Against All Odds
As I read through these amazing hands, I realize I remember them all -- and some all too well! Many of them I would like to forget, like the one titled "The Weirdest and Biggest Pot of My Life -- So Far," which talks about a key $1.5 million pot that I lost at the final table of the 2001 WSOP (World Series of Poker). Another couple of hands that I would like to forget are the two titled "Wow, Are You Serious?" and "Phil Misreads His Hand, Too," where T. J. Cloutier and I both misread our hands in key pots, one of them on Fox TV! Others, like "Spooky Hand," I remember fondly. Whatever else might be said about them, these are all remarkably odd hands.
The Shirt Off My Back
Very superstitious, writing's on the wall ...
When you believe in things you don't understand ...
-- Stevie Wonder, "Superstition," 1972
You often hear about the superstitions of sports figures: some refuse to shower or shave before a big game, others only wear a certain pair of socks, and some may take a certain route to the ball field, being careful to avoid the baseline. In fact, Michael Jordan always wore a pair of sky-blue North Carolina shorts beneath his NBA shorts in every pro game he played, and don't try to tell me that they helped him fly higher! Whatever works, right? If it ain't broke, don't fix it, and all that.
The same may be true for some of the professional poker players I know. In future tournaments, will John Duthie wear the same lucky black shirt he was wearing when he won the 2000 Poker Million -- and a million pounds?
(That's my shirt, by the way, John. Is there any chance you'll be giving it back to me someday? You told me quite clearly, when I literally gave you the shirt off my back, that my black UltimateBet.com shirt was the only one you'd be willing to wear. Afterward, you told millions of television viewers that you were wearing my shirt, so it's hard to believe you don't remember that it's mine. Ultimate Bet.com and I certainly appreciate the exposure, but can I get the shirt back now? Or do you intend to wear it again soon? I guess I can't blame you. If I had won in 2000, I'd be wearing the same shirt, too!)
Will past Shooting Star winners John Bonetti and Huck Seed find themselves in the same accommodations when they go to Silicon Valley to play in Bay 101's Shooting Stars event?
(That was my house, by the way, Huck and Bono. Of course, someone staying at my house will win again. Maybe I shouldn't have invited you to stay again. Oh yeah, that's right, you invited yourselves to stay at my house! Even if I did pay for my house by staking Bono in the past, a man's got to make a living. Do I want to give away a percentage of what I have to win by having the two of you, and, geez, Andy Glazer as well, stay with me this year? Well, never let it be said that I'm not a man of my word. Sure, come on and stay over. I'll just have to make do with only a 25 percent chance of winning the Shooting Stars, along with Huck, Bono, and Andy!)
Wait a minute, I think I see a trend! Maybe I'm the good-luck charm! After all, I'm burdened with my own superstitions as well. I always wear black at major championship events, and you have to admit that my success is better than average. But does this make any sense at all? As a game theorist, I know that my chances to win are the same whether I wear black or white, but I have to admit to being a bit superstitious. And I believe only in good luck (not bad), and that should count for something.
Anyway, wearing my trademark good-luck black shirt (yes, the same type that John Duthie wore at the 2000 Poker Million), I attacked the $1,000 buy-in HOSE tournament (Hold'em, Omaha Eight or Better, Stud, and Stud Eight or Better) at the Commerce Casino's Los Angeles Poker Classic in 2002. (The Commerce Casino should be applauded for putting on a terrific poker tournament! Their room is the best one we have in poker today. And, the huge numbers of players have made for big prize pools.)
Even though I showed up for the tournament an hour late, I had a huge chip lead by the end of the second hour of play. I was running red hot! By the time I was heads-up with Tommy Huffnagle (a great player who was playing awesome poker), I had $65,000 in chips to his $50,000. Sometimes in poker we make deals, and because I respected Tommy, we did make one. In this way, we could both have a nice payday -- whereas first-place money is usually double what second-place money is. We would play for only $1,600 and the trophy (there is a lot of luck in heads-up limit poker). At this point in the proceedings, it was 4:30 a.m, and the no-limit Hold'em event was to begin the next day at 3:30 p.m. With an eye to getting some sleep and playing the next day -- plus, we were now only playing for $l,600 -- we doubled the limits, and set out to gamble!
I must say that I did covet the trophy, and when a key hand came up at 5:00 a.m., I could taste the victory ...(Continues...)