Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Nut

Well, almost the nut, anyway.

Would that be the demi-nut? Maybe the quazi-nut?

I'm not sure. What I do know is, there was only one card that could beat me.

The Nut-hand, as it were, in Poker, is the best possible hand you can have, given the cards that are in play. Sometimes, when the board is very bad, the nut can be very small. Or, when there is a whole family of face cards on the board, it can be very large.

The deal came, and I had a King and a three, both hearts. The pot was small, and the minimum bet was a dollar. So, I limped in, and waited for the flop.

The flop came with three consecutive middle cards, giving someone a possible straight. Not me, mind you. However, two of the flop cards were hearts, giving me a Flush draw.

Now generally, it is my personal rule not to chase Straights or Flushes, but this time, no one chased me out, and it was cheap to stay in. Then, the fourth card, the Turn card, came, making an obvious Straight draw on the board. Betting continued to be light. It cost me next to nothing to call, so I stuck around for the river, and my 1-in-4 chance of a heart.

The river came, and it was the Queen of Hearts. The Queen extended the range for those who were chasing the straight. For me though, it made my flush.

Some folks saw the flush draw and abandoned their Straights, but not everyone...

I knew what my hole-cards were. I didn't have to re-check them. I didn't play with them. I didn't touch them. I looked at the board and calculated. I knew a Straight-Flush was out of the question. Four-of-a-Kind was not possible, nor even was a Full House.

No, the Nut was a Flush, and the Nut-Flush was an Ace-High, which I did not have. I had a King-high Flush. The second highest possible hand. There was only one card in the entire deck that could beat me, the Ace-of-Hearts, and it would have to have another heart in the hole with it to matter...

I began to calculate the odds of one of the other players holding both the Ace-of-Hearts AND a another heart. That was like 52-to-1 times 4-to-1 minus the cards in play plus the burn cards, but what about the folded cards... and... uh... aw, fuckit, I wasn't smart enough to work out those calculations.

I made the decision that I had the effective nut.

Then, I watched those who had made their relative Straights confidently bet, raise and re-raise. The bet made its way around the big table to the shadowy corner where I sat. I would not go all-in, not wanting to chase away other people's money. Still, I wanted to bet for value and suck my opponents dry.

They were all so smug in their Straights and possible smaller Flushes. They were blind to the Nut. They could not comprehend it. And so, I bet. Large.

I stared at the mound of chips in the middle. I looked at no one.

I heard the friendly man to my left (who had a large Straight) confidently call my enormous bet. I heard the woman at the end of the table (who had a small flush) call as well.

And then there was silence.

There was a brief moment of pure satisfaction. Like catching two fish on one hook. Like watching your favorite team hit the tie-breaking homerun at the bottom of the ninth. Like the moment the girl you want to kiss smiles and leans-in for it.

It is the instant of pre-victory, adreneline and expectation, and time stood still for just the briefest of seconds...

...and then we rolled the cards.

Sure, I contemplated the statistical impropbabilty of an Ace-high flush sucking me out, but the odds-gods smiled on me. The Ace was no where to be found.

And then, the warm glow of victory.

And I wonder, will Obama feel that Tuesday night? Will it be five minutes before the polls close on the west coast? Will he be within grasp by the time the clocks strike 8 in the Pacific Time Zone? He holds the Nut in California, Oregon and Washington.

Will it be a sense of terror mixed with exhileration? Confidnece? Silence? Will he close his eyes and ride the current in to history? Maybe. I probably will.


  1. Lucky Red5:34 AM

    If he doesn't win, I'll be posting from either France or Ireland...I hear Canada is about full up...

  2. I had a very vivid dream about Hell last night. I think anxiety snuck in past the soothing alcohol balm.

  3. frenchie8:30 AM

    No thanks Red. We hate Americans

  4. Wow. Reading about poker is even more boring than watching it on television.

  5. Carl Edwards9:02 AM

    Didn't anyone see my victory back flip?

  6. I'm sure that by 8p Pacific Time, you'll be too intoxicated to read the election results on your screen... Not that that's a bad thing...

  7. The poker story was a bit anti-climatic. I was waiting for either the Ace of Hearts to crush your calculated dreams or for the woman at the end of the table to shoot you in the ding dong.

    But Obama can taste the victory.

  8. Carl Edwards9:48 AM

    Who the hell am I?

  9. someone who made it through the poker story12:03 PM

    I thought it was The Nuts, which always sounded wrong to me...


Be compelling.

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