Worst Play — or Player — Ever?

by Lou on May 1, 2006

I’ve been posting so much lately on impending legislation about online gaming, that I’ve neglected real poker content. So here’s a poker story that is stunning. It may even be a candidate for the worst play ever.

Yesterday I was playing hold’em at a nearby casino when the following play developed. I wasn’t involved in the hand, and had only joined the table about ten minutes earlier, so I was watching closely to get a line of those opponents I didn’t know.

It’s a kill pot and the stakes are doubled for this hand. Our hero is in the big blind the player posting the kill is two seats to his left. It’s raised, then reraised by the two players to the killer’s immediate left. There’s a cold caller too by the time the action gets back to Our Hero, the big blind. He calls, voluntarily tossing two-and-a-half additonal bets into the pot. The killer calls; the initial raiser then caps, and everyone calls as they take the flop four-handed.

The flop is Q-6-4 of mixed suits — none of those suits are hearts; just remember this as the hand plays out — and there’s no logical straight draw either. So the players who casually raised, reraised, cold-called, and capped the betting must all have a big pair or big cards — or at least one would think they do — in order to justify their participation in the hand. Of course, one of them could have played a smaller pocket pair and flopped a set, I don’t know any of this for sure — and at this point in the hand, neither does Our Hero.

Our Hero checks, the killer comes out betting, the guy to his left raises and it’s called around to Our Hero who calls too. The killer reraises and the guy to his left caps it again. No one has folded, and I have no idea what anyone has.

The turn card is 9 of clubs, and now there are two clubs on board and the board is Q-6-4-9. Our Hero checks, the killer checks too, the guy to his left bets and the guy who was cold-calling now raises!

Our Hero calls the double bet, and so does everyone else.

The river card is the 9 of diamonds, and the final board is Q-6-4-9-9 and there’s no worries about anyone having a straight or a flush, but plenty of worries about full houses, given the way the hand has played out thus far.

Our Hero and the killer both check, the guy to the killer’s left comes out betting. He’s called by the guy who was cold-calling, but now Our Hero raises. The killer folds, but the guy to his left calls as does the guy was cold calling.

Our Hero turns over Th-9h and wins the pot with trip nines. A pair of kings was flashed as it was folded and everyone else mucked their hands anonymously.

Our Hero called the flop with no pair, no draw — not even as little as a back-door flush draw — and one overcard on board. He withstood raise after raise to catch runner-runner and win the pot.

It was probably as dumb a play as I’d ever seen, but he also won the biggest pot — by far — during the seven hours I was in the game. Although he was as bad a player as I ever saw, that huge pot — it would have been a huge pot under any circumstances but it was a full-fledged, Category 5 monster because it was a kill pot and the stakes doubled for that hand — was enough to guarantee that Our Hero would still be ahead of the game by the time I left.

But he wasn’t all that much ahead, and I had the distinct feeling that if he stayed and played another two or three hours, that he would leave a loser. All I knew then was that judging by the way these guys played, I intended to stay in that game until I absolutley had to leave.

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