The Biggest Laydowns in Poker History

min read
BetMGM Sep 16, 2021, 9:55 AM

There is more than just one scenario in which a poker play can be considered a win. Whether you’re playing online poker or at an actual table, a win doesn’t always mean walking away with the pot. Players who know with absolute certainty that they’ve been beat will know when to fold their hands. Walking away from a pot that has the potential to go into millions of dollars seems crazy, but it is also a way for players to minimize the risk of losing more money than they’ve already added to the pot. 

That being said, folding isn’t always the right decision. Over the years, we have seen some of the most experienced players choosing to lay down their cards with hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line, only to find out that their opponent was bluffing. It takes a great deal of time and skill to learn how to read other players’ tells, as well as the possible hands that they could have according to the cards that you know have been dealt. Even then, there isn’t always a guarantee that you’re going to get it right.

It’s important to know poker basics, such as what a fold or laydown is, when you should fold, and how to fold properly before you play poker online. Let’s take a look at some of this information, as well as a few of the biggest and downright craziest laydowns in poker history.

What is a fold or laydown?

Poker hand showing three kings with poker chips in the background

If you want to stop playing the hand in a round of poker, you simply lay down your cards. This action is known as a fold, or as laydown and muck. You can only fold your hand when it’s your turn to act in the game and not when it’s anyone else’s go. When you fold, it means that you won’t be able to receive the big pot, but it also means that you don’t have to put any more money into the pot for that particular hand. Most players will fold if they know that their cards are weak or if they suspect another player has a much stronger hand than they do.

How to fold appropriately

Firstly, you must always wait until it is your turn to act before you lay down your cards. You have to wait for the players ahead of you to fold, call, or raise their hand even if you have been dealt poor cards. Folding out of turn can influence other players’ decisions, as there is one less person to call and add to the pot.

If you are playing poker games online, then all you have to do is click the “fold” button. When playing at a live table you need to wait your turn and then slide your cards face down over so the dealer can rake them into the muck pile. You can choose to say that you fold too. The most important rule is to never show your cards to other players when you fold. This is against the rules and could have serious consequences. Always keep your cards face down. Some players do show their cards if the fold ends the game, but experienced poker players rarely do this.

The biggest, craziest laydowns

These are some of the biggest, craziest folds in history, some good and some not so good:

Gary Paterson

When it comes to poker, one of the most important, and seemingly obvious, things to remember is what cards you have in your hand. Gary Paterson did not manage to do this. Paterson starts out with 4s, his opponent Holden has a Jack 3, and Flanders has an Ace 2. The flop is a Jack King Jack and the turn is a 4. 

For some reason, Paterson folds on the turn, in which he would have had a straight to win the game. The only reasonable explanation is that he was concentrating so much on the other players and the dealer that he forgot what he had in his hand. This fold cost him a lot of money and the prize pot.

Roberto Romanello

Roberto Romanello playing poker at WPT Caribbean Season 15

It takes a great poker player to know they are beat, even when they have a hand that consists of jacks full. In the 2008 WSOP Main Event, Mike Matusow has a 9 of hearts and 9 of diamonds, Romanello calls with a jack of diamonds and jack of hearts, Gregory Gellar raises 600 with a king of spades and a king of clubs. A flop of an ace of spades, a jack of spades, and a king of hearts follows and all three players check.

A 10 of clubs on the turn brings another check from all three and the river then brings a 10 of diamonds. Matusow checks, Romanello makes a post-flop bet of $1,800, and Gellar raises to $6,000.

In most people’s eyes, Romanello should have thought he had the strongest hand with jacks full, however, his spidey-senses must have been on point that day. He folds and Geller shows his full house of kings.

Mikhail Smirnov

The “Big One for One Drop” poker tournament in 2012 had a $1,111,111 buy-in, making it the richest poker tournament of all time. Russian businessman Mikhail Smirnov joined at the tables and made one of the most memorable folds in poker history.

Smirnov had an 8 of hearts and 8 of diamonds in a hand against Tom Dwan and Morgan. The flop revealed a jack of spades, an 8 of clubs, and a 7 of spades. Smirnov continued, Dwan folded and Morgan called. 

The turn revealed an 8 of spades, which meant that Smirnov had a potential straight flush on the board. He bet $200,000, which Morgan called again. The river, which was the final card, then produced a king of spades, which Smirnov led out with $700,000. Morgan then went all-in for around $2 million.

Smirnov lay down his quads face-up and gave Morgan the pot. His hand could only have lost to a nine and ten of spades and Morgan never revealed his cards. Smirnov defended his play citing Morgan’s confidence, but we’ll never know if this was the best fold or best bluff in history.

David Fishman

Before Black Friday, the PokerStars Big Game was the poker TV show that gave “Loose Cannons” or unknown players the opportunity to win against big-name pros. $100,000 was given to the Loose Cannon and they were allowed to keep any profit that they made over 150 hands. 

On this occasion, David Fishman had gathered up a tidy sum of $230,000 and had $130,000 on the line. Given that this amount was three times his yearly salary, he decided to not risk anything more than that. From then on, he folded absolutely everything including aces and kings before the flop!

Play poker games online with BetMGM

As you can see, folding isn’t necessarily a bad thing in poker and when done at the right time, it is an essential part of learning how to gamble responsibly. The best poker players look at their poker hands list, read the other players, and know when to lay down their cards. At BetMGM we have some of the best table games and online poker tournaments on offer for players looking for fun and responsible poker online.

Register today or download our poker app and play your favorite game of poker no matter where you are.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.