Wednesday, May 03, 2006

On Karma, and (Of All Things) Poker

When stuff happens to me, I tend to wonder whether I'm suffering some sort of cosmic payback for something I've done wrong. Likewise, a selfish part of the reason I do nice things is to build up these points for when something goes horribly wrong.

But what sucks worse is when you don't even know what you're being screwed over in response to.

Last night I went to my usual poker game at a local bar. It's a free game, and the crowd is pretty chill, so I usually have a pretty decent time, win or lose. (Usually lose: I've started gauging my success for the night as how many minutes I last before I'm out of the tournament.)

Last night, though, was different. Don't get me wrong, the guys were still having a good time and relatively chill, but I couldn't catch a good hand all night long. By a certain point in time I couldn't tell remember whether I was in a bad mood before the game started, or whether the cards put me there. I do remember that these chill, fun guys talking all kinds of big talk around the table was starting to annoy me, and I remember wondering whether they would have been as annoying if I were actually catching the cards.

I literally folded every single hand I got for the first 45 minutes of the night. Granted, I was playing a little tight (perhaps too tight), folding a K-7 (off suit) at one point and a K-6 (off suit) at another, but most of my cards for the night were 2-4s or 3-6s. It was getting truly infuriating.

But here's where Karma (or whatever you call it) didn't stop at tweaking my nipple and saying "gotcha." Karma actually bent me over and said, "You deserve to be teased BEFORE being fucked." (Not that this is a bad thing in every context....)

So I finally decide to play a hand. (If I had more chips, I would not have, but when you're short-stacked, you'll play whatever's decent.) It was a K-9. My one opponent flips: pocket 4s.

So yeah, I was pretty much beat from the get-go, but I figured it was my time, and my luck wasn't going anywhere anyway. The flop: Q-Q-7. Great. He's got two pair, I got nothing. I need one of my hole cards to pair up.

Then the turn card, well, turns the tide: It's a 7. What this means is that there are two pair on the board, both HIGHER than the pocket 4s my opponent has, which means now my King kicker is prepared to WIN the hand.

Keep in mind that after the flop, I was thinking I had six outs in the deck (three Ks and three 7s), meaning that of 45 cards left "out there," six of them would have given me a win, which is about 13%. I had forgotten about pairing up the board, and my odds were closer to 20%. Odds of me winning: 20%.

With the turn, of course, I had the better hand. And there were only two cards in the deck which would have given my opponent the win: one of the other two fours. That, my friends, is 4.5% chance to suck me out. In addition, if another Q or 7 showed up on the board (making the board a full house), we would split the pot. The odds of that were 13.6%. Odds of me winning: 95.5%.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess what the showed up on the river. One of those two remaining 4s in the deck reared its ugly head, and my "wow, I might actually survive this hand" moment proved to be just that -- a moment. He made his full house, 4s full of Qs, and I was reduced to a simpering mass of Jell-O quivering on the floor.

All that was a way of talking about how I have no idea what I did to deserve such a smackdown. I don't think I've done anything so dramatically bad lately that I deserve this kind of payback. I lost some cash in Atlantic City recently; then lost a few bucks at a cash table with friends; and now I can't even do decently at a play money table.

In the immortal words of the Pet Shop Boys:

What have I
What have I
What have I done to deserve this?
What have I
What have I
What have I done to deserve this?

I guess sometimes all you can do is chalk it up to an extreme run of bad luck, and call it a day. Or fortnight.


anne said...

I hate to say this, because my own karmic retribution for it might be bad, but honestly that whole 6th paragraph made me laugh out loud.
Now. Maybe you're just using up all your bad luck before a run of spectacular jam...?

Jon said...

This post totally went over my head. I mean, I can play gin and go fish, but I know zilch about poker.

I can relate to the love of Hokusai. I posted an image of the same piece right after the Tsunami of 2004- there's just soomething very humbling about that image. You know that all the fisherman in that boat are going to die and almost seem to accept their fate.

Dan Morehead said...