By Bruce Farrow on April 4, 2015
It was 4.30am and she had been at the poker table for near enough 18 hours.
It was a private poker room in the Venetian Casino in Las Vegas and the game had started with 8 players. Over the hours those numbers had dwindled and now, as she looked across the table, there were two players left in the game.
She had used all her tenacity to hold on, after all, she was playing with her life savings which had, over the hours, dwindled by 50%. She had fought and struggled all night, but the cards had run against her and, by her own admission, she hadn’t played her best game and had let her opponents take several significant pots with basic errors.
She had started with $100,000 and now, as she viewed her chips, she estimated about $50,000 remaining.
It had started some time ago when she had been offered a business opportunity that was simply the best opportunity she had ever had in her lifetime. It was almost too good to be true – just perfect in every sense yet there was one problem with it. It needed $150,000 of investment and once done, it would reap her immeasurable riches.
The problem was that she didn’t have the necessary investment. She had $100,000 but not $150,000 and the banks, as per usual, had not been very helpful.
She had tried everything to raise the funds but to no avail and that was when she hit on the idea of playing poker for it. Now, she was no rank amateur at poker but she had never played for such high stakes. Would she be good enough? Would she hold her nerve? Was it worth risking her life savings?
She decided that it was her only option and she went for it and that is how she came to be sitting in a darkened poker room at 4.30am.
The game was Texas Hold’em which goes like this. Each player is dealt two cards and then a further 3 cards are placed in the middle of the table. These are called the flop and are essentially community cards – in other words, the player looks to make the best hand out of what was dealt to them plus 3 cards from the centre of the table. A round of betting follows and then another community card is placed in the middle of the table. This is called the turn. Following more betting another card is laid in the centre with the other community cards – this is called the river. The player’s hand thus consists of their own two cards plus the best 3 cards from the 5 community cards.
She had drawn a King and Queen of hearts on this initial deal.
The flop had revealed a King of spades, a 10 of hearts and an Ace of clubs.
She had a pair of Kings but the Ace worried her. If one of the other two players had been dealt an Ace then her Kings would be useless.
She bit the bullet and raised $10,000. The others called. Still 3 players in the game.
The dealer flipped another Ace (hearts) on the turn.
Now she was really worried. With a pair of aces in the community cards, her chances of winning this hand were going down the pan. Even if a King appeared on the river she would lose. Her only chance now would be to draw a heart on the river giving her a flush (5 hearts). The chances of that were about 1 in 3. She could also win if the dealer dealt a Jack with a straight. But the chances of that were remote. Even more remote were the chances of her drawing a Jack of hearts giving her an Ace-high straight flush.
She looked at the other players who studied their cards intently. Did either of them hold that Ace? They had all called her bet quickly on the turn. Were they bluffing?
A trickle of sweat ran down the forehead of the man opposite her. What did that mean?
So it had come down to this. Her business opportunity, the once in a lifetime shot, had come down to the turn of a card. She had already lost nearly two thirds of her life’s savings in the pursuit of the dream. Should she gamble the rest?
She took stock of the situation. She currently had 2 Kings. However, if on the river a heart of any description was dealt, she would have a flush, Ace high, which would pretty well beat anything. The odds on this were about 1in 3. If a Jack was dealt of any suit she would have a straight – yet again, a good hand. But there were two Aces on the table and if either player had one in their hands and a heart did not come on the river or a Jack, then she would lose.
This was the pivot point in her life. The time when questions were asked of her courage. This was an all or nothing moment. This was all in or walk away. Could she stand up and be counted?
If she lost, she would lose the lot. All her life’s savings would be gone. The once in a life time business opportunity would be gone and she would be worse off than when she started. She would have nothing and walk away a broken woman.
She could choose to walk away now with his $40000. It wouldn’t be good but she would have something.
She couldn’t risk it. She couldn’t bring herself to go all in and risk losing everything. After all you have to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.
She threw her cards on the table, put her jacket on, picked up her remaining chips and walked out, shoulders hunched. She had tried and had failed. Her once in a life time chance had gone up in smoke.
Behind her, the river card was dealt. A Jack of hearts which would have given her an almost unbeatable Ace-high straight flush.
The man who had been sweating, flipped his hand on the table – a pair of tens. He had been bluffing.
She never knew how close she had been . . .