Aspiring to a Split

[UU] “If I’m not the unluckiest poker player in the history of the game, I don’t know who is”, moaned Umberto the Unlucky. “I was short-stacked and ecstatic to wake up with K♠K♥ in middle position. I shoved for about 10 big blinds and was hoping to get a single call from someone without an Ace. But not only did the the hijack1 call, so did the cutoff2, the dealer, the small blind, and the big blind! Not the end of the world, I thought; at least if I win the hand, I sextuple up. With my luck though, someone has pocket rockets3, and I have a 20% chance to hit a set to win.”

[SS] “A bit under 19%”, corrected Stan the Stat.

[UU] Umberto sighed and massaged his forehead before continuing, “What if I told you that I was drawing dead to playing the board for a chop?”

[FF] “How is that possible?!” wondered Figaro the Fish.

[UU] “Two players had Aces, so I couldn’t win with a flush. Two players had Queens, so I couldn’t win with a straight. And the sixth player… had the other two Kings, so neither of us could hit a set!”

[SS] Stan looked up from his iPhone and announced, “You and the other Kings had a 0.73% chance of a six-way chop. The Queens had a 1.83% chance of splitting, mostly with each other with Queen-high straights, and each even had a tiny chance of scooping with a straight flush.”

[UU] “I felt bad for the other guy with Kings. Somehow it was my fault for dragging him down with me.”4

[TT] Tyrone the Telephone summarized the hand: “Six sets of twins, dressed fraternally / Winning aces, best paternally / Quivering queens, quest maternally / Woebegone kings, pressed infernally”.


  1. The hijack is the seat two to the right of the dealer.
  2. The cutoff is the seat one to the right of the dealer.
  3. Pocket rockets are a pair of Aces as hole cards, as the capital ‘A’ looks a bit like a rocket ship.
  4. Umberto is the master of the bad beat, the cooler, and the cold deck. His stories aren’t very educational except for one main purpose: to condition you to the fact that bad luck happens. Try to laugh it off and resume playing your best as soon as you can. Sit out a few hands to regain your composure if you have to. We all have days where we feel like Umberto.

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