Poker is arguably at its most entertaining when two players with almost unbelievable hands are going toe-to-toe with each other.
They are spurred into betting by their air of confidence in what they’ve been dealt, as well as an occasional lack of awareness in equal measure.
While one key part of poker is being able to second guess your opponent and deciphering the strength of their hand, it’s possible that you could be in such a strong position yourself that you disregard everything else.
Sometimes you can be so convinced that you are in an unassailable position that it can ultimately knock you out of the game, being beaten by a freak of a hand by another player.
When even a Four Of A Kind isn’t good enough to win you a hand, you know something extraordinary has happened.
We’ve picked out some of the most insane hands that have been dealt on a poker table, and some of them even left rival players totally speechless.
5. Barry Shulman vs Daniel Negreanu
Daniel Negreanu suffers an incredible stroke of bad luck in the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event final table, with the context of the event making this even more amazing.
The Canadian is taking on Barry Shulman, and they are the last two players in the tournament.
Shulman draws Pocket Aces and is immediately on the front foot, raising to $250,000 against his opponent’s Queen and Jack.
On the Flop Negreanu secures a pair of Jacks, but is still behind in the hand, and the 5 and 8 of Diamonds also come up.
With a 76% chance of winning, Shulman again elects to raise, this time putting another $300,000 in the pot.
Despite the odds being fairly well stacked against him, Negreanu raises to $900,000, thus prompting Shulman to go all-in, and with the former leading in chips it means it’s a do or die call.
Negreanu gets the Jack he needs on the Turn to put himself on pole for victory, and now can only be denied by a third Ace being produced, which is only given a 2% chance of happening.
Unfortunately for him, it does happen – the crowd goes wild and Shulman is somehow still in the tournament.
Not only that, but he is now well in control in terms of chips, so this was a seriously big hand to win.
4. Ilkan Savalan Amirov vs Marc MacDonnell vs Javier Gomez vs Chris Walker
Although none of the four players create a powerful set of cards, the outcome here is rather extraordinary.
It’s perfectly set up too – first, Chris Walker goes all-in with his $985,000 stack with Pocket Jacks, and he is followed by Marc MacDonnell who holds the 8 and 9 of Diamonds.
After some deliberation, Ilkan Savalan Amirov matches Walker’s bet with Pocket Kings, but he then his forced to raise when Javier Gomez goes all-in with his $2,580,000 worth of chips as he has Pocket Queens.
Amirov still has $3,460,000 in his stack so is safe regardless of whether he wins or loses, but if he comes out on top then the other three players are eliminated.
The 6, 9 and Ace of Spades come up on the Flop, so MacDonnell joins his rivals in holding a Pair, but Gomez needs only one more Spade for a Flush.
None of the players receive any help with the 2 of Diamonds on the Turn, and Amirov is the overwhelming favourite with a 59% chance of winning.
Amazingly, it’s a quiet River with the 6 of Diamonds giving each player Two Pair, but Amirov takes it with the Kings and the other three are sent packing.
Both Gomez and MacDonnell were excruciatingly close to Flushes, and in this hand one card for pretty much anyone would’ve made an enormous difference.
3. Donnacha O’Dea vs Achilleas Kallakis vs Tim Flanders
One of the most stunning Flops is followed by a seriously bad beat, as Donnacha O’Dea steals this hand from Achilleas Kallakis.
Tim Flanders is bewildered by his stroke of bad luck too, and you really can’t blame him for that.
O’Dea begins with Pocket 3s, while Flanders has a 4 and a 5, and their opponent holds the 5 and 9 of Spades.
Incredibly, the Flop gives all three players strong hands, with the 3, 6 and 7 of Spades all being drawn.
That means that O’Dea has Three of a Kind and Kallakis pulls off a Flush, putting him in control.
Despite landing a Straight on the Flop, Flanders is out of the hand and cannot possibly win, which is enormously unfortunate and can’t happen too often.
All three players are convinced they have the best hand, and O’Dea’s bet of $6,000 is called by his two rivals.
Flanders bets $20,000 after a King comes up on the Turn, which is again called by the other two players, and you have to feel sorry for him in his situation because he could never predict what he’s up against.
The drama isn’t quite done there though – O’Dea has the luck of the Irish and hits Four Of A Kind thanks to another 3 on the River.
Even the commentators are amazed, but Flanders suspects he may have been undone when O’Dea bets $40,000, so he begrudgingly folds.
Kallakis has already been quick to call by this point, and he is totally shocked when O’Dea’s hand is revealed, while the player next to him laughs in disbelief.
2. Tom Dwan vs Phil Ivey
Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey combine to smash the record for what was, at the time, the largest pot in televised poker history with these insane cards.
Dwan is dealt the 6 and 7 of Hearts, while Ivey has the 2 of Diamonds and the Ace of Spades.
Incredibly, they both have Flush draws after the Flop, with both players only needing a 4.
Ivey then bets $35,000, and his opponent calls.
Unfortunately for Ivey, despite completing a Straight when a 4 is dealt, he cannot win the hand.
He isn't to know that of course, and after betting a further $90,000 he is raised $232,600 by Dwan.
Ivey goes all-in, and looks shocked after being called and seeing Dwan's higher value Straight.
Their bets created a pot worth a massive $1,108,500, setting a new record.
1. Toby Lewis vs Andrew Robl
This must be one of the most unbelievable hands ever seen on a poker table.
Toby Lewis and Andrew Robl go up against each other with Pocket Queens and 9s respectively after the deal, so in their own minds they are both in a pretty strong position.
After the Flop, this is ultimately reinforced by both players – though at this point, Robl’s is unfortunately misplaced.
Two Queens and a 9 come into the game, so while Robl has a Full House, he cannot compete with Lewis’ Four Of A Kind.
It is impossible for him to win the hand from this point, but you can’t blame him for thinking he is better placed to do so with his cards, so he bets $18,000.
Yevgeniy Timoshenko, who held Pocket 2s in a very rare deal where all three players had Pairs, elects to fold, but Lewis raises to $42,000.
Alarm bells should really have been ringing for Robl at this point, but he makes the call after some consideration.
Following a 5 on the Turn, Robl checks but is again met by a sizeable bet of $63,000 to call.
It is a hugely difficult position to be in, because he must be aware that his adversary has a very strong set of cards, but he can’t really bet against a Full House.
Amazingly, a fourth 9 is produced on the River to give Robl his own Four Of A Kind, and it is almost unthinkable that he is going to lose with one of the best hands available in poker.
He goes all-in with his remaining $149,000, and nonchalantly looks at Lewis as if to celebrate eliminating him from the game.
Robl then realises what’s happened, and neither he nor the other players at the table can believe what’s happened, and they all appear totally confused.
Without doubt one of the most cruel ways that anyone has ever been knocked out of a tournament.