It’s a modern day retelling of a timeless classic. The setting: a high-stakes televised poker tournament. The Poker Beauty: Sara Chafak, also known as Miss Finland. The Poker Beast: Ronnie Bardah. The result (spoiler alert): Beauty tames the Beast.
Meet the Poker Beauty
Sara Chafak is—as you would expect of Miss Finland—a young woman of uncommon beauty. She is also—as you might be more surprised to learn—a young woman of uncommon intelligence, talent, courage, and poise. All of these attributes would serve her well at the poker table.
And the Poker Beast
Ronnie Bardah is actually not a bad-looking guy. You could even say he is kind of handsome. Nevertheless, he has been cast as The Beast in our little drama, and thus he shall remain. In real life, Ronnie Bardah is a highly respected, highly successful professional poker player, owner of a prestigious World Series of Poker Bracelet, winner of more than a million dollars in live poker tournaments. Not a slouch.
Shark Cage is a poker tournament created especially for television that brings celebrities from various fields together with real poker professionals. It might sound a little silly, but when you understand that the eventual winner of the tournament receives a prize of one million real American dollars, it starts to sound pretty serious.
Different episodes of the Shark Cage take place in different locations around the world. Our event took place in beautiful Barcelona, Spain.
The Cast of Characters
The players around the Shark Cage poker table in Barcelona were:
- Sara Chafak: the Poker Beauty.
- Ronnie Bardah: the Poker Beast.
- Eugene Katchalov: professional poker player, owner of a WSOP bracelet, winner of more than $9 million in live and online poker tournaments.
- Kara Scott: the hostess of the television shows Poker Night Live and High Stakes Poker, also respected as a formidable poker player in her own right.
- Jean-Robert Bellande: professional poker player, owner of a WSOP bracelet, winner of more than $2 million in poker prizes.
By any measure, this was quite an All-Star lineup of poker talent assembled at one poker table.
Let the Game Begin
This game had blinds of 5,000/10,000 and an ante of 2,000. In the Pre-Flop, The Beauty called. Everyone else at the table folded except for The Beast in the big blind, who checked and announced, “Me and Mrs. Finland right now heads-up.” He was immediately corrected by Jean-Robert Bellande, who pointed out that The Beauty’s title was Miss—not Mrs.—Finland. Be that as it may, The Beauty and The Beast were indeed in a heads-up situation with these hands:
- Beauty: Ace of hearts and Deuce of diamonds
- Beast: 8 of clubs and 4 of spades
Then comes the Flop: Queen of spades; 5 of spades; 4 of clubs. A little something for everyone:
- Beauty: Straight draw (she just needs a 3 to complete the A-2-3-4-5)
- Beast: Pair of 4s
The Beast bets 15,000. The Beauty raises to 30,000. The Beast calls.
Now comes the Turn, and it’s the 4 of diamonds. A good Turn for The Beast:
- Beauty: The pair of 4s on the board, and still a chance of hitting a 3 for a straight on the River.
- Beast: Three 4s.
The Beast checks. The Beauty bets 55,000. The Beast raises to 155,000. The Beauty re-raises to 255,000. The Beast calls.
Finally, the River: 6 of hearts. And the final hands are:
- The board: 4-4-5-6-Q
- Beauty: Just the pair of 4s on the board and an Ace kicker. In other words: nothing.
- Beast: Trips. Three-of-a-kind 4s.
The Beast checks. The Beauty goes All-In for 701,000.
The Beast Is Howling
Now, after The Beauty has gone All-In on the River, what is the poor confused Beast to do? He has to imagine that The Beauty might really have a winning hand. Among the possibilities, she could have a pair of 5s, a pair of 6s, or a pair of Queens, any of which would give her a full house.
On the other hand, she might just be bluffing. What is a poor Beast to do?
First, as a Beast is wont to do, he howls. “Oh my God, how is this happening?”
In a desperate gambit, he reveals his hand and tells her “I have a 4.” The gambit fails. The Beauty maintains her poker face, revealing nothing.
The Beast howls some more. “I’m nervous, I don’t know what’s going on!”
Beauty Tames the Beast
Finally, after some more plaintive howls, The Beast makes his decision: he folds. And thus The Beauty—Miss Finland, Sara Chafak—hauls in a huge pot with a big bluff, resulting in much embarrassment for The Beast and much laughter around the table. It is all very entertaining, but there is also a serious lesson to be learned and it is this:
When you play against a beauty queen, do not assume that since she is prettier, then you must be smarter. In fact, it is possible that she is both prettier than you and smarter than you. Life is not fair. Always keep that in mind.
Another lesson to be learned is that it pays to play poker online, where no one need ever know if you are pretty or not pretty.
Good luck at the tables!