This story contains a “Breaking Bad” spoiler. You’ve been warned.
It’s the first hand of hand-for-hand play on the bubble of the 2014 World Series of Poker. For anyone with a vulnerable stack, it’s decision time. It’s like happening upon two drunk bikers fighting in an alley. You can get involved, but, really, what purpose is that going to serve? If you just keep walking, everything is going to be okay for you. Forget about those guys who want to kill each other. Not your problem. Keep walking. Get a coffee. Whistle in the dark.
But then on another night, maybe you see someone vulnerable getting beaten in that same alley. You feel compelled to help. You feel compelled to be a samaritan, even if it means you could be hurt, too.
This is story of two men who chose to get involved and the lessons they learned.
Randy Ohel got involved. Yes he did. He was sitting there in the big blind with a vulnerable stack when Andrey Zaichenko (better known as Kroko-dill on PokerStars) raised 12,000 from his big stack on the button.
Ohel is no dummy. He has nearly $900,000 in live earnings and nearly won the H.O.R.S.E. bracelet this year. Thing is, Zaichenko is no dummy either. He has $1.3 million in earnings. He’s also won titles in WCOOP, SCOOP, and the Sunday Million. So, there we were with a couple of guys who aren’t dummies.
Ohel called out of the big blind to see a Q♣5♥10♥ flop. He checked, and Zaichenko checked behind. The turn was the 7♦. Ohel checked again, and this time Zaichenko bet 15,000. Ohel only had about 100,000 sitting in front of him, and he chose to call. The river was the J♣. Ohel checked and watched Zaichenko cut out 75,000 in chips. If Ohel called and lost, he would have only 7,000 left on the WSOP money bubble.
“I’m probably calling,” Ohel said. “I don’t know how I can call pre-flop and fold here.”
It only took him a few more seconds before he said, “Yeah, I call.”
“You call?” Zaichenko said, and tabled K♠9♠ for the rivered straight.
Ohel looked gut-punched. “Wow,” he said and flashed J♦10♦. He had been ahead on the flop and turn.
A few seconds passed. “Given, I could’ve folded pre-flop.”
What he was saying was…there was no reason for him to get involved. He could’ve passed the Russian Crocodile, whistled his way to the money, and then re-evaluated. Instead, he climbed in its mouth and started thrashing.
Lesson: Sometimes it’s better to just not get involved. Let stuff happen. Live on. Call your mother. Tell her how much you love her.
If it weren’t for another samaritan, Ohel would’ve left the Main Event with nothing.
But just a few feet away, John Dwyer was all in against Mark Newhouse. Dwyer looked defiant, and he had every right to. See, he had to get involved. He had pocket queens. He flopped a set. The turn paired the five on the board. Now he had queens full. That’s not an alley you are going to walk past. That’s an alley you’ll run valiantly down to fight with dukes up like an old-timey boxer.
With the entire tournament field listening to Jack Effel announce the result, Dwyer sat in his chair and watched his cards get turned over. Then he watched the dealer reveal Newhouse’s pocket fives…quads.
Dwyer stood at his chair and looked into the void. People, including Newhouse, came around to console him, but Dwyer said nothing. He had the look of a man who had just learned that he’d died days ago and was now in hell.
This pretty much sums it up:
@BradWillis Last time I saw an empty glazed hopeless stare like that, Jesse Pinkman was chained up in a pole barn.
— Julius Goat (@JuliusGoat) July 11, 2014
There is a lesson in this, too.
Lesson: Life is hell. Nobody loves us. Time is a flat circle. We’re all going to die. Don’t bother calling your mom, because she doesn’t care.
So, Dwyer exited on the bubble (earning a $6,000 consolation prize because two other people busted out at the same time), and Ohel went on to finish in the money.
These are lessons from which we can all learn.
We won’t learn, of course. But we could. That’s going to have to be enough, because 600 people are still playing the Main Event, and they don’t give a damn what’s happening with the people who are gone. Put another way, they march forward with the creed, “The only good samaritan is a dead samaritan.”