A Time For Giving
Thursday, 11 December 2014
Jeff Kimber on when it goes horribly wrong.
’Tis the season to be jolly, the season of good will to all men, and most importantly of all, the season of receiving massive gifts…hopefully at the poker table!
Everyone loves getting presents. But in poker, no matter how hard someone tries to gift you their stack, sometimes they end up taking a chunk of your chips while you’re left wondering where it went wrong. I was recently reminded of one of my favourite poker stories, where it seemed a massive gift was about to be delivered before it went horribly wrong.
The old story saw a veteran British pro putting up with a drunk, obnoxious idiot who was playing every hand, winning most of them by getting lucky and letting those he was beating know about it in no uncertain terms. Our old-school pro had put up with the other guy’s behaviour as best he could, but was getting a little fed up that his antics were spoiling the game. He was loud, obnoxious, delaying the game and generally getting on everyone’s nerves. He was also so drunk that on more than one occasion he’d accidentally flashed his cards to the pro pre-flop while drunkenly trying to focus on his hand. Throw in a red suit and a big white beard and he could be Saint Nick himself.
Ever the gentleman, the pro told the drunk guy and the dealer that he needed to protect his hand better, but even the patience of a Saint gets tested on occasion, and having just been outdrawn by the drunk guy to lose a big pot and having received the mother of all rubdowns, he was not best pleased.
Next hand, the drunk guy once again flashed his cards, J-T spades, as he raised once more. Having warned him, the old school pro decided it was time for revenge. He looked at his own hand, 8-9 off, but that wasn’t important, he just needed to bet the other guy off his hand, He re-raised, getting the pot heads up as they went to the flop.
The flop was A-6-4 with two spades, giving the drunk guy a flush draw and the old school guy what Norman Chad would usually describe as squadoosh.
Undeterred, our hero continued his aggression and bet the flop, the drunk guy predictably splashing in the call. The turn was another four, and the veteran bet again, the drunk guy again check-calling to try and hit his spade. Thankfully for our hero, the river was an off-suit seven and he could empty the clip, safe in the knowledge that his opponent only had jack high and couldn’t call.
The old school guy moved all-in and waited patiently as the drunk guy huffed and puffed and looked back at his cards, sighing as he rued his bad luck at not having hit his draw. Just as our hero was getting a little bored of the Hollywooding and thinking of calling a clock to speed up the folding process, the drunk guy made his move.
“Ah, f**k it, I call,” he said, and shoved a stack of chips into the middle.
As our hero gasped for words, the drunk bloke continued: “Come on dealer, hit me with a spade on the river!”
The drunk guy was so inebriated he hadn’t realised there were no more cards to come, and he had, in fact, called an all-in with jack high on the river…and it was good!
As amusing as that is to recount, when it happens to you, it’s no laughing matter. My own experience of Santa-like generosity came recently at the GPS Edinburgh Main Event. I was sharing a table with Tommy Dunwoodie, which is always a fun experience.
Tommy was on the double vodkas, playing every pot and hitting cards like never before, knocking one guy out with Q-4, another by calling his all-in pre with J-2 off-suit. I was enjoying the banter, but also mindful that I could catch Tommy at it and build up a big stack of my own.
Finally, towards the end of Day 1, I got my chance when I found two red kings under the gun and picked up two callers, including Tommy on the button, after I’d raised to 1800 at 400/800.
The flop fell a pretty dry looking 8-4-4 with two hearts, and mindful that I’d just checked and given up on a lot of flops as the raiser on this lively table, I thought I’d give Tommy a chance to hang himself if he fancied trying to nick if from the button, so I checked, as did the other two, to the button.
Sure enough, Tommy took a stab, betting 3k. The big blind passed and as I considered whether a call or a raise was my best move, Tommy shouted to his mate, Mark Lane, on the next table, “Mark, I’ve got your favourite hand here!”
“What J-7?” replied Mark from the table behind us, before he stood up and saw we were in a hand. “Pocket fours, you got quads then mate?” he quickly corrected.
I thought about that exchange and realised I’d played with Mark before, at the final table of GUKPT Manchester last year, and he’d won a hand playing a weird holding before explaining it was his favourite hand….and I was certain, now he’d suggested it, that it was J-7!
Now I was pretty sure Tommy had inadvertently told me his hand and he did indeed have J-7, so what was I going to do on an 8-4-4 board to get more chips out of him?
With the pot now heads up, the dealer dealt the turn card, the ten of hearts. Now J-7 had a gutshot, meaning the bluff on the flop had just become a semi-bluff. Either way, I felt the best way to proceed was to check again. The turn was a third heart, but with two red kings I wasn’t too scared of a flush. I tapped the table and Tommy bet 7000.
With under 20k left I felt like I could get it all-in here and get called by a draw, and if I just got a fold, that wasn’t too bad and I’d padded my stack by over 10k.
I moved in and Tommy quickly called. I said to him I was sure he did indeed have J-7, and he flipped his cards…Jh7h for the turned flush! Of course, I couldn’t river the re-suckout and despite being dealt the second best hand in poker, and knowing my opponent’s hand, I was out!
Live poker continues to throw up so many unusual situations that it’s difficult to get bored with the game we all love, but, importantly, the festive season is one of the few periods where we all have time off from playing live and can take stock of how we’ve performed, what we can improve on and how we are going to do that going forward.
Just remember when someone gives you a present, try and accept it graciously, but most importantly, make sure you do actually receive it!