I have a story to share, kind of what you might call a Kafkaesque poker story. It happened in Budapest, Hungary, which I guess is appropriate since Franz Kafka was from central Europe.
This happened about five years ago. I was playing in a poker tournament, and while I can't remember the name of the casino I do know it was not the one where the EPT had its event in Budapest a few years ago.
This was the most unusual tournament I've ever played. The first sign things were a little strange was the way people were getting around the rule forbidding smoking at the table. All players had to do if they wanted to smoke was to stand up from their chairs, and they could do so. They were still right at the table and even playing their hands, but as long as they were standing, they could smoke.
Okay, I thought. That's a little strange to have such a rule that isn't really a rule. But the tournament played on.
Then a hand came up in which a player had folded on the flop, but he wanted to see what the turn and river would be. This isn't usually allowed, but here they allowed it. Then it happened again. And again. Soon it was clear this was going to happen every single hand, and it slowed things down to where we were only playing around 12 hands per hour.
Again, kind of strange I thought. But still we played on.
Then came another hand involving two other players in which an ace had come on the flop. I watched as one player showed one of his cards to his opponent -- an ace -- then made a bet. "You are my friend," he said as he made the bet. "Fold your hand."
"What is going on?" I wondered as I watched the other player fold his hand. This is really a strange tournament, I realized.
But it got even weirder. Another hand came up in which a player bet, then another player raised all in. Then the original bettor showed his hand -- two aces -- and folded! I had seen enough. "Please call the floor," I said to the dealer, and the floor came over.
I explained what had happened, and the floor said "It's a personal decision." "What?" I said. "But he had two aces and folded before the flop. How is that okay?" "It's a personal decision to fold any hand," the floor repeated, then walked away.
Are you starting to see why I'm calling this a Kafkaesque story?
I began to think it might not be possible for me to win this tournament, and in fact I'd probably be better off to bust as soon as I could. As it happened, that decision was kind of made for me soon after that.
A hand came up where I'd gone all in with ace-king and was up against an opponent who had two queens. An ace came on the flop, my hand held up, and I thought I had doubled up.
Then another player spoke up. "You have to repeat," he said to the dealer, referring to the dealing of the community cards. He then explained that he had seen a card flash during the deal -- I think he was referring to one of the burn cards -- and so the flop, turn, and river would have to be dealt again.
The floor came over, and you might guess what the ruling was. To deal out the board again! How absurd is that?
The community cards were dealt a second time, and I lost. I was mad as a tiger, but there was nothing I could do. I told them I'd never play at that casino again and soon left.
Poker can be a difficult game sometimes. But I'll always remember how in that smoky casino in Budapest many years ago where it was impossible!
Juan Manuel Pastor is a member of Team PokerStars Pro