Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Poker Diaries: Drunk and Lucky Is Better Than Sober And Good

In what obviously sounds like a cry for help, or an invitation for the local sharks to move in...

Here's something you probably know about me by now, Dear Reader: I can't leave well enough alone.

Just doing what is expected, or what is required, inspires no joy whatsoever. I have to push, to exceed, to do more, because standing still and punching the clock kills my soul.

This is especially dangerous in the field of hosting your own poker game.

So in the 4+ years that my every third Friday game has been in operation, we've made massive site enhancements. What started out as a single room and table, with unlabeled chips and odd denominations, a half dozen guys playing the same single game in one not very appealing room...

Has now become, well, A Production. Step into my Cave, and you get:

> 15 gram coin inlay chips with printed values, and a separate case for the post-tournament cash game
> Speed felt on 2 of 3 tables, with more often than not, a 3-table tournament
> A tournament clock on a 40 inch monitor
> Way too many promotions, including a referral free roll, an every three tournaments free roll, a triad $100 bonus and a yearly award and side pot that reaches four figures
> Soft pretzels, a fruit and veggie platter, beer, soda, water and coffee
> The firm possibility that you'll be playing Omaha in addition to Texas, especially if you play the cash game and stay late
> Multiple rooms with a pretty optimal design for movement, and
> Anywhere from 14 to 25 players

All without a rake, in a true mid-stakes environment. I'm more than a little proud of it, really. And if you are local and want in, ping me at dmt shooter at gmail dot com; next game is Friday the 25th, and will be a mixed event (Texas and Omaha).

So where the Innovations led me this last time was to expand the beverage options to some hard stuff. Personally, I drink rarely; as a hobbit (5'-4", 140) with a family history of alcoholism, I'm way too capable of getting goofy with a quickness, and usually too busy running things to imbibe myself. But what the hey; it's not like good booze goes bad all of a sudden, and I just like the look of someone swirling a tumbler of whiskey as they stare down my bluff. So I picked up a tray, ice bucket, shot glasses and a half dozen bottles of what the Shooter Mom (a career bartender, and an excellent one) pointed me to. One shopping spree later, we had Maker's Mark, Jack Daniels, Patron, Smirnoff, Gordon's and Johnnie Walker on hand.

Which, well, no one touched for three hours.

Until I had busted out of the tournament, then joined a cash game, and said, well, let's not let this go to waste.

Here's the thing: now that I'm in my '40s and relatively assured of not throwing my life away on booze, it's lost some of the Scariness. Especially in my own home, with no potential for driving, surrounded by friends and family. So I started mixing up some JD and coke, playing hands that I normally don't play, gambling on draws that I normally shy away from...

And, um, having the Poker Luck Gods smack me on the head with the Luck Club a few times.

Broadway, on the river, getting paid off despite the caller telling me my hand before he paid me. All-in with pocket kings against pocket aces (whoopsie), then having the third king hit on the turn. Semi-bluffing with a pair of 5s, then calling a massive overbet thinking it was just a race situation, then seeing pocket queens instead, on my deal. Not turning over said 5s out of embarrassment for the misread, then dealing a 5-5-Q flop that had the guy thinking he was golden... and before being able to turn over the cards, having someone else needle the guy that with his luck, I had pocket fives. Maybe the worst thing I've ever done to a guy at a poker table, really.

And when it was all over, and I had one of the better paydays in the house game despite stinking it up with a rebuy in the tournament...

Well, maybe there's something to be said for playing with a little bit of the edge off. (And maybe, just maybe, overplaying how drunk I was. Shhhh.)

If, for only one reason: it makes the money that I'm playing for not seem so critical, and has to make me a little less, well, predictable.

Which is, well, kind of the point of keeping the game in mid stakes level, right?

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