Saturday, August 30, 2008

My own worst friend

It’s me. There’s an ambiguity in that title that I must clear up, especially since when last I wrote I mentioned that my buddy from PA, sbstar, was due for a visit. I’m my worst friend.

sbstar just left a little while ago. We had a great time: my home game last night; getting turned around on country roads in the middle of the night and ending right back where we started, almost twice; tweaking my website; playing at PA and chatting it up (not colluding) while playing; eating good food and talking from the heart.

Sbstar, you bastard!

No, I’m the bastard.

No, no one is a bastard. Maybe poker is the equivalent of a bastard. Nah, not even poker.

I prepped sb for the home game. I had him read an earlier post in this blog, and then gave him a rundown on some of the players and what to expect. As you will soon see, sb can handle himself just fine at the table, yet I thought it prudent to provide him with my mental notes on these guys. As he was introduced around, I hoped he would remember who played how.

There was one full table with a mix of the usual suspects and a few other guys I had played a couple times. I started off quite well, and was up 50% in no time. Set of Ks, a couple big folds on flops, a sweet bluff, etc. I have AQoff in the BB. Sb is to my left and limps UTG. Several others limp and I check. Two Aces and a 9 on the flop, and I lead out with a $6, pot-sized bet. Sb calls, everyone else folds. Turn is a 5c, still a rainbow and I bet the pot again. Sb says, “I’ll donate to your cause” or something like that, and calls. Well, I don’t want anymore of his chips, so I say “I’ll check” with the 4c on the river. He goes all in with about $45! Shit!

I have played at least 30K hands with sb. I know how he plays and I know I am 50/50 on this hand. Half of the time he is bluffing/behind. I said aloud, “Only two hands that you could have can beat me.” Those were AK and pocket nines. I discounted the 4 and 5. Funny thing about home games: a discussion ensued. He had a boat when he hit his A5 or A4 suited. Maybe. Ok, now possibly 4 hands. He sure didn’t limp with 23s, so the straight wasn’t there. There was $36 or so in the pot. I mucked. The bastard shows KK.

No, I’m the bastard. Poker is the bastard. Friendship is the bastard. My sister. Slap! My daughter. Slap! My sister! Slap! My DAUGHTER! This is Chinatown.

I am immediately reminded of a hand from my last trip to Vegas. I have 26s in the sb and get to limp. Flop is 345 rainbow. I check, Cut-off fires one off. I raise and he reraises. I decide to be nice and as I reraise him, and say, “Save your money, buddy. Think about it. I was in the small blind.”

He asks. “What you have? 67? Why don’t you go all in then?” and he reraises me. What if he has 67? I had put him on a set or the wheel before I started yammering. I showed and folded. He showed me his wheel. This hand has haunted me ever since.

As soon as I think it won’t look like I’m tilting from sb’s win, I get up and take a little walk. Tilt is when a neck muscle on one side tightens down. I think about the hand. Unwittingly, and ironically, when I checked the turn, I showed weakness. The check said that I didn’t have an Ace. Of course sb would go all in at that point. I broke a poker rule, again. Shut up and play. A little more resolute, some range-of-motion exercises, a fresh beer and I’m back in it.

I’m still ahead. Five of the players at the table are strong players. Five aren’t. I stack L, the king of all donks, and take down some limped family pots. We call it an early night. After all, R’s girlfriend seems to have moved in and she’s sweeping the kitchen floor: a social clue if I ever saw one. No one felt bad because the players remaining were all up. I’ve doubled up, Sb is up 50% and we know where there’s a play money game that goes all night.

I like R’s home game. I almost always come home a winner. Tonight I come home a winner and a bit wiser. By the time we pull out of the driveway, all of the lights in the house have been turned off. Geez, I hope this game continues, and I hope sbstar come back to play. I owe him one.

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