Jacks don’t pay, never. Yet, I play them anyway. Of all the opening hands in Texas Hold’em Poker, pocket jacks give me the most anxiety. You would think I would be delighted, gleeful or even elated when I am dealt the fourth best starting hand in Hold’em. They even edge out Ace-King suited. No, I say. No, I am not jubilant, joyous nor glad. I am down-right stuck between that proverbial rock and a hard place.
I was at Tracer Finn’s Wednesday night game just outside of town. He has owned a liquor store for roughly fifteen years. To not draw a lot of attention to the game, the players have to enter through the back door. We play on the second floor of the store amidst misplaced spirits, literally and figuratively. Players often remember certain hands and the many bad beats that occur in the course of one’s poker life. For me, one of those hands at Finn’s No Limit game started with jacks.
I think to myself, how am I going to play them? Hmmm. Well the book, and please don’t ask me which book I am referring to, says to raise pre-flop. Position can come into play here, but ideally, I only want to face one or two opponents at the most with this starting hand. I do just that. On the button with no other action around the table, I raise about four times the big blind. Two guys call. The flop comes seven, king, ten, rainbow. They both check to me. I bet two-thirds of the pot, which was $60. One person folds, but another guy, whom we shall say is named Chip, calls me. The turn is a jack. I have a set. However, I can’t get too excited because there is a straight on the board. Chip checks again. I don’t believe he has the straight. I think he would have led out on the turn. I bet $100. Chip calls. Okay, what does he have? The river turns a ten. Now I have a boat; jacks full of tens! If Chip did have the straight, I have him. He checks. I don’t want to bet too big. What amount will he call? With approximately $400 in the pot, I bet $250. Now Chip does what no poker player wants to hear, he announces raise. This, my friends, is known as the check-raise. Chip makes it a total of $550 to go. Has he been slow-playing me the entire time or is he bluffing me? Only two hands can beat me; if he had tens then he made quads. I don’t put him on tens so I call. Kings—the only hand that could beat me! His full house was higher than mine. The bastard slow played me from me the beginning. He didn’t raise pre-flop with his monster. My heart sank and I got that pit in my stomach feeling. Damn jacks, why did I get myself into that mess? Oh right, I forgot. Jacks never pay.
As I replayed the hand in my head, I don’t think I was wrong in the way I played them, just unlucky. I shook off of the bad beat and began the climb back to get my stack healthy again.
Four hands later I was dealt pocket Queens. Jesus, Mary and the Carpenter!
Annette Gertrude Curley
Business Operations Specialist
Millersville, Maryland, United States of America