Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Swift Kick to the Man Bag

Ouch! is all I can say. Yep, I took a shot to the jewels last night that still aches this morning.

But we'll get to that later.

Right now I'm sitting in the Panera Bread cafe in The District at Green Valley Ranch. I figure if Linda Lou can write an entire book in here, I should be able to knock out a few blog posts. Besides, it's a beautiful day outside and I wanted to get out of the house. I needed to--I've been steaming all morning like a fresh cow turd on the frozen ground of a midwestern barnyard. I am *not* a happy boy. And to add to my current displeasure, one of the local Hendo-milfs just rolled up with her four little spawns of Satan and sat in the booth directly across from me.

They're all screaming and hitting each other, generally being little shits, annoying the rest of us. And here I was hoping for a little peace and quiet whilst I pounded the keys and ate my roast beef samminch. Seriously mom, the playland at McDonalds wasn't suitable? Probably not--these kids would get their asses kicked by all the other rugrats--they all have huge lima-bean shaped heads which makes them an easy target, not to mention the unimaginable damage done to mom's clown car, so they just have no chance.

Anyhow, the winning streak at the 4-8 poker tables is officially over. I was stuck in the mud all night, unable to make any hand hold up, and I just couldn't avoid the river suck-outs. And I wasn't having any fun, either, so finally, sometime after midnight, I gave up, $80 in the hole, and moved to the no-limit game.

That was much better for me--on my first blind I damn near doubled up when a guy went all-in against me when I had sixes full of Jacks and he was unfortunate enough to have fives full of sixes. That gave me some bullets, but damn, I was soooo tired. By that time I'd been grinding away for almost eight hours.

The thing is, I was playing really well all night--I only made a few minor mistakes, but when you're running bad and your opponents keep catching cards, there is nothing you can do. So I felt pretty lucky to be up about a hundred bucks after just a few minutes at the no-limit table. I had a few more opportunities to knock off short stacks, but both times I lost on river suckouts.

On the first hand, I flopped two-pair, Aces over Tens, and my opponent went all-in with a pair of Jacks. Yes, he caught his two-outer on the river. It only cost me about fifty bucks, but still, it wasn't much fun. A few minutes later, another short stack went all in with Ace-Queen on a nothing board, and I had pocket Jacks. They got cracked by the Ace on the river. That one really sucked because it was a three-way pot, and the other guy who was all-in only had pocket Nines.

I just couldn't make a hand stand up, it seemed. But I stuck to my game and managed to chip up here and there, nothing really big, although I managed to make back another hundred when one guy kept paying for a draw that never came.

A few minutes later, another guy showed up at the table, wearing sunglasses (indoors, in the middle of the night), with slicked-back hair and a max buy-in. He took the seat directly to my left and immediately started raising every pot. Yep, more naked aggression that worked for a few minutes. He won a few hands, but whenever there was a showdown, he didn't have much. The problem was, he was directly on my left, so every time I bet, I had to expect an oversized raise from him.

Eventually, I found myself with King-Ten suited, so I raised it up to $13 pre-flop. I got about six callers, surprisingly enough, and the Steven Segal wannabe was one of them. The flop came out Ace-Ten-Six rainbow, the early position players checked, so I bet out $40. Mr. Pomade on my left called, as did one other player. Everyone else folded. The turn was a Four, no help, so I bet $100. Of course my neighbor called, but the other guy finally dropped out, so I no longer had to fear an Ace, I thought.

The river brought a harmless Nine, so I made a crying-call $25 bet, changing gears so that maybe he'd think I was trying to squeeze just a bit more money out of him, like I was representing trips or something. He thought for several agonizing seconds and then announced that he was going to raise. He put out the first $25, then fiddled with his stack for a bit before pushing out another $125 on top.


That was *not* what I wanted to see. If I were to call and lose, it would leave me with only $80 or so in front of me, plus making the tab for the night's entertainment somewhere around four bills. That would truly suck.

But I called for time and started to think about it. If the guy had an Ace or any pair in the pocket, he would've re-raised me pre-flop. I knew that much, just because he had been so aggressive up to that point, and he had position on me. There was no flush to worry about, but there was a straight possibility out there. I reasoned that even though it was possible that he'd call a $40 bet on an inside straight, there was no possible way he'd call a hundred dollar bet on a four-outer with one card to come. So the straight was eliminated. And since the only card bigger than a Ten on the board was an Ace, and I had the King kicker, a chopped pot was the least of my worries.

Of course, I agonized over this and ran it through my head for about three minutes, and it was so intense that the entire table was silent, staring at me, wondering what I was gonna do. I really didn't want to go home stuck for almost four hundred bucks, but on the other hand, I didn't want to dump the winning hand to the cheesy mope on my left, either.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, I shook my head like a man who knew it was make-or-break time, and said "I call". The entire table stood up to look, because it was a monster pot, and my opponent turned over 10-8 offsuit--second pair, no kicker. I looked briefly at the board before turning mine over, just to make sure he didn't have two pair, and said I have a pair of Tens also, but my King plays.

Oh hell yeah! While a huge cheer went up from the rest of the table (they were all rooting for me to bust the guy), I let out a sigh of relief like I'd never done before. That call really put me to the test--that was the biggest 'real money' hand I've played in months, and when I finally got finished stacking up all the chips, I had just over $700 in front of me.


I was spent. Eight hours was enough for me, so it was time to take the money and run. Now, I didn't want to be 'that guy' and immediately cash out after a huge score (I still have to make a living from those people), so I decided that I'd play a few more hands until my big blind and then cash out. I folded three or four hands while I was racking up, and then on my last hand of the night, I found myself with the Ace-King of hearts, under the gun.

I raised it up to $17, and got five frickin callers! I guess everyone wanted a shot at my stack before I left. Well, that wasn't good, so I was prepared to fold if the flop didn't hit me directly between the eyes.

Of course, the flop was Ace-Six-Deuce, and the six and the deuce were both hearts! Oh hell yeah--jackpot! Top pair and the nut flush draw! I didn't want to mess around, so when it was checked to me, I put out a $60 bet. Everyone dropped out except for one guy. He thought about it for about thirty seconds, then made the call. The turn was the eight of hearts, giving me the nut flush. Thinking I'd give my opponent a break, I bet $100 straight up when he checked to me. He thought about it again for about ten more seconds and said that he was all in. I got a count, and he only had $232 left, so I obviously called--I had the nuts!

But just as the Poker Gods giveth, they also taketh away, and the river card was another Eight, pairing the board. My opponent turned over his Six-Eight offsuit for the Full House, annihilating my 'nut' flush. A huge groan went up from the table when they saw the devastation. Talk about a total kick to the nuts, I could not f*cking believe how shiatty my luck turned on the last card of the night. It just crushed me. Instead of adding another $300 to my racks, I found myself counting out more red chips to pay him off. That was a $600 swing--had I won the hand, I would've racked up over a thousand dollars. As it stood, I ended up with just under $400.

So yeah, I was steaming. Too pissed off to play worth a damn, I just went to the desk and cashed out. Now, overall, I was still up about $75 for the night, but that small win felt like a huge soul-crushing loss.

One of my buddies was working the floor that night, and told me to walk it off and get back in the game, because we both knew I could beat the guy and get my money back. But a loss like that is a tough one to absorb, so I just said farkit and went home. I was so damn mad that I could've eaten glass.

I got home, took a shower, replayed the hand over and over about a hundred times in my head, took a huge gulp from the bottle of Crown Royal on my shelf, and tried to lay down and go to sleep. But sleep wouldn't come. I couldn't clear my mind no matter how much I tried. After about an hour and a half, I called back down to the poker room to see if the game was still going on--I figured I'd calmed down enough to play rationally and grind the guy into dust. But my buddy the floorman said there were only three players left and my chips had been frittered away--the guy that beat me had spent the last hour donkeying them off to the other players and the game was about to break.

Ugh. I guess I was just gonna have to swallow this one.

On the bright side, I guess, my streak is still somewhat intact. I have not yet had a losing session in the cash games for the entire month of March. But the seventy-five bucks profit from last night is small consolation when I consider that the last river card cost me a new HDTV that I had my eye on.

Eventually, I was able to get to sleep, but it was not relaxing at all.

There was another positive experience that came from last night, though. I finally got to meet one of my fellow Vegas blogger gals, Serena Denise, an exotic dancer at a local club and the original Single Gal in Sin City. She came by the poker room to say hello early last night, and we made plans to have her join me and the rest of the gals for our Thursday night Frog-n-Blog next week. She's a little cutie and I'm sure she'll be lots of fun to hang out with and share stories.

When I finally woke up this morning, she gave me a funny ego boost, too. I got an direct message from her on Twitter asking me if I were single.

Thinking I still had my fastball and could land a hot stripper, I said Why yes, yes I am!

Cool, she replied, I told my mom about you! She's wicked cute!


After everything that's happened in the past 12 hours or so, the only thing I can think of is Cheech's famous line in Tin Cup.

You humble now, Holmes!

Ah well... Such is life. All I can do is laugh and be glad that I get some good stories from my experiences. That poker hand doesn't bother me nearly as much this afternoon as it did last night, and everyone knows I've kinda got a thing for older women, anyways. And it's a beautiful sunny day in Vegas, the lima-bean kids are now long gone, and Panera Bread lets me have free refills to go with my free wifi.

I guess I can't complain too much.


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