I spent an hour commiserating with Aaron. To say he was annoyed would be an understatement; a few of the words he uttered were not expletives.
He was in a $2 - $5 blinds no-limit game, with a $500 maximum buy-in. His stack of $1,500 was typical for the game.
“It was the best game ever,” he began. I was wondering how much money he lost. “There were four drunken maniacs with bottomless wallets. I was up over a thousand. This hand was typical.
“One of the maniacs raised to $20, and I think one player folded. I was holding 7d-6d and called, of course. The flop was a delightful 5d-4d-Jh. The maniac made a continuation bet of $100, two players called, the other maniacs folded, and I semi-bluff raised to $485. The maniac called, and the other guy called all-in for about $450.
“The turn was the best card in the deck, the 8s. He shoved for about $900 more. I called, of course. He actually had a set of jacks but he didn’t hit any of his outs.
“Now I was up two grand. The game was great; the players were having fun and the maniacs were having a ball donating to me, Liz, and Scott. They didn’t mind losing their money, and they were pulling out hundreds like they had a printing press in their back pocket.
“Then I had black kings in the small blind. A different maniac raised from late position, and everyone had so many chips that it made no sense for me to re-raise it—all it would do is make a huge pot and you know that big hands aren’t worth as much in multi-way pots.”
Aaron’s right, of course. Kings are a great hand heads up, but when you are going to play against five opponents your chance of winning drops dramatically. He was the most likely player to win the pot pre-flop, but out-of-position and deep-stacked, his trepidation was warranted.
“The flop was about as ugly as you could get: Ah-10h-9h. I checked—I was done with the hand. By the time the betting was back to me there were four raises and two players were all-in: a king-high flush against a straight flush draw!”
Aaron paused, so I remarked to him, “Yeah, I’d rather have small suited connectors in a game like that.”
“Absolutely,” Aaron said. “There was lots of money to be made because the maniacs were overplaying everything. Liz really cleaned up when one of them min-raised aces, and she called with 3-2 and flopped a wheel against his set.
“Then it all went to pieces.”
I’ll leave out Aaron’s expletives. “What happened?” I asked.
“One of the maniacs left, and Roger took his seat. You know, the guy who’s a nit for rules.”
“Him? I thought he got transferred to Ohio.”
“Nope, he only went on vacation to see his grandkids. Unfortunately, he was back in all his glory. You know the song Cold as Ice? Well, the game went from a happy game where the donators were delighted to be donating to a miserable affair where everyone wanted to head for the nearest exit. Less than ten minutes after Roger showed up all the maniacs were gone. I left, too.”
“Well, at least you had a good session.”
“Yeah, but a game like this happens only once in a blue moon. There’s never a reason to poison a game, yet that’s all Roger and like does. I won a lot, but it could have been so much more.”
I really couldn’t add anything to what Aaron said.
Russell Fox is the co-author of “Mastering No-Limit Hold’em,” “Why You Lose at Poker,” and “Winning Strategies for No-Limit Hold’em.” He’s a federally licensed tax preparer specializing in gambling, with a blog at taxabletalk.com. E-mail Russ at email@example.com