August 12, 2009

Psychic but Stupid, Redux

I recently got a phone call from an old friend who is currently training to be a poker dealer. Though I have every confidence he’ll do just fine on his own, I still did my best to offer up whatever pearls of wisdom I could throw his way, based on my years of experience in a casino poker room. After we were finished, our phone conversation continued to spark the deep recesses of my memory, and eventually, the most incomprehensible poker hand I ever witnessed came back to me as if it had happened only yesterday.

I felt I needed to share, as the tale still causes me to shake my head…

It was a not-so-busy Saturday night, but still a number of tables were going strong. I was busy “running the board” which meant I was keeping track of how many players were at each active game, and making sure any new arrivals were spread out evenly around the room to keep each table as close to capacity as possible.

There’s always a general buzz of activity in the room, which – for those of us who work there – becomes nothing more than a familiar white noise, relegated to the background of our consciousness. That’s why, on this occasion, when the commotion occurred, it was incredibly jarring, and I was quick to hustle over to the table in question to check out what was going on, before anything go out of hand.

The entire No-limit Hold ‘em table, as well as many of the neighboring games, were on their feet and in a collective tizzy. As I came closer, one quick glance was all I needed to see what the big deal was. The dealer was still doing her job of counting chips, so there was a brief pause in the action… Player 1 had raised a small amount pre-flop, Player 6 had raised “all-in,” and Player 8 had re-raised “all-in” as well. The “big blind” decided to call, and Player 1 folded. As the dealer made sure each player was contributing the proper amount of chips to the pot, which was likely to stand at over several thousands of dollars when all was said and done, the players turned over their cards for all to see.

Player 6 had pocket Kings (a pair of Kings, for those not keen to the lingo). Player 8 had pocket Aces. The player in the “big blind”? He had two-ten, off suit – essentially, the worst starting hand in all of poker. With two players already having moved all of their chips into the pot before his bet, this quite possibly was the dumbest call in the history of the game. There was no way to get the other players to fold by bluffing his way out of this horrific hand… they were already fully committed to play the hand out. What could he possibly have been thinking?

That was essentially the reason that the players at the table, and by now as word spread quickly through the room - every player - was staring at this guy dumbfounded. Undaunted, he confidently cried, “I got this! I got this!” Quite frankly, wobbling unsteadily as he was, I think the guy was completely stoned.

So what happened? Naturally, the flop came out 2-10-10. The room exploded in shock and horror as this meant a full house for the moron. He started dancing and screaming, “I told you! I told you! I knew it! I knew it!” Now the hand wasn’t yet over, but this guy had no clue as he ran around attempting to high-five the onlookers, none of whom wanted anything to do with him.

The dealer moved on to the “turn” and out came a King. Another explosion from the room, as Player 6 now had a higher full-house. Player 8 just shook his head in complete disbelief. There was still one card left to be drawn… only if it was one of the two remaining Aces would Player 8 win the hand, and as I stood there, anticipating the outcome, another player from that table whispered to me that he had folded an Ace. Only one Ace remained in the deck… the odds of it coming out now? Not very good.

The way this hand had already developed probably should have braced me for the sonic boom that followed, but the sheer force of noise that arose as the river card was exposed actually picked me up and physically moved me several feet backwards. It was… not the last remaining Ace, but the last remaining 10 in the deck – the moron had “four of a kind” and took the pot – quite literally, as he shoveled chip after chip into his pants pockets and left the room immediately, never to be seen or heard from again.

But the story has become legendary in the room, and had I not been there to witness it with my own eyes, there’s no way I would have believed it. But it just goes to show you, much to my chagrin, even the “psychic, but stupid” people get lucky once in a great while.

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