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Probably the Greatest Laydown Ever

by 'Mad Marty' Wilson |  Published: Nov 30, 2008


Quad jacksIn these times of ever-increasing changing ways, so named credit-crunch days, poker games must be feeling the effect - but not in Blackpool. Blackpool is the home of the Northern Lights tournament, which is named after the Blackpool illuminations turned on the last weekend of every August. If I'm free, I try to make the journey from Bridgnorth to see over 7 million light bulbs switched on, and this year was no exception. While waiting outside of Coral Island for the big switch-on, whom do I bump into with his flashing sunglasses but the head of Ladbrokes Poker, my good friend Nigel Blower.

He was accompanied by his lovely daughter Katie, who wore flashing rabbit ears. I told Nigel that I was there for the poker tournament, but secretly I was there for one reason and one reason only, to watch probably one of the biggest light displays in the world. The poker tournament the following day was only my cover. The light display was unbelievable, stretching for miles along the coast road. Nigel, Katie, Katharine, and I spent that night on a spaceship that was actually a disguised electric tram. For two and a half hours, I was an outer-space astronaut. I may not have gotten up to the speed of light, but I still felt I could have been Flash Gordon or Virgil on a Thunderbird 2. We had a great night. Sometimes the best times are just an unplanned fluke, and this was one of those occasions.

But something else happened that weekend that I won't forget in a hurry, and the only way I can describe it is, it was a complete fluke. If what I am about to tell you had been televised, it would be a talking point for years to come and would have more You Tube showings than Rick Ashley's Rick Roll, and even more than Christian the Lion. (And if there are any of you out there who have yet to see the story of Christian the Lion, you are in for a treat!) But let me explain what happened to me in Blackpool.

The G Casino in Blackpool regularly runs a £50 deep-stack tournament with one rebuy. Whenever I'm in Blackpool, I like to play this tournament because it's a great atmosphere and fantastic value. Now, on this particular night, I'd already had my rebuy and taken my add-on, so I was playing a bit cautiously, as you do. It was small blind on big. I was in seat 10 in the small blind and my opponent in the big blind was in seat 1. Now, you have to understand that we had had no contact for some time, as we were split by a rather large dealer. Little did I know that this was to become my biggest bonus ever.

Everyone folded around to me in the small blind, and picking up a pair of jacks, I raised it to 2,000. The big blind immediately called. The flop came down Q-J-J. Would you believe it? I had flopped quads. I checked. The big blind checked. The turn brought down a 4. I bet 2,000 and my opponent called. The river came down, and it was another queen.

Unbelievable. I decided to bet 9,000. It was now that my opponent apparently announced that he was all in, but I didn't hear him. All I could see was the large dealer shaking the burn cards in his left hand. The dealer was waiting for my decision, but I thought the player in seat 1 had folded, so I just threw my two jacks faceup on the table. Now, as it turns out, my opponent happened to have quad queens! He now exposed his two queens and said, "That is the greatest fold I've ever seen!" I didn't have the heart to tell the guy that I'd made a mistake, and sat there in a glorious moment that I will treasure forever. "Wow, you folded quads," said my opponent again. "That's probably the greatest laydown ever!" I must admit, I had to agree with him.

Two nights later, I was sitting in the Castle Casino when two Greek players were talking at the bar about some great poker player who had folded quad jacks to an all-in bet of quad queens. "Only a top professional at the height of his game can do that," one said to the other. "Can you imagine if it had been televised? It would have been one of the greatest sporting moments ever!"

Mad Marty Wilson is a professional gambler and poker consultant for Matchroom Sport.