My First Experience at a Poker Table

As I walked into the smoke filled room, a steady mixture of anxiousness and excitement ran through my body at a vividly momentous pace. It is not every day an 18 year old kid is able to go to the nearest casino and go play poker. My family was visiting my grandparents in Oklahoma, and as luck would have it, the legal gambling age in Oklahoma is 18 years. I have been playing poker steadily throughout the course of my life to this point at small home games and online tournaments, and prior to this day the only aspirations I had in my body was to become a well known professional poker player. But nothing would equal the thrill of taking down a monster pot in an actual casino, or so I thought.

About fifteen minutes after signing up for a seat at the poker tables, and playing a few preliminary hands of blackjack to pass the time, my name was called over the intercom system to the poker room. I had never been more excited in my life when I heard that soft feminine voice call out my name. I walked into poker room, and sat down in fourth position. I was greeted by a mix of intimidating scares, and a few attempts at small talk.

An hour flew by and I was up a considerable amount. The only thought that kept rolling through my head was how badly I was going to run over this table if I was able to catch a decent run of cards. Then my moment came. It was my big blind and action passed throughout the table. After a raise and a re-raise, I had already decided I was most likely folding, due to the tight nature of most of the players at the table, and even more considerably the players that were still in the hand. I peeked at the first card and stared at the prettiest card in the deck, the ace of spades. My heart jumped a little bit, but I still realized that I was probably going to fold if the second card was considerably worse than an ace. I squeezed and peeked at my second card and I felt the overbearing urge to jump on the table and praise god at that very instant. The second card was also an ace, and I found myself with the holy grail of poker hands. Bullets, rockets, how sweet it was. Every ounce of my poker career to this point had led me to this moment. I only called to try and get as much money possible out of the other two suckers still in the hand.

The flop came down with crashing authority. Two kings and an ace. “Oh my God” kept repeating over and over again in my head. I had picked up the second best hand possible in this situation, and short of someone having pocket kings I was golden. I checked my option first to induce a bet, and that was exactly what I received. A small bet and then a considerable re-raise. It was after the re-raise that I had decided to take my stand. I pushed in my entire stack of chips in front of me, and sat as stoic as I could in an attempt to give nothing away. “These idiots have no idea what they’re up against” was the basic thought in my head, and of course I anticipated a call. The man that initially bet the pot had swiftly folded, and to my surprise the call from the next man came more swiftly than I had originally anticipated. “No matter”, I thought, “I basically have the nuts, and I am taking this pot home with me”. The man then showed his hand with an adequate grin on his face. Big slick, the Ace and the King. I heard the table laugh at my foolish play. They all thought I for sure was behind in the hand, and perhaps even drawing dead. The smile from the mans face morphed into one of disgust. I flipped over my better full boat and the room erupted. The old men that were familiar with the disgusted man took several jabs at him, and even included that he was beaten by a kid.

The room settled down and we prepared for the rest of the board to fall, even though it was seemingly futile. The turn cam a meaningless card, and I started to count my chips to give him a figure to pay me off. No sooner had I finished counting my chips, the room had erupted once again. I looked up quickly to see what the commotion was about. “perhaps someone at a different table caught a straight flush” I was thinking, and spun my head around quickly. “‘wait a second, why is everyone crowded around my table?” I looked at the man and he was standing up now yelling something about how invincible he was, and then my stomach sunk. There was no way this had happened. I quickly looked down at the board, and the river card that had fallen. The last king in the deck had given the man four of a kind, and I had lost the hand. I was absolutely devastated. I was a 98 percent favorite to win the hand before that card had fallen. There was only one card left in the deck that could have possibly beaten me, and it hit with authority.

I sat there for another minute staring blankly at the table. The room manager walked over to me and apologized. He then proceeded to ask me if I would like to buy back into the game. I looked at him and attempted to say no, but the only thing that came out of my mouth was a pathetic sigh of pure disappointment. I stood up and began to walk out of the room when felt a hand on my shoulder. It was one of the players at the table that I had grown fond of during my short stint at the table. He looked at me solemnly and said “Kid, you just took one of the worst beats I have ever seen at a poker table. Recovering from these situations is what separates professionals from hobbyists. Take my advice, roll with the punches. Settle down, regain your composure, come back when you’re good and ready.” This piece of advice has stuck with me ever since. There is not one instance now at a poker table, whether it be in a casino, home game, or virtual, where I count my money before the hand is over.

Many times within my short life now have I realized the virtue of good luck. I reflect on the situation now and smile. In the very least this incident was a character building experience for me, and it gave me a nice story to tell. Besides, by losing that hand, I made a donkey’s