I suffered a bad beat recently that was truly surreal. I was playing in a $6/$12-limit Hold’em game at a nearby casino and happened to have a couple of loose cannons seated at my nine-player table. I really couldn’t wait for my chance to beat one of them in a big pot . . . or so I thought.
Opportunity soon knocked when one of the loose cannons, let’s call him Mr. Maniac, raised to open the betting on a new hand. I looked down to find pocket queens, so I immediately re-raised. There were a couple of callers, and then Mr. Maniac capped it at four bets pre-flop. The flop came Q-4-2 rainbow. My crazy competition, first to act, fired out. I decided to raise, which drove the other two callers out of the hand. Mr. Maniac, not surprisingly, re-raised and then I just called (hoping to entice him to fire out again to me on the turn).
The turn produced the seven of hearts, which kept the board a rainbow of unsuited cards. As anticipated, my hapless opponent fired out again. I re-raised, hoping I wouldn’t inadvertently cause him to fold. Such fear, naturally, proved unfounded as he re-raised back, making it three bets. I began to put him on a hand such as pocket rockets or possibly K-K, which were over pairs to the board and which Mr. Maniac would likely think were golden.
As I’d soon learn, however, what Mr. Maniac actually held was 4-4, which gave me the better set, queens versus fours. The board, you’ll recall, was Q-4-2-7, all unsuited. So, this poor fish I’d hooked was drawing dead to the last four in the deck with only one card to come! Even though I didn’t yet know what he held, I re-raised again on the turn, making it four bets. Normally, four bets is a cap — but not when the hand is being played heads-up. So, when Mr. Maniac, with his paltry three fours, re-raised me with a fifth bet, guess what I did? Yup, re-raised him with a sixth bet (which, incidentally, totally depleted both of our stacks).
Then an odd, cursed thing happened. As I was making my bet, the dealer momentarily lost his focus and turned over the river card before we were done betting. Perhaps he was glancing at a TV across from the poker room, or thinking about what he’d eat on his break, or who knows? Such blunders happen from time to time; dealers are human and can make mistakes. The general rule when a river card is accidentally exposed is that it’s returned to the deck, the remaining cards are shuffled, and then a new river card is dealt.
Anyway, much to my dismay, the mistakenly exposed river card was none other than the queen of diamonds, which would have given me four of a kind! I tried to forget about this tormenting near-miss as the dealer prepared to re-issue the river card. Because Mr. Maniac and I had both invested all of our chips in the $450-plus pot, we were basically all-in at this point and so we decided to show our hands. He turned over his pocket fours and, having no clue what he was facing from me, declared, “My hand is already made!” I showed him my queens and joked, “My hand was made on the river, but I guess it’s not made anymore!” Mr. Maniac’s face turned bright red when he realized how badly he’d overvalued his hand.
Finally, the dealer was ready to deliver the river card, for the second and final time. Need I say what it was? Yes, incredibly, the four of clubs, giving my opponent four of a kind . . . and me an ulcer.