Monday, April 8, 2013

The Poker Diaries: Rant And Win

So here's a new moment in the five year history of routine and mostly profitable poker... going publicly on tilt in such a way as to entertain, and to use the success of that entertainment to, well, get off tilt. Here's how it happened; feel free to use it for your own purposes. But first, some music.

Friday night in the home game, I outlasted about half of the tournament crowd, but didn't really like the way I played, and especially how it ended. (Ace-King offsuit with about 10 big blinds left, and had I shoved pre-flop, I think I survive, rather than just make the minimum raise and have a marginal hand catch two pair and call my c-bet shove. Sigh.) Once I got to the cash game, I hit some stuff and bought some pots to get to a double up, but eventually run into second-best hands and a cold deck, pushing me back down to start. Typical poker, basically.

And then a game of Omaha hi-low gets called, and my pocket kings are, of course, useless but get me to stay in against the room's wild man. Three diamonds hit the river and I shove after his check for more than he's got, and because he's just that kind of guy -- i.e., the kind of guy that has to call even when he thinks he's beat and believes the story -- his two pair and weak low hold up, and I walk away from the table rather than say something rude.

Which is when, well, the guy doesn't, to my mind, extend the same courtesy. "Why did you do that?"

Normally in a situation like this, I keep quiet or just shrug. Maybe I try a quick joke or dismissive statement. But the moment, and the needle that I felt that was probably bigger than reality intended, made me just go off, and I gave him about a minute and two good paragraphs about what a bluff is, how I actually do make them from time to time, and that I'm clearly an idiot for treating him like a poker player, rather than an action junkie or auto-calling station.

The others at the table, all of whom have had similar frustrating experiences with this guy, eat it with knives and forks, and spend much of the next hour trying to inspire a repeat performance. I feel a little self-conscious about it, but not terribly, because, well, I can't help but feel that the guy deserved it. (It's not enough to call my bluff and take my money, but you also need to question the move? It didn't work. Let's move on.)

Normally when this kind of thing happens, it's a simple and bad story to follow. Player is on tilt, shoves and missteps happens, felting and/or heavy losses and a general abiding hatred of poker. But with the crowd clearly looking for that, and my writer's ego of needing words to entertain getting paid off, I get patiently contrarian and eventually run back into a warm deck and some solid flops... and because the table is still reading me as on tilt, I'm getting paid, too. I wound up making my small stack go 6X, busting the needler in the process, and closing the table early for an added benefit of extra sleep.

And, well, a whole new story to tell myself the next time I go on tilt, or want to talk at the table...

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