Friday, November 26, 2004

Square One

"That's the thing about high school girls. I keep gettin' older. They stay the same age. Yes, they do."
--Wooderson, "Dazed and Confused"

It is no stretch to say poker--and poker blogs--inspired me to start here. While far from my only interest, the game, and my improvement as a player, are integral to daily life. A quick history:

I've long played home games with The Boys. These were always equal parts social and gambling, featuring plenty of alcohol, trash-talking and games like Night Baseball. For most of my life, it never occurred to me to play poker in a casino. And if it did occur to me, I immediately dismissed it. Having lived n LA since the age of 21, I've made incalcuable trips through the desert to Vegas, one of my favorite places. I've played blackjack for 20 hours straight. I've rolled 11 points in a row on the craps table. But poker? In a casino? I'd get killed. Sharks, colluders, pros...they'd all smoke me.

Then, one Saturday night a couple years back in Sin City, with all my single--and more energetic--compatriots dancing the night away at whatever dark and loud club it was they were at, and me, reeling from a cold and the umpteen grayhounds (Vitamin C, baby!) with no desire to hit the tables hard, I wandered into Excalibur. I stood at the rail of their modest poker room, watching the games. When a friendly dealer practically goaded me into the room. A few drinks short of my gregarious phase, I declined, and moved on. But I was back a half hour later.

I sat a 7-stud game, $1-5 spread. The atmosphere was congenial, the dealer and players talkative. My fears--and the fact I only bought in for $80--melted any anxiety I may have had. About three hands in, I caught my third straight club on 5th street, bet $5 on a total bluff and took down the pot. Oh, the rush! The woman to my left asked if I had it. I wasn't experienced enough to say "I don't rememeber." I mustered a simple yes.

I spent several hours there, walking away a slight winner (thanks mostly to spinning the bad beat wheel after my Queens full lost to a better boat), but that started it. I soon ran across the WPT on the Travel Channel. I just as soon got my inspired butt to the bookstore for some poker primers.

So here we are. I spent a good deal of time at my local indian casinos practicing my game (somewhat costly). I ran across Iggy and jumped into Party Poker, a recommendaton for which I--and my bank account, and my wife--are imminently grateful. I spend most of my time playing there now, well, because I don't have to put on pants.

My game? Uh, a work in progress. I'm interested in the analysis of my play almost as much as the play itself. I'm competitive. I've learned a great deal by screwing up. I wouldn't know where to rate myself. I tend to think I win at party poker not because I'm good but because so many players there are bad. Then again, there have been times where it seems like I am in complete control, almost as if I can see their cards.

One thing I do know is that I'm learning to be a better player. My bankroll and the stats show it. I keep gettin' older.

Not to say I don't have issues.

I'm tiltable. Massively tiltable. Somebody ate Rosie O'Donnell's last donut tiltable. I was a soccer coach for many years and I'd never stop a drill until it was done correctly: "Let's end on a good one." Well, after a couple horrendously bad beats, ones that put my head in my hands, I've waded right back in, trying to "end on a good one." The two most egregious examples of this have resulted in a not insubstantial hit to my bankroll. These two nights of chasing fish, only to take a further beating, really caused me to step back. I'm no less tiltable, but now I tilt away from the tables.

As part of this experiment in the blogging world, I have shaved my party poker account to a nice round number and will keep track of stats from here on out, with the first results tomorrow. This could get ugly.

Off to the tables.


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