Live poker can lead to big jackpots

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Have you ever won a big jackpot at your local casino? What a thrill! It happened to me the other night at the Normandie Casino in Gardena, California.

The casino takes $1 from each hand played at each table. That can add up over time to more than $10,000.

To win the Jackpot, the player must have Aces-full-of-tens or better beat by four-of-a-kind; and, both hole cards must play.

In my case, I had Aces-full-of-Kings beat by a player across the table who caught four Aces. As the “loser” of the hand, I received 50% of the Jackpot – well over $8,000. The four Aces received 25% – over $4,000. And, all the others at the table who played in that hand divided the other 25%. Everybody was a winner!

When the hand was shown down, everyone at the table leapt to their feet and shouted aloud, congratulating the two players who were lucky to get those hands. Hand-shaking, high-fives and embraces followed. Everyone loved his neighbor!

In this case, I had been a bit behind when it happened. In a middle position, in a $4-$8 game with full kill, I looked down to see pocket Kings in the hole. When the betting got to me, I raised, hoping to play against two or three opponents.

Four of them stayed in to see the flop. And what a flop it was: A-A-3 rainbow. With only two Aces left unseen in the deck, I figured there was a good chance my pocket Kings were still in the lead.

I opened the betting and was called by two opponents. No one raised, so I thought my hand might be best. The turn was a 6, putting two spades on the board. Again I made the bet. One opponent called; and then the other (call him Mike) raised.

Referring to my notes, I realized Mike was somewhat tricky. (I had seen him check-raise and reraise on several occasions.) Oh, oh, I thought; perhaps he has trip Aces.

By then, the pot odds were high enough that I wasn’t about to fold for one more bet.

The river brought – would you believe? – a third Ace on the board! Now, I had Aces-full-of-Kings. We had a good chance of having a Jackpot. The dealer called over a floorman to observe the play during the final round of betting, before the showdown. I could sense everyone at the table was anxiously leaning forward to see the showdown. So was I.

If my opponent had an Ace in the hole, he would indeed have quad Aces. The cards on the board, other than the three Aces, were small cards. If his kicker was higher than a 6, we would be in!

On the river, I pondered whether to make the bet; I decided to check. Then, as you might suspect, Mike bet out. I was hopeful and encouraged that he might hold quad Aces. Of course, I promptly called.

With a big smile on his face, Mike turned up A-K. I could sense all eyes on me, as I turned up my hole cards – pocket Kings. My Aces-full-of-Kings was beat by Mike’s quad Aces; and his kicker (another King) played. We had our Jackpot. Wow!

The table erupted, and other players in the casino ran over to see what had happened. I shared the excitement, especially since I was the big Jackpot winner – over $8,000! The floorman proceeded to have the ceiling camera record the hands and the pot. Each player at the table had to fill out forms for income tax purposes, and give the floorman his driver’s license.

It seemed like an endless period before I was led into an office to provide additional information. Then, I was escorted to an area in the cashier’s cage, where I was given my share of the Jackpot in casino chips. Happily, I handed out tips to all of the casino staff who were involved. And I went home a very happy senior citizen recreational poker player.

“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in Greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Contact George 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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