Saturday, November 8, 2008

Spinning Mark 10:13-14

Yep. Home game at R’s tonight. I had talked to R earlier in the day and he assured me that there would be 11 or 12 players for the tourney, so I figured there would be plenty of players for the cash game afterwards. (My regular readers may remember that I prefer to play only the cash game inasmuch as in the dozen or so times I have played the tourney, I have never monied, while the cash game is typically a +EV evening.)

I counted the cash in my pocket, figured that I’d drop nearly a sawbuck on provisions, and would have one standard buy-in, $50, left over. It’s a .50/1.00 game. And then I thought again. I know that P likes to come to the table with $100, Ralph plays loose, as does F and M. I stopped at an ATM for another $100, just in case.

The ride over to R’s house takes about 20 minutes. For the most part, it’s a ride through the country on back roads. A relatively warm night, I had the window down and blues on the radio. Rounding the final few curves in the road, I was feeling right comfortable with the familiar, like the paltry few horses in my four-banger rig knew the way.

I recognized several of the cars and trucks. R’s Irish Setter, Sally, greeted me as I pulled in the driveway. She’s a sweet dog, and I assume she remembers me each time as she never barks and is ready with her head for a scratch. I could see through a window that the tourney was still in full swing. Sally made it clear that she wanted to go into the house post haste, so in we went, and there, sitting at the kitchen table was a sight I had never seen at R’s: a forlorn young boy who looked to be about ten years old.

“Hi.” I said.

“Hi.” He didn’t look at me, preferring to keep his eyes fixed on an unopened can of Doctor P.

“Hi bastin!” Ah, the gang was all here. I went in to say hello, see who would be the first to give me shit and then I would seek out our gracious host. There were a few people I didn’t recognize: a guy with a sizable stack, a blonde woman and a kid who looked to be about… hell, I didn’t know… 14? 18? He looked up at me.

I had to ask. “Are you old enough to be playing poker?”

“Yes,” he said with a tinge of defensiveness.

Mr. Big Stack says, “Tell him how long you’ve been playing.”

“Eight years.”

Okay then. I’ll be in the other room. There’s a youngin’ that needs entertained and since I now had a topic, I need to start composing my next blog entry.

I asked the kid in the kitchenwhat his name was. Man, he was miserable. After all, who the fuck brings their kids to a poker game, let alone a tourney that can go on for hours? The kid had my heart from the get-go.

As I made a pot of coffee, I tried to think if I had anything in my rig that I could pull to entertain this kid. Something to read? What, I was going to read this kid a bedtime story? No, and I drew a blank anyway. I said, “Why don’t we see what kind of trouble we can get into.”

As I walked over to the table, I caught sight of Ralph. “Are you out?”

“Yeah.”

Then I asked the kid, “Do you know how to play poker?”

He lit up. “Yeah.”

“Well then, let’s get a game going.” Ralph obliged, counted out some short stacks for us, and away we went, play money poker.

No sooner had we sat down, R was out for the third bi-weekly game in a row, having what must be the worst run in the history of his home game. And shortly thereafter, my new friend’s brother joined us and asked, “When is the cash game?”

I answered, “When we have four players.”

His response: “We have four now.”

“Then when there are five players.”

The play money game went on a bit longer, and the kid must have asked two more times about the cash game. The blinds in the tourney were going up and folks started getting knocked out. The young stud busted out of the play money, so I gave him my stack and said “Play my stack.” so I could go outside and call my Dear Wife to say, “You won’t believe this.”

She couldn’t,

When I saw numerous people milling about and it was clear that I could no longer hold out playing cash with this kid, I went back inside. The kid was to my immediate right and he had about $40 in front of him. Thanks Dad.

It didn’t take long. I was allowed to see a flop in the BB with 35s. The kid had limped as well. 3c6c3d. The kid bet $5 and I double it. To my surprise the kid doubles my bet. Shit. I tanked, for whatever reason, I’m not quite clear. Well, of course, everyone knows why. I wasn’t about to let some adolescent get the best of me. Finally, it dawns on me to see if I could get a tell on the kid. “Do you have a 3?” He wouldn’t look at me. He just stared off into space. No hard swallow, nothing. No read, shitty kicker, a possible limp with pocket sixes, I let it go.

The kid asks, “Could you beat two pair/” and then smiles in a way that tells it all. I may not be able to read an adult’s bullshit all of the time, yet this cliché of poker was a sure thing. The kid had sixes in the hole.

“Can’t bullshit an old man.”

Language, bastin, language! Fuck it. The kid wants to play poker with us. If I slip, so be it. Still, being the all-around nice guy that I am, I curtailed, hoping that his Dad, now heads up in the tourney, would take it down or lose so we could bid all of his clan adieu. Yet, everyone else seemed to share my initial sentiment, caring not a lick about the lad’s tender years, and he got an earful anyway. He got schooled. In spades. Literally.

The kid loved to lead out with $5 on the flop. This worked a couple times, yet he seemed unaware that when someone called, another $5 bet on the turn was not a hindrance. Ralph caught his gut on the river and took pity on the kid. Still, there goes a bit of his stack. P is on his right and he tries the same thing after P checks. P calls the flop and turn bets and then leads out big on the river. The kid tanks and eventually folds. P shows the bluff with AKs. The clock starts to tick on this kid’s tender constitution.

I limp UTG+1 with red pocket 2s. Ralph in the CO raises to $6. R, on the button calls, P in the SB calls, the kid in the BB calls, so I figure I have to call. As R burns and grabs the next 3 cards, I see a 2c plus 8s9s. P checks and the kid throws in his last $20. I go all-in for $48 and say to the kid, “I’m giving you protection.”

Ralph thinks. Ralph is not only loose, he also figures odds. I learned this about him the first time I played with him. If he has any sort of odds, he’s in there. “I think I have to call here.” He does so.

Great. The turn is a J and the river is a 6. No spades but coordinated enough to feel my heart sink. The kid turns over a red J and 7, and who cares what Ralph had (I can’t recall). I take down a huge pot, and most importantly, yes, I’ll admit it, I felt the kid. Jamming with a gutshot…maybe my trip 3s earlier were good. Oh well. Thanks Dad.

Just about at the same time, Dad takes second, payouts and goodnights are exchanged, and two kids sulk out the door.

Eventually, I broach the subject. “R, are minors going to be playing in the future?”

“Well, this was first in two years, but the kid was 16. If his dad wants to stake him, I don’t see a problem.”

“No, he was 13. And in fact, he said that tomorrow was his birthday and he would be 14.”

The sole woman at the table agreed with me, while all of the guys, except her hubby, said that at least the guy was spending time with his kids.

“He was? No, he was playing poker. Not the same as spending time with his kids.” Who knows if these guys I play with have kids, and if they do, what kind of relationship they have with them. Yeah, the kids tonight “know” how to play poker, but still…go see a movie and get a pizza.

My word count is at 1500+ right now, and believe it or not, I have another story from tonight’s game. But it’s after 4 o’clock in the morning and I have to get some sleep because my dear wife and I have a date tomorrow evening and I want to be well-rested. As a matter of fact, we are going to see a flick and get pizza.

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