All-in all the time

Updated: June 30, 2005, 2:59 PM ET
By Jay Lovinger | ESPN Poker Club

Previous WSOP Moment

Is it just me - or are kids getting nuttier?

Last night, I was playing in a $325 buy-in NLHE satellite, when a sleepy-looking kid - he couldn’t have been older than 24 - pulled a move I'd never seen pulled before, at least not successfully.

It was just the third hand, so the blinds were only $25-25. I folded in first position, and the kid suddenly snapped to life, pushing all $1,500 of his chips into the pot in a single pile (one $500 chip, eight $100s, eight $25s). This, of course, is a ridiculous move, since you are risking your tournament life to win $50, a meaningless amount in the grander scheme of things. You are only going to get called after a play like that by somebody holding A-A, in which case you’re going to be a huge underdog. If the guy making the play is the one with the A-A, in some ways the play is even more ridiculous, because with A-A you want to induce a call - ideally from one other player - in order to maximize your profits, so it makes far more sense to make a modest raise or to just limp in, hoping somebody will raise so that you can reraise.

When somebody makes a gross overbet - and in the above scenario, anything more than a $200 raise is a gross overbet - it is practically mandatory that somebody say, "Wow, you must have really wanted that $50." (I hate to admit this, but I was considering saying just that. Luckily, somebody else beat me to the punch.)

Anyway, everybody quickly folded...until it got around to the big blind, who went into a long huddle. Everybody was fascinated, wondering what the guy could be holding to be considering a call for all his chips - surely not A-A, or he would have made the call instantly. K-K? Probably. Finally, the big blind said, "Okay, I'll play with you," and turned over 10-10. The sleepy-looking kid burst out laughing and turned over A-A, which held up, much to the annoyance of the big blind, who must have thought the kid would never have wasted A-A by making such a silly play.

Everybody started buzzing at once, asking the kid why he went all-in like that.

“I always wanted to try it,” the kid said. “I’ve been thinking about it for years,” as if we were discussing somebody trying to find a cure for syphilis.

Another kid at the table said, “I know what you mean. I did the exact same thing once in an online tournament, also in early position on the second or third hand.”

"What happened?" somebody asked.

"I got called by a Q-J suited. A queen came on the flop, and a jack came on the river. But it wasn't like this. That was just an online tournament, which is ... different ... from this."

Kids. What are you gonna do with 'em? To paraphrase the great Steven Wright: You can't live with 'em, you can't kill 'em, and you certainly can't call 'em when they go all-in like that.

Jay Lovinger

Founding editor, Page 2
Jay Lovinger is a former managing editor of Life and a founding editor of Page 2. "Jackpot Jay" spent a year as a poker pro and participated in the World Series of Poker. He will be writing a book on his poker adventures for HarperCollins.

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