Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I am One Lucky MoFo

[Texas Hold 'Em geekiness follows. Feel free to ignore if this topic bores you....]

Sunday night was Poker Night Number 2. Unlike Poker Night Number 1, this game was amongst established friends, and did not involve money. It was just for fun, so the pressure was a little less. Or so I thought.

Linda, our hostess for the evening, was out to get me from the get-go. In a fun way, but nonetheless, the fact that I had "won" every other poker night with this particular set of friends had particularly riled her. Last time we got together, she and I got down to heads-up action, which she lost because she began playing way too conservatively for heads-up play. This night, she swore she would do better.

I managed to take out Shawn early in the night again when he went all-in not knowing that I was holding a pocket pair. This was a redux of the week before, except that last time I was the one who forced Shawn all in.

I took down Christine when she went all-in after the flop with an ace-high, incorrectly thinking that if I called her bet, we would base our hands on the pocket and flop without showing the turn and the river. I had another pocket pair at the time, so I don't feel as bad that her misunderstanding caused her to go all in, because even if she were right, I would have still had the better hand.

So again, it was down to Linda and me, and Linda was out to get me. I actually started playing rather poorly and aggressively at first, because I thought I could bluff and scare Linda into handing me a slew of chips. Linda, though, had learned from our last game and figured that I bluffed often enough that she would call me more often. She thus took a slew of my chips (it hurts to lose when you've made several $1000 bets in an effort to scare your opponent into folding) and the chip lead after only a few hands.

In the penultimate hand, I had pocket nines. As this was probably the best I was going to do, I went all in before the flop. Linda, again thinking that I didn't have squat, called me on it. (She did, after all, have enough chips that she could afford to do this by now.) She had an A-Q off suit -- decent hand, but one that didn't count for anything over a pocket pair. So long as nothing on the board paired her up, I'd win the hand.

... Which is exactly what happened. Linda was not happy handing me over $4100 in chips. We didn't realize it at the time, but this represents where the chip lead also changed hands. Our stacks were both pretty big, but no one had bothered to count them up to get an accurate assessment.

The last hand was truly the coup de grace and what solidifies my reputation as a lucky-ass mofo. I had a Q-9 suited (clubs) -- not a great hand, but definitely a playable one. Linda obsessed for minutes about what to do with her hand, even consulting with Shawn (this is how driven she was to kick my ass), who also advised her to bet aggressively. She effectively limped in, betting only $2000, but I took the offensive and went all in again. This was partially just to scare her again, but it was also to hasten an end to the game, frankly. (Linda can get a bit obsessive about it, so I was willing to lose to her if only to take the game to a conclusion before midnight.)

Again consulting with Shawn and agonizing for a few minutes, Linda called my bet. She had a pair of 4s. Yes, it wasn't a very high pair, but Shawn reminded her that any pocket pairs during heads-up action was good. I showed my Q-9 and we began the action.

Upon seeing the flop, we all let out a huge cry. The flop was a rainbow K-4-6 or something. Linda and Shawn (Christine had long since retired to the next room to watch "Grey's Anatomy") were excited by the 4; I was dismayed yet strangely turned on just by the excitment of it all. Besides the fact that one of those was a club, this flop did not help me, yet gave Linda trip 4s -- definitely not a good position. I was almost ready to concede defeat, thinking that nothing could help me past a set.

Then came the turn, which was a 10 of clubs. Suddenly, new life came into my hand: I had a gut shot straight draw as well as flush draw. I needed any club, or a jack, to beat the trip 4s. Anything else and I would come up with absolutely nothing.

I held my breath as the river card was lifted from the deck. I didn't know what the odds were, but suddenly my heart was racing. Even though there was no money at all riding on this game, the adrenaline rush was amazing. I don't know how professional players do it -- the tension was killing me, and I didn't even have any real skin in the game.

The river gave us: a jack of spades. My straight was complete.

The scream that went up must have pissed off Linda's neighbors: from me in sheer happiness, from Linda and Shawn at the utter injustice of it all. By all rights, I should not have won that hand. The odds against coming up with a straight with a Q-9 pocket must be ridiculously small, especially on the river.

But win it I did. I love the excitement of an nail-biting game of poker.

And Linda now hates me as much as ever. She'll be gunning for me hard next time.

I think I'll suggest we put some money up.


anne said...

No idea what you just talked about, but the telling was great: the Cincinnatti Kid was playing in my head...

kat said...

Congrats on the win! For more poker geekiness - Phil Gordon is giving a "seminar" at Fado tonight. I think it's $25 to get in, but there's a tournament afterwards where you can test out your newly acquired skillz.

Jon said...

Poker is one game that I never got into- and I feel that i'd have a better social life if I did. Ok, I'd have a better social life if I wasn't highly opinionated and make racist jokes all the time, but what are ya gonna do.....