Quad 9’s in my dreams

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It was only a dream, but what a dream it was! It was so realistic, I wished it was for real. Perhaps it was in anticipation of my regular Thursday visit to the Hustler Casino in Gardena, California, later that day. I could hardly wait to get up out of bed and rush to my computer so I could tell you about it.

It was my regular game of $4-$8 limit Texas hold’em. Shortly after being seated at a full table, I was dealt pocket 9’s – a decent starting hand. So I called the Big Blind to see the flop along with several other players. And, what a flop it was: 5s-9h-10h.

I had flopped a set of nines. Wow! Believing it was the best hand at the moment, I slow-played so as not to force out any opponents to help build “my” pot. Holding a pocket pair, the probability of flopping a set is about 9 percent.

Four of us saw the Turn. Believe it or not, it was another 9 on the board. Wow! I peeked at my hole cards to reassure myself. Four nines! Quads are so rare. I had the nuts. An aggressive player in an early-position came out betting. Then, a loose-aggressive player in a middle-position raised it up. Next to act, I re-raised – a three-bet. Both opponents called. The pot was growing fast, much to my delight.

I paused to ponder the situation. Obviously, both opponents held good hands – probably very strong ones. Mine was best, I felt assured. The River card could be crucial. Another 10 on the board could give an opponent with pocket tens, quad tens. Yes, that was a long shot, but it would beat my quad nines. And, with two connector hearts on the board, if one opponent held four-to-a-straight-flush, a middle heart also could do me in if he connected with a straight flush. My eyes focused on the dealer as she slowly placed the River card on the board – while I silently prayed for a weak, non-connecting River card.

Fortunately, the River was the deuce of diamonds. I was home free and clear. Nothing is better than the Nuts. And I had it for sure. Again, the early-position opened the betting and was raised by the middle-position. And, once again, I made it a three-bet. What a pot! And it was soon to be mine. This time, the early-position surprised me as he re-raised – a four-bet. The middle-position mucked his hand.

Now it was just the two of us – the early-position aggressive player and I remaining in the hand; so there was no limit on the number of raises allowed. I peeked at my hole cards, feigning some doubt about the strength of my hand, hoping to encourage my opponent to continue betting/raising. I then made another raise for a five-bet. Would you believe it, undeterred, my sole remaining opponent raised me back, putting me all-in as I called his last raise.

Showdown: Flashing a big “triumphant” smile at me as he sat straight up, anticipating taking this monster pot, my opponent turned up his hole cards – pocket tens, giving him tens-full-of-nines for the top full-house. I didn’t hesitate to reveal my pocket nines for quad nines. He slammed his fist on the table, got up, and hastened from the table. Who could blame him. And, I am first to admit, I was so lucky.

It was only a dream, but I was curious to see what playing at the casino later that day would bring me. Well, that evening I was doing quite well – even won an Aces-cracked bonus. And then, late in the session, on the showdown, the player to my immediate right turned up pocket nines with the two other nines on the flop. Quad nines! Almost mine, I mused! I had missed by one seat. Oh, so close.

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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