Losing the biggest pot you have ever played is never fun, but losing it to 7-2 stings even more.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to me during my three-day trip to Firekeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek during the Mid-States Poker Tour.
Here’s a recap of how that happened, and my overall weekend at the record-breaking event.
Thursday evening turns into Friday morning and brings a tough loss
I started off my trip by arriving to the casino around 4 p.m. on Thursday with the plan to check into my hotel room then jump straight into the cash games. With the tournament drawing so many players I was concerned the cash games might not start until later, but fortunately I was able to get a seat in a cash game just before 5:30 p.m.
The game I played was $2/$5 no-limit hold ’em. The max buy-in for this game starts at $1,000, then after the first hand, the max buy-in increases to the biggest stack at the table. So, if someone on the table has $2,000, you can buy-in for up to $2,000. I buy-in to the game initially for $1,000. After losing a few smaller pots I add-on another $300, so I’m into the game for $1,300.
I start to pickup some momentum over the next 10 hours and run my stack up to as high as $3,000. As I’m sitting on a stack of $2,700, I played the biggest pot of my life.
How the 7-2 got me
The hand starts when I look down at pocket kings on the button. The second-best starting hand in no-limit hold ’em.
The action in front of me sees a player call for $5, and then the player in the cutoff raise to $25. This player has sat down within the last 10 minutes. I’ve never played with them before, but they have a stack of roughly $2,000 and, from what I gather from others at the table, a reputation for being lots of action. Information like this can be so important to try and pickup on, especially when it’s someone you have never played with before.
When the action folds to me I decide to 3-bet to $85. When it folds back to my opponent in the cutoff, they call quickly.
With about $170 in the pot, the flop comes down T-7-2 with two clubs, and my opponent leads out with a bet of $175. Given the information I have gathered from our table mates this seems like a good spot. I have an overpair and there are many things in our opponent’s range that we can beat. We’re ahead of a hand like top pair, pocket queens, pocket jacks, and draws such as flush draws or 9-8 which would be an open-ended straight draw.
When contemplating whether to raise or just call, I decide to just call as we are still very deep stacked. Our opponent can still have any of the three sets available. I think putting in a 3-bet on the flop here would be a bit of an overplay this deep.
Once we call the pot grows to roughly $520. The turn brings a non-club two which is a great card. All the draws miss, and it is now less likely our opponent has pocket twos since two of them are now on board. Also, if our opponent had decided to call preflop with T-7, their two pair is now counterfeit and we have the better hand.
My opponent decides to be out again, this time for $500. At this point I think we have a decision between calling and going all-in. If we call here, the pot grows to $1,500 and our opponent has around $1,250 behind.
Our opponent has invested a large portion of their stack and I think it’s time to go all-in. This forces our opponent to pay to see the river with their draws, as well as potentially call off with hands that are slightly worse than ours such as queens or jacks.
So, I decide to go all-in and my opponent snap calls. He tells us the bad news that we need to hit a king to win. Unfortunately, we don’t hit a king on the river and our opponent turns over 7-2 for a full house. I’ve just lost a pot for $4,000, the biggest cash game pot of my life, to 7-2.
Although this hand played out poorly, we ended up only booking a loss of $165. Thankfully a short while after the hand we lost with K-K, I got all-in with K-Q on J-T-4 for a $1,800 pot against the same opponent and hit a lucky 9 on the turn. This wrapped up a very up and down 12.5-hour session.
Friday gets weird
The next day I would play a much shorter, four-hour cash game session where I would lose $160. This session was very uneventful, except for one of the weirdest hands of live poker I’ve ever played.
On the river with the board reading A-Q-T-9-K, my opponent bets into a pot of roughly $260. I’m holding A-J, and since there is no potential flush on board, I have the best hand possible. I go all-in and my opponent turns over a Jack as well. This is when all confusion breaks loose.
When turning the Jack over, the card accidentally slides and hits the pile of mucked cards. The dealer then mentions something about mucking the hand, and I first think he’s saying this because the card hit the muck.
A few seconds later he appears to be looking at the other card saying something about needing to show both cards, which is a standard rule. About 10 seconds later the other card gets turned over and it’s a King. I can now see why my opponent is slightly upset as they had flopped the nuts, only to have me hit a lucky King on the river to make it so we chopped the pot. We’ve all been in our opponents’ shoes, never a fun spot.
Sometimes, you have to count your money at the table (sorry, Kenny)
After the card is turned over things seem to be settled that we’re chopping the pot and the dealer slides chips towards me, and I put them in my stack. The only problem is the dealer sent all the chips to me, not half of them.
Quickly after I’ve stacked the chips our opponent mentions something to the dealer and instantly our whole table knows what happened.
Since I’ve already stacked the chips, this makes dividing the pot much harder. Fortunately, I think I’m able to figure out how much my opponent is owed for half the pot as I replay the action out loud and pay my opponent his preflop call, and turn raise size back, which I believe covers half of the pot I was shipped, assuming the blinds cover the $5 max rake and $2 jackpot drop.
I laugh about it with a few of the people at the table assuming we have it all figured out and we can move on. Maybe 5-10 minutes pass and I grab my $100 black chips to shuffle, and I instantly realize I have too many.
I ask our opponent from the previous hand if they think they are still short and they say yes. I can tell I have too much since I knew my stack was between $900-$1,000 before the hand in question took place, but I’m unsure by how much. All I know is I have too many black chips and my stack has too much money when counting it. I don’t believe I’ve played a meaningful pot in the time since the hand has passed, but I’m not 100% sure.
I know my stack was at least $900 to start the hand because in this $1,000 buy-in game, I add on $100 chips anytime I fall below $900 to get me back up over $900, but not over $1,000. I also knew I had been down to start the session and my stack was under $1,000.
Eventually, I tell my opponent I believe my stack was between $900-$1,000 to start the hand, and pay them an additional $150, which puts my stack now at $950.
The thought lingers
I can’t remember if it was in that moment or shortly after, but I think to myself the dealer must have also collected their river bet which was something in the $200s. I then think if that’s the case, the amount I owed was half of that, not $150. If anything, I think I’ve overpaid, but it’s not by too much and I’m not concerned with getting it back as I’m not even sure that’s correct.
I played for another three hours or so but didn’t really enjoy the rest of the session as much as I usually do. I tried to continue and have fun talking and laughing with the table, but internally I’m playing the hand over and over in my head trying to figure out what the correct amount was, and how all of this could have been avoided.
Later that night when I get back to my hotel room, I finally put it all together. Clearly the money originally paid to my opponent wasn’t enough and the only other option is that the amount my opponent bet on the river was collected into the pot I was shipped. The part I messed up previously was that all that money should go back to my opponent, not split as I had not matched that amount. So instead of paying them $150 additionally, I owed them whatever the amount bet on the river was.
I didn’t know the exact number, but I knew it was in the $200s, so I was still short on what I had paid them back. If this theory is correct, I must have lost a small pot between the time the hand in question happened, and when I realized my stack was off.
Fortunately, my opponent in the hand is someone I had met previously in the day as we play online poker with each other on a semi-regular basis. In talking with them, I knew he would be back on Saturday for the tournament so I would go back and look for them then.
I was able to meetup with them and explain what I thought happened, and ask if he knew what amount they had bet on the river. He stated he thought it was $270. This would mean that if I’m correct, I owed him $120 (the $270-$150 previously paid). I paid him the $120 and we went on to the tournament.
Although it felt like this hand ruined the fun for me to a degree the previous night, I felt much better now feeling very confident the correct number had been reached in the end. Looking back there are things everyone involved could have done better:
- Once the confusion started, I should have been paying extra close attention to what was going on, especially when the money and pot was being divided.
- When I realized that I was given the full pot and I tried paying my opponent back, I should have counted my stack and asked my opponent to do the same to make sure we both felt the stacks were correct. If I had done this, I would have instantly realized my stack was wrong.
For as wild as this hand was, I must give my opponent credit for handling the situation well once the mistake was realized. Although I noticed he appeared frustrated and irritated with the hand after I realized my stack was off (as anyone would be), he was very cordial while talking through the hand and listening to me while I tried getting to the amount owed.
If anything, I should have done a better job of confirming with my opponent what they thought the exact number was, not just confirming that the stacks were off.
With all of this behind us, it was finally time to take our shot in the $1,110 Mid-States Poker tournament event.
Although I’m primarily a cash game player, I do really enjoy playing tournaments, especially live. The excitement and anticipation in the room is something you can’t match when playing cash games.
This was the third and final day one of the event, and the tournament was on pace to eclipse a $2 million prize pool! Things would start off well as I turned my starting stack of 25,000 chips into 45,000.
Unfortunately, I would play a pot where I would lose 29,000 with pocket jacks against pocket queens. From that point on I couldn’t regain any momentum and would eventually lose with pocket nines all-in preflop against Ace-King about five hours into the tournament.
Despite not having much success in the tournament I still had a great time and enjoyed the rest of the evening getting drinks and food with other players. One of my favorite parts about the weekend was getting the chance to meet so many fellow online poker players from the Michigan community. Poker can feel like a niche hobby at times, so it’s fun to meet and talk with others who share the same passion for the game that you do.
Overall, for the trip I would end up down $1,435. As a professional poker player, you never like leaving a trip with a loss, but it happens, especially when you play a tournament.
Hopefully when the Mid-States Poker Tour returns to FireKeepers in October we can find more success on the tables.
Poker content creator David Kaye of Mason writes a regular column for PlayMichigan. You can follow David’s poker journey on his social media accounts under the handle “DavidKayePoker.” David is on YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and Instagram.