Mean Gene Is Back! And He's BAAAAAAD
Readers here have no doubt figured out that I haven't been playing online the last 4 months, mostly because I bitch about it non-stop. I cashed out my accounts and focused my attention on allegedly more noble pursuits, like looking for a real job and losing some goddam weight.
Four months have flown by and some progress has been made. My fat pants are now loose on me, and while I haven't found a full-time job yet my temp assignment seems to have developed into one of those deals where they'll find SOMETHING for me to do until I do latch on somewhere. And yet I made a deal with myself--I would put no more money into an account until I got a job. And if you break promises to yourself, well, what kind of a wretch are you?
During the summer months and fall it was no problem, I was busy enough that the poker bug did not infect me. But as the days grew short and the north winds blew, I found myself yearning more and more for the clatter of chips and the whisper of cards sliding across the baize. I spent many a pleasurable Friday night down in the game room playing a little poker while barely listening to the NBA game on the TV. With my wife safely tucked away in bed with a cat or two for company, I'd put on my warmest and most comforatble sweats, fire up Party, and do a little fishing. Nirvana.
This past Friday I could not so enjoy myself. My wife was out to dinner with friends, and I got home from my own work Christmas party around six, with a nice bit of Xmas shopping under my belt to boot. I emptied and filled the dishwasher, did some other domestic chores, and sat down to do a little writing. But around 7:30 I felt restless, and called my friend Rico to see if he wanted to partake in a beer. He had a date, the selfish bastard. I figured I'd strike out if I called anyone else, so it was time to rustle up some grub. Made some chili and rice, enjoyed it with a little glass of wine, and wondered how I would spend the night. Didn't feel like writing. Didn't feel like reading. Watching the NBA as your sole distraction isn't very distracting, as I soon found out. I fell asleep.
This was not the first time during this dry season that I've longed to play a little poker. But the pangs have grown more acute lately thanks to a combination of factors that to my paranoid mind seemed almost like a conspiracy. First of all, I'd check Party from time to time to see if they'd put a few bucks in my account in an attempt to lure me back, and I couldn't help noticing that most nights there were over SIXTY THOUSAND PEOPLE playing there. So many fish, and here I was with an empty bottle of malt vinegar. Then I read about players
shamelessly whoring themselves, flitting from site to site to pick up bonuses then leaving while the metaphorical bed is still warm.
Then you have the fact that a brace
up and quit their jobs to turn pro. Here I am looking for a job like a schmuck and these guys are telling the Man what he can do with his nine-to-five.
And then there was the epic get-together last week in Vegas, with my blogger brethren rubbing elbows (and with Evelyn Ng we hope just elbows) with a number of big-name players, playing in a massive tournament, and basically having a good ol' fashioned debauch. I enjoyed reading all the trip reports, but living vicariously only takes you so far. It pales compared to being in the middle of the fray yourself...aside from the crippling hangover parts. Then I read about these blogger-infested tables at Party, where the Hammer is played as aggressively as aces and the talking is all of trash. I feel like the pathetic awkward gangly shitbird loser guy who doesn't get to hang out with the cool kids. Just like my wedding.
The last straw came when my brother, who recently started a new job, told me he'd been invited to a game with some of his new co-workers. He mostly plays stud, but he figured he'd play supertight until he got his feet under him and go from there. He emailed me the next day gloating that he'd had himself "a big fish dinner" the night before.
Everybody's having fun playing poker except me. Boo hoo, boo hoo. But there was nothing to be done about it. Until last night...
Like an alcoholic who drinks vanilla extract for the "flavor", I would occasionally check out Party to see if they had any new software updates...and to see if maybe they made a little deposit into my account to lure me back. No such luck, they apparently think I'm beyond teasing. But then I remembered an email I got awhile back from a very, very, very unlikely source.
Believe it or not, Choice Poker is back. Yes, the site that hosted the first Grublog Poker Classic is up and running again under new management. They sent me an email (and probably most of the other folks who played there) saying something along the lines that they'd been bought by a reputable corporation, they'd honor all previous deposits, you're a valued player, blah blah blah. I checked it out and their home page looked about the same. I didn't have any money there so far as I knew, but I thought I'd download the new software, have a look, and write a little post about it.
But there was no button to click to download the software. That was back in September or so. I think I checked back twice in the last few months, still nothing to download. What prompted me to return there again was simple boredom. I was surfing, the thought hit me, and I clicked the link.
Lo and behold, they had something to download this time. I clicked the button, waited the 37 minutes it took my Jurassic laptop to swallow it down, waited the 17 minutes it took for my Pleistocene dial-up connection to check for updates (wait, I just downloaded it, how could there be an update?) and, finally, logged onto the site.
Which looks exactly the same as it always did, though for some reason I thought it looked a bit brighter, a bit more...professional. But who cares about that? I hit the cashier button, just to see what I might find...
And found, in my "Real Money" account, forty-two bucks.
I know, I know, most of you out there play in games where that barely pays one big blind. But for me, this was like hitting the lottery. Don't know why I had this money at Choice, don't know what I did to deserve it, but there it was. A lifeline. And I remember oh-so-well how I began my poker career--with a tiny little $50 deposit that I grew into a mighty bankroll...before I spent it all on wine. By the way, the Heron Hill Cabernet Franc? Tasty.
Anyway, I did a little dance (a spin, a sashay, and a sort of salsafied hip-shaking thing I've been working on) and looked for a table. Now, those of you who played there may recall that Choice wasn't exactly the most happenin' online card room out there. I remember going there once and finding FOUR people playing, and I assumed all of them worked there. Well, Choice Poker is now like freakin' Grand Central Station. There were FIVE HUNDRED AND SEVENTEEN players when I logged on. Wow! Wowie wowie wow wow! Maybe it isn't quite up to Party yet, but, goodness, will their servers survive?
Not my concern. My aim was to find an appropriate game and limit for my MASSIVE bankroll. You know, just a little nickel-and-dime game...and, uh, that's what I found. Yup, the table I picked was, and I'm a bit embarassed to admit it, five and ten cents. But, I hasten to add, it was POT-LIMIT! You don't see Mean Gene grubbing away at limit poker! Oh no! I play pot-limit, the game that requires the most skill, the most subtlety, the most...ah, forget it.
My goal was to boost my account up to $50, cash out, and get my feet wet again in the Party aquarium. That meant winning eight bucks playing at some pretty microscopic limits. I didn't want to move up to $.25/.50 (gasp!) because one bad beat could put me on life support. No, time to put my grinding hat on. And time to use some...special tactics.
Let's analyze the situation from my opponents' point of view. You're playing at Choice Poker...why? There are lots of more popular and more promoted sites to choose from (no pun intended). Maybe you work there. Maybe you got an email from them and decided to check it out. Maybe you're a friend of a friend. Who knows? But chances are you know that this is not the IT place for online poker. You sit down at a table with 7 people you know (and indeed the table chat was all very chummy) and play a little poker. Along comes some schmuck you've never heard of named Mean Gene. What the hell is HE doing here? Must be a total chowderhead.
And his play immediately proves it. Because of this one stupid play he made. He makes a pot-limit raise preflop. The flop comes J-5-2 and he again bets the flop. Another jack on the turn, rag on the river, and he turns over...2-7? That's the worst starting hand in poker! So what if he won the pot, what kind of an idiot raises with deuce-seven? And then BRAGS about it, typing "HAMMER TIME!" in the chat window? We gotta take this moron DOWN!
Yes, I won my first pot by showing down the Hammer. I felt the gossamer-light touch of Providence upon my lips. Once again, I was in the game. For the first time in months, I felt like a pokerblogger, one of the Few, the Proud, the Drunk, the Loud.
And it felt GOOOOOOOOOOOOOD.
With my rep as a total idiot established my foes dutifully called down my every hand. Not that there was ever much financial incentive NOT to call--I think the biggest pot I won was like two bucks. I remembered my Cloutier and McEvoy when playing Pot-Limit--when you bet, bet the pot, get it as big as you can. And you gotta do that when you start off with only SEVEN CENTS in the kitty. Think Devil Fish will be playing that game anytime soon?
Even at these microlimits I found I still have the discipline. I once folded 8-3 offsuit in the small blind even though it'd only cost me 3 cents to see the flop. Why fold? Because there was only one caller before me and it wasn't worth it. Hey, three cents is three cents! The stakes don't matter, just the odds! Right?
I gobbled up little pots and won a few (relatively) big ones and soon had increased my roll by nearly 8 bucks. Just a little bit more...I was dealt K-2 suited and flopped two pair. Bet the pot and had a guy raise me back. I called, and another beautiful deuce appeared on the turn. This time a check-raise, to flabbergast him, and then bet the pot on the river. He called me down and turned over KQ. Sorry, Charlie, but I've got some mayonaisse, celery, onion, and toasted bread all ready to go.
I cashed out my $50, with a few bucks to toy with at Choice until my transfer clears. Thence to Party, and fight the good fight. I had a blast playing again, even at such tiny limits. It's not the gamble I missed, because I'm just not much of a gambler. It's the battle of wits, of balls, of guts. I won a pot worth seventy cents with third pair and had the gall to pump my fist in triumph. It felt good.
Can't be too cocky. Tighten the chinstrap and grind that little stake up into a reputable bankroll. Still going to focus on getting a job, getting in shape, getting our volleyball team a bit further into the playoffs, but instead of falling asleep at 7PM on Friday nights, maybe I'll play me a little poker.