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We Play A Very Weird Game

by Greg Raymer |  Published: Oct 18, 2023


Please let me encourage you to reach out to me with article ideas and questions for future columns. You can tweet to me at @FossilMan, or send me a message at

There isn’t really a lesson in this article, and certainly not very much strategy discussion. I just wanted to relate a little story that illustrates just what a strange game we play.

I have been playing poker seriously now for about 29 years. Believe it or not, without counting wild card games, I never made a royal flush in that first 25 years. That’s pretty unlikely, especially since I’ve run into many players who claim to make one every year or so.

A few years ago, I was playing in a $2-$5 blind Big O cash game (five-card pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better). I was in the big blind, and a player limped in from under the gun. Everyone folded to me, which in itself was weird, since you never see that much folding in Big O.

I looked down at the unimpressive KHeart Suit JHeart Suit 9Spade Suit 6Club Suit 4Diamond Suit and checked my option. The flop was even less impressive for my hand, coming down 10Heart Suit 10Spade Suit 2Diamond Suit.

We both checked, and then checked again after the QHeart Suit hit the turn. The river was the miraculous AHeart Suit, however, giving me my first ever royal flush!

I bet $10. My opponent called, and of course, I won the pot.

My first ever royal flush, and I made a profit of about $13. It was quite anticlimactic, if you ask me. It would be hard to find another pot where somebody got to showdown with a royal flush and only won two and a half big blinds.

When I tell people this story, they’re often laughing, or at least sporting a grin. But wait, we didn’t even get to the good part yet!

On the very next hand, I was in the small blind and looked down at the much stronger ADiamond Suit 2Spade Suit 4Diamond Suit 5Spade Suit 6Club Suit. There was a raise and a reraise, and after all the betting was complete, five of us were still in for $60 each.

The flop was very good for me, coming down 10Spade Suit 3Diamond Suit 2Diamond Suit to give me a wrap low straight draw, with an uncounterfeitable nut low draw. I also had some high potential with the nut flush draw.

I bet the flop, one player folded, and the next raised the pot. The others folded, and the two of us got all the money in the middle.

He had AClub Suit 4Club Suit 5Diamond Suit 6Heart Suit KDiamond Suit for the same wrap straight and low draw, with an inferior king-high flush draw!

The turn was the JHeart Suit and the river was the 9Club Suit, meaning we had both missed our low draws, our straight draws, and our flush draws. However, I did have a pair of twos, which was enough to scoop the entire pot of well over $2,500.

In the first hand, I made a royal flush, and a profit of about $13. In the second hand, I only had a pair of twos, yet made a profit of about $1,300. Try explaining those two hands to your friend who doesn’t play poker, especially if they play a lot of video poker. They won’t be able to wrap their head around it, guaranteed.

Like I said, not many lessons here. Nothing that will help you play better poker in the future. But it is good to be reminded just what a wild and weird game we play, and love.

Have fun, and play smart! ♠

Greg Raymer is the 2004 World Series of Poker main event champion, winner of numerous major titles, and has more than $7 million in earnings. He is the author of FossilMan’s Winning Tournament Strategies, available from D&B Publishing, Amazon, and other retailers. He is sponsored by Blue Shark Optics, YouStake, and ShareMyPair. To contact Greg please tweet @FossilMan or visit his website.