Saturday, May 16, 2009

Little bit of poker

I laughed when the DW said, “Well, that’s a night you’ll never get back.” I found humor in losing $70 in a poker game? I guess you’d have to be there.

My buddy, Sunil, hits a Tuesday home game in the suburbs of Portland, and he invited me along. He assured me it was a soft limpfest in which folks think second pair is a monster. Great. I’m there, even though it means a 120 mile round trip. Poker lore is made of such treks.

OK, I guess I already have to back up a bit. I didn’t know the game was in the burbs. I thought it was in Portland proper, and envisioned a room full of young kids playing with their barista tip money, even though I knew it was a 1/2 game. Maybe a couple web geeks, an artist or two with a trust fund thrown in for good measure. In short, an entertaining vibe I could groove on. Nope. A ticky-tacky house in the sprawl.

When Sunil informed me that we would have to take our shoes off upon entering, I still held out hope that I’d be meeting some pretty cool folks. You know, maybe with a Zen thing going. Nope.

Loud. Somewhat brutish males. Not British, which would have been alright…brutish.

Sunil is a very gracious guy, good stock. Even though I tell him he’s an inbred piece of shit when he draws out on me, he knows I don’t mean it. And, as I was his guest, he made sure to introduce me to everyone. Now, my momma raised me right as well, and I knew to be on my best behavior, shake hands and smile, even when John said, “I don’t care what your name is. I just want your money.”

I drew seat 3. John was to my left, so let’s start with him, shall we? With an overbite like a bottle opener and a yuk-yuk-yuk like a Jim Carey impersonation, John spent most of the night spouting nonsense that he thought humorous. He appeared to be somewhat of an expert on the discography of the band Poison (as did half of the table when one of their songs came on the radio), which helped me to like him even less. I wish I could say that I got the best of him, yet the reverse is true. He overplayed A 10d from UTG, continued to fire on a dry flop and I let him as I then folded pocket fives. The only other person who stayed in with him, Brenda, had KJ off and his Ace high took down a sizable pot. I was able to limp in a family pot from the SB with KQ off and checked when a Q and a straight draw came on the flop. He led out with a half pot bet from the BB, everyone folded, I bet the pot and he put me all in for my last $5. AQ and an A on the river. To his credit, he extended his hand to shake afterwards.

Seat 5 was filled with a friendly enough woman whom might have added some civility to the game had Sunil not felted her with his set against her two pair of paint. She couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Excuse me, I didn’t catch your name…

Sunil was in Seat 6. As the lucktard reads this blog, I will refrain from characterizing his game beyond mentioning that he felted three players, and one of them he cleaned twice.
Seat 7 was a piece of work. Brenda was so myopic that he had to pick up her cards and hold them three inches from her face to see them. Apparently this proximity was insufficient for she repeated the practice numerous times in the course of a hand. Make that numerous times on each street. Then she would do this thing with her tongue that made me start to think that she suffered from mild tardive dyskinesia. She also sang along with the radio, as she supposedly was a singer with an upcoming gig, for which when the date, time and location was announced at the table, it was clear none of the players would be attending. In fact, during one of her singalongs, Seat 9 reminded Brenda that she had been asked not to sing high notes as it hurt Nine’s ears. Yet, nothing on the radio seemed to bother Nine near as much even though it was at a higher volume than Brenda’s singing. I’m merely pointing out the obvious…

It then became obvious that this was not a game among friends. Sunil had found this game through a Meet Up website, and I assume so did everyone else.

Seat 8 held Linda, a woman whom Sunil seemed to like, and, so he informed me prior to the game, respected as a decent player. He also found her as an easy mark, as she was the player who lost her stack twice to him. She took it well, I must say.

The delicately aural Maya had Seat Nine. Tight. Down but then broke even for the night. Nothing much more to say. Well, not quite. But first…

That brings us to our host, Mark, in Seat One. Mark dealt. It was his game. And he ran a tight ship. For instance, in one hand Maya mucked her cards face up on the flop. 7c4s. Someone complained. It might have been John. Mark said, “Maya, I’m going to have to suspend you from the game.” I almost spoke up as Maya stood up and gathered her chips. Mark asked, “Where are you going?” to which Maya replied, “You said I was suspended.”

“I was kidding. Sit down.”

I may be missing something, yet I can’t see a real problem with showing if the whole table is privy to the information. Yet, then again, maybe it is worse than I know. Maybe worse than a player making loud moans upon seeing the flop after he folded pre. John did this any number of times. Then, after the hand he’d say something like, “I had a 3” when two of them came on the flop. No kidding? I thought you had indigestion. If it were my game, I would have told him to shuck the fuck up.

Brenda did it a couple times as well, and nothing was said. Yet, Mark had a special remonstrance in store for her. Sunil had mentioned that she was trying to get a weekly game started at her house. After she had cashed out (one could cash out after two hours and she did so promptly), she asked the table if Thursday nights were good for everyone to play, and before she could get any answers, Mark told her that she couldn’t promote her game while she was at his. They argued a bit as to whether she was in fact promoting her game (who cares?) and she left in a huff. Mark then said something along the lines of “I didn’t spend thousands of dollars to give you guys a good game just to have someone compete with me.”

He did have a nice poker table. The cards were a bit worn and the chips were of an average heft and clean, yet I wondered how the thousands were spent. Maybe he was referring to the six speakers in the ceiling, or the 72-in. TV against the wall. I don’t know. It wasn’t for chips and beer. What I do know is that these people were putting $40 on the table in a 1/2 game, and then reloading with $10 or $20 when they busted. Maybe his beef with Brenda was more about a small weekly poker budget than it was a Thursday game when she knew full well that he had a Tuesday game. Whatever. OK, enough about Mark for now.

To my right was Jeff. Jeff with the shifty eyes and limp handshake. Sunil had told me that he liked to bluff. More like try to steal your wallet and then deny it as you remove it from his jacket pocket. Lord, he was a crappy player, and the sunglasses did not help his game in the least. I believe he was Sunil’s third victim. When it was clear that Mark’s wife was not going to make a beer and pizza run, he put up his last $3, lost it and left.

That brings us back around to Seat 3. The first three hands I was dealt were A4s, 77, and A9c. I had a gut straight and flush draw on the first hand, missed both, and after that, nothing. And then really nothing. The game was fast, and half of my $60 stack went to blinds. Oh, I had AKd and AK off, both in the blinds. Did I raise? No. This was a trapping game because even though a hand was often limped preflop, any raise pre was met with several callers, all playing short. I preferred to see the flop and then play. I also woke up with Queens once, raised to $8 and everyone folded. Otherwise, it was 10 5 off (six times!), 7 2 off, etc. I may have seen the turn five times all night. It happens.

And Mark made sure everyone knew it was happening. “Bastin’s going to get a hand this time.” Or, “Good, bastin’s in this hand.” Maybe he was just trying to be a gracious host, yet before the game even started, he had Jeff had speculated to the table that I might be someone to watch carefully.

As I watched my reload start to disappear into the blinds short-handed, I told Sunil that I was ready to go when he was. Then I stole a pot with a small bluff on a straightening board, just so I could feel like I at least had a moral victory. I knew I wasn’t coming back to this game, so I showed.

Addendum: I typically find making fun or taking note of people's physical attributes as a way to ridicule them in poor taste. Oh well.


Anonymous said...

Funny stuff Bastin.

I always recommend people to read Mark Twain's Roughin'It when they tell me they want to write.
One of these days I plan to read it myself. I wonder why it's famous. :)


Dad/Geoff said...


Some dog quotes:

"I am I because my little dog knows me."

Gertrude Stein

"Money may buy you a fine dog but only love can make it wag its

Kinky Friedman
The Grasshopper Game

"Know yourself. Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that
you are wonderful."

Ann Landers

"Lord, help me become the person my dog thinks I am."

If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you can get going without pep pills,
If you can alWays be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food everyday and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy
to give you any time,
If you can overlook it when those you love take it out
on you when, through no fault of yours, something goes wrong,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can ignore a friend's limited education and never correct him,
If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can say honestly that deep in your heart you have no prejudice
against creed, color, religion or politics,

Then, my friend, you are almost as good as your dog!

Geoff / OB

Crash said...

Sunil must be lucky all the time, then. Whenever I see him online, he is sitting there with about triple the buy-in.

matt tag said...

$40 buy in for a 1/2 game is brutal - I thought my game was bad with the same buy in for .50/$1 blinds.

20 BB = no implied odds. Connectors aren't worth a thing. Small pairs are almost worthless (unless you can limp in).

Play big broadway and shove if you hit.

Crash said...

You can read "Roughing It" for free on Project Gutenberg.

Mike G said...

Nice report. I'm always frustrated watching $4 rake per hand steal away into the casino's fat belly when playing 1-2 here in Vegas. It adds up.

Another benefit of the home game is you do get to see the sort of comically bad players that don't last more than a few minutes in the shark infested waters here.

Of course I lost the last time I played so I shouldn't be so smug. Like phil hellmuth says "if it wasn't for luck I'd be the best poker player in the world"