Once in a million hand in poker played to perfection

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It was the day after Christmas, and I was playing $4-$8 limit hold’em with ½-Kill at the Hustler Casino. I was a bit behind when our table broke up, and I was sent to a seat at a nearby table.

I found myself being assigned to the seat just to the left of a man I regard as one of the most skilled players. Ordinarily I would not play at such a table, or ask for a table change; but, being seated just to his left gave me the opportunity to see how he bet before I had to act. Perhaps, being the day after Christmas, the poker gods would be kind to me. So I hoped.

The texture of the table was rather loose-aggressive – lots of players staying to see the flop with frequent raises from the pre-flop and, then, all the way to the river betting round. A big hand could really make out!

After playing there for a short time, I was in a late position, and looked down on Kh-Jh in the hole. A great starting-hand. Let’s see what develops, I pondered. I was relieved the highly skilled player before me had mucked his holecards. Five others and I stayed to see the flop after a middle-position player raised it up.

The flop: I was delighted when the dealer placed the three cards face-up on the board – 9h-10h-Ks. I had flopped top pair on the board and a great draw to a King-high straight and flush, possibly even a straight-flush. What’s more, I had 14 solid outs to further improve my hand. (Who could ask for anything more!) The Positive Expectation was huge for me!

There was a bet and a raise before me. I decided to just call, so I wouldn’t chase anyone out – hoping to see the pot grow. I felt quite confident, with the turn and river yet to come, my hand would become a monster. (Was it just wishful thinking?)

The turn was Js, giving me top two-pair on the board, and even more outs – 16 in all – to further improve. The middle-position opened the betting. After two callers, I decided to re-raise for value to further build the pot. As expected, all three of them called my raise.

The river card – ah, the river: It was the Qh! I had to look three times to believe my eyes. I had just caught a King-high straight-flush. What a hand! The nuts, of course! One in a million! I forced myself to remain calm. (No tells from me.)

Again, the middle-position, a very aggressive player, opened the betting and was called by the other two opponents. I checked my cards and examined the board. Yes, I did, indeed, have the King-high straight flush! Comfortable in the thought that I did indeed hold the nuts, of course, I raised again – as a value bet.

Then I was utterly shocked when the middle-position re-raised me for a three-bet. The other two players mucked their hands. Now it was just the two of us, and there was no limit on the number of raises allowed.

I hesitated a bit, hoping to encourage my one remaining opponent to call my re-raise, a four-bet. Without hesitating, he called my raise and shoved the rest of his chips into the pot – all in,” he declared with a big smile across his face.

As I called, he proudly turned his hand up. He had flopped a King-high straight. Then I showed my hand. My straight-flush took a monster pot! Angrily, he shouted aloud at the dealer as he left the table, as if his loss was all her fault.

Boy, was I lucky! The skilled player to my right congratulated me on my hand. I replied: “This had to be one in a million! Smiling at me, he nodded in agreement.

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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