My dream of hold’em still seems vivid

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To paraphrase the words of the immortal Martin Luther King, “I had a dream.”

I am aware that I often dream while sleeping, but usually forget the context by the time I wake up and get out of bed. This one was so vivid, and it was about poker. It woke me up.

It was a little after 4 a.m. I decided to get up from bed, and, while still in my pajamas, write about it before I went back to sleep – and, later, probably would not remember it, even such a very special dream.

It was a game of Texas hold’em. I don’t know the stakes or at which casino it was. (Most likely, it was at Larry Flynt‘s Hustler Casino in Gardena, Calif., my favorite place to play the game.)

In my dream, I had been losing up to that point. Then this hand occurred “out of the blue” – an unexpected event. The kind you might only dream about. In the Big Blind, I had been dealt Q-2 offsuit. Of course, I would have folded without hesitation, but there were no raises preflop. So I got to see the flop for free. Several others limped in.

The flop was Q-2-3 rainbow. I had caught two-pair, Queens-and-deuces. That certainly was nice to behold; but still, it was a hand that is quite vulnerable. An opponent could easily catch a card that would make my two-pair a poor second-best.

So, to protect my hand, I opened the betting from my Big Blind position. I was hoping to reduce the size of the playing field so my two-pair would have a better chance of holding up to the showdown. That tactic worked as two opponents and I got to see the turn. No raises.

The turn was a beautiful deuce of hearts, putting a pair of deuces on the board. With my Q-2 in the hole, I had made a full-house: Deuces-full-of-Queens. Wow! I was sure I held the near nuts at this point. I decided to go for a check-raise to build the pot. The thought occurred to me: “Maybe this hand will make up for my losses, and even put me ahead for this session.” I smiled to myself.

An aggressive player in a middle position opened the betting, and was called by a second opponent. My turn to act. To encourage my opponents to call my check-raise, I paused for a few seconds, and then I calmly made my raise. Both opponents called, further building “my” pot. It was growing.

The river was a blank. Hoping to get still more chips into the pot, I bet out for value. Both opponents called and mucked their hands as I turned up my Q-2 in the hole – my beautiful full-boat. What a wonderful dream.

As I wrote this column, I was somewhat curious about this dream. It seemed so vivid. I think most poker players are curious to see what the future holds for them. That may be one reason we play the game of poker. It is so unpredictable – as well as mentally challenging. So I consulted Wikipedia to find out what dreams are all about:

“Dream interpretation is neither a modern trend nor a passing fad. It has been with us for countless generations, and it will stay with us till the end of times. Why is that? Because dreams have the power to evoke our deepest emotions, to denude our most secret desires and fears, and all the while they enchant us, frighten us, but, most often, bemuse us. Simply put, dreams enrich our lives.”

Certainly, winning that “dream hand” did enrich my imaginary poker chip stacks. Let’s see what happens this evening when I play for real rather than in a dream.

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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