Keeping the Machine: The September 2006 Poker Report

(Editor’s Note: Let’s not lie to each other. Yes, this post chronicles events that transpired seventeen months ago. After the August Poker Report disappeared, I got knocked sideways. When my website died, I got knocked even more sideways, if that makes any sense. Well, my website’s up and running again, thanks to my man, Ivan, poker player deluxe and designer/programmer of this here website. I’m going to post Poker Reports as often as possible until I get caught up. I’ve got this idea about posting one every two weeks, but, as with so many other things, I’ll probably let us all down.

And, in case you're wondering, the reason that I can write about events that went down so long ago is that I've been writing rough drafts of our poker games all along. Still, in order to try to catch up, I’m not going to be writing thirteen single-spaced pages in twelve point Times New Roman anymore. You can expect the usual level of quality—mediocre on my good days, much, much worse on my bad ones—but just not really long posts, at least not for a while.

Editor's Note About the Editor's Note [6 March 2008]: Yeah, that thing about trying to keep these Poker Reports a little shorter didn't happen. It is about a third of a page shorter that the Poker Report that disappeared, so that's something.)

1 September 2006

Bad Beat: This was the night where I took some pretty brutal beats. Now, there are bad beats when it’s great hand against great hand from the start and one person loses a lot of chips and the other person rakes them in and it’s not a big deal; neither player was coming off of his or her hand, no matter how strong the bets were. They happen, you note how cruel life is, to give you a brilliant hand that was only ever really good for second place unless you would have gotten really, really lucky.

Then there are the ones where you end up wanting to throw a chair through a goddamn window, but we’ll get to that later.

First, there was the one where I, myself, made a bad early play in a hand. I’m holding J-10 off-suit, not a very good hand, only marginally playable if it’s suited, but I figured that I’d see a flop and work from there.

(You're probably thinking that I get whatever I deserve for playing such a weak hand, but there are some world-class players who will play any two cards with which a straight could possibly be made, so don’t be such a judgmental bastard.)

Ivan, poker player deluxe and programmer/designer/host of this here website, bets $4 after a flop of 2-7-9 rainbow. I’ve got overcards and it seems like he’s taking a stab at the pot, especially since it doesn’t seem very conceivable that this horrible flop could have hit him, unless he was holding a pocket pair that had just turned into a set, but then he’d probably slow-play it and let me lead the betting. I think that he’s got nothing, so I call.

The turn’s a king. Again Ivan bets the four, and this time the call’s a little harder. Maybe he was playing overcards? But he wouldn’t have bet out so much after the flop, I think, as I make the call.

This was when Ivan started laughing and said that I wasn’t going to like what he was holding. The river’s a deuce, and Ivan checks it. I check and Ivan turns over his K-2 for the 2-2-2-K-K full house. He had played K-2, which was a pretty bad play, but then he had bet the bottom pair when he was already dead if another player had paired the board or made a set, not to speak of the fact that he lost to any pocket pair.

But then he got lucky and paired the king on the turn. After that, I had no shot. Ordinarily, I would have been perturbed to have lost to such a hand, but he was so honest and good-humored about the questionable play that he had made that I had to laugh and say that it was worth the $8 he took from me.

Then he did that shit again, and this time it cost me $9 because he made $3 bets after the flop, turn, and river, and I called every one. But it was still funny because he acknowledged that he had taken a pre-flop shot and gotten lucky.

Son of a Bitch: But those beats, even though they cost me $17, were easy to take because I hadn't exactly made brilliant plays myself.

Then there are those hands where you do everything right, the other person does everything wrong, and you get killed.

We’re playing Omaha, and I've got double-suited K-K-5-5. I've got set and boat and gigantic flush draws. Lovely. So when Jesse bets $2, I decide to close it off as much as possible right there. I make it $7 to go, everybody folds, and it’s back to Jesse, who doesn’t take too long to call.

The flop doesn’t help me with any of my draws, but they’re all undercards to my kings, so I bet the $5. Jesse immediately makes it $10. I make the call and bet $5 after the turn. Jesse only calls this time, so I know that his re-raise was a bluff. When the river lands an eight, though, Jesse comes out betting the $5. Counting his last bet, there’s already $50 in the pot, $22 of which I've contributed myself. I was going to bet if he checked, but I decide to only call.

Jesse turns over his cards and says that he’s made a straight on the river. It’s a nine-high straight for which he had hit runner runner, and he hadn't had even one pair previous to the river. He had been behind the whole way.

Let’s go through this hand slowly, play by play. Jesse had bet $2 with nothing, and not just any nothing, but a nine-high nothing. He hadn't had any face cards, but he bet. That’s bad play #1. When I raise $5, though, he can chide himself for betting junk and then get out of the hand with only minor damage. Instead, he calls. That’s bad play #2.

After I bet $5 after a river that missed him, he should have folded, but didn’t. Bad play #3, but it’s teamed up with a raise. A raise with nothing, which was bad play #4. After the turn landed, giving him only a gutshot straight draw, and I bet $5, he should have folded. He had four outs for his straight in a forty-four card deck which means that he was 11-to-1 to make his straight, but he was only getting 8-to-1 if he called. Over time, making that call will only make you go broke, but he made it. Bad play #5.

Then, of course, he hit his miracle eight on the river, and got $27 from me even though he had made five truly bad plays and I hadn't made one.

What made it worse was his rationale for having played that hand. He said that when I raised him pre-flop he told himself that he would play his hand to the end. That’s some world-class strategy right there.

My Old Microwave: I bought this top-of-the-line microwave back when I lived in the Seattle, and it was a beauty. When I moved back to Madtown in 1999, I got custody of it, one of the few things on which I didn’t get screwed, and it’s been working wonderfully all along. Unfortunately, it’s not been cleaned since it came into my sole possession.

Who cares, right? As long as it does its thing, I don’t care if it’s a little less than perfectly cleaned.

I had gotten to my big bro’s and was fixin’ to microwave me a plateful of breaded Costco chicken chunks when I popped open the microwave. After years of neglect, the inside had acquired a nice coating of various food products. Yeah, it was gross.

What was also gross was the fact that I lost $53.75, taking me under $400 for the year, leaving me at exactly $364.75. The won loss drops to 22-15, but, hey, at least the chicken chunks were tasty.

8 September 2006

Chicano Power: In case you don’t know, yours truly is a Chicano. More accurately, I’m Mexicano (What’s up Raza?), but naturalized into my Chicanoness. (Okay, radical sisters and brothers [fight the power], if my labels are outdated, please feel free to keep that information to yourself.)

Naturally, my big bro is also Chicano, but he was born here, as were my other siblings. That’s right, all of my sibs were born into their Americaness, but I had to take a test to get mine. Not a problem; I nailed that test.

The Mystery White Boy: I bring up the issue of labels because early into our game, a call came in to my big bro’s house. Nobody answered the phone when it rang. I mean, nowadays, who answers phones? There’s a whole list of people whom I’m trying to avoid (currently, about five pages long, single-spaced). We let the “machine” get it. (Have you ever thought about how weird it is to call your answering machine just “ the machine”?)

It was a white boy calling to see if we were having a poker game tonight. I didn’t recognize the voice, so I thought that I had better let my big bro listen to the message. I know that you're thinking that from the title of this section that I’m getting racial by calling the person on the phone a “white boy,” but that was how he self-identified. I’d tell you to take it up with him, but, again, he was a “mystery white boy.”

Chicken Chunks: Yeah, whatever the suggested serving size is, I at least quadrupled that mother tonight when I got to my big bro’s house.

Don’t be hateful; it was my only meal of the day. For the past few weeks, I've been back on my one-meal-a-day system. I don’t eat at all during the day because I just don’t have the time right now.

It’s just like being back in high school, when I was a wrestler and would have to go days at a time without eating in order to make weight for a match. You just sort of get used to it. Well, I do still occasionally have nightmares where I get a call from my old coach and he tells me that I have to make weight for a match. “But, Coach,” I tell him, “I graduated almost twenty years ago,” but he just tells me to get going.

Next thing that I know, I’m in a rubber suit (we used to call them “plastics” because that’s what they were made of) and sweats, running back and forth in the back of the wrestling room, feeling horrible, like I’m maybe on the verge of something tragic.

Magic Water: So, you may be wondering, how do I get through my days without any caloric intake? It’s easy.

What you do is take a 20 ml bottle of water, shove a green-tea bag in there (you know, for the healthy living), drop a caffeine pill in after the tea bag, and then shake the hell out of it until the pill dissolves and the green tea flavor covers up the bitter taste.

Then you use the first drink to wash down a second caffeine pill. That way, you get the initial hit of the caffeine (the sweet, sweet caffeine), and then you maintain the buzz by drinking from the miracle water.

Peanut Roca: After my Costco chicken chunk dinner, I felt that I was ready to snack at a poker-appropriate level.

I tend to be pro-sugar in all cases. A fine meal can be made, I assert, from PayDays and Mountain Dew. Another delightful meal involves Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Pepsi. Truthfully, everything goes well with Pepsi. For instance you can use Pepsi to wash down another Pepsi. That’s just good thinking.

Something that goes really well with Pepsi is Peanut Roca. Peanut Roca is a little miracle of flavor and texture, but I’m starting to suspect that I’m allergic to peanuts because I start with the coughing and the wheezing. And there’s this throat constriction thing that makes me feel like I’m taking in oxygen at about 64% of capacity. So what? You know, life is oftentimes about tradeoffs, and if I have to kick for the sake of Peanut Roca, that seems like a fair deal.

So there I was at the poker game, asphyxiating my way through hand after hand, but I didn’t care. Hmm, allergic reaction. Tasty.

Poker-Wise: I lost again, the second week in a row, and I had managed to avoid losing streaks since the end of June. As usual, it was Jesse and his bad beats that took a lot of my money. I mean, I only lost $41.25, and it could have been much worse, but it was still a drag.

15 September 2006

Keeping the Machine: I’m about as nerdy as you can get about altering my brain. I don’t smoke, drink, or partake of any of the drugs that are so easily available nowadays.

There are many reasons why, but mostly I just figure that if I have such a difficult time dealing with this version of reality, then I’ll probably be a disaster at dealing with an altered version. In all probability, I’ll “freak out,” as they say. Also, I was a wrestler in high school, and, with a couple of regrettable and embarrassing exceptions (drunk off of my ass at Hensley Lake and trying but failing to swim in about eighteen inches of water), I was really careful about making sure that I took care of the machine that was my body.

Not all of us are as protective of our bodies. Tonight at the game, I saw a truly breathtaking display of self-destructive behavior. Surge blew all of our minds by consuming, no lie, eighteen Coronas over the course of the night.

As unofficial co-host of the game, I provide all of the snacks and drinks, but I didn’t care that Surge was drinking his way through most of a case of Coronas; I was just shocked that a) a person could drink so much, b) that a person could drink so much and not die, and c) that a person could drink so much and not die and still play solid poker.

The Morning After: But the next day was a little rougher for Surge. Early the next day, he comes back to pick up his red Mustang (because there was no way that we were going to let him try to drive home; he probably would have spent three hours trying to get his key into the ignition). He looks half-tanked, still, and asks for a bottled water to help ease the wild pain in his brain. But he sure did have a good time the night before, so it all evens out.

Poker’s a Cruel Goddamn Game: I’m in for free and holding 7-4. A lousy hand, but I get to see a flop. The flop lands 8-6-5 rainbow and I've just made an eight-high straight, the second best possible hand.

Surge, however, also flopped a straight, but not the same one as me; his was to the nine because he was holding 9-7. I had made a monster hand, and it had turned out that I needed to see a nine (there were three left in the deck, giving me a 12.9% chance of hitting) to even just split the pot and get my money back. Yeah, it didn’t happen, and I lost a nice chunk of change on the hand.

But, come on, who’s going to let go of a flopped straight? At least I knew enough to not keep raising into him, and instead just called him down.

The Downhill Slide: And I’m still dropping money like crazy. Tonight’s total was -$60.25.

22 September 2006

The Birthday Dinner: Before we get to talk of the poker game, I want to talk about my homies. This was the week of my birthday, but the life’s so busy that sometimes observing those types of days can make me feel more anxious than usual (and I feel pretty anxious all of the time). I feel like so much time just flies away from me, so I can become a bit manic, like for the past twelve years.

But my big bro, cool guy that he is, doesn’t let me get away with running from days that should be acknowledged. He calls me early in the week to ask me to meet him and Bert for dinner.

I drive to Bert’s, about a forty-minute trip from where I live, and then he and I drive toward the restaurant, a place with some of the best Chinese food that I've ever had. When we get there, the hostess, a lovely young lady in a royal blue dress, takes one look at us and then escorts us toward the side room.

Weird. I should say that the main room is the one with the usual restaurant-sized tables, you know, the ones that seat about four people. The side room, down either some stairs or a ramp, is for larger parties, but we’re only going to be three for dinner.

I try not to make too much of it, though I’m pretty sure that the whole thing is about to get racial, but then she points us toward a table that already has a bunch of people already sitting around it. I’m shy around strangers so I instinctively put my head down as I near the table.

Because I’m mostly looking down, all I see is a bunch of Mexican dudes. Yup, at this point, I’m sure that this must be the communal beaner table that they use to keep us beaners out of sight of the decent white folks seated out in the main room.

I’m mortified about this cruel treatment (and I’m sure that it’s going to screw me up, to ballpark it, for anywhere from between three months and fourteen years), but too ashamed to complain. I’m just getting ready to sit down with these strangers and have one of the worst meals of my life.

It is only at the last second, as I reach for the back of the chair, that I look up see that those aforementioned Mexicans are really all of my poker homies.

It’s amazing how quickly one can go from deep tragedy to pure joy. I gave my buddies a what’s up, and then I sat down and told them the story about what had just happened. They all got a kick out of it.

The Exploding Diet Pepsi: We all know that the best can of soda is one that's been in the freezer and is on the verge of freezing, basically a self-contained soda slushy. That's just good livin', right there. The thing is, though, that there comes a point when the soda's been in the freezer just a tad too long. Then what we have on our hands, good people, is a burnt-caramel colored soda bomb.

Jesse pops that mother open, and up comes the fizz. And it keeps coming. And it keeps coming. At this point, panic set in, and Jesse put his hand over the top of the can, as if this would somehow stop the Diet Pepsi from issuing forth, but physics and chemistry were not on Jesse's side. Probably the thing to do would have been to have the can empty its contents on the tile floor because then it would have been easy to clean up. Remember, though, that Jesse had panicked. He stood up with the can and started running toward his kitchen counter, leaving a trail of soda in his wake. He also managed to get some of the soda on one of his nice dining room chairs, a chair with a light beige fabric seat, but he managed to avoid ruining his living room carpet, an even lighter beige. If I knew anything about the names of colors, here's where I could show off—the carpet was of a somethingish hue—but I don't know a goddamn thing about colors.

That might be surprising since I studied photography for so long, but I’m classically trained in black and white. I can tell you all about contrast and range and adjacency, but I can’t tell one blue from another.

It's a Boat: I'm holding A-10 and the flop comes A-A-10. Word up, I've just flopped a mother of a hand, and daddy's gonna get paid.

The last thing that you want to do with such a hand is scare anybody out by betting too aggressively or maybe by betting at all. If I make any bet, everybody will put me on just holding one ace, giving me trip aces (combining a board pair with a card of your own to make three of a kind).

I check the flop, and so does everybody else. The turn is junk and, trying to be a disciplined player, I check again, as does the rest of the table. Now I'm starting to get worried that nobody's going to make a hand and that I'm not going to get paid for my boat.

When the post-fifth street action came to me, I had thought about checking again, but what if we all check it through to the showdown? Then I won't make a dime.

I have to bet out, but the question is how much? If I bet the $5, I might get nothing but folds. If I don't bet enough, it will be pretty clear that I want to be called, and that will get me folds. I decide to bet $4, and I expect to get, maybe, one call, and that at least I'll make a little.

Bert, however, raises me $5. Thank Christ, I think, I'm going to make some money after all. I, of course, reraise, thinking that Bert will have just figured out that I'm holding a brutal hand and that whatever hand he thought was good enough clearly isn't. I don't think that he'll fold at this point; there's now $24 in the pot, so he's getting almost 5-to-1 if he calls.

Bert doesn't hesitate to make the last raise, $5, putting us both in for $19 on the last round. I call, fully expecting to get paid for my flopped boat after all. This was when Bert turned over his cards and showed his A-10.

Great, we both thought that we were holding winning hands, but all we did was get our money back. How's that for discipline, though? We both slow-played our flopped boats like heartless bastards until we each had thought that we were going to extract some money from one of our friends.

In Summary: I managed to lose another $28.50. I’m 0-for-September and have lost nearly $200 so far. Lovely.

29 September 2006

The Gift Card and the Caffeine: This is the week that I finally got a chance to use one of the many gift cards that I get at work for never missing a day. It’s lame that they think that a gift card is going to make me like the job more/hate the job less, and rather insulting, but, as with most of the world, nobody at work cares at all what I think. I mostly show up because I said that I would.

I knew exactly what I was going to get once I stepped inside of Target: Caffeine. I used to buy NoDoz when I first started artificially adjusting my level of wakefulness, there not being many choices on the market at that time, but NoDoz was and has remained pretty pricey.

Then I had discovered a few years ago that Target had been moving, along with NoDoz and Vivarin, a brand called Jet-Alert (, a much cheaper alternative with just as much caffeine. You can get about fourteen bottles of Jet-Alert for $50, the value of the aforementioned gift card, which means that you can get 840 pills, which, depending on the breaks, can last anywhere from a year to eighteen months.

I know that it might seem a little extreme to pill pop my way to coherence, but there’s just no other way. I started with the pills in grad school, when I had much too much to do and nowhere near enough time in which to do it: teaching a course (and all that that entails), taking courses (more, even, than my fellow grad students who weren’t even teaching were taking; in fact, one of my fellow grad students marveled at just that very thing; the problem was that I just really dug learning about stuff, and it would have hurt like hell to know that I was missing out), working on my thesis, writing my Masters Essay, and sending my book out to publishers.

To make the life even more stressful/exhausting, I hated the school that I was attending. I’m not kidding about the hate; I actually hated having to be there, so convinced was I that I had made a bad choice about schools (and I had had a wide range of schools from which to choose; just another thing to regret, I guess; I’m not good at much, but I’m a genius at regret) and that I had been burned in some dealings about which I had no clue until the dealings were done and there was no way to unburn.

All of this added up to the fact that I would sometimes go from 5:00 a.m. on Monday all the way past midnight on Wednesday (sometimes way past), which is about forty-four hours, without sleep. It was a nightmare, and without caffeine there’s no way that I would have been able to pull it off. Even with caffeine, I floated through the last fifteen hours in a semi-hallucinatory state. I know that that might sound like fun for the heads out there, but I can barely deal with reality (when I can deal with it at all), so that semi-hallucinatory state just made me feel uneasy and sort of sad.

I’m not pulling forty-four hour runs of wakefulness nowadays, but I seem to always have more going on than I am able to handle if I were to sleep like most human beings seem to. Just the reading takes up so much time; there’s so much great stuff out there that it seems unbearably tragic that I can’t get to it all.

Morrie and the Aspirin: Speaking of altered states, all this talk reminds of a story from my youth, specifically my senior year of high school. Morrie, one of my buddies from my mechanical drawing courses, one day announced that he had a headache. He sat right behind me, and he felt that his best option for curing his headache was not by taking the aspirin that he happened to have with him in the standard way: down the throat, chased with a drink from the fountain in the back of the class.

He felt that he could get the aspirin more directly into his blood stream if he snorted the aspirin and then absorbed it through his mucous membranes. This seemed like it would be an interesting experiment in contemporary medical practices, so I stopped working on my drawing and turned around to observe.

Morrie smashed up the aspirin, and lined it up on his desk, disco-style. He was a righty, so he sealed off his right nostril with his right hand and got down to business with his left nostril.

He snorted all of the crushed aspirin right up, which was damned impressive. Before the aspirin could work its healing powers, however, Morrie immediately turned a nice shade of red, and then his eyes started watering like mad. And then he sneezed aspirin all over his desk, and that shit went everywhere, like snow being pushed by a sudden burst of wind. It was one of the funniest things that I have ever seen.

I doubt that Morrie’s headache was gone, because that aspirin had been in his nose for, give or take, about half a second, but I can guarantee that at that point the last thing Morrie was thinking about was headaches. In a weird way then, I guess, the aspirin did work.

Ninja Style: But that’s not my only funny Morrie story. One day, as I walked toward the back of our class, Morrie called out my name and held up a five-pointed black ninja star in his right hand. I though that perhaps he wanted to show me his latest purchase so that I could admire its beauty. Then he cocked his arm and I saw that he was about to throw the star at me. I was standing about five feet away, easily in death range, so I ducked as quickly as I could. I’m not proud of this, but I may have yelled out in terror. No, I’m pretty sure that I did.

But Morrie wasn’t going for a finishing shot; he had never released the star. He was just being a dude who was messing around with another dude. Also, the star was one of those practice rubber ones.

I didn’t get mad. Morrie had “burned” me, as we said back then, and once my heart stopped trying to go kaboom, Morrie and I, and everybody else in class who had seen Morrie’s joke (basically, everybody), enjoyed a good laugh.

Projectile Style: But payback was delivered. Or maybe Morrie’s ninja star was the payback; all of this stuff went down over twenty years ago, so I can no longer be certain about the order of events.

I’ve got this thing about my name. Nowadays, along with going by Manuel (what I've gone by since childhood), I also go by Blas Manuel (because I just think that it sounds really classy). That’s it. No other iterations of my name are acceptable. Especially not acceptable is Manny.

Even as a young lad, I could never get down with that name. It didn’t sound pleasant to the ear (and I've always been concerned about the musical qualities of words), and, beyond that, the name seemed a tad bit too frivolous and common, and I’m way too serious a person to ever get mixed up in frivolity. Everybody of consequence in my life knows the deal. (No offense, of course, to all of the Mannys out there.)

And Morrie was a person of consequence; by the time that I started my senior year, we had been friends for two years, and I thought of him as a good friend, even though, except for our mechanical drawing classes, we inhabited two entirely different worlds: I was in the nerd classes and I was also a jock on our school’s top athletic team, and Morrie was a metal head, with the Iron Maiden and Judas Priest T-shirts and the requisite hairstyle.

But we were buddies. I had spent nights at his house and had met his hot mom. And, as a child of divorce, Morrie had a sweet deal: access to his mother’s awesome Corvette; more guitars than he could probably ever need, even if he went on a guitar smashing binge; and the craziest bedroom that I had ever seen. Every inch of his walls was covered with centerfolds, and his mother knew all about it. Yeah, having divorced parents sounds lovely.

I should say here that I had shortened everybody’s name in class; for example, Nathan had become Nate, and Matthew (Nate’s older brother) had become Matt. I had on occasion taken to eliding the second syllable of Morrie’s name and just calling him More. And I guess that Morrie had thought that that was what we were all now doing: giving each other nicknames.

But the nickname thing wasn’t reciprocal; I was dealing out nicknames, but I was not open to receive. I suppose that a nickname would have been acceptable if Morrie had come up with something cool—Big Daddy (I had hoped all through my young life that somebody would deem me worthy of this, the acknowledged nickname of all nicknames) or Ice (and this was before the rappers appropriated that word for their noms de rap)—instead of what he did come up with: Manny.

This was during wrestling season, when I was perpetually exhausted and starved and feeling like I was maybe dying a little bit, or at least damaging stuff in my body that might come in handy later, like my vitals or my brain or my heart. I had already passed out once in practice: just dropped to the mat while everything went swirly then dark. And then, near the end of the season, I almost went into heat stroke; I ended up being carried into the locker room while the athletic trainer was quickly summoned so that he could ensure that I didn’t die during wrestling practice, which probably would have led to bad publicity for my beloved Coyotes; also, there would have been paperwork, and I would have hated to be a bother.

So I was in a perpetually down mood. Not necessarily angry or grumpy, but touchy, somehow always on the verge of despair and full of existential dread.

And then Morrie calls me Manny.

Our mechanical drawing texts were pretty thick, at least two inches, and they were pretty heavy. My head, in my arms, was on my desk (because, as I stated previously, I was constantly exhausted), as I tried to concentrate on just surviving each miserable day painful minute by painful minute, but concentration was iffy because I was such a wreck.

I reached up, to where I knew my book was, and I turned around and winged it pretty hard at Morrie’s head. He ducked, and the book went slamming loudly into a wall at the back of the class.

Morrie looked shocked, and I matter-of-factly told him not to ever call me Manny again. Truthfully, though, I had aimed high, and the only way that the book would have hit Morrie would have been if he had somehow, in a momentary state of panic because he had seen the book in my hand and knew what I was about to do, stood up.

He was my friend, and I never would have wanted any harm to come to him. I was just in a bad state and had overreacted to what shouldn't have been a big deal. And we immediately moved past it, though I do feel regret as I type this now, more than twenty years after the fact.

And Then Morrie Disappears From My Life: But I graduate high school and immediately lose track of Morrie. I must have gone years without even thinking about him, which, now, writing this sentence, makes me a little sad, but that’s life, I guess. But then, maybe four years later (maybe more), at a Philip Glass performance at CSU, Fresno, as I walk toward my seat, I see, seated a few rows behind where my seat is, my old friend Morrie.

My metalhead friend with all of the guitars and the amps and the pedals, with the Metallica T-shirts, my friend who got to drive his mother’s Vette and keep centerfolds up in his room because he was a wounded child of what had to have been a bad divorce was at a Philip Glass concert. I was so happy to see him.

This was a few minutes before the performance was to begin, but Morrie stood up and came out to the aisle. We tried to catch up as quickly as we could, but there wasn’t nearly enough time. Of course there wasn’t. Life is cruel that way, almost as if it were designed to cause you sadness, longing, and grief. We shook hands, as guys do, and we went to our respective seats.

After the concert, there was a crush of people toward the exits, and I never saw Morrie. I haven't seen him since.

What Happened to My Chips?: But lets get off of all of that tragic stuff.

I'm up about $40. Not great, but not bad. I look down at my hand: A-J clubs, so I bet the $5. Ivan raises me $1, and I call. Even if I'm way behind in the hand, I'm getting 11-to-1 to call, so I don’t really have a choice.

The flop is K-4-3. Ivan bets and I call. The turn is a five, a miss for my hand, and there’s a max bet from Ivan and a call from me.. An ace lands on the river, so I've made top pair, but I’m not completely enamored with my hand. Still, when Ivan bets, I've got no choice but to call.

I had given Ivan too much credit. I thought that he had made the straight on the turn when a five landed because he was holding 2-6 for the 6-5-4-3-2 straight. He was actually holding 2-3 and had made the wheel. In fact, he had hit runner runner for the wheel. He had called my post-flop bet with bottom pair-bottom kicker. After the turn, he had bet out with bottom pair. A $32 hand, $16 of which I had contributed myself, and my A-J loses to 3-2. If Ivan weren’t such a good friend of mine, I’d probably poison one of his Red Bulls.

The Last Hand of the Month: I’m getting stomped at this point, down almost $70. I’m relieved that the night and the month are almost over.

I just want to look down at two worthless cards so that I can fold and get the hell out of there. No such luck: Pocket tens. I bet $4 and Arizona calls. The flop misses me and lands queen-high. I could just check and hope for a cheap showdown, but, like a schmuck, I bet the $5, a bet that Arizona quickly calls. I bet the turn, another miss, and he calls. I bet the river, yet another goddamn miss, and he calls. Arizona had had Q-J and had flopped top pair. A legit hand, and I can't feel too bad about losing, though I didn't exactly feel good because I had pumped $19 into the pot when I could have perhaps not lost so much.

It Was Unpleasant: I go 0-5 and lose $222.50 for the month. I had hoped to have a good month and build up the YTD total with which I had started September, +$364.75, perhaps even getting the total to a little over $600, which would me give three months and a not unreasonable chance at reaching my yearly goal for poker profits: $1,000. Instead, I've put myself in a situation in which I have to make $854.75 in those three months, a near impossibility because of the high quality of the game in which I play.


Great read, glad to see the Poker Report is back