My father will celebrate his 81st birthday next month. He still plays in a weekly home poker game, every Thursday night, which he enjoys greatly. But theirs is a low limit, fifty cent maximum bet, dealer’s choice game. Lots of variety and camaraderie, very little poker skill is required, and nobody gets hurt.
No limit Texas Holdem, which I like to play, is different in the sense that you can lose your entire stack, or double it up, at any time.
With this in mind, at last night’s No Limit Holdem home game with blinds of $1/1, there was a player I have never seen before. For this purposes, I’ll call her “Eileen,” a very lovely and entertaining 81-year-old women who frequently reminded us that she was “just and old woman.” She also mentioned that her father once played professional soccer in England, so perhaps she has an in-bred competitive nature that isn’t readily obvious.
In this game, there is a high-hand bonus at 1:00 am, paid to the highest hand of the night that uses both hole cards. The bonus is usually about $100. On one hand, “Eileen” had pocket 99’s, flopped a set of 999’s, and did not bet aggressively at all, later stating that she didn’t want to run everybody off and miss out on a chance for the 4th nine to arrive and put her in the lead for the high-hand bonus. (At this point, another player already have flopped quad 6666’s.)
Meanwhile, I am having a wonderful night, having started with $160 and now sitting at approx. $450.
In middle position, I get KK and raise to $6. Eileen and one other player call, and the flop is AK7 with 2 hearts. Ba-da-bing! If somebody has an Ace, I’m going to get paid off here.
I bet $6 again, a small bet to find out who has the Ace. Eileen calls and the other player folds. I need to be careful not to overplay this hand, as she seems a bit timid and may be the type of trusting soul who will just believe me if I bet too aggressively. I’m going to make the kind of bets that can get called 3 times by a hand like AT or A9. I just don’t know her capacity to call large bets.
The turn is 8h. Now I also have to be concerned about flushes as there are 3 hearts on the board. Since 2 of them are the A and K, it is less likely that she has a flush draw, although her pre-flop calling range could include QJhh, QThh, or JThh. But this is exactly 3 hand combinations, a very small part of her range, and Ax is much more likely.
I now bet $10, and she calls again.
The river is Jd. Eileen leans towards me with her eyes opening wide now, as if to say “Whaddaya gonna do sonny? Keep bluffing and I’ll call you.” It’s actually a little scary looking and I should remember that look for future reference. A tell, perhaps?
I bet $15 on the river, a very small bet into a pot that is now approx. $50.
She calls again, so I turn over my cards and announce, “I have three Kings.” Eileen responds, “Well, I have three Aces” and turns over pockets AA’s.
She called pre-flop, called on the flop with top set, called on the turn, and called again on the river. Never ever ever ever ever ever would I be able to include AA in her range in that situation. On the other hand, I lost the minimum. If she raises on the flop, I would cheerfully get it all in there and double her up. Once again, Eileen explained that she was hoping for a 4th ace to make the high-hand bonus, or alternatively after the 3rd heart fell, hoping for the board to pair on the river so the flush possibility wouldn’t slow her down.
I’ve never felt such a sense of relief after losing a hand. Flopped KKK vs. flopped AAA!
About 30-45 minutes later, Eileen hits a Q-high straight flush, which easily holds up to win the high-hand bonus. After making the straight flush, she bet $5 on the river!
After that happened, I realized I was playing poker with a “mature” Cinderella. While Eileen looked more like the fairy godmother (or great-godmother?), after flopping a set of 999’s, flopping a set of AAA’s (vs. KKK’s no less!), and a rivered gutshot straight flush at a game that pays a high-hand bonus, it became clear that this was her night at the ball.
There were no glass slippers, no pumpkin turned into a fancy chariot or mice turned into coachmen, no fancy ball gown that I could see. But the handiwork of a fairy godmother was evident all over the place. She called her prince to explain that she would be home a bit later than promised so she could stay and collect the high-hand bonus. At 1:00 she left, saying how much she looked forward to seeing us all again next week.
I hope the spell lasted long enough for Cinderella to arrive home safely.
It I see her again at a poker table and she ever makes a truly aggressive move, I’m running out the front door as fast as I can.