Sometimes "the nut" just isn't good enough...

I just lost the biggest pot I’ve every been involved in (outside tournaments, of course.) I can’t feel too bad about it (despite the fact that this single pot would have paid my mortgage for the month) because I don’t think there was anything I could have done any differently. I can’t imagine that the anyone would have played this hand any differently. (What follows is as close as I can remember– I’ll probably get some of the suits wrong, but this is very close to the exact cards.)

I had Kh Qc in the big blind, and got to see a free flop. There were 5 people in the pot, and my read was that one of the guys in early position (UTG+1) liked his hand a lot– I read that he had limped in with the intent of re-raising, and I didn’t want to raise in case my read was right and I’d be isolated with a player likely to have me dominated with a hand like ace-king.

The flop came 9s Th Jd, giving me the nut strait.

The small blind checked, and I bet $50, which was a tiny bit bigger than the pot.

The player to my left called, and the next player raised $150. The button raised another $300, and the small blind folded. The bet was $300 to me, and there was about $550 in the pot. I had another $400 in front of me. I studied the board for a moment, and looked at my hole cards again to confirm what I already knew: I had the best possible hand– the nut strait. However, before risking my whole stack, I took a moment to consider what people might have that would cause this kind of betting…

I figured there was a good chance that someone else had the same hand as me, meaning I was likely to wind up splitting the pot. Could it be a 3-way split? I also considered that someone might have flopped a set, which would have a 10-out re-draw on me. I’d be about 20% to lose to that hand, a risk I was willing to take. Since there wasn’t two to a suit on the board, I didn’t have to concern myself too much with a flush draw, which would only be a 2-1 underdog. I raised all-in, and got two callers, both of which I had covered. I got $50 back, and there was a little over $1400 in the pot at this point. Since there could be no more betting, we all turned over our hands.

ME: Kh Qc
UTG+1: Jh J

So there was a two-way tie at this point, and one guy with a ten-outer. I was praying the board wouldn’t pair, and I’d split a massive pot.

It didn’t pair, but I almost wish it had.

The turn came a 5s, and I just knew what was coming next…

2s! The guy with the “same hand” as me had caught a flush on the river to beat my “nut” strait. This outcome I had never even considered. I was ready for the board to pair– I could have handled that… but the runner-runner flush really hurt. In his defense, he had the nut on the flop, too… but with a freeroll on his backdoor flush draw.

To make matters worse, the $50 I had left got blinded down to $35… I went all-in with pocket aces, and lost to 9-T suited. (I can’t blame the guy– my all-in was such a small raise I probably wouldn’t have folded to it either.)