August 9, 2002





I went out playing poker tonight and ended up losing a big hand – which won me a lot of money.

I was playing $3/$6 Texas Hold’em at my favorite local card-house, the Bicycle Club. The dealer gave me pocket Aces, the flop came up Ace, Jack, 9. I’ve got three of a kind, Aces. Sweet.

I bet, the woman to my left raises me, most of the other players drop out, I call. There are four, maybe five of us in the hand now. I wonder what the woman has, but I’m not too worried – I’ve got the best possible hand right now. She can raise all she wants because it’s all coming to me in the end.

The next card comes up an 8. I look carefully for flush possibilities; there aren’t any. I bet, once again, the woman raises me. There’s a possible straight on the board, so I joke to her "You don’t have that King/Queen, do you?" I’m a little worried that she might, but even if she does I have her beaten at this point. If the river card comes up a 10, then I’ll be really worried. My hand is still on top, though, so I call.

The dealer deals the last card: a 9. Now I’ve got a full house -- Aces full of 9s. I’m golden – her possible straight is dead, I have the best full house possible. I own this pot, it’s just a matter of finishing the betting.

I bet, the woman raises me. What the hell? Everyone else drops out; it’s down to just the two of us; I look hard at the board to see what she might have. There’s no flush and her straight is broken. With a pair of 9s and that Ace on board, it’s possible she has another full house with A9 as her down cards, but my full house beats hers if she does. She wants to raise me? Okay, fine. I re-raise her back. She doesn’t even hesitate: she calls. What the hell?

The dealer calls for us to show cards. I turn over my pocket rockets, smile, and wait for her face to fall when she realizes I’ve got her. Instead, she smiles and turns over pocket 9s. She has four of a kind, 9s. she's got me!

It’s a big pot, too, probably $75, maybe $100 in there. It’s going to hurt to watch her drag those chips. But everyone at the table starts going nuts; jumping, yelling, cheering, slapping me on the back. It’s a Jackpot hand!

Most of the casinos out here have what they call Bad Beat jackpots, where when a monster hand like my Aces full gets cracked by an even bigger monster hand, the loser wins the jackpot. Actually, everyone wins: the loser wins half the jackpot, the winner wins , and the remaining is paid out to everyone who was dealt into the hand. That’s why they’re all so happy – they’ve all won some money. The 3/6 Bad Beat jackpot was up to $3900 when we hit it.

My share of the jackpot was $1950. Not bad for losing a big pot.

The really funny thing is that when we all sat down at the table, the old guy to my right and I were talking about how we’d never even seen a jackpot at a table we were at. He said he didn’t mind not winning, he just wanted to see one. I said I’d rather win it than see it, so we agreed that I’d win it tonight and he’d watch me. And that’s exactly what happened.

After I hit, this same guy starting giving me a sob story about how since he’s Canadian and doesn’t have California ID, the casino won’t give him his share of the jackpot. Sure enough, he showed me the form they gave him indicating that he had to show proper ID to collect. He moaned about how this wasn’t the first jackpot he’d missed out on because of this ID problem, but that it would cost him "more than the jackpot" to get the proper ID. I was feeling pretty flush at the moment, so I gave him $50 since he wasn’t collecting his proper share ($108) of the jackpot.

(Lest you think I’m too much of a soft touch, I’d been watching how he was playing [badly] and knew that if I staked him the $50, I’d be winning most – if not all – of it back from him before I said goodnight. And that’s exactly what happened, too.)

All told, after tipping the dealer $100 and staking the sob story to a $50 buy-in, I ended up cashing out $2003 off of a $100 buy-in, and $100 of that was table winnings over and above the jackpot. So, yeah, I had a pretty good night.