Saturday, January 23, 2010

I Coulda Been A Contender

Oh yeah, I definitely jinxed myself with that last post. Remember that part about 'Whoever the poker gods wish to destroy, first they make mad'? Yeah, well, there was some madness afoot last night, my friends. And as much as I would've been justified, I didn't lose my shiat and freak out.

Lemme esplain...

So I made my way down to the M around 7:30 again on Friday night. When I got there, the place was hopping. They were just about to start a new 1-2 No-Limit game when I rolled in, so I grabbed a seat at the empty table.

I hadn't been there but a few minutes when the SHCW (Smokin' Hot Cuban Waitress) found me and came over to chat. That was a nice way to kick off my evening. But we couldn't talk long--the room was busier than hell--so I ordered an 'M Cider', a sweet apple-flavored brew that looks like pink champagne but tastes like a combination of Oktoberfest and Thanksgiving. I like it a lot, but I swear it's brewed in Utah because I've yet to acquire the slightest buzz from drinking it.

Anyhow, the game got underway just a few minutes later, and I felt like I was off to the races when I knocked somebody out on the third hand of the night. Three or four players limped in, and I was on the button. I looked down to see Queen-Jack, so I raised it to $9. Two players called me, including the chick on the big blind.

The flop came out Jack-Five-Deuce. Big blind checked, other player checked, and I bet $17 with my top pair and overcard kicker. The big blind called, as did the other player.

The turn card was a Queen, giving me top two pair, and all four suits were on the board--no flush or straights lurking in the weeds. Immediately, the big blind went all-in for about $140. The other player folded, and I called, not the least bit afraid of what she was holding.

She announced "Two Pair!" and I replied, Oh, we're gonna chop it then.

The river was a useless Four, and she turned over her cards showing Queen-Five. I had thought for sure that we had the same hand, so I was quite happy, and surprised, when my top two pair scooped the entire pot. She started bitching at me like I did something wrong, but honestly, who throws a shoe? calls a pre-flop raise--out of position--with Queen-Five offsuit, and then calls another bet with just a low pair?

Maybe she thought I was bluffin'...

Of course, her mini-tirade was just sour grapes, but one thing I've learned from painful experience is if you play shiatty cards, expect to get beat even if you make your hand. Perhaps it was just her turn to learn that lesson.

Anyhow, after that hand, I was up about $170 and feeling like Hef when the latest crop of Girls Next Door roll up to the Mansion. That's right--I own you bitches!

I didn't get any good cards for awhile after that, but I was content to sit and watch and take the measure of my opponents. I could tell that there were a couple of terrible players in the game, and one guy who was fearless, but would overvalue his hands and overbet most pots he was in. Definitely an action junkie, so I figured I would just wait to pick my spot and maybe I could get him in a big pot.

Nothing happened for the first hour, although I had to lay down a hand after I'd already invested about $60 in it, so that put a small dent in my profit.

At the bottom of the hour, a new dealer pushed in, and it was the same chick who dealt that one-outer four-of-a-kind against me the night before. Ugh. I've never liked her anyways--she's about the sloppiest dealer at the M and makes mistakes all the time, so in addition to killing me on the river, she's kind of a crummy dealer. When she sat down, I leaned over and whispered to the guy next to me, I should probably get up and wander around for the next half hour--this dealer always kills me.

But I didn't. I got mad skillz, yo. And there was no way she could crush me again like she did the night before.

So a few hands into her 'down', I got Big Slick, a suited Ace-King in late position. A couple of people limped in, but then the action junkie raised it to $12. I just called, only because every time anyone re-raised him pre-flop, he immediately pushed all-in, and I hate going to war with Ace-King. So like I said, I just called.

The flop was ugly, but there was an Ace on the board. Nice! I flopped top pair, top kicker.

But the gal who is first to act went all-in. I had her covered by more than double, and I didn't figure her for a set, so I was absolutely gonna call. But I froze, waiting for Mr. Action Junkie to act. If he called, my plan was to push all-in also, forcing him to make a tough decision and either make him fold or get that big pot from him that I'd been thinking about for the previous hour. He ignored me--completely forgetting that I was in the hand it seemed--and after agonizing for about a minute, he finally acted, but just called her bet (he had her covered, too).

So I pushed my entire stack forward and announced that I too was all-in. He thought for a second, shrugged, and then said "Ok, I call..."

Immediately my opponents went into 'tournament mode' and turned over their cards. The gal had Ace-Jack, so I had her dominated, and the other guy showed pocket Jacks, so I have both of them crushed and there was almost $600 in the pot.

The turn brought a King, so then I had top two pair and I was doing the nekkid happy dance in my head because the gal who first went all-in was drawing dead, and I was holding Aces-up against a pair of Jacks with just one card to come.

But you know what happened next--that evil bitch dealer burned and turned, and the case Jack popped out on the river.


That's two nights in a row that skank did it to me! I know, I know, I'm the last person that should ever blame the dealer for the cards that come out, but holy Jeebus--what are the odds of that happening???

I sat there stunned, like Lewis Winthorp on the steps in front of the police station.

Thanks. A lot.


To compound my frustration, immediately after it was discovered that the the guy with trip Jacks won the hand, the dealer moved the gal's short stack of chips over to his stack from where they were sitting. Then she counted it all down and said "You owe $340".

I about lost it right there and said Look genius--you just moved that short stack over there into his pile--the dude didn't have but $200 when I moved all in--Come on--get it right!

She immediately realized her mistake, and luckily my opponent was honest and separated the two stacks, and it turned out that I only owed $203. But as a dealer, I can tell you that it was absolutely the worst possible time to make a mistake like that. Most other players would've cussed her out.

I just rolled my eyes and mumbled You're killin' me, Smalls. Killin' me!


I should've got up when I had the chance.

I had brought $275 with me, and bought in for $200, but after that hand, I only had $80 left. So I pulled out my last $75 and converted it into chips, reloading for another battle. While I was sitting there steaming, I eventually realized that even after an ass-whoopin' like that, I was only down $120 for the session. It just seemed like a lot more because I'd been well above par before that.

In just a few minutes, I raked a couple of small pots, so I was feeling much better about my situation. It would only take a couple of decent hands to make a comeback.

But when the button got back around to me, I looked down and saw 10-Jack of Hearts, one of my favorite late-position limping hands.

One guy made it $8 to go and got three callers, so I decided to join the fun.

The flop was interesting--Ace, Queen, Eight, with two hearts. I had a straight flush draw, and back door Royal draw, a plain old flush draw, and a double-gutter inside straight draw, too. Basically, all the outs.

But strangely, everyone checked. I did a $10 feeler bet, just to see who was still interested after that flop, but everyone called.

The turn brought a black King, giving me a Broadway straight--Ten through Ace. The first player checked, the original raiser bet $15. Since I had the Nuts with one card to come, I value-raised it to $45. That knocked out all the other players except for the original raiser, and he went all-in! He had me covered, but since I had the best possible hand at that point, I snap-called. I figured he was holding 10-Jack also and had put me on the flush draw, but he shook his head and bit his lip like he'd just stepped in a big steaming pile of dog crap. It was obvious that he did *not* want me to call.

Woot! I just doubled up!!! I thought to myself. I'm back, baby!

But then my least favorite dealer on the planet ran out the river card, pairing the board with another King.

My opponent grinned and said "Oh, you're gonna hate this" and turned over King-Queen for his six-outer full house, further evidence that straights are no good unless they come on the river. (Seriously, who was the last guy to win with straight made before the river? Mike McD at the end of Rounders???)

I showed my worthless straight before they went into the muck, and a huge groan went up from the table, as my other horrific beat was still fresh in everyone's minds.

Taking a roundhouse kick to the nuts again, I just shook my head and silently walked out the door. I was absolutely numb. I didn't say a word to anyone (which I'm guessing the dealer appreciated--she was probably expecting me to unload a stream of expletives at her that would've earned me a month-long ban).

So I drove home in silence. No radio, no Guns-n-Roses to help me vent. I just shook my head for fifteen miles and told myself that it just wasn't my night. I can't imagine what kind of odds came into play to take a couple of ridiculous beats like that, but all the talent in the world can't overcome the devastating miracle river card.

By 9:15 I'd ditched my preppy clothes and changed into some crummy shorts and an old t-shirt, and there I was standing in my tub holding a scrub brush and a bottle of bathroom cleaner, going to town on my tile, replaying both bad beats over and over again while I worked out my frustration on innocent soap scum.

A couple of hours later, I was lying in bed, still pretty numb, but slowly getting over it (it was only $275--a hit I could easily absorb, but not one that I wanted to), when my phone rang. One of my buddies was out and about and was calling to tell me about a juicy six-handed game that I should get into as soon as possible. But I turned it down.

I know most 'experts' and books say to get right back into it after taking a bad beat, but here's the thing--I'm not trying to be a pro or build a bankroll--I'm more like a Joey Knish without the cool hair. I pay the bills with what I make at the table. After my win on Thursday, the first thing I did Friday morning was put everything I made over the past week or so in the bank and wired it to my E*Trade account--allowing me to pick up a bunch of Citigroup shares. (It ain't gonna be a $3 stock forever. Eventually it'll come back). I think that's a much better use of the money than carrying around a few grand worth of Benjamins wrapped in a rubber band just so I have a 'bankroll'. This is Vegas; there will always be a good game to be found somewhere. I can wait.

My point is, as juicy a game as it was, I really didn't want to go to the ATM and take money back out of the bank. I took my beating and I'm going to take a few days off from playing. I'm spreading my risk around by investing my extra cash and using it for stuff like the phone bill or insurance. I'll go back again and play after my upcoming work week--I can raise enough to stake my next session in just a few hours of wearing the brown polyester clown suit, so I'm in no hurry. Besides, it's probably gonna take a few days to shake off the cloud of bad luck that's hovering over me anyways.

I'll pick myself up off the mat, lick my wounds, and be celebrating my Ali-like return to the ring before you know it. I'm 7-and-1 for the year, and after last night, it's pretty clear that I can take a punch.


No comments: