by Alex Poletti
Professional poker player and Texas Rangers superfan Matt Albuquerque was dealt a heartbreaking loss last weekend in Las Vegas when he folded a royal straight due to his inability to recognize an ace.
With the pot worth over $500,000, Albuquerque started the hand with pocket ace-king. After an incredibly lucky flop, The El Paso native already completed his straight. Against pocket twos from his competitor, Johnny Dominguez, this should have been an easy victory.
Despite his great hand, Albuquerque was outbluffed by Dominguez, causing him to lose the round.
“I saw a king in my hand, jack, ten and queen on the table,” Albuquerque recalls. “I was just waiting for that final card, but I couldn’t remember what it was.”
Albuquerque credits this loss to his avid viewership of the Texas Rangers, who have been without a bona fide ace for years.
“I’ve been watching the Rangers for so long, I just kind of forgot what an ace looked like,” the season ticket-holder explains. “Sure, I’d heard stories from other teams, but I hadn’t seen one myself. That’s why I was so confused when one appeared in my hand.”
The 2019 Opening Day starter for the Rangers was Mike Minor, who last had an ERA under 4.00 as a starting pitcher in 2013. The closest thing the Rangers have had to an ace in the past ten years is Cole Hamels, who in his prime played third fiddle to hall-of-famer Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in Philadelphia.
“Seeing that card in my hand, I froze,” Albuquerque says. “What was that? How did it fit in my hand? Was it even a real card? Those were all questions going through my head at that moment.”
Albuquerque hopes that his team can turn things around and pick up a top-level starting pitcher. With top prospect Cole Winn still years away from a Major League debut, it seems all but certain that the poker player’s confusion is bound to continue.
“It’s a tough situation, and with the current Rangers management I don’t see a way out of this,” Albuquerque says. “Maybe if we had re-signed Bartolo, things would’ve ended differently.”