Mean Gene Plays Tight, Mean Gene Plays Right
After my massive home game a few weeks ago (my profit for the evening? $2.50) I was looking forward to a weekend at my friend Rick's lake house for some hot poker action. The house has a card room with a nice table, jukebox, and plenty of space for beer-filled coolers. We got there around 7:30 and it didn't take us long to adjorn to the card room, break out my chips, and get some cards in the air.
My friends like playing tournaments, which causes a problem for those who get knocked out early. You have to sit around for sometimes an hour (or, you shall see, a lot longer) to get back in the game, which causes me to play even tighter than I normally would. I know in this game there are going to be some crazy hands played, and I don't want to go to war with only queen-high.
So I sat there waiting patiently for cards, and watched as Mark was dealt KK and JJ within five hands of each other. The blinds started low and I kept myself even until they went up a bit, but then I lost a pretty big hand (I forget the circumstances) and found myself in a pot with Mark playing 10-3 from the big blind. I flopped top pair, he bet, I went all-in, and he called. And turned over goddam queens. "Nice hand," I seethed. "Slow-played queens, yeah, that's a nice move." I got no help and was out.
Mark won that one, but as we started our second game we had three more players show up. All right, Mean Gene is at his best on the big stage. Early on I was dealt the Hammer, raised, and then bet big after an ace hit on the flop. All lay down before me, and as I flipped over my 2-7 (suited, I have to admit) I was showered with praise at my daring and brio. At least that's how I remember it. I was pretty drunk by this time.
I managed to steal the odd hand to keep from slipping too far, when I hit a streak of luck. I had something like J-3 in the big blind, flopped a three, everyone checked on the turn, and I rivered another three. Got paid off for that one, and I'm pretty sure I hit lucky trips to win another pot. Like I said, I was pretty drunk by this time.
I ended up playing Scott's wife Debbie heads-up. Debbie. My poker nemesis. She's played a lot more live poker that I have since we tangled last year. She knows what she's doing...I think. You'll think she's willing to call any bet at any time, and when you finally trap her she lays it down. Then she'll go all-in when you've got a middling-good hand. She'll call, call, call, then raise you out of the blue. I have no clue what she's doing. On top of that, she STARES at me, looking for some twitch or tremor that might give my hand away.
Well, this time I triumphed, though not without some drama. I took a nice lead, and when she went all-in I happily called with A-10. Until she turned over A-J. The flop came 7-8-9, about as good as I could hope without pairing up, and when I turned a jack I did an internal dance of joy. Only a ten could save Deb and give her...oh, there's the ten. Friggin' three-outer and we chopped the pot.
I took it as a bad omen, but I had a nice run of cards, took the lead back, we got the money in when I held pocket sixes and she had J-6. I liked those odds, and no meddling jack appeared on the board. Victory was mine, to savor and to make me feel big.
We spent much of the next day out on the water, where I got sunburned right on the edge of my beltline, and which is causing me discomfort as I write. After eating a big lunch everyone wanted to take it easy for awhile, and what better way than by playing a little poker? The lure of the cards kept Mark around for a bit longer, as he had to go back to the 'Burgh for a birthday party. Ah, good, another pigeon to pluck, season, and roast over an open pit until golden brown.
Yeah. I'm holding A-5, the flop comes A-5-2. At this point it was a rare good flop for me, and I checked, hoping to come over the top after Mark or Frank inevitably raised. They both checked, the bastards. Then a four hit on the turn, an ugly card, but, come on, they wouldn't have a three, would they? Nah. I checked, Mark bet, Frank called, I called. "Come on," I whined, "another five, another ace. Let me trap them good".
A blank on the river and I checked. "I'm all in," Mark said. Frank thought about it a bit. "I'm all in too". Great. Fan-friggin-tastic. At this point its obvious I should fold. I'm beat. Or...am I? I know that Mark will bet big with anything, and as he wanted to get on the road it was possible he was holding guano. Frank might've had the same thought and guessed his AK or something was good. In retrospect, calling was stupid. But I was tired of merely playing tight. I wanted chips. I wanted to bully. I wanted to make the really gutsy call, the one where the other guys mucks his hand and said, with some fear in his voice, "How did you call me with THAT?"
I called. And they BOTH turned over 3s. It's always a bad feeling when all the cards have been dealt and you've lost. I watched as Mark and Frank chopped the pot, as they chopped my goddam money
. Made me mad.
I ended up dealing the rest of the way, which took a good bit of time. At one point Neil was down to I think one chip, but he won his all-in, gathered enough chips to get his head above water, and after Mark was eliminated and buzzed off slowly took the chip lead from Frank. There was one big hand where Frank was leading until the turn...but I forget the details. I can't say I was drunk this time...let's say I had sunstroke. Hmm, maybe there's a reason I'm not out in Vegas covering the World Series.
More boating, more food, more beer. We sat down for one last tournament around 11PM. Our usual game of Asshole would follow poker, so I had a trio of reasons for winning--protect my sterling repuation, win a few bucks, and keep myself from chugging beers in my exhausted state. I sipped my Yuenglings and settled down for war.
As the game moved along I hemmoraged chips. I needed cards--I got no cards. On one hand I was dealt Q-6 in the big blind and flopped a full house. Four players in the pot. After the flop, no one bet. After the turn, no one bet. On the river I made a little bet, hoping to invite a raise. Rick alone called, and he turned over AQ. My one big hand and I got less action than...me in high school. Zing!
Scott and Neil were both low on chips, both ready to give up the ghost, when I found K-5 of hearts. Since there was no prize for second place (or last place) I decided to push with this mighty hand. To my surprise, no one called. Next hand I was dealt A-9, pushed again, and this time Scott called with pocket eights. An ace and a nine on the flop melted his snowmen, and I had chips and the momentum.
The blinds went up, Scott and Neil went by the wayside. I had a slight chip lead when I was dealt AQ. The flop came Q-6-3. I bet, Debbie called. A six on the turn, check-check. A deuce on the flop, Deb checked, and I made a pot-sized bet. She called. I turned over AQ, she turned over...Q-6. SHE hit the full house, but in our boozy/sleepy state she forgot to raise. Had she really pushed I would've laid my hand down, fearing a six, but I couldn't help thinking that I'd been involved in 2 hands where AQ and Q6 were the hole cards and I had a net loss of about $100.
Then another hand I played brilliantly. I have Q-7 in a family pot and the flop comes 8-9-10. We all toss in a few chips, and a jack comes on the turn. Sweet. What do I do? I check. There were already a lot of chips in there, as well as 2 clubs on the board, and I get fancy. Frank and Debbie check. And an unwelcome queen shows on the river. Great. I have to play the board now. Debbie checks, I check...and Frank goes all-in. Saw that comin'. Deb folds. What the hell do I do? Call and chop the pot? Or, call and go out? I was about 90% sure Frank didn't have the king, but I decided to punish myself for my donkified play and mucked. Still have to ask Frank if he had the cowboy.
Karma was kind to me, I won a big stack from Frank when I again made trips after the flop. I don't remember who knocked Frank out, but once again it was down to me and Debbie. Our stacks were about even, I raced out to a quick lead, and then Deb started raising every hand and I couldn't catch a hand to trap her with. When I tried raising with junk like 3-5 she went all-in.
Things were getting dire when I went all-in with J-4 after the board showed an ace. At first Debbie looked like she was going to muck...and then she paused. "I don't know, I may have to call you with this," she said. She showed her cards to Ted, who took one for the team and was dealing. I sat there feeling my stomach gurgle as Ted shrugged and said, "I don't know." I wanted to scream "One player to a hand!", but instead I kept my stone face and let Debbie try to stare me down. "I know you have the ace," she said, "so I'm folding this." And she showed me the Hammer. That woulda sucked, getting knocked out that way. But I lived to fight another day.
Almost literally. We played till 2AM, neither of us able to make much of a dent in the other's stack. And the blinds were onerous. Finally, after a much needed bathroom break, I said we should chop the money and play one hand for ten bucks. I couldn't see straight anymore, so I was relieved when she said yes. I was dealt J-6, she had A-4. Nothing exciting happened and she took the extra ten-spot. They played Asshole for about 13 minutes and then we all collapsed.
Had a good time. I think in the future we should play more of a ring game, so we don't have these 4-hour death marches into the wee hours. Oh, one last bit of advice--potato chips made with Olestra taste pretty good. And they're low in fat and calories. But the warning labels that warn of...various...potential gastrointestinal problems? Read them carefully, very carefully. That's all I'm gonna say about it, I'll leave you to fill in the blanks.