Terrence Chan Tells a Story

"Experience is the name we give our mistakes."
- Oscar Wilde.

I walked into the PokerStars hospitality suite about an hour after I confirmed that limit O/8 is really not my strongest game, in a loss to this week's TLB winner, who is now allowed to trade me to Humble Pie for fifty bucks and a case of beer.

So I came into the suite, and found Terrence Chan on one of our fine Corinthian leather couches.

"Hey, do you want to write a story about how I'm the suckiest player who ever sucked at poker?"

I hadn't even set my backpack down, and my skin was still radiating off the oppressive 110 degree Vegas heat, but I reached for my notebook as quickly as I could shove my hand into my pocket.

"Yes," I said. "Yes, I do."

"Okay. I was going to put this on my own blog, but then I thought that I could wait for you to get here, and I could share my story with six digits worth of other readers, so they can all know how horrible I am." He said.

I should point out that Terrence used to work for PokerStars, until he started making so much money playing poker that he left to play full time. I should further point out that Terrence routinely plays for more money than I earn in a year. Finally, I will point out that throughout this entire story, Terrence was cracking up at himself, and telling this story with the good humor that is an essential part of a professional poker player's life; there wasn't even the slightest hint of bitterness or unhappiness as he told me this story.

"Okay, so do you want the short version or the long version?" He said, as we sat on the couch.

"Well," I said, as I opened my notebook,"is this a bad beat story?"

"No, it's a how-badly-I-suck story!" He laughed. "You play 3-6, right?"

"Usually, yeah," I said.

"Okay. I play about one hundred times bigger than you, and you're going to tell me how much I suck."

I scribbled this all down in my notes, hoping that I'd be able to capture how animated and obviously amused Terrence was with his self-described suckage. "If I can't convey it with subtle and competent writing," I thought, "I'll totally cheat and write a meta comment about it. Sweet."

"The blinds were 25 and 50," Terrence said, "and the small blind makes it 150 to go. I looked at two red kings in the big blind, and made it 450."

I thought for a brief second (as opposed to one of those regular seconds that we are all familiar with) about interjecting a brief commiseration about how I was crippled and then eliminated on back-to-back bad beats with pocket kings at the 2005 WPT Championship at Bellagio, but thought better of it.

(Aside: Jim McManus just walked in to grab some food. I wonder what he would say if he knew that I've been doing my best impression of him for the last few days. Oh crap, he's walking over this way! Okay, whew. He turned around and headed back out.)

"The small blind calls, and the flop comes ace deuce trey with two diamonds."

"So what was the kicker for his ace of diamonds?" I said, expecting it to be something really powerful, like a four or a six.

"Oh, it turns out it was ace king," he said. "But that doesn't even matter. The flop goes check check, and the six of diamonds comes on the turn. He checks, I bet 500 and he calls.

"Another diamond comes on the river, and he bets 600. I look at my cards to verify that I have the nuts, and as I'm pushing all my chips into the pot, I realize that the ace on the board isn't the ace of diamonds. It isn't even a red ace. It is the ace of clubs. I actually think to myself as my hands are shoving all my chips out, 'Wait. That's not the ace of diamonds, that's the ace of clubs.'"

I grimaced, but secretly took some comfort knowing that someone like Terrence, who plays at a significantly higher level than I do in all respects, could still make the kind of mistake I occasionally -- okay, typically -- make.

"He insta-called with the ace of diamonds." Terrence said. Then, "To my credit, I didn't act like it was a bad beat, so I got some donkey image equity, which I used against Todd Brunson a few hands later. I pushed with ace jack, and Todd called me with king nine off, which I don't think he would do normally. I was a four to three favorite . . . until the flop came king nine."

"Ouch." I said.

Terrence just laughed. "Well, that is why I am the suckiest poker player who ever sucked."

I faithfully recorded all of this in my notebook, and giggled a bit when my brain replayed the famous Homer Simpson line, "Yeah Moe, that team sure did suck last night. They just plain sucked! I've seen teams suck before, but they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked. Uh, I gotta go, my damn weiner kids are listening."

At this point, I should point out that, despite his protestations to the contrary, Terrence doesn't suck. At all. In fact, in this WSOP he already has one final table, placing eighth in event number thirteen.

No, Terrence doesn't suck, not by a long shot.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker