Someone asked me recently about the craziest poker hand I've ever seen. I've witnessed quite a few, but this is the one that beats them all.
I was playing in the $5-10 no limit hold'em game at the Wynn in Las Vegas. The game had been going for several hours and most of the players had pretty deep stacks.
It didn't take long to realize that the guys sitting in the middle of the table were driving all the action. They were next to each other in the five and six seats, each had over $10,000 in chips, and seemed to have a score to settle, raising and re-raising each other. This was not collusion, which I discussed in a recent column. These two were not playing with each other -- they were each trying to crush the other guy. In response, the rest of us played fairly passively, because you didn't want to get caught in the middle of this vendetta unless you had a monster hand -- in which case you could win a huge pot.
With that as prelude, here's the hand as I remember it. Because I never knew their names, let's call them by their seat numbers.
Before the flop, Seat 5 raised to $50, as we'd seen him do dozens of times. With less than a moment's hesitation (a micro-moment?), Seat 6 re-raised to $200. Everyone else folded, but Seat 5 called. The flop came out Ace-Ace-Ace. Seat 5 checked, Seat 6 over-bet the pot $500, Seat 2 check-raised to $2,000, and Seat 6 quickly called.
See what I mean about craziness? Wait, it gets better.
Just as the rest of us were trying to guess which one of these guys held the fourth ace, we were startled to see that card come out on the turn. In all of my years playing poker, I had never seen the board fill up with four cards of the same rank in a row, let alone aces. Four out of five, yes, but never four out of four.
How did these two guys react? By betting even more. Seat 5 led out for $5,000 and Seat 6 (who seemingly acted without thinking) announced he was all-in. Since he had more chips than Seat 5, he was forcing his opponent into a decision for all of his chips -- somewhere north of $7,000 more. Seat 5 looked to his left at Seat 6, studied his face, and called!
Having verified that Seat 5 had called, the dealer put out the river card, a four, and we waited to see what the players had. By "we," I mean not just the rest of us at the table, but a dozen more onlookers from other tables who had gathered because they heard a huge hand was in progress.
With four aces on the board, whoever held a king would have the best hand (AAAAK), but neither of them did. They also didn't have a queen, or a jack.
Because Seat 6 had moved in, he was required to show his hand first, and sheepishly turned over a pair of deuces! Seat 5 laughed as he triumphantly turned over his cards -- a pair of threes!! Because the board read AAAA4, none of the hole cards mattered, and they split the pot.
Someone in the crowd shouted, "What the fuck??" That pretty much summed up everyone's reaction.
Then began the commentary, with people applauding both of them for their incredibly ballsy play, especially Seat 6's all-in shove with undercards to the board. I thought some of this was to encourage them to continue playing like maniacs, but it left me thinking about how stupid Seat 5's river call was. After all, with a pair of threes, he was going to lose that hand -- and his stack -- if his opponent held any card higher than a four!
The dealer split the pot. They each got their chips back, and split the remaining fifteen dollars from the blinds.
There was one lesson I took from that hand -- don't ever try to bluff either of these guys, because they will call you with literally nothing. I stayed a couple more hours, won a few pots here and there, left with a nice profit, and made a mental note to remember The Craziest Hand I've Ever Seen.
See more of my poker stories here.