a time.

Yes, lightning can, indeed, strike more than once.

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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