I don’t like to brag, of course, but I seem to have been constructed for the purpose of playing poker. A coworker from a job 12 years ago once told me I had the “shifty eye.” I took that as a compliment. I also love maths and probabilities.
The other good thing about poker is that it is the only sport that I can watch on TV and go out and replicate myself. I use the word “sport” loosely but it must be true since they show it on ESPN.
I don’t like to brag or anything, but I rule the home game. I’ve placed in the money something like eight times in a row. That isn’t chance or luck. It’s skill.
“In the money” is nice but the #1 spot itself has proven elusive. I think I’ve only claimed that title a single time in the home game.
Last night I was on a mission. And the poker gods themselves were looking down to enforce some poker karma.
The home game rotates around between three houses. It traditionally starts at 6pm with a potluck with poker by 7pm. There are typically about six to nine players. Last night was rather impromptu so there were only six of us. So naturally I was already thinking ahead to my winnings.
The game is Texas Hold’em poker, no limit, elimination tournament style. Everyone buys in for $20 and gets $1,500 in chips. The blinds start at $5/$10 and go up every 15 minutes. The bloodbath is usually over by 11pm.
No limit means that anyone can push all their chips and shout, “All in!” Sometimes that happens on the first hand. They were still talking about that last night, how I knocked one of the players out on the very first deal. She seemed irritated and looked at me like she was hellbent on revenge.
Even so, the action stayed calm and there were no all-in moments. By 9pm, the official dessert break, no one had been knocked out yet. Things were mostly even, everyone had chips, although there were a couple shortstacks and I was the chip leader. Perfect.
I was feeling good so I made some comment about “not wanting to win.” When everyone looked at me like I was crazy, I added, “Winning isn’t good enough. I want to dominate. I want to personally knock out every single one of you on my way to being #1.”
I think they call that tempting fate.
At one point I had called for the head of another player, offering a “bounty” to anyone who would knock her out. She replied, quite eloquently I thought, with a viscous: “I’m going to smash your brain!” Woohoo! I had her so upset she was off her insult game. We’ll call her Jane. She’ll be integral to the story in just a bit.
After the break the blinds were creeping up and things finally stopped happening. I knocked out the first player, our co-host, and a guy who fancies himself a “gambler.” He never wins. He angrily thrown down and stomped out of the room. His participation in the night’s fun had come to an abrupt end.
I then knocked out players #2, #3, and #4 and had the chip lead. Things were looking good.
It was down to me and Jane.
She went all-in and I called. I had a wired pair of pocket eights. She had “big slick.” That’s about a 50-50 coin flip. She caught a card and took down the pot. Now I was suddenly in second place.
Long story short, I made a comeback and put up a good fight. But on the final hand of the game I had her beat … until that final card. The card known as The River. She caught that card, the final card of the game, and I had to settle for second place.
There was another bright spot. Back when there were still players in the game I caught a royal flush. As a wise and sage guru I “slow played” the thing. That meant I never bet, hoping that others would do it and walk into my trap. (Technically I was on the draw until the river and my hand was “made.”) With a royal straight possibility on the board, eyebrows were made, and there were some comments about, “Who has the highest diamond,” but no one bet behind me. My measly profit was the antes. Yawn.
I documented the hand for negativity historians: