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The World Series of Poker

Our Gambling Expert's Trip to the Big Leagues Ends With a Lesson in Hardball
Michael Konik
From the Print Edition:
John F. Kennedy, Nov/Dec 98

(continued from page 4)

* He has queens or jacks and thinks he has the best hand: Would that it were so! But probably not.

* He has nothing (a small pair, perhaps) and is running a stone cold bluff: Only one way to find out.

I mull my options. Fold or raise; fold or raise. I do not even consider calling, since, if any card but a king falls on fourth street (is dealt as the next community card), I'm stuck in the same uncertain predicament. (One professional gambler friend of mine thinks calling the $3,000 would have been a great play, for reasons that are too esoteric for my meager poker intelligence.) To me, the decision is clear: either fold or raise.

I can't decide. I just don't know.

For two minutes I think. (Two minutes is an eternity at the poker table.) I stare at Larry, trying to get a hint from his body language. He's still and silent, and he doesn't respond when I talk to him. "If you've got aces, you've got me beat," I say, seeing if he'll react. He doesn't.

I don't know. I look around the table. The rest of the group is growing impatient, yet nobody says anything. They sense the gravity of the moment.

I decide to raise.

Now, "decide" is not really the word, since I am not at all convinced that this is the correct move. But I am having something akin to an out-of-body experience: my mouth is saying "raise" and my hands are putting another $8,000 in chips into the pot. Yet my heart is not remotely convinced that my hands and mouth know what they are doing. I'm watching a film of myself, and I am powerless to change the ending.

Larry considers my bet for about three seconds and moves all his chips into the pot. "All in," he says, raising me another $10,000 or so.

I shake my head in disgust and flip my kings into the muck.

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