Poker Diversion Program
Fidget, fidget, fidget. Play poker. Don't play poker. Chew another nicotine gum. Suck another Jolly Rancher.
The weekend had begun, two full days of no plans loomed. And I couldn't even figure out how to get through the night.
Idle hands are the Devil Tobacco's work. There could only be one solution.
"Honey, can I go to Morongo?"
A half hour later, I was sitting at a 4/8 (w/Full Kill) table in the Indian Casino's pristine NON-SMOKING poker room.
I had gotten there just in time. A 6/12 game had broke and they spread 4/8. A few from the previous limit hung around and others, myself included, filled out the ring. It was not, I soon realized, Donkey Time.
There were several solid players. Good. I wanted the competition. The lineup:
Seat 1: Amiable Mexican teenager (18 is gambling afe at Morongo)
Seat 2: Non-descript foreign guy
Seat 3: Very good older gentleman
Seat 4: Older Asian female Calling Station
Seat 5: Yours Very Truly
Seat 6: The LAG of all LAGs. But not a bad LAG. Smart and tough to read. Dead ringer for Bruce Springsteen
Seat 7: Calling Station #2. Would give me the bulk of his money.
Seat 8: Young Asian Guy. Loose/passive
Seat 9: Lee Jones Disciple. Only played premium hands. Dropped two racks.
Seat 10: Old, drunk--no, fucking wasted--guy. Like Nick Nolte on a 48-hour bender. Along with the LAG, assured there would be no un-raised pots. Rarely able to put out the right chip amount.
Right from the get-go, I knew this was gonna be a challenge. Springsteen was in all-out bully mode. I folded to his raises for a while, until he started showing down his hands. Kxo seemed to be one of his favorites. Naturally, he made a couple boats. He was also rather taken with himself. He claimed to have finished 18th in the WSOP Main Event. I immediately called shenanigans. When asked how much he got paid, he said $350K. Hmmmmm, that soulds about right. In fact, it's exactly right upon further investigation. So, Pauly, does John McCane have an accent and look like Bruce Springsteen?
Nolte was barely coherent. His raises got no respect, but he happily 3-bet the LAG as often as possible. He rarely put the right number of chips out and soon frustrated dealer and plyers alike. I saw a few flops with solid cards, but failed to hit. Did catch TPTK with AQo, but the turn king gave the pot to Springsteen and his Big Slick. I managed to not pay him off on the river.
The older gent in Seat 3 was raking some big pots. Sitting back and letting the others make his raises for him. Got paid off on both quad aces and a set of queens. In fact, you were't gonna drag many pots at this table with less than two pair. Some huge hands.
None of which I managed to catch. The only pot I won in the first hour was when I turned a flush with 83s in the BB. Check-raised the river though to grab an extra bet.
Even with that, I found myself stuck about a hundred after a couple hours. Pocket Jacks put me back in the game. I capped the pot in my BB and four saw a flop of K94 rainbow. I bet for info and got raised by Seat 8. Folded to me and I went ahead and called, knowing I'd fold without improvement on the turn. The lovely Jack of spades fell there and I check-raised Seat 8. The queen of spades put both a flush and straight out there, but, with the pot size, I still led at it. Seat 8 called with his K9o. Two pair, no g00t!
He wasn't happy. Steaming a little and staring me down like he wanted to wring my neck. Not a good reaction for him, considering he called my next pre-flop raise a few minutes later (which I believe was a 3-bet). My pocket Kings flopped a set on a K98 board with two clubs. I bet and he called. The turn? King me.
Them's Quads, bitches!
He called my bet. When an 8 dropped on the River, we had a possible Bad Beat Jackpot if he had pocket 8s. I bet, he called. No jackpot, but an appreciative roar from the Table.
It's much later now, the table a mish-mash of less-solid players, most of them young and drunk. Yet, the play had tightened considerably with the departure of Nolte and Springsteen. I'd been folding rags for a while, hovering around my starting stack. An Asian Guy sat next to me, pickiing up Rockets in his first hand as he regaled us of his misfortune at the 2/5 NL game. He seemed confident in his ability to beat the crap out of everyone.
As I said, action was less prevalent now. I failed to mention I was now officially drunk and feeling awfully squirrely. The lack of cigs wasn't really bothering me, but it did add a weird edge to my buzz. I was enjoying myself and chatting it up with most of the table. Still, something was missing...
I broke out the straddle. The BB--Asian Bad Ass--3-bet and I capped blind. Flop was ragged and ten-high and after the BB bet, I looked at my cards: AA.
I do not shit you. I smooth-called my monster and after folds around, we were heads up. Turn was another rag and I raised the BB's bet. "I ain't foldin'," he said, and I would soon come to realize that was his mantra in life. The River put a second ten on the board, as well as three diamonds. Sigh.
I called his bet and he took it down with KTo. Double Sigh. I showed my aces to the wonderment of the table. "My straddle is powerful," I said. "Though susceptible to suckouts."
Figuring he'd used up all his luck in that seat, Asian Bad-Ass moved to the 8--where I took a pot off him by slow-playing the Hiltons; yes, in limit--and an older gent of the Any Two Cards Tribe took the 4.
Next rotation, I straddled again. Again, the (new) BB 3-bet it and I capped blind. He bet on a flop of J62 rainbow and I called blind. I figure I lost the last one because I looked. Turn is another Jack and I called his bet hoping I had a jack. River is a 7 and I look. I'm sorry. I can't help it.
I have pocket 7s. I manage to convey the calm of a surgeon and raise his bet. He calls time and eventually calls.
"BEHOLD THE POWER OF THE STRADDLE!" I declare. "Um yeah, and The River."
Never did see what he had. I may well have been ahead all along considering his level of play. Regardless, this deck is so rigged.
My straddles did the trick and the action got wild and woolly there for a while. I played KTo in a capped pot and saw a flop of KQT with two spades. Capped again and I'm afraid of the Power of AJ. The six of spades hits the turn and I check. Bet, raise, 3-bet and I fold.
The funny thing? I was ahead. QTo, K6o and AQo. The funnier thing? A fourth spade hit The River and K6o--Any Two Cards Asain Guy--had the King of spades to take a HUGE pot.
My stack took a hit on that one and another one a few hands later. The Object of My Demise? Hammer.
I raised with it UTG and saw a flop of K72. Bingo. I check-raised an LP player and we were heads up. Turn was a Jack and LP raised MY bet. Uh oh. I check-called the rag river and saw his (obvious) KJ.
I walked out about 4 in the mornin', down $7. Had a great time and, more importantly, successfully killed about 8 non-smoking hours. Barely registered most of the night and for that I am thankful.
Today? Killin' Me.