All poker depends on it
OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- The big stack bets into me with a queen on the board. I have a gunshot draw but nothing else. My chips had been dwindling and I was down nearly a buy-in, having won not a single pot in more than two hours.
So what can I do? I fold.
He sighs and shows KTo. It's the same hand I raised with.
He gets up to leave and now it's four players. Nobody bats an eye but the scraggly Asian player in the one seat announces, "Four-handed. No chop, OK?"
Nobody says a word. I certainly don't. It's been more than a year since I've held live cards in a casino and I really haven't taken too many reps this year, only at the Gnome's poker games. Still, I am 0-fer this year in poker, a weird sight on my balance sheet.
I don't think I thought that would necessarily change by playing in a California poker room but still I was hopeful. Yet I already was behind for the trip, having already had AA cracked by 26o for two pair on the river in a previous session the day before (Banana Republic, 9-3).
But it probably wasn't the best time to return, although I'd (correctly) been envisioning juicy Friday night games President's Day weekend.
The difference between showing up Thursday night and Friday night at the poker room at Ocean's Eleven: The parking lot was packed and I couldn't even have parked where I had during the "weeknight" session since it now was a valet parking area.
Looking back, I probably was more than a little rusty those first six hours. When you lose chips, you start to play tight -- not tight as in hand ranges, but more as in worry over what's to come.
When the game is not easy for you -- no sets or gutshots to put all the chips in the middle, you have to improvise. And it's awful when you throw out more of your chips on a well-timed bluff, only to have the scraggly Asian dude check-raise you on the turn.
But amid that sensation of steadily draining wealth and exhaustion, something happened -- I didn't care if I lost my chips and just wanted to play.
I open raised with 75s, getting the scraggly Asian to call. An ace flopped on the board. He checked, I continuation bet, forcing him to sigh at the "tight player" and fold.
Next hand, he raises with what I'm sure are ATC. I look down and see TT. Obvious reraise and when he is studying his cards I am thinking that I am ready to put all of my chips in the middle. He folds. The spark of desperation breaks the game.
I don't say anything but when it turned three-handed, I finally felt ready to play, as if this is how it's supposed to be then I'm going to play. But instead I get moved to another table. I only have an hour left in my session but I decide that I'll just play the rest of it out, win or lose.
I actually start to get some playable holdings and my stack builds, just as my session is about to end. And then it comes down to a final hand, the board is 7T4, a person bets into me and then a second player late just cold calls the action.
When the turn comes 4, I actually know my hand has been strengthened against raggedy two-pairs I have seen this trip but the late player who spouts poker theory and claims to have gone to Harvard is just still overcalling, waiting for the end.
And when it's all over, with a lot of chips in the middle, I can't believe the hands. T3o by the early player betting into me. ATo for the woman in late.
I show the cowboys, obviously a monster pre flop hand but in many ways a questionable post flop holding against random cards in this kind of poker room.
I scoop up all of the chips and just like that, I have recovered for my loss and also will, bad beats willing in the last 12 minutes of my session, be able to log my first win (Biscuits, 17-3) for the year.
When I get up to leave half a round later, I know it looks like a hit-and-run but my 4 hours are up and I'm already exhausted from still being on East Coast time. I don't care what anyone will say, keeping with my recently developed mood at the tables.
It turns out nobody at the table cares either, and I leave with my rack of chips without having to say a word.