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The [bl]og of Poker


SuperGirl (behind) the Eight Ball! Posted by Hello


Meet Super Girl

Super Girl was pissed. Super Girl's idea of marriage is one completely bereft of spending any weekend evening apart in which either one of us (code for "me") is at a casino, strip joint or car dealership. I suppose were it a Monday, all bets would be off!

On my way home, I stopped off at Fashion Square Mall to pick up a pair of jeans from Lucky, Super Girl's favorite maison-de-denim, thinking that this offering will help dull the pain of my sudden re-emergence after such a long shocking absence. I pay using my credit card so to maximize the wad-of-cash-effect, central to my explaining later to Super Girl why I spent the night out so late.

So, I walk through the door out of which I'd left 11 hours earlier, wad and sexy new jeans in hand. I am immediately attacked by our 3 dogs who have likely spent the evening being indoctrinated into hating me for not being home. They smell me energetically sensing I've come from new circles of odors tainted by new particles of food, beverage and smoke. This of course leads my wife through the inevitable calculus which aims to prove that new odors equate to debauchery. I decide to bypass the formal presentation of the premium jeans and go right to offering the full wad including stake and winnings as tribute.

Combined with being able to respond admirably to rapid fire questions regarding the timeline of the previous 11 hours, I am awarded 'hero' status for my selfless acts. I take some satisfaction in a Camel Light in which I indulge recreationally after battle, and agree that I'd best defer asking for my wad back until after Super Girl tries on her jeans. Joy.

The jeans fit, brunch is served and Super Girl happily does the dishes while orchestrating where best to spend "our" money. Coming next: "To bankroll or to shop".


Very Good Start

Easy Street and River Avenue. That's the intersection where I spent the last few days doing my best impression of a humble and skillful card shark. Had you seen it, you'd all agree that it was, alas, a very bad impression.

Buy-in at seat#1 (left of the dealer) for 3/5ths of my stake at the 10-20 HE table awaiting a spot on one of the more modest and abundant 6-12 HE games. Normally, I'd buy-in for a full rack of middle class society ($500) but felt somewhat squeamish at the prospect of having to play while looking down at my chips, seeing both my stake and entire bankroll at the same time. Plus, I didn't want to buy my chips with what the entire table would have correctly identified as the complete inventory of my front left pocket. I learned a while ago that it feels and looks better to buy chips with a portion of your pocket's money, rather than all of it.

Casino Arizona allows you to begin play on your BigBlind so I post with nerves and anticipation ablaze.

Naturally, my blind get raised.

As I matched the raise, my reaction to the chips I'd committed to calling was far more interesting in retrospect than was my reaction to my closely protected pitch-black pocket 8's:
"Shit, I just bet half of my cable bill on a pair of cards that will likely win only if either of the 2 remaining cards in the deck hit and no one else hits a flush, straight, or higher set".

The flop came 2h 4h 8d, and with it my entire outlook of my cable bill changed to:
"Damn, time to upgrade to HDTV programming".
I knew right away that were I to take Poker seriously, I'd have to stop associating the playing chips with the purchasing power they represent, and instead use the chips exactly as intended with complete disregard to what they're worth in the sucker, ahem, real world.

With three callers behind me, I check and find out that there is not only a bettor, but a raiser!

Mr. Cool in seat# 4 bets, Mrs. Phat in seat# 6 raises, and seat# 7 folds while accidentally exposing a 3h.

I call, and Mr. Cool also calls while looking at me in a very intimidating way. Turn comes 4d giving me the best possible hand other than pocket 4's which I defiantly dismiss as heresy given that this is my first hand of Poker in over ten years. I bet wishing to offer the impression that I have a 4 courtesy of my BigBlind. Mr. Cool raises right away without even a casual glance. Mrs. Phat in seat# 6 calls and I re-raise. This time, Cool pauses and calls. Phat also calls. I have put Phat on two small pairs or maybe a flush draw, and put Cool on the Nut flush draw. River comes Ah.

Board looks like this:

2h 4h 8d 4d Ah

The apocalyptic logic kicks in instantly. I could lose to quads -- but I've already agreed to forbid this scenario from materializing even at a level as small as the molecular free-flowing thread of thought; however, there is now the possibility of AA, but no possibility of a straight flush since the 3h was already taken into account thanks to Seat# 7's earlier fold.

In a split second, or maybe longer, I summarily discount all unfavorable possibilities based on the simple fact that I've lived in violation of only 4 of the big 10 commandments this year, and have called my mother on at least five non-festive or non-commemorative occasions.

Confidently, I check to see if it's Gabriel or Satan who's come early for me. Mr. Cool bets. I'm shocked, since it looks as though my read is completely sour. Mrs. Phat raises. I'm more shocked.

Is it possible that both Cool and Phat made flushes, or that there's another full house, or... dare I think, a pocket full of aces about to crash into my twin tower of 8's?? I cannot risk being seen as passive on my first hand. If I'm to go down, I will go down consistent with the image embracing a complete disregard for money I'd hoped to project. I re-raise.

Cool hits the roof. He undergoes what a layperson might mistake as a mini-seizure, visually emitting hate, frustration and rage, while throwing into the pot only enough to cover my raise. Ok, so he's not about to crack me. One down, one to go.

In what I've seen a million times before in a manurism soaked in regret and disgust, Phat bids her cards that familiar (and relieving) last adieux as the typical precursor to a fold. Predictably, Phat does indeed fold, and in so doing, revealing her failed nut draw, but respectable Straight 3d5d.

Cool shows down his Nut flush, Trips (best-kicker) Kh4h. Oh well. It sucks to be Cool...

And right on queue, the announcement for seat availability at the 6-12 HE game is made.
Flush with new wealth, I respectfully perhaps even arrogantly relinquish my 6-12 HE reservations.

I spend the next 10 hours playing what many would characterize as "weak tight". I call it playing not-to-lose. I play nothing but premium hands and play predictably text book in all facets.

Despite this, I finish the session by winning over 1K, having lost only my last hand on a bad beat (my set of 4's made on the flop got cracked by a set of Q's made on the river). I cash out promptly wanting to purge this last memory as quickly as possible. It's made easier with the aid of stacking two racks worth of chips! I fumble my way to the cage with $1378 and in a token of thanks and praise to the Native American Gods (and partially because I've read Stephen King's Thinner"), I tip the cashier a cool $28 for his efforts. Winning has exacerbated the spirit of giving, and consequently, the valet also gets a coolish $20 in a reassuring gesture to those temperamental Native American Gods that I wasn't full of shit the first time! This tip should help spread the tales of my image and generosity among the car jockeys so to secure a lot in the Valet Hall of Fame, and ensure that my car is not made victim to any freack "mishap" of the Valet world.

Coming up later: Super Girl forgives, but now what?


It has begun...

Waiting for Super Girl to return from her adventures among the infidels at Walmart, I'm eagerly hoping she refrained from self check-out so that she can make it here FAST (all so that our four- legged friends of the furry nation will be under two-legged supervision at all times of the day). I am waiting for her with $500 dollars plucked freshly from a Bank of America ATM, which as I clicked on "I don't wish for another transaction", got me thinking that of all the places in the world which could offer fortune cookies, it should be here, at the ATM -- I don't know about you, but I'd certainly feel much better about the abomination that is paying a fee to withdraw my own money, were I to know that I'd get hooked up with a tasty cookie and a fortune as parting gifts. Suddenly, I'm overwhelmed with a craving for Hot and Sour soup. I plan to launch an early evening assault on Casino Arizona's 6/12 HE game while perhaps indulging in some oriental cuisine of which there is no small shortage at my ultimate destination. Oh good... I think I hear Super Girl.

ATM: + 2.00
Me: - 500.00


Genesis 1:1

In no small part due to a steady decline in job satisfaction, I've afforded myself some time to incomplete a peruse of the massive volumes of poker scripture that has become poker blogdom. This is a world it seems comprised of would-be writers, born-again with the infectious Poker spirit spreading the holy Poker word URL by URL and no-limt rebuy after another. This virus is immune to bankruptcy, love, sickness, loss, ambition, et al., replicating itself in a looping round trip from mind to body, expanding in breadth and rabid intensity at each pass. An invisible virus, it directs and enables its hosts to vie obsessively for a rich and/or famous lifestyle based on the outcome of a card game (arguably) rooted in the fickle moods of chance -- perfect place for me to park my skeptical, envious and satirical commentary!!

After reading so many threads of dialogue, and pages of blogs, its plain to see that were people as passionate, reflectively driven and tireless about their careers as they are about poker, the level of productivity and competence in this country would be unrivaled. Perhaps this is more a function of people having abandoned their true calling, and/or settled for the ever toxic enslavement of the steady pay check, or the secure confines of that song Dolly made famous. But wait... Could so many people's true calling be Poker? I doubt it. I think it's a classic application of that axiom which professes the "ends justifying the means". It's not Poker that the masses love, but those glamorous trappings for which everyone strives without pause: flexibility, travel, easy money, cash, excess, self-management (or the illusion thereof), freedom, and oh, did I already say easy money? I'll be exploring the concept of 'easy money' in greater detail later as it is a subject matter which simmers dangerously within me.

I would like to throw my proverbial chips onto the felt. I too wish to send Ms. Alarm W. Clock packing, compose a witty and self-righteous f-u resignation letter to "the man", hire a PA not yet gripped by Poker to manage my blog and other "creative interests", contract my mother full-time to prepare and deliver ethnic lunch-time delicacies, find a good manicurist, nutritionist and yoga instructor, purchase result-oriented tracking software, buy an additional GB of memory and upgrade my PDA -- oh wait, I may not need that since I have a PA, but then again, she may call in sick), and then finally spend the rest of my days and nights check-raising my financial aspirations to one big glorious blind an hour.

I am from the old school of Poker wisdom. I believe in the three-tier pyramid of skill: Weak, Average and Great. "In between, there you are not", would say the old Jedi. You are as good as your worst habit makes you. I believe that a great player will always have his way against a weak player. I believe however, that a good player is a coin flip or worst against that same weak player. I believe that there is a shamefully infinite number of weak and average players alike who share, circulate, feed and sustain the same float of currency among each other, periodically losing a large portion to an occasional shark bite, but more regularly loosing a smaller but all too steady portion to the "Cost Of Doing Business" (CODB).

The CODB in casinos include but aren't limited to the rake, cocktail/dealer tips, impulsive wagers made at, and in transit to and from the casino, trade magazines and books, and other like expenditures; at home and online, the rake is omnipresent at a rate far more encroaching than in the casinos; at home, impulsive gambles yield to impulsive online shopping excursions ("I wonder what a titanium plated, 1000 count chip case might fetch on ebay?") or irrational call option purchases on MGG stock; fuel and car expenses morph into money-transfer and spiked utility expenses, technology upgrades ("I think I'm about ready for that metallic blue Alienware laptop"), and social costs whose repercussions can never quite be quantified (T.W.S. - twitching weirdo syndrome).

To me, those at the top of the Poker pyramid share in common a trifecta gift of instinct, anticipation, and luck which as a set, consistently elude the arsenal of most of the weak and average players.

A great player won't need cards to beat a weak player, whereas an average player will almost always need to rely on a good string of cards and/or draws to do likewise. As we've all heard before, you don't play the cards, you play the man. And though the legions of average and weak hacks ultimately clicking and/or riffling their way into financial ruin understand this premise, they don't truly live it.

Great players have a knack of bending the immutable laws of mathematics at the most critical crossroads which weaker players attribute to trickery or well lubricated horseshoes. Weak and average player have a knack at story telling, and spotting the lowest fee generating ATM.

To a great player, luck is a factor - an impassive consideration; luck to an average player is pure essential influence. An average or weak player will use bad luck as an excuse. A great player will use it as a challenge. A great player once told me that bad luck is unavoidable. He said that bad luck was just like traffic: Might take you a few longer frustrating hours to get home, but eventually, you get there. And great players get home year after year. Weak and average players are the source of those traffic-causing delays year after year.

Many have said that the top players are no more than a strong syndicate, bound together by tenure, (perhaps collusion), experience, mutual interest and silent wealthy benefactors . We'll see.

There's currently such a swell in Poker right now that it's hard to know where it will lead -- sponsorship, commissions, movies, documentaries, museums, leagues, etc.
You know it's center court when the church is spreading a 20$ Tuesday night limit Hold'em tournament to raise money. Go to a college campus any night of the weak and 2:1 says you'll find a nightly Poker game already in progress, or a gaggle of girls deciding between starting a voyeur site or a quick OMAHA freeze-out session. Hold'em excellence or JLO forever...? "Hmm... I think I'll take the former", utters Mr. Armageddon-buster with his best Lawrence Olivier impression.

Show me anyone who calls himself a Poker player and I'll show you someone discretely setting up a TIVO season's pass to TILT. It's a craze alright. Hundreds, if not thousands of aspiring souls wanting to fully immerse themselves in a culture which provides a multi-dimensional high speed trip, emitting an exhilarating breath of fresh life, adrenalin-charged intellectual stimulation, and a forum of readership for whom to chronicle the whole volatile ride until it hits celebrity, or the place where it all started. And I'm willing to jump in and gamble that it won't be at this desk at this keyboard minimizing and maximizing the screen every few minutes.......

First stop, Casino Arizona.