Leave It in the Truck: The November 2006 Poker Report

(Editor’s Note: Not bad. It's only ten days since I posted the last Poker Report. I think that we're all shocked. At this rate, I'll catch up in no time. Unless, you know, I don't.) 

3 November 2006

The Beanie Has No Powers:
So I'm wearing that poker beanie again, but that thing is worthless. Nobody’s scared, and, worst of all, it turns out that the dumb thing’s cheaply made. It’s gone saggy and keeps flopping over to the left. I had to keep doing that head flick thing that people do when confronted with uncooperative headwear.

(Editor's Note for Language Nerds: If there are two words that are unpleasant when used in concert, it’s saggy and flopping. At least I didn’t use droopy.)

Everybody's a Critic: I'm making the calls to gather the poker players to my big bro's for the game. I had already called Bert, and he had given me the rundown on whom he thought was coming. One person who he thought would be missing the game was Ivan, who would also probably be missing next week's game as well, and was only a "probably" for the week after that.

I decide that I should put in a call to Ivan just to check in. He’s one of my homies, and I want to make sure that everything’s okay with him. We chat for a little bit, but then the conversation takes a turn for the worst when Ivan asks if I'm playing a lot of on-line poker lately because I'm four months behind on the Poker Reports.

(Editor’s Note: Yes, we all know that, at this point, I’m about eighteen months behind. But this conversation took place back when four months seemed like a long time. )

It hurt, man. There I was, calling because I wanted to make sure that he was cool, and he attacks me. Well, “attack” is way too strong a word, and Ivan did laugh while asking his question, but I’m just sensitive enough to be hurt by the most innocent of queries.

Deuces: I'm holding pocket deuces. Usually, they don't get better after the flop. Every card that isn't a deuce hurts because you could theoretically lose to a pair of threes.

I bet $4 in order to get the money that’s already in the pot. Everybody folds. I see the flop anyway, just out of curiosity.

What lands? Two deuces. Which give me four of a kind. I would have made so much money on that hand, but, instead, I made nearly nothing. That pretty much sums up my night.

I lose $79.50, and my really bad streak continues.

10 November 2006

Save It for the Holidays: As we sat down to play, I noted the make-up of the game. Two sets of brothers, an uncle and a nephew. Trying to take each other's money.

Remember when he took your Tonka Truck when you were seven? It's like that, only much more painful.

I said, just to make sure that it didn't get ugly and that fisticuffs weren't exchanged, and, further, to acknowledge the part of the year that we were about to enter, "Okay, let's save the resentment and the recrimination for the holidays.”

Tension, my man, was what I was trying to avoid, and it worked. I can safely report that nothing untoward happened at the game between any of the people who are related.

I'm Like a Trained Animal: I used to do a bit whenever we got down to my big bro and I heads-up in a hand. I would say, "Brother against brother…it's Biblical," and, being the opposite of devout, I had no idea about what the hell I was talking. I stopped doing the bit when I could sense that everybody was waiting for me to do it; I would feel their eyes, and I would stare determinedly at the table. I’m not a dancing monkey.

Finally, after feeling all of that anticipation month after month, I caved, but now I do the bit ironically/detachedly, sort of like a trained bear on a unicycle; yeah, he's got the bike going and he's got on his funny little hat, but you just know that the bear wants to kill itself. That's me, except without the funny little hat.

A Semi-New Audience: At this point, the poor bastards in the poker crew have heard my lame jokes/observations once a week for almost two years. It's a miracle that nobody's hit me with a chair or thrown me through a window.

Lupe, however, is semi-new to the game. He had played once, but that was more than eighteen months ago, so he probably hadn't heard much of my material and he probably wouldn't have much recall of the stuff that he had heard because, let’s face it, it probably wasn’t that good to begin with.

Sweet. It's like taking your stale material on the road, but, instead, the road came to me.

The problem, though, was in knowing how blue I could work. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that cussing is a sure way to spice up any bit, but Lupe, being Jesse's uncle, was more than a few years older than the rest of us, and I didn't want to offend.
I sent out some tester words in a few sentences and looked for Lupe's reaction. He didn't look shocked or mortified. I started doubling up on it, and he stayed with me. I decided to let it all hang out and strung together some of your top-shelf obscenities, and Lupe, cool guy that he is, seemed to pick up what I was laying down.

Fruit, Screw It, Why Not?: I'm at Costco, hooking it up with the snacks and the drinks. You know, the classics: chips, candy bars, etc. I'm cruising up and down the aisles, though, and I see a new product. One of the joys of being in Costco is the little thrill that you get when they've got something new. That's why you'll see people who you know came in only for a few items walking up and down just about every aisle.

I, myself, always make sure to check out the tool section. I don't really need tools, I don't know how to use most of them, and some of them make me feel bad about myself, but I like to feel manly while I'm eyeballing a dual slide compound miter saw, like maybe I'll finally build that storage shed for which I've been hankering.

(Editor’s Note: That, people, was the first time that I ever used the word hankering in a sentence.

How'd it feel? It was okay, I guess, but I thought that it would be more thrilling. Another of life's little disappointments.)

The new product was in the snacks section, so I was thinking some new type of chip. Nowadays, there's no flavor that you can't attach to a corn or a potato chip, so it could have been something really cool. Truffle and banana. Cigarette butt and kimchi. Peyote and strawberry shampoo.

(Editor’s Note: I just came up with a great idea. How's this for a mind-blower: a corn chip that tastes like a potato chip? I can just see the Doritos bag now: "New Potato Chip Flavor." Some little kid's head is going to explode.)

Nope, not a new chip. They're bags of dried-fruit trail mix. Ordinarily, I would have rejected this product out of hand. At one time, I may even have cursed its existence. But some of my homies are all about the healthful living nowadays, and I'm nothing if not sensitive to that. I figured that I would pick up a bag, set it atop the snack table, and watch as everybody pretended not to see it as they went after the Red Vines and the Pay Days, but people actually dug in there and put in some good work on the bag of trail mix. I had some myself, and, truth be told, it wasn't as nasty an experience as I thought that it'd be. It looks like there's going to be a new snack in the rotation.

(Editor’s Note: I almost entitled this month's Poker Report Fruit, Screw It, Why Not?: The November 2006 Poker Report, but I decided at the last minute that it might be a bit on the coarse side. Yes, basically, I chickened out.)

Have You Heard of This Miracle Drink?: So I came off of regular Pepsi. The calories, dude, the calories. When you're drinking four or five a day (mostly for the caffeine buzz, but also for the nearly perfect flavor) it gets to be a bit much. I don't want to get that far into it, but I'll give you one word: puffiness.

I switched, then, to Diet Pepsi. That stuff is foul, but it's tolerable with food; on it's own, not so much. What to do, then, if one is thirsty, but not hungry? Easy: just make yourself eat something.

So the drink’s miraculous quality is that it allows you, nay, forces you, to eat and have an excuse for tat eating. Beautiful.

(Editor’s Note: And that, people, was the first time that I ever used the word nay in a sentence.

How'd it feel? Meh.)

Sideways: I had gone 2-8 in the previous ten games and lost nearly $300. I don’t care at all about the money (and not because I have a whole hell of a lot [because I don’t], but just because I never have), but only about what the money represents: the fact that I’m not playing too well nowadays.

Tonight may have been the beginning of the turnaround. I made $59.50 tonight, my best night since the end of July.

17 November 2006

Time Gets Us All: And it was looking like we would only be playing four-handed because one of the poker crew was in China (I kid you not, probably stealing organs, or something), another one just had a kid (though I’m not really sure what his baby could possibly need him for; I’m a firm believer that if you really want to mar the child, you need to start ignoring it early, you know, to build up the resentment that will carry it through it’s teenage years), and another one has started to miss more games than he makes. He doesn’t want to admit it, but I’m pretty sure that it’s love.

Just Roll On In, Brother: As I’ve stated previously, Surge doesn’t have a cell phone. We don’t have a way of inviting him or even of letting him know where the game might be taking place. I mean, it’s almost always at my big bro’s or at Bert’s, mostly at my big bro’s, but you just never know. And the game, for various reasons, doesn’t always start at the same time. Most of the time it does, but you could theoretically show up to an empty house, wait around for a little while, and then leave, only to have everybody arrive fifteen minutes after you had left.

But here comes Surge. He just took a shot that we’d be playing at my big bro’s and drove on in after work. He works until ten, and from where he works it’s a twenty-minute drive to my big bro’s house. That means that this cat was committed to playing.

That means only one thing: he is or is going to be a regular. Nice.

How Does It Feel?: Jesse’s the master of the river suck-out, which is when a player gets the miracle card at the end that cracks your leading made hand. Jesse deals out these bad beats because he gets involved in a lot of hands and won’t throw away his cards if he’s got any semblance of a draw.

If you want to see me go out of my head, be around when Jesse screws me with one of these beats. I’m a logical person and I’m a math person. I run the numbers and I think about the progression of the hand, and I can hardly ever find a good reason for Jesse to stay in a hand against me, especially since I only go if I’ve got something good.

Again and again, though, there he is, putting his chips in as a huge underdog. But tonight, he was at the receiving end of a bad beat at the hands of yours truly.

Well, technically speaking, it wasn’t a bad beat; with the amount of money in the pot and the outs that I had, I really had no choice other than to call a post fourth-street bet.

And, it’s a miracle, I hit one of my outs. Not one to let such a moment go, I asked Jesse how it felt. I’m classy that way.

Damn It: The winning streak lasted exactly one game. I lost $43.00, outing me at 1-2 for the month.

22 November 2006

Next Time, Just Leave It in the Truck: For a long time, Jesse had been convinced that he had left a brown jacket at my big bro’s house. He knew that he had left it there. Knew it like how you know that a relationship is over: absolutely.

As one of the two official hosts, my big bro looked everywhere for that jacket, but no luck. As unofficial host and official game runner (My motto: I run a clean game.), I looked for that mother, too, but I also had no luck.

So it sort of became a thing. Not a huge thing, certainly. But, clearly, a thing. In his mind, Jesse had taken a nice jacket to my big bro’s house, and then the jacket had disappeared. There’s just no way for him to think of this as anything other than a thing.

We started joking that it was Jesse’s fault for leaving behind a nice jacket at a house full of Mexicans. Hey, you probably shouldn’t bring any valuables in with you.

But, seriously, my big bro and I both told him that it wasn’t possible for the jacket to have gotten lost. No way. We even questioned whether, in fact, Jesse had really worn the jacket to my big bro’s house, but Jesse was sure of it.

So we were at an impasse. Nobody was making too big a deal out of it, but it was out there, hanging in the ether.

And then, tonight, Jesse walks in wearing a brown jacket. Having never seen that jacket before and being just generally well-raised, I politely comment on how nice the jacket looks.

That was when Jesse laughingly told me that this was, in fact, the jacket that he had thought that he had left at my big bro’s house.

It had turned out that his special lady had taken the jacket to the dry cleaners months before and hadn't been in a rush to pick it up. So, all of the time that Jesse had spent thinking that his jacket had disappeared, the jacket had been at the cleaners.

Two Observations: It’s not brown, dude, it’s beige. the jacket is beige. Brown is tough. You're outdoorsy, a bit of a badass, at one with the natural world. Beige is beige. You're a beige person in a beige world living a beige life. You're measuring your life out in coffee spoons. And the spoon, somehow, is also beige.

The jacket’s not that “nice”: kind of what you’d expect a beige jacket to look like, all nylony and snug, though the snugness may have had to do with time, with how it gets the best of us all.

The Biggest Hand That I’ve Ever Seen: Surge has no fear. Bets will keep coming at him, bets that would push many people off of a decent hand, but he’ll call. Hell, he’ll even raise when the other guy is doing everything that he can to represent a strong hand, maybe even an unbeatable hand. Jesse is a chasing machine; if he’s got a draw, no matter how unlikely it is that his cards will come, he’s usually in to the bitter end.

The flop lands 9-9-K. Surge bets $4, Jesse raises $5, but then so does Shawn Gee. I fold because I’m not an idiot and because I got no piece of that flop. There are some more folds and then the action’s back to Surge. He’s in for $4, but now he’ll have to call another $10; I figure he’ll fold and save his chips for later. Instead, he makes the last $5 bet. After the flop, then, there’s $57 worth of action.

You don’t have to be a genius to know what’s going on. At least one of these dudes has a nine and has made a set, somebody’s got pocket kings and flopped a boat. Who knows what the third guy has? Maybe he’s got the other nine; maybe pocket aces and is hoping to catch up later in the hand, but he’d have to know that he’s already beat. It’s highly unlikely that anybody has pocket nines and flopped four of a kind because then there’d be no reason for a third guy to be in the hand because there’s nothing that he could be holding that would allow him to continue in the hand.

The turn is a worthless card, but each of the three players goes in for $10 each. That’s $87, and we still have to see the river and the action to follow.

At this point, if not earlier, you’d have thought that one of the two guys holding a nine would have figured out that one of the other two guys had to have had pocket kings. You probably figured that the other guy also had a nine but that you him out-kicked. Otherwise there wouldn’t have been nearly as much action.

And there was a flopped a kings full of nines boat, and it was Shawn Gee who was holding it.

There Needs to Be a Rule: Almost immediately after raking in the $140+ in chips, Shawn Gee announces that he has to leave at 1:00 a.m. How convenient; he had been down about $100 before he got healthy with that one hand, and now, out of nowhere, he’s got to bounce.

As the official game runner, I officially call bullshit on that, bro. Common courtesy dictates that you announce early (as you're sitting down is best) if you have to leave before the game wraps up. Otherwise, you couldd play ultra-conservatively, wait for a huge hand, get your money in and win a big pot, and then sprint out the door. If you want to kill a game, that’d be the way to do it.

We had a related problem with KayJay, who hasn’t been seen at the game all that much since he became a father.

(My theory on that is that there’s not much that a parent can do for a baby except to try to keep it off of eBay, so just relax and keep living your life. I guess, though, that I’m in the minority on that one; whatever.)

KayJay, though wasn’t bouncing early; he’d say that he had to leave at a certain time, say midnight, but if he was getting his ass beat, he’d keep hanging around and hanging around until he made his money back. Then he’d leave. I’m talking almost immediately. Not classy, my man, not classy.

It’s Unpleasant: Also not classy is how badly I’m playing nowadays. I lose $43, taking my overall record to 25-24, the closest I’ve ccome to a losing record in a while. I’m also up only $11.50 for the year, which means that I’m also on the verge of running a defecit really late in the year.


23 November 2006

(It’s How We Roll, Bonus Poker Reporting: I’m writing this on the day after the game, which, if you look at the date at the top of this post, means that it’s Thanksgiving as I type this. [For what was I thankful this year? Nothing. Not a thing. Well, nobody shot me, so that's something. As my man, Fitzgerald, says, “{L}ife is essentially a cheat.”]

So, I'm at the kitchen table, relaxing and enjoying the family atmosphere, when Christopher, my nephew, calls me out to play some heads-up poker.

Hell, I taught this kid how to play when he was seven. Yes, I taught him all of the major skills, and he is pretty badass for being such a young player, but I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to let him school his uncle, as we say on the street.

But then he won the first match in one hand when he flopped a king-high diamond flush. Then he won the next match, but this time it took him two whole hands.

While it is every teacher’s avowed hope that his students will surpass him, I’d rather be stabbed to death with the business end of a rusty potato peeler than let my nephew keep kicking my ass.

I fought back and evened up the match, but we weren’t able to decide a winner because my big bro arrived for the festivities, and we decided to play three-handed.

After my big bro had joined in the game, Christopher made mention of the fact that his middle school principal had spoken to him about how he had heard about how good his uncles [my big bro and I] were at poker.

That’s right: the De Lunas have got a rep out on the street, that rep being so strong that a principal will discuss gambling with a middle schooler.)

24 November 2006

I Just Wanted Some Food: It's the day after Thanksgiving and I'm driving from Fresno, where I had to transact a transaction involving my book. During the transacting of the transaction, we started talking about "my novel." If you ever want to feel stupid and ridiculous and mortified, just use the phrase "my novel."

While I'm at the meeting, I keep getting texts. It'd be rude to check them, so I figure that I'll look at them on the way out of the place. After the meeting and before I can check them, though, I get a call from my big bro. Have I heard anything about a poker game for tonight?

We had decided to play early this week because the holiday, we thought, would make it difficult to pull the game together for Friday. But here Friday was, and people were interested in playing. I hadn't heard anything from anybody about a game. I had gotten a text from Shawn Gee and I had told him to call my big bro.

I tell my big bro that I hadn't heard anything, and, since Bert was supposed to be busy, that we probably couldn't pull a game together on such short notice. After the call's over, I check those texts. Each one is from Shawn Gee, and they're all about poker. I call him and tell him to check in with my big bro, and I leave it at that.

I think that that's the end of it. I get ready to head to the town in which I have my gig so that I can work at my weekday apartment. I'm on a road that's a shortcut to that town when I get a call from Bert that sucks me into the game. It’s happening. It’s at Shawn Gee’s. And it’s starting shortly.

I Was the Hunted: We're playing Omaha and I've flopped the bottom-most set: deuces. There's also a jack and a ten on the board. I bet the $5, trying to represent that I've got a mother of a hand. What happens? I get four callers. Four. Christ.

With what's on the board and the four callers, it's easy to see what's going on. Nobody has a really strong hand, otherwise, there would have been at least one raise along the way. They do, however, have draws. Maybe somebody has top pair with a good kicker. Maybe somebody's got an over pair to the board. Maybe somebody made two pair. Maybe somebody's on a straight draw.

When you run the numbers, you see that there are a ton of cards that can hurt me and that my hand was at it's strongest after the flop and that any card that lands, except for the case deuce, will probably hurt me.

I know that I'm in the lead, and so does the rest of the table, but they're all trying to chase me down. The only thing that gives me some hope that my hand may stand up is the fact that some of these players are probably after the same cards, which means that they are holding each other's cards, which means that this increases the odds that they won't land.

The turn is a rag, a card that doesn't help anybody toward a straight or a flush or toward any other hand that will defeat mine. My instinct is to check when it comes to me so that I don't dump any more money into a pot that is going to get stolen from me, but if I'm going to get rivered, they're all going to have to pay for the privilege, and, who knows, I might even get some folds.
Nope. I bet the $5, and I get four callers. That's $50 in the last two rounds, which is a pretty sizeable pot, which is nice if I win it but which will also get me calls after the river. If I bet another $5, whoever acts behind me will be getting at least 11-to-1 on his money to call. And if a card that hurts me lands, then I will get nothing but raises. Raises that, because of all of the money that got in, I will have to call

The river lands, another nothing card, but I'm not sure anymore if my cards are good. When it comes to me, I check, as does everybody else. I turn my cards over and say, "I've got a set of deuces. I knew that I was ahead, but they never got better."

What happens? Everybody else mucks his cards. I won it. The only thing that makes sense is that everybody did indeed have each other's cards.

That's Gangster: I told these cats when I first got there that I had to cash out and leave by 12:30. I had to be at work on Saturday by 7:45 a.m., but I can half-ass my way through that, no problem; in fact, I'm typing this at work while simultaneously taking care of my official business. It’s easy when you stopped caring forever ago.

What going to the gig so early does, though, is leave me half-exhausted for the rest of the day, and then I can't be as efficient at whatever it is that I need to get done. I'm kind of a nut for efficiency nowadays because I'm trying to use each waking minute (that's what I call them) as much as I can.

Why? First, I've got a gig that just steals and steals time from me, so whatever I've got left at the end of the day or on the weekend can't be wasted. Second, there's death.

So, since we had already played on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I didn't really feel like I could play as late as usual. I was only really leaving an hour before my regular time, but I was also about fifteen minutes closer to where I work, so I'd get close to six hours of sleep, instead of the usual four-and-a-half hours, which, trust me, makes a great difference.

The problem about my needing to leave at 12:30 is that I don't have on a watch or have my cell phone to hand, and I have to keep asking people for the time. I take a little snack break in Shawn Gee’s kitchen and, when I come back, I ask what time it is. Arizona says, "12:50," and I start springing from my chair while I say "Goddamn it." Jesse had been pestering me to stick around past 12:30, but I had managed to fend him off. Jesse's in people management, and he's used to getting his way, but not tonight, dude.

At least that was the plan, but through my own carelessness, Jesse had gotten his way

Damn It (Again): So not only do I run late, but I don’t make enough of a comeback to wipe out my November deficit. Sure, I won for a change, which, trust me, was nice, but only $10.50. I ended up going 2-3 for the month and losing $65.25. At least the YTD total stayed on the positive side: $22.

Yes, that’s right: after eleven months, I’ve made $22. I’m proud to say that I’m averaging a profit of $2 a month or, with my record of 26-24, 44 cents a game.

I don’t even want to know what the hourly is on that.