On the Set in London: Day One

by Lou on May 11, 2005

The first half-day of filming is done, and so far, so good. We’re all crowded onto a small set – the production team of Warwick Bank, Tom Williams, Michael Shallvey, Keith Darbyshire and me. I’m able to give them what they want in relatively few takes. One sequence took four takes, but for most of the other sequences it was two takes and out. Some of the takes were voice-overs; others were filmed.

During a break I go back to my room and find a $10-$20 hold’em game online at Royal Vegas Poker. I’m ahead from the get-go with a series of good hands. Then I flop a set of treys on the button. My opponent bets the turn, I raise, and he comes back over the top and three bets me. The board now reads K-7-3-2 and the suits are mixed and immaterial. The deuce that turned obviously couldn’t have helped him or hurt me. What’s more, I know he doesn’t have a big king because the pot was not raised before the flop. He either has K-7, in which case I’m ahead, or he has a set of sevens and I’m way behind. (Yes, he could have slow played a pocket pair of kings and now has a set of cowboys, though the odds are against it; but with bottom set in my hand any other set that flopped has me drawing just as lean.)

I think it was fellow poker author Lee Jones who said that if you don’t lose at least a stack of chips when your set is cracked, you’re playing too conservatively. And when you lose a set-over-set confrontation — as opposed to a set losing out to a straight, flush, or full house — you figure to lose even more because you won’t realize that you’re up against another set until you’ve already committed a lot of chips to the pot. With straights, flushes, or full houses, at least the board provides a clue to the possibility of a bigger hand. When it’s set over set in an unraised pot, you’ve no clues whatsoever, outside of the repetitive bets and raises tossed at you by your opponent.

At this point I figure he probably has me beaten and drawing to one out only, so I just call the third raise and call his river bet too. I’m not surprised when my opponent turns over 7-7 for a set-over-set winner.

I lose the next hand I play too. I flopped a straight in the big blind with 5-4 when the flop was 7-6-3 of a beautiful rainbow hue. The turn card is a jack that can’t hurt me, but the river is a six, and my opponent turns over 7-6 for a full house. Instead of beating the game, I’m stuck.

Ten minutes later I win three hands in a row (it’s not all that unusual when the game is six-handed) and I’m back up a few hundred dollars. Then I’m paged back to the set for more filming.

A few more filmed segments. A few more voice overs, and I’m done for the day. Tomorrow it’s more of the same. More voice-overs, more filmed segments, and more poker too.

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