I Ain’t Really Drowning: The January 2007 Poker Report

(Editor’s Note: Okay, this time it did take me two weeks to add a new Poker Report. I apologize with great profusion.)

5 January 2007

I'm Not Proud: I was stuck at the gig until about 3:45 p.m., and I hadn't had a chance to even start the day's reading. When I got to the crib, I immediately got online to try to make a dent before I had to haul ass to Madtown to set up for the game. I figured that if I got there by 7:45 for the 8:00 start time that I could probably get everything put together in time.

I also figured that I could play a little online poker in the background, you know, kind of as a warm-up. I play little ninety-person tournaments, and I can usually make at least the top eighteen, which means that I at least break even, and the tournaments, if I do reasonably well or even make the final table, only take a little over two hours.

Tonight's game was pretty tough, though: solid players from start to finish and nobody made any really foolish mistakes. I made the final table, cool, but that took almost three hours. When we did get down to the final nine, I was the chip leader, which was nice, but I started watching the clock and knew that it might get iffy on my getting out of my apartment at 7:20 p.m., the latest that I could leave and still get the game up and running.

I keep waiting for a hand with which I can push all-in and not mind busting out, which is really all that you're ever really looking for anyway. In a ninety-person tournament, after all, eighty-nine people have to lose, so you just want to be able to live with yourself if you're one of those eighty-nine.

But I'm not even getting cards for that. We're down to the final five without my having played too many hands, and I'm in fifth. Finally, I get A-6. Not a great hand, but five-handed, certainly a hand with which one can push. I go all-in, which I would never do, but I am trying to wrap the game up. I get two callers, so I'm pretty sure that I'm beat. One of the callers had K-J and flopped a king. Nice. I might be able to leave shortly, but then I caught a six on the turn and another one on the river, and won with trip sixes.

So now I'm in even deeper. Not only did I win the hand, I knocked both players out, we're now down to the final three, and I'm the chip leader.

Great. It's been a while since I've won a tourney, though I have finished second and fourth in the past few days, and this could probably be my best chance.

But I have to get out of there, so I keep pushing all-in, but I can't get a call. Finally, I lose all of my chips, but it's also 7:36 and I've got a forty-minute drive ahead of me. I'm going to be terribly late, but those Speed Limit signs are more like suggestions than anything else. They should probably include the suffix -ish at the end of each speed limit. You know, instead of 55, it should say 55ish.

It Was Impressive: One of my boys had some knee work done a few weeks ago. Knee work is manly: it means that you wrecked your knees, probably playing sports. You've got to respect that.

Having your tonsils taken out when you're in your forties is not manly. Uh, mostly it just makes you seem like you're about five years old, give or take two years. But the post-surgery life sounds like a complete drag, especially when it drags on for two weeks and you have to watch your family get down on Christmas and New Year's food while you're most emphatically not. On the upside, my newly-free-of-his-tonsils homie did lose quite a bit of weight.

IT was at this point in his story that he made mention of the fact that the doctor did say that my homie's tonsils were the biggest that he had ever seen. Of course, as highly educated and sophisticated gentlemen, we had to make several coarse comments.

I avoided vulgarity and instead said something about his tonsils being so big that they were actually able to touch his heart, which I thought was pretty funny.

It's Gone Meta: Ice, the most recent addition to our game, just started reading my website, which is always nice. I write my little posts, put them up there…and then nothing happens. I know that I've got a few readers here and there (for a while this summer, I was hitting in Taiwan, and I had twenty German readers back in April, when I guess that they celebrate their Chicano Poetry Month), and I do get an occasional e-mail from a reader (hey, K., how's life in the Boogie Down?), but, most of the time, you don't really know, so it's another thing about which to feel insecure. I'll add it to the long, long list.

When I'm playing poker with the crew, I hardly ever talk about the fact that I'm a poet. I mean, who cares, really? They don't want to hear it, and I don't blame them. If there's anything more tragic than being a poet, it's having to talk about how tragic being a poet is.

But, like I said, Chill's been reading the website and just found out that I was nominated last year for that NBCC Award thing. He congratulated me, I got a little embarrassed, and then I got racial. I said, Yeah, but they gave it to the white man.

Okay, don't get all bent out of shape and delete me from your Bookmarks. Mr. Gilbert's book is just lovely, a real goddamn collection, and I didn't mind getting my ass stomped by him, nor would I have minded getting stomped out by any of my other fellow nominees; I just like to pretend every once in a while that I’m one of those militant persons who makes everything racial.

The light turns red before you get into the intersection? They're trying to keep you down. They're out of printer paper at Office Depot? Racists. When you go to buy a house, they quote you a higher than normal price, say the entire development's sold out, and then suggest other, more diverse neighborhoods? Okay, yeah, I'll give you that one.

We Keep It Real: Arizona and Ice busted out and left. We're down to what I'm going to have to call, with Ivan's seeming abandonment of the game for a full and rich life, the Classic Four. We do a quick chip count, and two of us are down slightly, and two of us have a profit. Who was ahead? Yours truly, and my big bro. That's right: the De Lunas. I know you feel it.

That was when I said, That's right. Me and my big bro are representing for the De Luna family name. Then, to make it real real, we did a fist tap. (And, yes, I know that that the first sentence of this paragraph is not in the grammatically standard form, that I'm using the objective form of the first-person personal pronoun [me] when I should be using the nominative form [I] and that I should put my big bro first, but it's not going to sound hardcore to say, My big bro and I...)

Double Up on It: Remember how 2006 had been a catastrophe? How I had won a mere $97.75 after fifty-four games and at least 250 hours? Well, in the first game of the year, I pulled $199.00, doubling with about five hours work what had taken me a whole year to accumulate.

Those facts are both embarrassing and encouraging. Embarrassing in that I had posted such a low number for 2006 that was so easy to surpass, but encouraging in that I won so much in one game, so much, in fact, that it set a new record for a nightly grand total.

Maybe it’s all worked out now. I say that hopefully because I don’t see that I did anything all that much differently than before.

12 January 2007

Frozen Solid: I try to keep up with the news of the day, and it's an eventful world right now, so there's a lot to read. Also, I try to write. All in all, it makes for pretty full post-day-at-the-factory evenings.

Still, I try to find time in order to work on self-improvement. I'm not trying to become a better person—more giving, more understanding (most people, it needs to be said, are a bitter disappointment [you know who I’m talking about] and they are worthy of very little understanding; contempt, probably, but not understanding), more open-hearted (my heart is either dead or frozen solid, and either one’s fine by me)—I'm trying to become a really good poker player.

I’m also working on becoming pretty great at desk drums, and I can lay down a solid rhythm if I really concentrate.

Deuces: KayJay, my mortal enemy, bets, everybody folds, and I call with deuces. The flop comes J-8-8, and I'm not too worried: he wouldn't bet a hand with an 8 in it and he probably doesn't have a jack. I also know that he gets a thrill out of trying to outplay me at our game, but not as big as the thrill that I get out of outplaying him. Yes, we have an utterly dysfunctional relationship, but it’s been going strong for years, so it’s not really fair to judge it from the outside.

After that flop KayJay bets $5 and I call. The turn is a nine, a card that I can’t imagine helped his hand at all, but KayJay’s going to follow through on his play and bets the $5. This time, I raise it up another $5. He calls. The river's a king.

That king at the end scares me. Maybe he was playing overcards to the board and a king is definitely a card that a player may hang on to and bet with. Now I have doubts that my deuces are good, so, when KayJay checks, I check behind and I turn them over with a sense that I may now be beat.

But my deuces are good. I had made a good read and, thanks to KayJay’s need to show me up, I got paid on the hand.

What, I'm the Welfare Office Now?: There's this guy who now and again wants to have the game at is crib. Cool, why not? Bert, my big bro, and I sometimes need a day off from being the excellent hosts that we are.

So, if this guy really wants to be a host, shouldn’t he do it up proper? Can’t this miserable bastard bust out with some snacks? Because if you don’t, you're going to have a lot of guys wondering what the deal is.

Not that you're expecting a lot, but something. Anything.

So the first time that this dude hosted a game, he had nothing for us to partake of. It wasn’t pleasant. I wasn’t the host, however, so it really wasn’t my problem.

I couldn’t help thinking, though, that it was my problem. As the game runner, a founding member, an unofficial co-host, the official communications officer, and the general caretaker of our game I think that one of my duties is to assure that our game remains as healthy and as fun as is possible.

And it’s not fun to see that your host does not have food or drinks out for your delectation.

So when this dude wanted to host another game, I had to bring up the snacks situation. I e-mailed him that I would supply his house with an appropriate spread: a big-ass bag of pretzels, a 4-pound tub of Red Vines, and a big thing of peanuts, all purchased at Costco.

I figured that that would have us covered.


Plates, Perhaps?:
I show up to the guy’s house with the aforementioned snack products, but I hadn't counted on one last way that this guy could find to be a disappointing host: he didn’t have plates out.

We ate off of napkins. It was a delight.

In the Same Vein: Also a delight was the fact that I pulled $108.50. I’m 2-0 now, and I've made $307.50 in those two games, my best two-game total ever.

19 January 2007

(Editor’s Note, 29 April 2008: My notes for this section are rather sketchy, so the below section heading and the following lonely sentence are all that I have. It’s too bad because it sounds like it may have had the potential to be quite funny.)

Probably, This Is Going to Be Gross: They say that you only really rent a Diet Pepsi.

(Editor’s Note, 29 April 2008: See; that had funny written all over it.)

Eight @€&%$£# Percent: It's Arizona versus Big Daddy.

I’m Big Daddy, and I've got A-10 and so I call Arizona’s $3 bet. The flop comes A-A-X. I've got trip aces with an overcard. That's hardcore and I think that I'm going to get paid. I could bet it right away, but Arizona would put me on one ace and I wouldn't get any action.

I decide to slow play it, as if the flop actually missed me and those aces on the board scare me. Sure enough, Arizona bets another $3. I raise him $5, and he calls. The turn is a seven, which I don't spend too much time thinking about; if Arizona was betting early and calling check-raises, I'm thinking he has face cards, a face pair, or is thinking that I'm on a complete bluff. I bet the $5, but then Arizona re-raises another five.

Son of a bitch, now I'm thinking that he has an ace of his own and this might come down to a battle of kickers. Mine's a good one, but there are three better ones. I have to call, though, because there's already $37 in the pot. The river doesn't pair the board, so I end up with what I started with: trip aces with a solid kicker.

I'm not going to bet anymore, hoping for a free showdown, but Arizona bets the five. There's $47 in the pot now, and I don't really see a way to fold so late in the hand. I call, and Arizona turns over his pocket sevens. On the river, when that seemingly meaningless seven hit the board, he had made a full house—sevens full—that had counterfeited my hand.

Let's do some math: After the flop, Arizona was way behind in the hand. Only two cards, sevens, helped him, so he was 9% to hit by the river, all of which means that I was roughly an 11-to-1 favorite to win the hand.

It felt like a little bit of my soul had died when he pulled in the chips, $26 of which had come from my own private stacks.

It wasn't too hard to figure out that I had boned myself, if I may use such indelicate language. If I hadn't gotten fancy with my post-flop check-raise and instead come out with a $5 bet—an obvious-enough play that will make one money—then he would have had to have laid down his sevens. My check-raise means that a $5 call now gets him a shot at $11 instead of at $5. Furthermore, he might think that my check-raise is a play at the pot and not a genuine measure of the hand that I may be holding.

Still, it was an iffy call, one that he probably shouldn’t have made, and even after he had made his full house, I still had seven outs—the last ace, any of the three tens, or any of the three cards that paired the other flopped card—which meant that I had roughly had a 14% chance to out-boat him at the river.

Still, if I don't make my super-fancy deluxe play, I don't throw off so many chips.

That Was the Prelude: That was bad enough, but then on my last hand of the night it got worse. Much, much worse.

It's Omaha, I don't have a very good hand, but there's no pre-flop action and I get to see a free flop. It comes Q-10-4, and I've made bottom two pair. This is a very strong hand, but its not unbeatable, so I don't want to press with it too much. Surge, however puts out a $5 bet. Jesse folds, I call, and then Arizona and Bert, inventor of the Bert Classic and matrix metering, fold. The turn is the miracle card: a four, which gives me a full house. Now I bet $5, but Surge raises $5. It’s an automatic call, so we go heads-up to fifth street.

The river brings a queen, so now there's a pair of queens on the board to go along with the pair of fours. That queen is a real scare card for me, and, even though I'm holding a boat, I know that I can't bet it and that I have top hope for a free showdown. Instead, Surge bets $5, and I have to call. Sure enough, Surge had out-boated me at the river and had made the Q-Q-Q-10-10 boat when one of his two skanked out queens came at the end.

Like Arizona, he had been 9% to make his hand after the flop, which means that I was roughly 121-1 to lose both hands and all of that money.

The One Truly Dumb Play: It's always Omaha in which I shaft myself. Jesse, who's directly to my right deals it out and I've gotten a monstrously good starter hand— A-K-K-Q—with a nut flush draw to my spade ace. I'm first to act, and, having not learned my lesson, apparently, about check-raising, I check again, hoping to get some money into the pot. Everybody else checks, but then Jesse, thankfully bets $3. Here I go with my check-raise, raising him $5. Everybody else folds except for Jesse, who, thank the Lord, makes the call. The flop comes 10-10-J: I've not really gotten any piece of the flop, except for a gutshot straight draw that will require one of the four queens in the deck to come on the turn or on the river.

The smart play is to check and see what Jesse does. I have so many of the face cards that it's doubtful that he's caught much more of the flop than I did. The thing about Jesse, though, is that he'll make a bet just to try to force you out. And, since I had made the last raise, a continuation bet might represent that I have a stronger hand than I actually do.

I make the $5 bet, and Jesse calls. The turn is a low rag, and I figure, since Jesse didn't re-raise me, that I might be ahead in the hand. I bet another $5, but this time Jesse makes it $10 to go. I'm already in for $13, there's $31 in the pot, and so I call.

Remember those queens for which I'd been hoping? One comes on the river and I make an ace-high straight. Now I've actually got a reason to bet $5, which I promptly do. Jesse rather calmly raises it to $10.

It is only at this point that I start to greatly suspect that I'm beat, but now there's $51 in the pot, $23 of which has been invested by me, so I have to call. Jesse turns over pocket tens.

Pocket tens. Along with the two tens that flopped, he's made four-of-a-kind. He was unbeatable from the flop unless I caught running kings, a near impossibility. I was doomed from the start.

Let's review how badly I played this hand: I cost myself an extra $3 pre-flop by not betting. I threw away another $5 after the flop by betting with a hand that hadn't improved (though it's possible that Jesse may have bet in this spot anyway). I threw away another $5 with my post-turn bet and then another $5 immediately after with my post-turn call (when I should have begun to suspect that my hand wasn't any good).

And Yet: I still managed to make $105 tonight, improving the overall to 3-0 and the YTD total to $412.50. That’s the most that I've ever earned during a three-game winning streak. I have no idea how I pulled it off.

26 January 2007

Essentially, I'm Blind: I was going to put some funny shit right here because I remembered talking about eyesight and eyeglasses, etcetera, at the game and I busted out with a tiny little joke about how my range of vision is good from about twelve to about eighteen inches (everything else being a complete crapshoot).

Faithful readers of my website (all none of you), may recognize this particular joke from a previous Poker Report. Yes, that's right, I bought out a Poker Report Classic Bit™ for inclusion in this month’s Poker Report.

My thinking on this is that a laugh's a laugh, and I'm not proud. In fact, whatever's the exact opposite of proud is what I am. It's probably some magical combination of shame and mortification and deep feelings of inadequacy. And also of failure. If there's one word for it and I knew what it was, I would put it here.

Also, if you know the word, feel free to send it along and I'll be sure to resent you for it. That's just how I roll.

On a more serious note, I really do think that I'm going blind. The right eyeball is just generally hazy, like after you've been elbowed in the eyeball itself, if you know what that feels like.

The left eyeball has its own thing going on. I would get it (the eyesight, I mean) checked out, but I'd rather die than know that I've got cancer of the eyeballs, which I’m going to assume would probably just be depressing.

God Hates Me: Why would He, in His infinite infiniteness cast down upon me a beautiful hand—10-10-4-4-4—only to have it smote down by a fifth-street beatdown, a two-outer/five-percenter?

Here's how it went down: I flop bottom-two pair, tens and fours, and there's also a queen on the flop. A good hand in Omaha, but not unbeatable. I check it, but Ice bets $5. I call, figuring that he might have a queen or an overpair. The turn brings a delightful card: a ten, giving me the boat. There’s a bet on my part and a call from Ice.

The river’s a queen: a card that I definitely don’t want to see. It’s easy to see that Ice would stay in after the flop with a queen and any reasonable kicker, so if he’s holding a queen, he’s just rivered a better boat than the one that I turned.

Sure enough, Ice is holding a queen, and I lose a rather sizeable pot.

I’m loath to say it, but I can only conclude that God hates me. Well, I mean, if I actually believed in that kind of stuff.

Here Comes the Flood: And I mean that literally. Apparently a pipe is leaking or burst at my big bro's, and nobody'd really noticed.

The result? A whole bookcase of his grad school books got soaked and/or ruined. While I would have choked up like a child who'd seen his momma get eaten alive by rather large ants with mean looking eyes, my big bro handled it with great dignity.

My big bro's generally badass and stoic, but I still marveled at how well he was taking the ruination of so many of his books. I even said, going against all little-brother protocols (which require that I not embarrass us both by saying anything that might be seen as sensitive), that he was taking the whole situation quite well.

I'm the Bitch: It was bound to happen eventually, and, tonight, it happened like a mother: I gave it up, I gave it up real pretty.

And I had been up by about $50. Then I lost when I was a 6-to-1 favorite, then when I was a 25-to-1 favorite, and then when I was a 3-to-1 favorite (combined, the odds of me losing all three of these hands is 450-to-1), and those hands, which happened in the span of about half an hour, cost me about $70 of my own money and whatever money had also gotten into the pot, at least another $70. If I had won only one of those hands (even though the odds say that I should have won all three), I would only have lost around $55; if I had won two out of the three, I would only have lost around $15. But the odds only tell us what will tend to happen and how often, not that things will go as they should.

The night became so ugly for me that I had to go to the Second Hundred™. That is, I had to re-buy with a second hundred because the first hundred was on the verge of running out.

Thankfully, I didn’t end up losing the entire First Hundred™, but I didn’t miss by much: -$96.75. Still, I managed to go 3-1 for the month, and I did win $315.75. It is my second-best month ever, so I’m semi-happy.

Why only semi-happy? Because, the universe being what it is—a 24/7 soul-crushing machine—I dare not go beyond that.

(Editor’s Note: The title of this post is part of a lyric from a song that I really, really love and that I'm eventually going to have to try writing about for my website.)

Respect Where Respect Is Due

I had been away from the site for a while, and to my surprise/delight, there are THREE new posts. Respect (even though it seems like I played a hand like a "chaser" {and yes it was your check-raise that had me invested]). I hope I’m not as bad as that description indicated. However, respect on the three quick posts. - Arizona

I Did It to Myself

My man,

it's all my fault how that hand turned out. I even said in the above post that I had "boned" myself with my fancy play. The sad thing is that I'm still trying the same moves, and they still aren't working.