Monday, July 14, 2008

Dreams DO Come True

Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 10:23 pm
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Thursday night at the poker table was pretty unremarkable. And, as Thursday turned into Friday, my table became short-handed as players went off to home or to a motel room. My stack had dwindled as well and I contemplated calling it a night. One of the players still remaining said, “Now’s the time to hit the bad beat jackpot. Short-handed we’d get a bigger cut.”

At this casino one has to be beat quads over quads or better to get a piece of the jackpot. It was now above $56,000. A healthy amount. Dealers were saying that it was due to hit. Although I don’t concern myself with it while I play, I’m aware of the bad beat jackpot. Every time I visit the casino, I check to see that the amount is still intact. I could use a new truck.

But alas, the table soon broke and I ended up at another 1/2 table for a short while, short-stacked and looking for a good hole cards. After folding two straights draws that hit with the odds to call, I knew it was time to get some sleep. It was way late.

Yet, as usual, sleep didn’t come easily. I had drunk too much coffee throughout the evening, plus I had several hands to replay. Eventually, I could feel the nod starting, and to hurry them a long, I said my prayer: “Help me endure.”


I was dealt pocket 8s and was able to limp in from middle position. Only the big blind stayed. The flop came 8 8 9. The BB bet and I smooth called with the nuts. The turn was another 9. The BB checked and so did I. The river was another 9, the big blind bet out and I went all in. The big blind called. He had quad 9s. The jackpot! Yet somehow, the hand didn’t count, and I lost my stack. This is the dream that woke me up 3 hours later.

Well, there was no way I was going to be able to go back to sleep after that, so I made some coffee, brushed my teeth, pulled on my “Jesus is my river card” t-shirt and headed down to the poker room. On the way down, I said a little prayer: “Jesus, I know you don’t like this t-shirt, but I hope you overlook it today. I know you don’t answer prayers for poker or the stock market, so if you’d just, as always, help me endure.”

Another player from the previous night was in the motel lobby checking out of his room. He’s a regular. I followed him out the door.

“Morning, “ I said, “Heading back over?”

“Yep. Another day at the office.”

“Yeah, me too, especially after dreaming that I won the bad beat jackpot. Well, not winning it, because somehow my quad eights against quad nines didn’t pay. There were 3 nines on the board, so something must have gone wrong.”

“Pray he has A 9 then, because 7 9 won’t cut it.”

I had betrayed my rookie status.

I had to wait a while to get a table. 1/2 wasn’t a high priority, plus a tourney had started and monopolized most of the dealers. Eventually, however, a table started and we got going. The table had several regulars and a couple young guys I had never seen before last night. They were friends…probably tourists. Both were wearing sunglasses, yet one wore his on his forehead instead of in front of his eyes. One of his eyes was cock-eyed, an esotrope (wall-eye) or lazy eye. The sunglasses must have been cosmetic because he never dropped them down.

There was nothing remarkable about this game. A lot of limping, and there was one old guy who kept pushing, as did the guy with the eye, obviously taking advantage of a tight table. They started to build stacks. I waited for a hand while in the back of my mind was the dream.

Eye-guy comes in from early position with a raise. I look down to find —YES— eights. I call. It is hard to maintain my composure. This is it! It could be! Yes! The flop comes all low cards, no eights or nines to be found. The guy bets just shy of the pot and I make a strong call. Turn is an A, he checks, I make a feeler and he folds. No jackpot but not a bad pot either. Maybe I’ll get 8s again.

Several hands later I’m in the big blind. Eye-guy limps and his buddy raises from the small blind. I have pocket 9s and call, as does Eye-guy. Flop is 10 10 9. Small blind puts out a good-sized bet and I smooth call. Eye guy makes it $100 or so to go. Perfect! SB folds, and inasmuch as only one hand can beat me at this point, I go all in and get an immediate call. He shows 10 J unsuited.

The turn is an 8. Hello little 8, I say to myself. Come to protect my hand have you? I dreamed about you last night. Did you know that? And, as I’m having this little flight of fantasy, a collective ”Oh NO!” arises from the players at the table. I saw the Jack come on the river, but it didn’t sink in quite as fast for me as it did the others. Eye-guy says, “Sorry buddy.” I didn’t respond.

He had me covered. I got up from my seat, said “Always a pleasure,” and left. On my way out I tried to tell my bad beat story to a couple staff. You could tell they were unsympathetic One said, “That’s happened to me too. You’ll get over it.” Hell, it has happened to everyone who has played enough poker. In a way, it’s a good thing, for it says that you’ve seen enough flops for both the beautiful and the ugly to hit.

But this one stung a bit more than usual. For one thing, I didn’t have enough cash left to buy in a full $200 again, and I didn’t want to stay in short. No, I didn’t want to stay at all. And secondly, these last two days of running bad, added to the previous two weeks of bad cards and plays had left me with a fairly paltry bankroll. I knew I wouldn’t be taking a seat again for quite some time.

And thirdly, my dream had betrayed me. Or had it? The Oracle at Delphi’s prophesies were cryptic, and being such left just enough room for the seekers to get it wrong. My sure thing was certainly a bad beat without a pot.

I’ve thought about this hand quite a bit in the last few days. What could Eye-guy think I had? In that I had called the small blind’s raise, an astute player could put me only on 2 or 3 hands: A 10, K 10 or pocket 9s. I came to think that this guy must not have been that good of a player. Then I recalled the hand with pocket 8s. I showed strength throughout and took the pot. Did he think I had bluffed? If so, he may have been calling my all in based on that. Perhaps my 8s had been my undoing after all.

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