Poker Through the Eyes of an Amateur

July 21, 2006


Hand 1:

You're nearing the end of a large MTT. You've been playing for hours and doing pretty well, but now the competition is getting really tough. When it's folded to you, you look down to see pocket eights. You decide to open the betting with the snowmen and lead out for a raise. You get only one caller; not a bad spot to be in with a pocket pair.

The flop comes K92 rainbow. Ugh, not the best flop for your hand at all. You decide to check it and see what your opponent will do. He leads out $30k, a suspicious bet for the pot size. In fact, you think, it looks like a steal. Your opponent only has $120k more behind, and if he beats you, it's a hit you can take. You decide to come over the top. Your opponent insta-calls and flips AA.

You start counting out chips to pass across the table when one of the black 8s hits on the turn. The entire table freezes. The immediate surroundings have become eerily quiet. The river is a four of hearts, and your set holds, busting out another player in the process. It appears luck is on your side.

Hand 2:

You're down to ten people now with one more player to go before the final table. You look down to see AQo, and you open the pot with a raise to $60k. Two people call. The flop comes down Q6Q with two spades, and you nearly pee your pants. This is almost the best flop you could have hoped for. You decide to lead out with a small bet of $70k, and you get a call and fold behind you.

The turn comes a 9c, and you decide to bet out $200k. Surprisingly, your opponent moves all in. You have him covered, and you decide that you have to call with your trips and top kicker. Your opponent flips over 99, and you stare in shock. You're drawing to one queen, three sixes, and two aces. Only six outs! Amazingly enough, the ace of diamonds comes on the river, propelling you into the chip lead and the final table.

The House That Luck Built:

You are Chris Moneymaker, and you have survived in the 2003 WSOP main event with two major suckouts. As we all know, Chris went on to take down the whole thing and sparked the biggest poker boom the world has ever seen. The guy is obviously a good player; you have to be in order to make it as deep as he did in the WSOP main event.

However, if he had lost either of these two hands, the results (and not just of the tournament itself) could have been drastically different. All of the other eight players at the final table were pros or semi-pros. The two players he knocked out were Humberto Brenez (hand 1) and Phil Ivey (hand 2). If he'd lost either of those two hands, he would have doubled up an extremely dangerous player.

I'm sure this has been discussed on tons of sites much better than mine, but I'd never thought about it until recently. I wonder. If Chris Moneymaker had finished anywhere other than first place, would I ever have started playing poker? Would the nation have cared that an average Joe from Tennessee finished, say, 2nd if Farha had taken him out heads up? Would this blog exist? Most likely not. Variance can be cruel, at times, but it's interesting to look back and see how a couple of hands can change the course of many people's lives, including my own.


  • Great post, Matt. I love thinking about this.

    "Would this blog even exist?"

    I love it!

    Although I have to say, any pro will tell you that people suck out sometimes during tournaments, even big winners do that often more than once in a large mtt. In general, I think Moneymaker played awesome in the 2004 WSOP that I saw. I saw this guy make strong move after strong move after strong move man. He was awesome, despite the two big suggouts.

    By Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo, at 7/21/2006 9:53 PM  

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