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Poker player's sad face goes viral on Web

Former Madras resident


by: HOLLY M. GILL - Madras native Carter Gill, playing on the fourth day of the World Series of Poker Main Event on July 12, smiles when the flop gives him a pair of aces and 10s. Moments later, the 'river' gave his opponent the win - despite the odds in Gill's favor. The ESPN video of his reaction went viral last week.As a parent, I've learned over the years to expect the unexpected: from the trip to the emergency room to remove a broken glass bead from my then 2-year-old daughter's nose, to numerous crashed or totaled vehicles.

At times, the unexpected makes me proud: college scholarships, home runs, or television or radio appearances. But other times, it leaves me shaking my head in consternation.

Last week was one of those times when I was caught somewhere between crying and laughing when a video of my middle son went viral. On Tuesday, the YouTube video "Saddest poker hand ever?" — the most viewed poker video ever — was nearing 2.2 million views.

The story of the poker hand goes back to July 12, when my son Carter, 26, a professional poker player, had made it to the fourth day of the World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas. The field of 6,352 players entered in the final event had been whittled down to under 400, and he was well-positioned to more than double his chips.

Instead, with ESPN cameras rolling, he "busted out" in dramatic fashion, when the dealer turned over the "river" — the last of the five community cards — and it was a queen, the only possible card that could beat his hand.

Carter went out in 371st place, with a payout of $28,063 — most of which went to stakers who had put up the $10,000 entry fee — but it was his face that eventually earned him spots in news clips from Croatia to Colombia.

The video from the featured tables of the main event, which started July 6, and ran through July 15, began to air on ESPN in mid-August, and just in case, I recorded them, hoping to catch a glimpse of him at one of the tables.

On Aug. 27, Carter sent me a message that numerous friends had told him he was on one of the ESPN video highlights from the fourth day. I scanned through the show and found the heartbreaking moment when he went from being supremely confident, to completely dejected. His expression, which could not be described as a poker face, said it all.

By Wednesday, his face was all over the Internet in a Yahoo Sports story entitled, "Poker player’s bad-beat face at the World Series of Poker will break your heart." The story remained as a top story for throughout the day on the Yahoo home page. By the end of the day, the "Saddest poker hand ever?" video had over a million views, and USA Today had made a gif — a compressed image — showing the dramatic change.

In the video segment, the announcer introduces the two professional poker players involved in the hand, noting "Gill dropped out of Cal State Chico; (David) Paredes graduated from Harvard."

The announcer goes on to say that Gill was born in Madras, which he mispronounces as Mah-drus, and adds, "I can't even find that on a map."

The players at the featured table are playing no-limit Texas hold 'em, and Carter, who has two pairs — aces and 10s — goes all in with 372,000 chips as he tries to goad Paredes into calling. Paredes also has a pair of aces and a queen, but Carter is favored to win 93-7.

Throughout the one-and-one-half-minute video, Carter keeps up a steady barrage of talk, correctly predicting that Paredes can only win if the last card is a queen. Finally, Paredes calls, and the pot rises to 987,000 chips.

Before the dealer turns over the queen, even the announcer comments that "Gill's got the best of it."

Afterward, Carter told me that he had made an effort to remain composed, but he said it best in a status on Facebook: "Strangely enough, I recall my first thought was 'Okay don't show any emotion,' and apparently my version of no emotion equates to a usatoday gif titled 'sadpokerman.'"

As Carter shakes Paredes' hand and gets up to leave, the narrator rhetorically asks, "So you want to play poker for a living, huh? Wow. Carter Gill stunningly knocked out by David Paredes."

The other narrator chimes in with, "I'm surprised he's not slumped over in his chair in a state of unconsciousness until 2017."

Find the viral video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_yqCQvpZyc, or search YouTube for “Saddest poker hand ever?” The Yahoo! Sports story can be found at: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/the-turnstile/poker-player-bad-beat-face-break-heart-120717845.html.




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