By: Jason Lake
Of all people, poker players should never be stunned by a hand of cards. Unless you've got a royal flush, there's a chance you're going to lose, and there are so many ways for that to happen. That's just science.
What makes a sick poker hand really sick are the circumstances. Who's playing in the hand? What are the stakes? How did the players react? Like everything else in poker, sickness is situational. With that in mind, please allow me to present the three craziest no-limit Hold'em hands I know about – feel free to watch along and judge for yourself.
Connor Drinan vs Cary Katz, 2014 WSOP Big One for One Drop
The odds say that your pocket pair will get cracked by the same pair about 2% of the time. But of course Katz was going to win this one – he had the Ace of Spades and the Ace of Hearts. Everyone knows that hand is the nuts. I love the way Katz asks “Can we just chop?” and the way Scott Seiver warns everyone about how he had gotten his aces cracked by aces the previous week. Then the flop comes with two Hearts. “If I lose like this, whatever,” Drinan laughs. He wasn't laughing after runner-runner Hearts knocked him out of the first $1-million buy-in poker tournament (that I know about).
Matthew Jarvis vs Michael Mizrachi, 2010 WSOP Main Event
They were already down to the final table when Jarvis, who was seventh out of the remaining eight players in chips, shoved his short stack with pocket Nines over top of Jonathan Duhamel's open (Jack-Ten offsuit) and Mizrachi's call (Ace-Queen suited). Duhamel folded, Mizrachi called, and they were off to the races with Jarvis slightly ahead preflop. The lead swung dramatically toward Mizrachi on the Queen-Eight-Queen flop, then back to Jarvis on the Nine turn, then back for good to Mizrachi on the Ace river. Everyone in the room went bonkers with every card. Duhamel would have made a straight on the turn, by the way.
Steven Friedlander vs Jack Ury, 2009 WSOP Main Event
This is my favorite poker hand of all time. Ury was 96 years old when he entered the 2009 Main Event, a WWII Navy veteran from Terre Haute, Indiana who used poker to keep himself sharp. Friedlander did what a lot of poker players try to do with seniors: verbally guide them toward making bad decisions. “You wanna just get 'em all in?” Friedlander asked after raising Seven-Six suited on a Six-Six-Seven flop. “You might as well just get 'em all in.” So Ury did – with pocket Sevens. And Ury slowrolled him, too. It was glorious. Rest in peace, good sir.