Nice Turn!

In order to deal with the fact that I can’t legally play poker online in Washington state anymore, I’ve been entering the occasional freeroll as part of PokerStars’ Moneymaker Millions promotion. (Under WA law, freerolls are legal, since you aren’t wagering money.) These games are crazy– 10,000 people enter, and the top 50 win an entry to ANOTHER huge tournament, the lucky few get an entry to a REAL tournament with a rich set of prizes. Basically, it’s a lottery– millions will enter, a few will actually win. However, it’s a chance to play some online poker, so I’m game.

Anyway… in one of these tournaments last night, I picked up a royal flush on the turn… this has only happened to me 2 other times in the years I’ve been playing poker.

I was dealt KTs in late-to-middle position, and when it folded around to me, I decided to raise– I had a very tight table image, and hadn’t played a hand in some time, I figured there was a good chance I could steal the blinds and antes (or at least “buy the button” by folding the people behind me so I could play the flop against the blinds with position throughout the hand.) Everyone folded around the the big blind, who called.

On the flop, I had the nut flush draw and an inside strait draw, for a total of 12 outs. (there was an ace and a jack of hearts on the board– 8 hearts to the flush, 3 queens for a strait, and the lone queen of hearts for the miracle royal flush.) The big blind checked to me… my quick, back-of-the-envelope calculations put me at about ~45% to win by the river (the actual number is 47.37%, assuming he had a pair of aces, a bit worse if he’d flopped a set.) and I decided to increase my chances by throwing out a bet for about 2/3 the size of the pot– the chances that my lone opponent wouldn’t have connected with the board, or had an ace with a weak kicker and would have to fold, combined with my strong draws, made me think that my total pot equity (including fold equity) was likely better than 50%.

The turn brought the glorious Queen of Hearts, giving me a royal flush. Now I very seldom slow-play– I think it’s an over-used tactic, and a great way to lose a big pot you should have won… but in this case, my opponent was obviously drawing dead– there’s no way he can outdraw the best possible poker hand… when he checked to me, I went ahead and checked hoping he’d catch either some cards or the courage to bluff on the river.

I got my wish– he made a pot-size bet on the river, and I made a small raise (around 1/4 of the pot, if memory serves) and he called. It was a big pot– especially for heads up. He didn’t show… I assume he had a pair of aces, or possibly aces up.

(For the record, I came in 43rd, in the tournament out of 10,000 players, so I will be playing in the next round in a couple weeks.)