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Looking for Revenge in Chess Poker July 7, 2010

Posted by Jennifer in : chess,poker , trackback

The first ever chesspoker match began randomly in the miles-long hallway of the Rio, World Series of Poker 2010. After busting out of a single table satellite, I was desperately seeking a carb fix when a couple of chess turned poker players recognized me from my 2010 US Chess Championship commentary. After consoling me that my 72 offsuit shove was indeed, the right play, we turned to discussing the parameters of our imminent chess poker match.

My opponent Brandon Lee, was a former 1900 player who long ago gave up chess for poker. We decided on a six-game chess match at 5 to 2 odds. Each chess game was worth 50 poker chips—after the chess match, we’d move on Heads-Up No Limit poker. There was a base of 100 chips each, so even if one of us swept, there would still be a poker match.

My first game was a sweet victory in the King’s Indian Defense, ending something like this:

I get to play ...Rxa2!

Things went downhill from there and we split the next four games. In the final game, I reached a lost winning rook endgame. Yes, you read that right! I was up a pawn but had about eight seconds to my opponent’s 30. Somehow, I managed to balance that to 2 to 8, and Brandon offered a draw. I took it ;)

We moved on to heads-up poker. The blind structure was pretty deep at 1-2 with 15 minute levels, but I felt good about my chip lead—a starting stack of 275 to Brandon’s 225.

Things started off badly for me as I lost a bunch of small pots and I was down to 235 when we reached a critical hand. Brandon made it 7 on the button, I re-raised it to 22 and he 4-bet me to 83. He raised me off pots and showed bluffs a few times already, so I thought his range was much wider than it actually was. This is the danger of using too many “instincts” in poker. My gut said that he was trying to bully me, but logically, his range is pretty narrow. I five bet-him all in with QTs and he called with AJo. Everyone laughed at my play but at least I was a little over 40% to win the showdown and of course I made a flush on the river.

I now had him down to about 30 chips! Unfortunately, after folding a couple hands, he won a race with J2s vs. something like T9 and was back to 50 chips. A little later, we had this annoying hand:

I raised the button with T6s and he called. Flop came 467 rainbow. He checked, I bet out 12, he raised to 30 and I called. Turn was a 7 and he bet out 45. I thought for a while and folded—at the time completely unsure about my play. After the hand, I knew he had me beat because earlier he was showing bluffs whereas in this hand he sheepishly tossed his cards into the muck. Later he told me he had 35o for a sucker straight-more like a crusher straight heads up.

So eventually he regained a chip lead, the blinds blossomed and I got it all in with A3o vs. K5o. You can see the result of that race from my expression in the photo.

Overall, the format was very fun. So if you’re good at poker and chess, go ahead and challenge me. I’m hungry for a win.


1. castlerook - July 8, 2010

This is pretty much the best idea ever.

I wish you’d published this before the World Open–I could have challenged you to a match!

2. Steve Nickoloff - July 9, 2010

That is an awesome variation of Chess Poker. I have also done some really nice variations with the use of the chess clock with a similar idea of chess peaces worth poker chips. I called it “Chepok”. We should chat sometime – great article.

3. Friday Myriad: Up all night for Aussie Rules, MMA, Le Tour - July 10, 2010

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4. Bruno Marques - July 11, 2010

You seem to be an outstanding woman!

5. Ted - July 19, 2010

Nice. If you’re going to Vegas in December, i challenge you :)

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