Lee Davy spends nine minutes of his life watching Episode #1 of PokerGO and CakeWorks latest collaboration, Hand Histories and delivers his review.
You know you’re fucked when the plan to climb out of a £30,000 hole is to wait until you’re 55 so you can use your pension lump sum as a ladder.
13 players left.
I have one of the biggest stacks in the room.
There is £67,750 for the winner.
At this moment, in a £1,100 buy-in poker tournament, a professional doesn’t think about anything other than the next hand. I’m not a professional. I’m a guy from Ogmore Vale, punching above his weight; a gambling degenerate, desperate for that money so I can pay off my debts and prove everyone wrong.
Someone makes it 25,000 to play. The action folds to me in the big blind, and I look down to see pocket jacks. I call. The flop is T75 (two hearts), and I check, with the intention of check-raising all-in, and my opponent checks back. The turn card is the Qc, and for some reason, I lose the plot. I start panicking that if I bet the pot will become too big. I need to win the money. What am I doing in this spot?
My opponent puts me all-in and has me covered.
I go into the tank for ages.
I’m not thinking about the debt anymore. Ego has kicked in. He’s pushing me around. He doesn’t have a queen. He doesn’t have anything. Time ticks away. My gut is screaming – CALL! So, that’s what I do.
I turn over my pocket jacks, and my opponent taps the felt to compliment me on my call.
He has KJo.
The winner of this pot takes the chip lead with 13 left.
I’m going to make the final table.
The river is a king.
Because I kept saying no nine, no ace, when the king hit the river, I thought I had won the hand. The only time I realised I had lost was when people started saying, ‘unlucky’, and I understood they were talking to me.
Then it hit me. I hadn’t only lost the hand. I was out.
I remember picking up my headphones, my chip protector, and my water all the while in a state of shock. The play continued immediately, but I didn’t want to leave. Then I realised that nobody cared. There were no handshakes. Nothing. The game went on, with everyone oblivious to the fact that I would have to wait until I was 55 to put this right.
And it’s moments like these that make PokerGO’s Hand Histories a simple but stunning show.
The Matt Affleck Hand.
When I first learned that PokerGO were back in cohorts with CakeWorks to create the original series Hand Histories I knew it would be a winner.
The problem with poker as a spectacle is its mute mannequin dull. But it can also be the doorway to the most wonderful moments of ecstasy. Individual hands contain as much intensity, tension and emotion as any sporting moment in the world.
An all-in and call.
Episode #1 was Matt Affleck, and you didn’t need to be a genius to figure out that Affleck would be retelling the 2010 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event hand when Jonathan Duhamel’s pocket jacks peeled back Affleck’s skin around his eyes so far I thought his eyeballs would fall out and roll into the muck.
“There were 15 left in the 2010 WSOP Main Event…” Affleck began to say before telling us, maybe some for the first time, that it was his first year at giving poker a professional shot, and how he couldn’t see the cards properly because he lost his glasses during an interview the previous day, and I loved that little insight. It’s what makes this series so brilliant for me. It changes the whole complexion of the river card.
Affleck reminds you that he was second in chips, and a big favourite to make the November Nine, which back in the day, was on everyone’s bucket list right next to renting the perfect wedding dress, having a threesome and climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower and dropping a penny to see if it really would kill someone.
The only person who has more chips than Affleck is Jonathan Duhamel, and Affleck sits to his immediate left.
Duhamel opens to 575,000 with pocket jacks from the cutoff.
“I almost giggled,” says Affleck, talking fondly of how many good hands he was getting at seeing his pocket aces.
Affleck three-bets to 1,550,000 on the button.
“I am hoping someone makes a big mistake against me,” says Affleck.
Duhamel raises to 3,925,000
Affleck shares his reason for the call: “There is a large percentage he will bet another 4 million no matter what comes. There is no hand I am scared of him outflopping me.”
8,450,000 in the pot.
“I am not worried about any hand that beats me at the moment,” says Affleck.
“It tells me he has something,” says Affleck before continuing. “I can bet 5m, and if he moves all-in, I can happily call with my aces. If he calls, I have 10m left, and I can move in on any turn card.”
Affleck bets 5 million.
“It was kind of surprising,” says Affleck.
“I am very confident I have the best hand,” says Affleck. “I am hoping if I say ‘all-in’ he doesn’t say, ‘call’ within the first second of the hand, because if he doesn’t I know I have the best hand.” Says Affleck.
You see Affleck on screen, muttering “I’m All-in.” The player sitting to his direct left, who genuinely seems interested in the hand, suddenly perks up and stares at Affleck, and you know what is happening shouldn’t be happening.
The bet is 11,630,000.
There is 30m in the pot.
Duhamel takes 5-6 minutes to figure things out.
“I call.” Says the Canadian.
“It surprised me,” said Affleck before continuing. “This hand was worth $3m in actual real dollar money. In a cash game, the biggest pot I had played was $10k.”
Duhamel asks Affleck is he has tens or nines?
Affleck turns first.
Duhamel looks disgusted when he sees the aces.
The dealer prepares to deal the river.
Affleck gets up, hands locked on the back of his head. His head scans the room, but nobody is home. You know he’s just quickly prayed for no eight or jack.
One other player gets up. Duhamel doesn’t move, sitting there like a woodland elf.
Then Affleck digs both knuckles into the table and prepares for the most prominent river card of his life.
“I was thinking I am really going to win the tournament this time, and this is going to be life-changing,” says Affleck.
41m or zero.
At six mins and 8 seconds, you see Affleck smile nervously as the dealer pulls the top card off the deck. Then his eyes widen in a cartoon-like fashion, as the eight comes into focus for the first time (remember, he can’t see the community cards that well). His head drops, slowly, hands interlocked behind his head, fingers tearing at hair.
The camera pans to Duhamel, and he rubs his hood into the left-hand side of his face, but it’s not enough to hide the smirk that’s subconsciously emerged on his face. Duhamel doesn’t give a fuck about Affleck. He has all of the chips, baby. He’s going to win the Main Event.
Affleck takes his hat off.
His bottom lip quivers.
“I am in shock,” says Affleck. “I never expected to get into that huge of a pot with the chip leader.”
On the TV screen, as Affleck drowns in the reality that he is OUT of the 2010 WSOP Main Event his right cheek turns bright red in a biological reflex to nervousness.
There is a round of applause.
He can’t leave.
Eventually, he takes a walk to the cash area and slams his water bottle down in anger. More head in hands. His face is getting brighter. He returns to the scene of the crime, and it’s so fresh they haven’t even made his outline in chalk. He shakes everyone’s hand.
“Did I blow the biggest opportunity of my life?” Poses Affleck as the redness remerges down the right-hand side of his cheek, eight years after that fateful hand.
“Years later, I am still playing poker for a living. I placed 15th place for $500,000. Maybe it wasn’t the worse thing ever,” and at that moment you see Affleck make his only bluff. A minuscule quiver of the lip, a tear driving through the ducts. It got to him. It got to me, and I think this series will get to you.