POKER PERFECT 10s

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Early on in my poker-playing career, back when I was about 19, my main source of income was, admittedly, waiting tables at a 우리카지노. Poker-wise, I mainly played a couple of small, no-limit Texas Hold’em tournaments a week with my friends. The tournaments didn’t take much skill to crack, and they were often good for a couple of hundred bucks. After one particularly big win, I convinced myself that I was ready for a real game. As if the powers that be could sense this, my wish was soon granted.

The very next night, while I was working the graveyard shift, a couple of guys came into the restaurant and sat in my section. I could hear them talking about a card game they had just come from. I went over and introduced myself to them as a fellow “rounder.” (I was actually laughed at for even using the term.) I learned that the taller man, Jay, had been a professional poker player for more than 20 years. I sat with them for a little while and talked. Before Jay and his friend left, I couldn’t help but ask if they knew of a good 3-6 or 4-8 game I could join.

Jay asked how long I’d been playing. I wasn’t about to blow my chances when I was this close, so instead of disclosing my paltry experience of roughly eight months, I decided to boldly lie to the professional player and said, “About five years.” He stared me down a bit, but then said he could probably find me a game. He called the next day and told me about a seat in a 3-6 game scheduled for later that evening and located just 20 minutes from my house. Come six o’clock, I grabbed my $400 poker bankroll and headed out.

I arrived at the game, which was being held in the small apartment that looked a lot like a college dorm room with a poker table in the center. Several middle-aged men were already sitting at the table with huge piles of chips. I sat down and bought in my small stack. Ten minutes went by of being harassed for looking like I was 12. Then the dealer came out and announced that the game was being changed — from a 3-6 limit game to a 1-3 blind, no-limit game. My stomach immediately gurgled. I should have cashed out right there, of course, but something deep down inside kept me seated.

I sat and played tight, watching these men play like they had thousands of dollars to blow. The minimum pre-flop bet they made was $50 and there were usually five or six people seeing the flop. I lost a couple of small hands I’d gotten into for cheap before landing my first really promising hand. On the button, behind four callers, I picked up a couple of kings. I raised the bet up to $25, hoping to weed out the field some. It didn’t work. In fact, I got raised by a 25-year-old named Jersey, who had previously called. Four other players and I called the re-raise to see a rainbow flop of king, queen, and seven. Glancing at the massive pot, which was already over $200, I kept my emotions suppressed as everyone checked around to me. I tossed in a bet of $75, figuring I could take it right there. But it wasn’t to be.

Four players, including Jersey, cold-called my $75 to see the ace that came on the turn, which also made a flush impossible. The board was again checked around to me and this time I pushed $250 into the nearly $600 pot — only to get called again by Jersey and an older gentleman sitting between us. The river was a jack. I stared at it in disbelief, wondering if either of my two opponents had actually paid over $300 to see a runner straight.

This time the board didn’t get checked to me. Jersey came right out with a $1,000-plus bet, significantly more than the $100 in my stack. The older fellow threw down his king and queen, face-up, which amounted to two pairs. I stared at Jersey and scrutinized the hand. Could he really have stayed in with a 10, looking for two runners? I couldn’t believe that any rational player would have. That was the last mistake I would make at this table, though, as I pushed in my remaining chips and called.

As Jersey’s cards came up, I was expecting to see a ten/king or a ten/ace, the only two hands that would have halfway warranted his calling my bets. But what I saw left me in disbelief: two tens. He had played the hand through with a pair of tens in the hole — against two higher cards on the flop and a third on the turn!

“Why did . . . how . . . how could you call to the end with that?” I stammered. “You called to the river with an under pair!”

And to that, he muttered seven of the most sickening words I’ve ever heard. In response to my countless hours of studying statistics, odds, and psychology, the man who had just emptied my pockets rationalized his calls with, “I had pocket tens, man. Pocket tens!”

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