Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Santa Claus" Steve, Running the Board Twice, and a Bad Beat

On Friday, I suffered what I think was probably my worst beat ever. I consider it bad form to tell bad-beat stories (nobody really wants to hear them anyway), but there is a ridiculous story around this that makes it rather interesting, and I wanted to use this opportunity to describe the practice of "running the board" twice or three times.

A regular player in my game is an elderly man named Steve. Steve is a losing player, but supposedly a few years ago he played far worse, virtually giving his money away whenever he came to the table.This along with his white beard earned him the nickname "Santa Claus" Steve. Despite being extremely animated and friendly, Steve often seems on the brink of death. He is diabetic, has heart disease, and his fingernails are falling off. He is sometimes medicated with Valium and probably other drugs, and he aggravates his condition by regularly playing 24-hour sessions regularly, including drunken ones at the Korean home game that I've been invited to. Anyway, on Friday he arrived at the Bike while I was playing in a $300-500 buyin NL game. He walked right up behind me and began telling me a bad beat story from 4 am that morning at the Korean club. I said "Hi, Steve," and turned back to my game. This didn't deter him from continuing on with his stories, as he proceeded to tell me a second and a third story from the previous night without any response from me. This was unusual behavior even for Steve.

Later, Steve told me he had been up for about 40 hours at this point. There was nothing I could do to get him to shut up. I knew I was going to be playing with him all day, so I went to the gift shop and bought some headphones for my iPod. I generally do not listen to my iPod while I play because I find it too distracting, but I clearly needed to be able to tune out Steve.

Without exaggeration, I would estimate that Steve talked for 45-60 seconds out of every minute for the next 7 hours. I was glad for my iPod, but he was still really getting on my nerves. Two of the bigger losers in the game left early because they could not put up with Steve's incessant ramblings. At one point I refused to rabbit-hunt for him after I won a hand from him before the flop. This upset him greatly and he told me he was making a target of me and would be putting me all-in before long.

The "bad beat" hand in question happened about 5 hours into the session. Before I describe the hand, I need to explain a type of deal that is sanctioned at the $500+ buyin NL game at the Bike, and possibly at other casinos.

If there are only two or three players left in a hand and everyone is all-in with more cards to come, those players still in the hand can agree to deal out the rest of the cards either two or three times. Then the pot is split into two or three pieces, and each player gets as many pieces as number of times he his hand won. For example, if I go all-in with AK and get called by QQ, my opponent and I can agree to run the entire 5-card board twice. If I win both times, I get the whole pot. If I win one of the two times I get half the pot. If I lose both I lose the pot. Deals can also be made after the flop or turn.

On the hand in question I was in the big blind with 86 of diamonds, I had about $3000, Steve had $1380, and the small blind had about $1300. One person limped for $10. Steve raised to $50 on the button, the small blind (a weak player) called, I called, and the limper called.

The flop was 9c7c5d, giving me a straight for the nuts and also a backdoor flush draw. When the small blind checked, Steve was rambling on and said something about needing to make a continuation bet. I decided to check, too, figuring Steve would probably follow through and make the promised c-bet. The third player checked and Steve made a huge bet of $500 (the pot was only about $200). Surprisingly, the small blind pushed all-in. I also pushed all-in, and Steve called for his last $830.

This was a big pot, and I figured I was up against a club flush draw, so I asked my opponents if they wanted to make a deal. Steve said, "well, let's see what you have," so I showed my 8d6d. The small blind showed Ac6c, for the nut flush draw and a straight draw. Steve had QcTc, for a flush draw.

"No way, I don't want to make a deal," said Steve, continuing to shout more inane comments. My supervisor, who was also in the game, yelled at Steve to be quiet and reminded me and the third player that we could still make a deal without Steve. So we agreed that, assuming Steve lost on the first run, we would run the turn and river two extra times and split the pot accordingly. I expected to win two thirds of the pot, or maybe only one third if I was a little unlucky.

Notice that Steve's only chances of winning are for the turn and river to come KJ or J8 with either no clubs or both clubs (for a straight flush). Also, even if neither card was a club, if both cards were diamonds, I would make a flush to win. Surprisingly, this means he has a 2.21% chance of winning, or about 1/45. I would win 61.24% and tie with the third player 6.53%. The third player would win the remaining 30.01%.

Needless to say, Steve won the $4000 pot as the turn and river came Jh Ks. I counted out $1330, gave it to Steve, put back on my headphones, and played the next hand.


Craig Berger said...

One wonders what two hands he was hoping to see when he said he would consider a deal based on what you had...

Alex Sherman said...

well, at least he sounds like he could use the money....

Keith said...

Steve, like many other players, seems to have an endless supply of money. I don't understand it.

Anonymous said...

That is a really bad beat. It is amazing though, as you note, that he has more than a 2% chance to win there. It feels like it would be so much less, intuitively. You probably have experienced so much more unlikely beats, actually, but that runner runner straight for a big pot is pretty dramatic. I hope you have some great luck this weekend in life, for you and Brigid!