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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Worst. Beat. Ever.

Not as in a one outer, but the stakes were as high as I play and the beat was brutal.

Going into the final tournament of our Vegas or Bust Poker League, I was leading Tin Man by one point and Ranger Rick and Stamps by six. Our league awards WSOP seats (plus airfare and lodging) for the top two players, so all I needed to do was finish no lower than sixth in the tournament and I would secure one of the seats.

My strategy was to play tight early and avoid getting into any big pots. The only way I would put myself in danger would be if I was holding the nuts. Just sit back in my easy chair and let the other player knock each other out.

My $1,500 opening stack was down to ~$1,100 about 45 minutes into the tourney. Blinds were up to $40-$80 and I was on the button. Ollie the Accountant had been eliminated just a few hands before and we were down to nine players.

There were four limpers in front of me and I looked down at pocket jacks. As I noted before, I wasn't interested in getting involved in big pots this early so I played the hand as a small pocket pair and just called.

The flop was J-4-T with two hearts. It checked around to me and I bet $300, figuring it would take down the pot. As expected everyone folded, except for J-Dawg. He hem-hawed for 30 seconds or so and then pushed all-in.

He had me covered, so I knew if I called and lost, I would be out in ninth place and would put my WSOP seat in danger. On the other hand, I had ~$650 chips left, $380 in the pot already, and I was holding the nuts. J-Dawg never bets on draws, so I put him on either two pair or hopefully, a smaller set. I just couldn't bring myself to fold and made the call.

He surprised me by turning over Ah-7h for the nut flush draw. The turn was the 9 of clubs and I only had to dodge one more bullet. The river was a red card, but lucky for me it was a diamond.

J-Dawg asked for a count and started counting his chips that were now mine. "Whew," I thought, "that could have been disastrous."

"Hey, wait a minute!" I heard Stamps holler. "J-Dawg has a straight!"

"What," I said in disbelief as I looked at the board.

The river diamond was an eight, hitting J's gutshot straight draw. I was so focused on hearts that I didn't see the straight. Hell, nobody did.

Oh. My. God.

Talk about a kick right in the nads.  Just brutal. The very thing I didn't want to happen, had. I was out in ninth and had opened the door for both Stamps and Ranger Rick to move past me in the standings.

I won't bore you with the details after that hand, other than to say that Stamps finished in second place in the tournament, which was enough to move him into a second place tie with me for the final seat to the WSOP.

Our league rules state that if there is a tie for second place, the player have two options. They can agree to split the prize money, which is enough for a buy in and most of your lodging, but not enough to cover airfare, or play a heads-up tournament for the entire prize. Stamps and I plan on meeting Tuesday to decide what we want to do.

So, as I write this I'm very disappointed at the way I finished league play. However, I also realize it could have been worse. But... damn.

CLICK HERE for the final standings.

Till next time, win the flips.


  1. I hope y'all split it and send three people from your league.

    1. I don't really want to play a friend heads-up with so much money at stake. It's a recipe for some hard feelings, so I'm leaning towards a split. But Stamps will have to agree.

  2. One word: O-U-C-H. Good luck in whatever you decide to do. If he's never gone, he might want to take half and pay his own airfare. That might be something you should consider as a favor to him, no?

    1. Stamps won a seat in our first season, but did poorly in the WSOP. I'm sure he'd like another bite of the apple.

  3. Huge ouch -- but you can't fold in that spot. If you ended up folding your way out of the tournament and didn't win a trip to Las Vegas, you would be kicking yourself for playing too cautiously. Good luck in deciding what to do.

  4. Yikes, that really is a bad beat, especially since no one, including your opponent, realized he had the straight draw in addition to the flush draw.

    Hope you come to an agreeable decision regarding the WSOP.

    BTW, I believe my very next post will discuss how worthless a set of Jacks can be.

    1. If you need a witness on your set of jacks story, I'm willing to testify.