A Hot Time for a Worthy Cause
Under an expansive white tent in the back yard of a spectacular private mansion on the water in Miami Beach, a rapper recently won a pot. “Young free, cruising down the Westside Highway … Just me and my girlfriend,” I sang over the PA system. There were a few chuckles from those who recognized this lyric from a rap song by Jay-Z. You see, I was good-naturedly needling the Jay-Z himself, who won the pot, and his girlfriend, Beyonce, who was sitting behind him.
I was in Miami as emcee for the “Alex Rodriguez Hosts the Dewar’s 12 Texas Hold ’em Poker Tournament” for A-Rod and his charity of choice, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami. And what a lineup for me to tease and lay props on! Among the celebrities were New England quarterback Tom Brady, Jay-Z and Beyonce, Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, slugger Sammy Sosa, NFL defensive MVP Ed Reed, NY Giant Jeremy Shockey, NCAA football and NFL champion Bernie Kosar and NCAA basketball and NBA champion Glen Rice, so smooth dropping shots from way downtown.
Brady took A-Q all-in before the flop against one player’s A-10 and another player’s 7-7, and lost to a final board of K-9-4-9-9. He was roughly a 3-to-2 underdog to win the pot before the flop against those two hands, but going all-in with A-Q was a very respectable move, especially in a charity event like this one where the blinds were raised very quickly.
Reed took a huge early chip lead in the 120-player field, despite never having played Hold ’em before. He obviously picked up the game quickly, finishing in 12th place after losing most of his chips when his pocket jacks lost to a hand of K-2 off suit, all-in before the flop. Reed had been a 2-1/2-to-1 favorite with his J-J.
At the final table, which included Jay-Z, A-Rod and some others, a huge and unusual pot came up early on, with the blinds at $4,000-$8,000. A-Rod, with J-10, called the $8,000 bet. At that point, he had only $15,000 in chips, but with two more hands to go before he’d be hit for the big blind, his call was fine. Next, Jay-Z called the $8,000 with 8-8, Player A called with A-10, Player B, in the small blind, called with Q-Q (electing not to raise), and Player C, in the big blind, also called, with A-A. Player B should have moved all-in before the flop with his Q-Q, and Player C should have moved all-in before the flop with his A-A. What were they waiting for? I mean, there were already several callers in the pot, and the right move for Players B and C was to raise it up big, to try to drive some of the other players out of the pot, thereby protecting their hands and giving them a better chance of winning what was already a massive pot.
The flop came down J-9-2, and Players B and C checked again, which was another mistake, (they both should have moved all-in). Now A-Rod moved all-in for roughly $6,000 with his pair of jacks. Jay-Z then studied a long while before calling (his call was OK, since it was only $6,000 to call and there was almost $50,000 in the pot), as did Player A (because he had only $4,000 left, his call was OK too). Now Player B called A-Rod’s $6,000 bet with his Q-Q, which was another mistake (once again, he should have moved all-in, not merely called). Next Player C moved all-in (finally!) with his A-A, and Jay-Z threw away his pocket eights. Finally, Player B called with his pocket queens.
Player C was now in a sweet position: he had the best hand (A-A), and he had everyone else covered. If Player B or Player C were to win the pot, they would have over half of the chips in the tournament. A-Rod needed a jack or a 10 to win, Player B needed a queen to win, and Player A needed a doctor! The turn card was a queen, putting Player B in a great position with his three queens. But that queen didn’t kill A-Rod’s hand, since he could hit an eight for a straight.
(A king would make A-Rod a king-high straight, but he would lose to Player A’s ace-high straight.) Player A (who had needed a doctor on the flop) could suddenly win the pot anyway, with either that king or an eight (the latter would allow him to split the pot with A-Rod). The last card was the 6d, and Player B, whose three queens won the monster pot, took a commanding chip lead.
The winner of the poker tournament received a one-year lease on a $50,000 Mercedes from Alex Rodriguez Mercedes-Benz, but the real winner, of course, was the charity. It was a first-class event, with a fashion show, a jewelry show, a couple of yachts on display, a team of synchronized swimmers in the pool for a while, and a pretty cool crowd. Well done, A-Rod!
Going all-in before the flop results in:
A) many of your opponents folding
B) risking your entire stack
C) impressing friends and neighbors
D) both A and B