Hand I'll Never Forget: Actor Kevin Pollak Finds Perspective on Crushing 2012 Main Event Bad Beat

Kevin Pollak talks about the Cover Now Fund he's supporting in the WSOP Main Event.

Thousands upon thousands of poker players have exit stories from their WSOP Main Event journeys, but few could claim to have one more heart-wrenching than that of actor and comedian Kevin Pollak.

The year was 2012 and Pollak, who has played poker his whole life, was playing in his first-ever Main Event. It was going better than he could have expected too, as one of 282 that made Day 5 from a field of 6,598 runners.

The Heartbreaker

His unforgettable hand, which you can read about here, occurred at a televised feature table. Pollak's stack had fallen to well below average and he moved all in from the big blind after a raise and a call in front of him. The initial raiser, Kirill Rabtsov, reshoved a bigger stack and the next player folded.

Both players tabled their pocket queens, Pollak holding QQ and Rabtsov with QQ. A comical showdown quickly turned into a serious moment as the flop came K9K to give Rabtsov the backdoor flush freeroll. The 3 kept that freeroll alive to get the crowd stirring. Pollak, his hands on his head, watched as the 2 river confirmed his fear, ending his deep Main Event run in 134th place.

"When I tell someone, queens against queens, it's the same reaction every time: 100 percent empathy."

The PokerNews hand report included the following commentary: "The whole mothership let out a disgusted sigh, and Pollak was left in shock. After a few moments, he let out a laugh, and said 'It's so absurd you have to laugh.'"

Now seven years later and playing in his fifth Main Event, Pollak recounted the moment which quickly went from some griping about "a waste of good cards" into runner-runner dread.

"When three hearts came, my heart sank to my shoes."

Silver Lining

While the beat was of course one of the toughest to imagine, Pollak has found some interesting silver lining in the response he gets from people who either remember the hand or find out about it when asking about his 2012 run.

"When I tell someone, queens against queens, it's the same reaction every time: 100 percent empathy. As opposed to overplaying ace-queen, ace-jack, pocket sixes, where they can call you an idiot. This is just heartbreaking empathy - which is spectacular."

"When three hearts came, my heart sank to my shoes."

He continued: "Really, in one's life's journey, looking back, 'Oh you poor bastard, queens against queens'... If you gotta go, you gotta go. That was my time to leave the tournament. You have to tell that story for forever. So as those stories go - those exiting stories - I can't recommend it higher... Honestly, no one can say I was a jackass, and that's ultimately all you want."

Perspective comes with time, which is exactly what Pollak got once the sting wore off.

"It stayed with me, but it took maybe four or five days to feel a little better." He continued: "That was my first time playing the Main, and to have that deep of a run, when we started this with three Day 1's even in 2012 and when I got knocked out, I could see the remaining 15 tables. So just that journey, it took about three or four days to get some perspective on that, and feel like I had won."

The amount he cashed for — $52,718 — and the place he finished — 134 — are numbers Pollak won't soon forget.

Kevin Pollak
Kevin Pollak is back in the Main Event, playing on Day 2c of the Main Event.

"[Negreanu] was and is my favorite player, so actually, felting him kind of messed me up."

As memorable as that beat was, there was another hand leading up to that one that will also stick with him, and it involved eliminating one of his poker heroes. Not too long before his bust out at the same table, Daniel Negreanu had moved all in from early position before action folded to Pollak in the cutoff. With just more than twice as many chips as Negreanu, Pollak re-shoved with ace-queen suited, which held up against Negreanu's king-queen suited and Kid Poker hit the rail.

"[Negreanu] was and is my favorite player, so actually, felting him kind of messed me up," Pollak explained. "It's a great story to tell later but at the time, it was like beating your old man in the driveway one-on-one basketball for the first time. So I actually had to get up and take a little walk around the perimeter. Because I'm ending a hero's tournament life and it just didn't feel good - as much as I wanted his chips."

Supporting Law Enforcement Heroes

Now playing his fifth Main Event, Pollak says he plays as often as he can, but has been rather busy shooting Season 3 of the Amazon Prime hit The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

"My wonderful sponsor, the fine folks at the CHIVE made it easy for me to play this year," Pollak said of CHIVE TV streaming platform. Another key motivation for getting out to play the Main during this busy time was to spread the word about an organization near and dear to his heart, the Cover Now Fund, founded by medical retired police officer Jeff Stine.

"There's never been a national law enforcement emergency fund," Pollak explained. "So there's never been a project like Wounded Warriors for policemen and women. Once I found that out, it just didn't make any sense. So I'll do whatever I can."

"There's never been a project like Wounded Warriors for policemen and women."

The two key emphases for the organization to support the approximately one million individuals in the police force nationwide are suicide and catastrophic injury in the line of duty.

"Suicide, bizarrely, [accounts for] three times the number of officers killed in the line of duty," explained Pollak. "I don't think anyone knows that. And those are often one-income families. And when that occurs, the family is left with the last paycheck and most often, no money for the funeral or next week's groceries."

While precincts generally pitch in to try to help out in these cases, it's not enough to sustain the families. With catastrophic injury, Pollak explained, there's coverage to a certain point and in the case of being less than 20 years in service, before the pension line, they are then routed to an insurance company.

"Like all big insurance companies, they will pay to a certain point and what ultimately ends up happening is the officer who is now unable to ever work again has to hire a lawyer to sue for things as simple as physical therapy. So again, these two areas are just overlooked and it's affected families across the country."

"Honestly, no one can say I was a jackass, and that's ultimately all you want."

As a lover of comic books as a kid, Pollak remembers seeing police officers as real-life super heroes "in the sense that they are actually fighting crime." Now as a member of the Board of Directors, Pollak gets to give back to these heroes and is happy with the traction the organization is getting.

"Our first meetup with some great deputy sheriffs of San Diego, they wrote us a beautiful check for $50,000. We're on our way; we just started." He continued: "We're going to meet with some Congressmen and women at the end of the month, who caught wind of it and invited us, so that's exciting."

Pollak entered Day 2c with 65,300 from the 50,000 starting stack. He would go on to end the day with 67,200 after dipping down to under 25,000 after the dinner break. The Hollywood star will be looking to build his stack on Day 3 Monday to propel him to another deep run in the Main Event.

Keep following the PokerNews live updates as Kevin Pollak goes for his second cash ever and second in the WSOP Main Event.

The Hand I'll Never Forget is sponsored by Global Poker.

  • Kevin Pollak's 2012 Main Event bad beat still draws empathy from all who hear it - via @official_glp

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