Analyzing famous hands from the biggest televised poker tournaments


Whilst poker is mainly a game of skill, there is also a fair amount of luck involved as you need to pull just the right cards for your hand to win. Sometimes the right card never comes and you end up out, but occasionally, the perfect card you need comes along at just the right time and wins you the game.

Professional tournament poker games are truly an incredible watch if you’ve ever seen them live. Even behind a screen the tension is clearly visible with in some cases millions on the line.

Whilst it’s not a great strategy to rely on luck of a draw to win, sometimes that risky move pays off and can win you a whole tournament. In this article we’ll be taking a look into some of the most famous hands from the biggest poker tournaments.

Moneymakers bluff

Quite possibly one of the best bluffs in poker history, in 2003 Farha had a queen of spades and a 9 of hearts. The first three cards were all dealt which were a nine of spades, two of diamonds and a six of spades. At this point both players checked. The next card was an eight of spades, leading to Farha to bet. Following this Moneymaker raised and Farha simply called. The final card was a three of hearts however this card was largely pointless as Moneymaker didn’t get the cards needed to complete a flush or a straight, meaning Farha took the win with a pair of two nines.

Matt Affleck

Poker players are usually known for their strong control over their emotions and being able to keep straight faces in the toughest conditions, however with Matt Affleck, this wasn’t the case.

Jonathan Duhamel started off the round with two Jacks as his hole cards with Matt Affleck holding two aces. After a few games, Matt was all in and it looked to be in his favour. Jonathan Duhamel was in trouble, with only ten cards in the deck that could help save him from losing, fortunately, one of those cards was just what he needed, an eight.

As soon as Matt Affleck saw this, he slid his hat over his face visibly in tears after realising his defeat. Whilst Matt ended up coming in 15th place earning $500,000 Jonathan went on to become the first Canadian to win this main event, taking home $8.9million. No wonder Matt was in tears!

Quadruple aces

One of the craziest hands you’ll ever see in a game of poker. In 2008, Motoyuki Mabuchi had raised before the flop with two aces. His opponent Justin Phillips held a King and Jack of diamonds. The flop cards were another ace, queen of diamonds and nine of spades which Mabuchi wanted, despite this, both players decided to check. Following the chase card being a ten of diamonds Mabuchi decided to bet $1600 and Phillips decided to call holding a straight. Amazingly, the river card was the last remaining ace, meaning Mabuchi had all four aces. According to ESPN, the chances of this happening were one in 2.7 billion.

I play the board

Taking it back to 1998, Scotty Nguyen was up against rival Kevin McBride. The game was close with the following on the board eight of clubs, nine of diamonds, nine of hearts, eight of hearts, and eight of spades. Scotty already had a Jack of diamonds and nine of clubs in his hand, meaning his hand was the higher full house. Scotty famously said “you call, it’s going to be all over baby” to which McBride replied “I play the board”. Scotty flipped over his hand showing the higher full house and that was the game with Scotty Nguyen taking the win.

Just like in any game, poker has its ups and downs, with some being more shocking than others. The above points are evidence that whilst luck clearly can’t be relied on, sometimes things do fall your way and help you to a win when all seems lost. As we saw above, no one would have ever expected Motoyuki Mabuchi to pull four aces in one game to claim a historic and crazy win, however despite going against all mathematical odds, he pulled it out of the bag and claimed a win.

In 99% of poker games that are played around the world, most crazy hands don’t see the light of day as they’re either played casually or just in an online tournament. However sometimes, a one in a million (or in the above case one in 2.7 billion) hand is pulled with the whole world to see, these are the hands that make you believe it’s possible to recover from nearly any bad starting situation.

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