Hitting a ‘Gutshot’ in London
Before I get into it, you should know that, from here on in, all the words and phrases in this column surrounded by quotes are the — much beloved by me — local London lingo. For those of you who’ve already guessed it, “bloody right,” this piece is about a little UK poker!
While in London last weekend shooting three parts of a reality show (the “UltimatePoker.com Showdown” on Channel 5), I thought it would be a treat to make an appearance at a poker club, out of respect and “honour” for the United Kingdom’s poker scene and its players. So at 3 a.m. on Sunday night, after filming the reality show’s finale, I strolled into the Gutshot Club in London’s west end to say hello. By the way, a “gutshot” is an inside-straight draw, or more precisely, a one-card straight draw. (You may remember when your granddaddy told you, “Never draw to an inside-straight,” and wondered what he meant.)
Once I arrived, I found the club quite “lovely,” and they even had a regular table named “Hellmuth,” which I thought was absolutely “spot on!” Of course, the players and management urged me to play in the local game, which was a ú1-ú2 blind pot-limit Hold ’em game, with a 50 “quid” (pounds) buy in. I sat down, threw four $100 bills to the dealer and said, “deal me in!” The $400 amounted to 222 quid, and the game was on!
Player X opened for 7 pounds, and I called with 10d-7d. In a poker tournament, I would have thrown this hand away right then and there, but in this game I felt like I could take a few chances. (I also knew that I wasn’t going to play more than about 30 minutes.) Three other players called, and the flop came down 8d-6s-5d, which was a huge flop for me. I had an open-ended straight draw and a flush draw, and a nine would make me the deluxe end (high end) of the straight. And if a nine did come off, then I would bust anyone who was holding a seven, since they would make a nine-high straight and mine would be 10-high.
Player X bet out 25 pounds into the 35-pound pot, and it was my turn to act. I certainly wasn’t folding this hand, which left calling or raising it up as my only options. If I called the bet, I might be letting Player X hit a card like and ace or a queen, which might make him a pair or two pair, and then I would be forced to call his next bet (perhaps a pot-sized bet) as an underdog. But if I raised it up, then I would have a good chance to win the pot right then and there; and even if he called my raise, or moved me all-in, I still had a ton of winning cards. I mean, how much of an underdog could I possibly be here?
So I called the 25-pound bet and raised it up 85 pounds more — the biggest possible raise, because in pot limit you can only bet the size of the pot — or 105 pounds total in this case. Player X now called me fairly quickly, which meant he had something fairly strong — he certainly had 10-high beat! The next card was the 10s, and Player X checked. The 10s wasn’t my best card (a non-diamond nine would have been better), but it was certainly “emm,” an “excellent” card for me. Now I could beat any other pair on the board, like eights, sixes, or fives, and I still had my straight draw and flush draw working for me.
So I moved all-in for my last 110 pounds, and Player X called me. By the rules of Hold ’em in the States, we flip our hands face up when we are all-in, but this was London. I flipped my hand face up, and waited while the last card was dealt. Because I didn’t know what Player X had in his hand (he had opted to keep his cards face down), I didn’t know what I was rooting for, or against, on the last card! The last card proved to be the 5c, for a final board of 8d-6s-5d-10s-5c. Now my opponent said, “Emm, that’s good,” meaning that I had won the pot.
As the chips were pushed to me, Player X showed down the Kd-9d. Like mine, his flush and straight draws had both failed. In fact, he had flopped a higher flush draw and higher straight draw than I had, and I basically needed to hit a non-diamond ten, nine, or four to win the pot. Despite having a huge-looking flop, I was in bad shape! (On the flop I was roughly a two-and-a-half-to-one underdog to win the pot.) “Emm,” still, it was an “honour” to play at the Gutshot; I played this hand properly; and it was “spot on” for me to hit the “lovely” 10s for 475 “quid!” “Brilliant, mate!”
A “gut shot” is:
A) an inside-straight draw
B) A poker club in London
C) A hand grandpa said you should never play!
D) All of the above