Across the world, tens of thousands of poker hands are dealt every day. Among them are countless straights and flushes, with the occasional straight flush or even a royal flush. Big hands such as these are exciting, but not as exciting as the four-way all-in pot that took place in December 2015 at a crucial point in a major tournament.
It happened on Day 5 of the 2015 PokerStars European Poker Tour Prague Main Event, a tournament with a buy-in of 5,300 euros, a prize pool of 5,063,400 euros and a field of 1,044 players.
With 754,510 euros reserved for the winner, there was a fortune on the line. There were 13 players left, and everyone was guaranteed at least 50,990 euros, but the remaining players were hoping to make the final table of eight.
With blinds at 30,000-60,000 plus an ante of 10,000, Chris Walker moved all in for 985,000 from under the gun holding Jd Jc. Marc Macdonnell called off his remaining 165,000 with 9d 8d, and then action folded to chip leader Ilkin Amirov in the cutoff seat. He opted to just call with the second-best hand in poker, Kh Kd, and Javier Gomez moved all in over the top for 2.58 million from the big blind with Qs Qc. Amirov snap-called, and three players found themselves behind and at risk.
Such a hand is incredibly rare, but to have it happen in the late stages of a big tournament, with hundreds of thousands of euros on the line – well, let’s just say it was a first in the European Poker Tour’s 12-year history.
Another thing that made this hand so special was how it played out. For instance, had Amirov raised with pocket kings instead of just calling, there’s a strong possibility that Gomez, an accomplished player, would have ditched his cards.
As it was, the cards, player positions and stack sizes combined to create the perfect storm of a hand. Making it even more entertaining was the 6s As 9s flop, which kept everyone drawing live. Amirov was still out in front with his kings, but Gomez picked up a flush draw to go with his queens. Walker could still hit a jack to win, while Macdonnell would pull ahead with another nine or a non-spade eight.
The 2d turn was a blank, but as with the flop, it kept everyone in contention.
The 6d failed to help anyone, allowing Amirov to score the triple knockout. Macdonnell and Walker were eliminated in 13th and 12th place, respectively, both for 50,990 euros, while Gomez took 11th and earned 56,950 euros.
Amirov went on to finish third, earning 391,910 euros.
To put the hand into perspective, it was the equivalent of an unassisted triple play in baseball: It happens now and again, but it’s extremely rare.
Chad Holloway is a 2013 World Series of Poker bracelet winner and media director for the Mid-States Poker Tour. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadAHolloway.