If you don’t play lots of poker, this essay probably will not make much sense. If you do play lots, it probably will hit you in the stomach. If you are one of the latter, enjoy the laugh; if you are one of the former, print it out and share it with someone you know who does play poker. He or she will love you for it.
It’s a horror story, of sorts—and it has a set-up horror story as a preamble.
The Preamble: I was almost four hours into an Internet tournament where Lady Luck had been shining on me. As I remember it, I was fourth or fifth high stack with about two hundred people still in play (we had started with almost 3000)—looking at a flop of 7, 9, 10 of hearts. I had the 6, 8 of hearts as down cards—only still in the hand because I was big blind! My heart was pumping like a trip hammer and I was thanking the gods of poker that it was an Internet game rather than a live one--if it had been a live game, a moron would have read me for big trouble.
The betting was crisp and I ended up with one player still calling, who, I was happy to see, had a stack almost as big as mine—probably 7th or 8th high stack. As I sized up things, I had a straight flush against another high stack with a good hand. It doesn’t get any better than this! And my reasoning suggested that if he had a hand good enough to call my decent-sized bets he probably had one good enough to give me all his chips when I went all-in. As you probably have guessed, I found out he had a hell of a good hand, the Jack and Queen of hearts, as a matter of fact—and the river card was the king! He ended up taking almost all my chips.
To come up with a horror story that tops holding two cards to a straight flush and being beaten out takes some doing. But I am resourceful.
The Horror Story: I am playing in a one-table tournament where only two players will be paid. We are down to three players, the high stack with $5000 in chips; me with $3000; and the runt stack of $1000. I am in great shape to win second money—and considering we are big blinding $400 with a $50 ante at this point, I can just sit back and let the runt blind out. And what to my wondering I do I see—but a “sitting out” sign suddenly pops up on the runts icon. It appears he has disconnected—apparently cannot reconnect—and his chips are there for the taking. I am golden!
Unfortunately, I get Ace, King suited and decide that waiting around to insure my second place finish is not as smart as seeing the bet that big stack makes when runt’s hand is folded (I have the button)—and since I am a complete jackass, I actually raise big stack. He sees. The next round of betting has me throwing more money into the pot because the flop is Ace, King, Queen. Little did I know that Big stack has pocket queens. When all is said and done—and thanks to some conservative betting, I end up with a stack reduced to $1000. So I have gotten myself from a sure win of second place with my only competitor absent and being folded by the dealer—to where I have to win a pot to have enough money to sit by and let the former runt blind/ante out.
And I do it. I win a pot that doubles me up and once again I am in position to sit back and let the absent runt blind out so I can win second place. I have managed to come back from a very stupid move and all I have to do to win money is to sit back and do absolutely nothing.
But I ain’t content to come back from the dead and take advantage. I come up with pocket kings—and once again decide that winning first is within the realm of reason. I end up losing all-in to Ace, Ace…and the disconnected, absent runt wins second place.
I’m not really sure if this is a morality play about stupidity or greed—and of course, there is the possibility it is about both. But I do know this: I ain’t gonna make a living playing poker.