Kyle Bowker Folds Quads Face-Up in WSOP Main Event

Back when I had my pick of online poker rooms here in the U.S., I once hit a high hand jackpot on one of the smaller ones. Made a straight flush using both of my hole cards and won a five dollar bonus. It wasn’t much, but hey, it made me happy. Oh, and I won the hand, too. On the rare occasions that I got lucky and made a huge hand – perhaps quads, maybe the nut boat – I would cross my fingers and hope that I got paid off. I didn’t usually; more often than not, my opponent didn’t have anything worth a damn or I was just incompetent with my value betting. But I always won the pot.

What I did not do in those situations was throw away my hand. But then again, I am not, nor have I ever claimed to be, a professional poker player. Or even anything more than perhaps a slightly above average one (and I probably exaggerated right there).

Kyle Bowker, on the other hand, is a pro poker player, so maybe he knows better than I do. I mean, it had to be a pro move to fold quads at the World Series of Poker Main Event.

kyle bowker

Kyle Bowker Image credit: @kwob20 Twitter

According to the live reporting on WSOP.com, which actually reported the hand as described by Bowker himself, the board read K♠-9♠-7x-7x-J♠ and Bowker’s opponent had moved all-in. Bowker tanked and tanked and tanked some more until eventually someone called clock.

The clock ran out. Bowker folded. Face up. Pocket Sevens. Quads.

Now we can go around and around in circles as to why someone would fold quads in that situation. Obviously Bowker was convinced that his opponent had Q-T for a straight flush. Not A-Q for a flush or perhaps Kings, Jacks, or Nines for a full house, but specifically Q-T. There was clearly something about the way the other guy played the hand that made Bowker mighty nervous despite having a hand that is an insta-call 99.99 percent of the time. We don’t know exactly how the hand played out and Bowker has not chimed in, so I, as a non-expert, am not going to go on and on about it.

One thing that is odd – besides folding quads – is that Bowker folded his hole cards face up. You have to know that as soon as you do that, you are opening yourself up to tons of criticism. I don’t have the balls to be the guy that everyone is going to look at and whisper to each other, “See him? He folded quads in the Main Event.”

Why did he reveal his cards? Did he think it was such an incredible laydown (and it might have been) that he wanted everyone to bask in the glory of his genius? Perhaps he had a dead-on read and knew he had one of the unluckiest beats of all time, but he wanted to put his opponent on ultra-life tilt by not calling the all-in. Or maybe, maybe Bowker was playing the long game, making everyone think he was Doctor Nitty Von Nitterson and now, when he has garbage the rest of the time, he will play aggressively and get everyone to fold.

Incredibly, this is not unprecedented in an important World Series of Poker tournament. In the inaugural million dollar buy-in Big One for Drop in 2012, a similar hand occurred. Russian businessman Mikhail Smirnov had pocket Eights and a bit more than the average stack. He hit his set on the flop of J♠-8♣-7♠, bet, and was called by Winmark Corporation CEO John Morgan. The 8♠ was dealt on the turn, turning Smirnov’s set into quads. He was golden.

Smirnov bet again and Morgan called fairly quickly. The river was the K♠, creating all sorts of hand possibilities, but Smirnov still had quads and was naturally going to win the hand. Smirnov bet, of course, but this time, Morgan moved all-in and had Smirnov covered. If Smirnov called, he was risking his tournament life, but again, let’s make this perfectly clear, he had four cards of the same value. A four-of-a-kind in poker terminology.

Smirnov thought about the hand for a few minutes and then, apparently putting his opponent on a straight-flush, he folded his cards face up.

Thing was, he didn’t feel bad about it at all. Afterward, he told Nolan Dalla that would have no problem sleeping that night, not knowing what Morgan had. He went through his thought process:

It’s hard for me to explain.  It seemed like a very difficult call to make.  But for me — I think that my read of the table and when you think about this hand and it’s very easy for me to fold.  It was the right play.  Sometimes it’s very difficult to fold top pair, but this time I don’t know what he should have.  It’s impossible for him to have full house of Kings, impossible full house of Jacks, because he did not re-raise from button (pre-flop).  He would have re-raised with Jacks and Kings (pre-flop).  If he has full house of sevens, then he’d just call (on the river). A bluff is impossible because he likes to play in the tournament and he is not a professional.  I think I have no chance to win, plus he was so excited on the turn.

To his credit, Morgan at the time said he was not going to tell anyone what he had “out of respect for my opponent.”

 

Cover photo credit: http://smallpotatospoker.blogspot.com

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