Last night, while suffering through … uh, playing in another disappointing Second Chance tournament (a $225 buy-in NLHE event, which is held every evening at 11 p.m. during the WSOP), I came up with a million-dollar idea, which I'm trusting that none of you will steal:
A bad-beat hotline.
The notion came, unbidden, thanks to one of those hands that turns poker players into atheists. It was early in the second level (the blinds were $25-50), and a short stack in early position went all-in for $300. A player in middle position raised to $700. There were a couple of folds, and another short stack went all-in for $400. Then the button called.
The flop came 9-4-2 rainbow. The raiser threw in his last $200, which was called by the button. The two short stacks turned over middle pairs - J-J and 10-10. The raiser showed A-A, and the button revealed ... 2-2, giving him a set, which held up on the turn and the river.
The guy with aces was calm and gracious enough, though he couldn't resist asking a question as he left the table. "How could you call with deuces?" he said to the button, who replied, "Don't you know that deuces never loses?"
About an hour later, I ran into the guy who had held A-A. He was still talking to himself. (So was I, after having been knocked out by Mr. Deuces Never Loses myself, when he called my big raise with K-J, and knocked off my 10-10 when a jack arrived on the flop.)
"How could that guy have called with deuces?" he asked me. "He's only getting 2-1 on a 5-1 shot, he has to have the worst hand, and even if he gets lucky and hits a set, there's a pretty good chance he still could get outdrawn with three other players in the pot. Plus, there aren't even any implied odds, since I only have $200 left and the other two guys are already all-in."
I smiled wanly, and shrugged. Let's face it - the only thing one poker player feels when another player tells him a bad beat story is, "I'm glad it didn't happen to me." Which is just what I felt. But then I thought, "Hey, what if there was a group of people that cared, even if only professionally? What if there was the poker equivalent of a phone sex hotline?"
Here's how it might work:
Mr. A-A calls up the Jackpot Jay Bad Beat Hotline, and he gets the following recording, "Please punch in your credit card number, including expiration date. For our Silence Is Golden service, where you can complain as long as you want to for only $10, press 1. For our Grandma's Advice service, a mere $20, press 2. For our Don't Worry, You're Still My Big Strong Man service, which goes for $30, a small price to pay for vital ego maintenance, press 3."
Despite the price, Mr. A-A can't resist the siren call of Strong Man. He presses 3, and a sultry voice says, "Tell me your sad story, big boy, and don't leave anything out. I'm a big girl, and I can take it." After Mr. A-A recounts his sad tale, in excruciating detail, the sultry voice says, "I can understand your pain, but it doesn't make me think any less of you. In fact, I admire men who are strong enough to reveal their true feelings. You should feel very good about yourself. I know I feel good about you."
Well, that should be more than enough to put the giddyup back into Mr. A-A's step, don't you think?
But just in case it's not, Mr. A-A can always press 4, for our Oh You Poor Dear, Why Don't You Put Your Sad Head in My Lap? service. That a bit pricey - a cool C-note - but, believe me, it's worth it.