The full moon is waning, yet, here in rural America, as most everywhere on any given night, the freaks come out to play. Mix in something resembling poker and you have a pub tourney.
This small town hosts two weekly pub tourneys at two different bars. One is on Sunday, and the one I attend is on Tuesday. I have been to the Sunday game, and there are some things I like about it that the Tuesday game lacks. Sunday has prizes after each game. First prize is a cheeseburger dinner, second and third prize are swag with booze logos on it. I like cheeseburgers. Points are given to those who make each final table and after six weeks of play, a final tourney is held for the top point earners and the winner of that wins $75.00. And finally, there are no ghosts to blind off and split up after three levels. The Tuesday game has ghosts, which are a pain in the ass to manage and muck; and winners from each week get extra raffle tickets for a monthly drawing for a $50 gift certificate. The Sunday game is a better value for my time, right? Not necessarily.
Although several Tuesday players go to the Sunday game, the Sunday crowd is, how shall I phrase it, a bunch of loud, obnoxious, loose-passive pains in my ass. Well, not everyone, but there are enough of these types to ruin a game. Imagine a bunch of inbreds with button noses, caved-in faces and rheumy eyes who have drunk too much cheap beer by 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Then throw in a couple loudmouth back-slappers who show up half in the bag and only get louder with more and more cheap beer. And finally, throw in the mousey, chain-smoking, bone-thin sixty-plus year old woman who is drinking that same beer and looking for any excuse to rub my thigh. Let’s call her Vera.
Vera showed up for the Tuesday game.
Fortunately, Vera was seated at another table for the first part of the night. Yet, Vera does know how to play Hold ‘em, so I figured I’d see her at the final table, if I made it that far.
(Sorry, a bit of false modesty there. Or more accurately, a nearly irrelevant statement, for at this game, I often fold my way to the final table.) In the meantime, she had competition for my attention.
The game started on time for a change, if a bit short-handed. We had five players and three ghosts at our table. A man and woman walked into the bar, came over to say hello to Skunk, who was seated at my table, and Skunk asks the man if he was going to play. He said yes with a distinct British accent and in the highest-pitched voice a man could have. I took a second look. A bit on the short side, one really lazy eye, a crew cut, frosted on top, a bit of bling but nothing too garish, slacks, and wind breaker with an Oregon State jersey underneath. I introduced myself to Leslie (no help there!). Leslie rolled the most perfect cigarette. The fingernails on Leslie’s small but rough hands had the slightest point to them. Leslie confessed to having not played much poker, and when one table had several bust-outs in one hand and Leslie and I were moved to that table, I said to ask me if there were any questions.
Please note, dear reader, in the last sentence of the previous paragraph I avoided a more convenient use of a third person pronoun. I could have wrote, “I told him to ask me if he had any questions.” So went most of the evening, for as inexperienced as Leslie was, Leslie managed to catch some hands, thereby prolonging my genderless word-dance. She and he and her and him were circumvented. However, no one else at this table seemed to have the same problem. As far as they were concerned, Leslie was a female, and Leslie never bothered to correct anyone. Hey, what do I know? I’ve only lived here five years. As far as I knew, everyone at the table knew Leslie. Finally, I slipped out a “she,” and then attempted to stumble back from it, causing me a bit of embarrassment, if only to myself. But man, she/he was distracting, which probably didn’t help me concentrate on my game as much as I could have.
It wasn’t that I was making any big mistakes. It was more that there were other distractions. When Leslie and I were moved, I found myself sitting across from a woman with a huge stack who was obviously tweaked out of her mind. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, “tweaked” refers to someone who is exhibiting the physical manifestations of being high on methamphetamines. Her mouth was contorting, she squinted a lot and her arm movements were exaggerated. And, she was a fucking calling station. She was May in November. AK went down to her 94 off with a K on the flop, as well as a 9 and a 4 on the turn. And don’t think that AK wasn’t bumped pre-flop.
The final table. Vera takes the seat to my immediate right. Oh shit. But I luck out and she busts early. Leslie finally bites the dust, along with a couple other players, leaving me, Max and the meth head. The play is slow because Tweaky can’t remember what the blinds are, bets out of turn, forgets that she’s the dealer and digs through her purse for God-knows-what. Twenty minutes go by and I’m thinking, “Donk off and run.” when I feel two hands on my shoulders. I am getting a massage. I think that my dear wife has come to the bar to surprise me. You guessed it. Vera!
“Ooooo, you’re doing well.”
“Thank you.” Cold, cold, cold. Bye.
Max is a solid player, and between the two of us, we eventually got rid of Tweaky, at which point I threw my chips over into Max’s stack. “ You win. I just didn’t want to be beat by a newbie tweaker. I’m going home.”
Blinds are still at $25/$50, the first level. Two limpers, per usual, in early position, Skunk is next to act and goes all in, it folds around to Debbie on my left who thinks a bit and calls. Limpers get out of the way. Skunk flips over A8 sooooooted; Debbie has A5 off. 5 on the river.
Skunk complains, “Rivered! I had a better hand. Why did you call?” A donkey bet and call, not so surprising, really.
I shouldn’t have, but I chimed in, “Why would you go all in with A8?”
“They were suited.”
“But it’s still the first level of blinds. Why risk your stack so early?”
“Listen, bastin, you don’t know as much about poker as you think you do. You have to have confidence. Plus, I only have $1400 in chips.”
“OK, coach, forget I said anything.”
A few orbits later with $50/$100 blinds, there’s a big raise and call from early positions. Skunk pushes again with all of his rebuy. I have pocket Jacks in the BB and fold. The early players fold as well. Skunk shows A8 off. I grab the deck and run the cards. No A. Shit.
I’d love to get this guy in a cash game.