The Usual Struggle Between Fear and Love: The May 2007 Poker Report

(Editor’s Note: And this bad boy also took only six days to go live. Damn, I might be getting good at this, finally. And it only took a little over three years.)

4 May 2007

The Man: I tend to drive a little on the fast side. Not crazy/I-sort-of-want-to-die fast, or I-like-going-fast-because-it-makes-me-feel-cool fast, but more like I-hate-wasting-time fast.

As a consequence, I’m pretty good at spotting cops when I’m driving because I don’t want this little tendency of mine to adversely affect my life. I’m checking my mirrors, looking down side streets, looking for places where a cop car could be hidden up ahead or to the side or somewhere behind. I pride myself on being able to spot a cop car with plenty of time for me to slow down.

Tonight, as I was headed toward the game, I came to a place where the one-lane freeway made a 35ish-degree curve to the left. At the curve, there was a depression in the earth where a road connected to the freeway. I looked toward the depression, and hidden there behind a stop sign and some tall grass was a cop car, a CHPer. The car was hard to see because you could only really spot the top of the car: the lights and a little bit of the roof of the car.

I thought that I had spotted it in time, and stomped on the brakes hard enough to take off much of my excess speed, but not so hard that I jerked my car and gave the man a reason to pull me over anyway. Then I kept decelerating until I was within seven miles of the speed limit, not over enough, I didn’t think, to make the cop come after me.

But as I got closer, he made his move out of the pit in which he had been. I thought, Well, he’s got me, and I began to prepare myself to be pulled over. My next thought was that I was going to be late for the game, and I hate being late to stuff. Then I thought that I was probably going to play like hell because of the trauma of being pulled over.

My heart started trying to pop out of my chest as I entered the curve, sure that he was going to lock in behind me. I looked in my rearview mirror, but the cop hadn’t made a right to trail me. He had made a left and was going after somebody in the opposite direction. Still, I was a little freaked out by the whole ordeal (even though it had only lasted about twenty seconds), and I didn’t go too far over the speed limit for the rest of my drive.

BBQ: While I haven’t worked out in forever (though I did recently throw a few kicks at my Wavemaster), I’m still trying to not eat as stupidly as I used to. (Not an ideal health-maintenance system, but probably the best that I can do.) That means that while I’m at work, I only eat granola bars and wash them down with green tea. Then I have low-calorie soup for dinner, but I open it up in the drinks category and can have either green tea or diet Pepsi.

Yes, it’s as horrible as it sounds. You know how some people find satisfaction in doing the right thing, even if the right thing isn’t any fun?

That’s utter bullshit. In fact, I sort of hate myself for doing the right thing, like I've betrayed myself in a serious and essential and irreversible way. Basically, I miss the frozen food and the unhealthy snacks and the regular, life-giving, joy-inducing Pepsi. It’s fizzy and sweet, which is, think about it, what life should be like. Also, it has caffeine.

But poker nights are different; I can have whatever on poker nights. Tonight that whatever was going to be especially delightful because the game was going to be at Bert’s house, and Bert had invited us over early so that we could get down on some Bert-prepared barbecue.

Food service was to begin at 7:00 p.m., and I was there three minutes late (because of the aforementioned almost-pulling-over), but I was still the first one there. Remember all of that talk about those granola bars? Consuming them for two out of my three meals means that I’m hungry all of the time. So, shortly after shaking Bert’s hand, I got me a hot dog. I’m no hot dog classicist, so I’m pretty open to what can sensibly be out on a hot dog, but I wanted to keep it old-school and went with just mustard on that bad boy.

My cells cried out with hot dog-induced pleasure, as did my soul. I then consumed another hot dog. And then one more. And then after my big bro arrived, he and I split one, but he only wanted a small piece, so the split was 75-25 in my favor.

Then, late into the game, I felt that I was in need of more sustenance, so I ate two hamburgers. It was wonderful.

Don’t Judge Me: Shortly after I arrived, Ivan, poker player deluxe and programmer/designer/host of this here website, also arrived. My big bro followed shortly thereafter. We hit upon many subjects before we arrived at my little caffeine problem.

I’ve got a lot of stuff going on, so I don’t get much sleep. In theory, I should always be tired. In theory, but not in practice because I’m usually tweaked out on caffeine. My morning starts like this: a caffeine pill and two Advils, with another caffeine pill dropped into the bottle of green tea-infused water, from which I drink all day. The popped pill gets me going and the caffeine water maintains my buzz throughout the day. If I start to fade, I just take another caffeine pill.

Ivan then made mention of the dreaded post-caffeine crash. I informed him that the post-caffeine crash is a problem that is blown all out of proportion. I explained that the crash is avoidable if one merely keeps consuming caffeine. Problem solved.

Then I was asked about how much I spend on caffeine pills. The last purchase totaled $50, but I had recently gotten a Target Gift Card, so they didn’t cost me a dime.

Still, everybody was a little shocked by how much I spend on stimulants.

Hey, the moment that my life slows down a little, I’ll stop with the pill popping.

The Classic Five: With the absence of most of our newer players because of various commitments and with Jesse’s arrival at around 9:00 p.m., we had the original core of our game together for the first time in months. This reminded me of my younger, more innocent days, when the world was wide open and full of possibility. Or October. Either way.

Please, Baby, Please: Ivan’s come out to play a few times in the past few weeks, but he’s had to leave early each time. Hey, it’s okay; at least he’s getting out.

The reason he hasn’t played as much is because he’s in a thing with a girl. All happiness upon him, but we still get to pick on him in the way that guys pick on their friends who are, to use the street vernacular, whipped.

Talk had come around to a person whom many of us know who is currently wearing an ankle monitor for various reasons. Seeing as when Ivan is out of the house, he’s also on a type of parole, so I asked him to show us his ankle monitor.

Then, as we were playing and it was getting close to Ivan’s announced departure time, he kept checking his mobile, so I started asking him if he had texted his special lady to ask for permission to stay out a little bit later and if he was waiting for a response.

While Ivan didn’t say a word one way or the other, the tragic thing is that I actually think that he was.

The Long Slide Down: From pretty early on in the evening, I’m up a substantial amount. In no time at all, I’m hovering around the +$100.00 mark. I drop down to +$70, and I think that it’s the beginning of losing all of my profit. Somehow, I manage to fight back to +$104.75. By this time, Ivan had already been gone for a while, my big bro had just left, and we’ve got about eighty-minutes of poker time left before I have to leave.

Last week, I had made over $100, and I was hoping to have my second consecutive triple-digit win. I semi-jokingly said to Bert and Jesse that I was going to only play premium hands, like aces, but only if they were suited.

A little background info is in order here: about eleven months ago, I found myself in a three-way battle with Bert and Jesse, and they nearly cleaned me out. Before I switched to my new $200 limit (that’s how much I’ll lose in a night before I quit), it had been at $300. I had never thought that I’d ever get close top losing that kind of money, but Bert and Jesse proved me wrong. By the time that that session had ended, I had dropped $270, and I’m sure that I would have lost my entire roll except for the fact that we had come to my announced departure time.

More background info: Jesse, who usually makes money at our game, sometimes a lot of money, was having a bad night. He bought in for $80, and that was soon gone. He bought in for $60 more, and that didn’t last, either. He scrounged around in his wallet and found another $15. Yup, gone. Then he’s sitting there, just watching the action and chatting with the rest of us. After a short while, he asks if he can borrow $60 from me.

Hey, no problem.

Actually big problem. If you did the math, you’ve realized that Jesse had been down $155, and that’s not counting the money that he’s just borrowed.

So I’m up over $100, Jesse’s down $155, and Bert is sitting on a nice profit, too.

That’s when Jesse goes on an ungodly run.

So here we are again. Little by little, my profit starts disappearing. When I cash out at my departure time, I’m only up $47.25, which is almost $60 less than when we began three-way play. Bert’s lost tons of money, too.

And Jesse? As I had been counting down my stacks, Jesse had taken the time to also count his. As Bert’s getting me my money from the bank, Jesse announces that he’s actually up now, for a grand total of $2.50. In about eighty minutes, he’d had a $157.50 turnaround, about $60 of it having come from me.

That’s the last time that I ever let him borrow money.

(Editor’s Note, 2 June 2008: Nope. I’m still the bank for when everybody goes short. )

Like I Said: I made $47.25, took the YTD to +$449.25, and got the overall record to a decent 12-7.

Woo hoo.

11 May 2007

They’re Like Haikus: For the past few months, we’ve been starting our Friday-night poker games with a quick no-limit tournament. We’ve figured out the blinds structure on the fly, and that had worked out relatively well until we had a tournament that went for a while and we realized that doubling the blinds the way that we had meant that in later rounds that the small blind and big blind combined would equal nearly half of all of the chips in play, which meant that what had been a skill game would become a luck game.

(Editor’s Note, 2 June 2008: Yes, I am aware that the last sentence of the above paragraph sort of got away from me. They’ll do that, sometimes.)

We worked this out provisionally and then I did some research and came up with what I thought was a sensible blinds structure. I usually send out the weekly e-mail to the poker crew late on Tuesday, so in the one I sent out about two weeks ago, I included a section with what I thought should be the official structure for all future poker games. Done and done.

But then about an hour into tonight’s game, Jesse asks me what the next level of blinds would be. That was when I asked, “Didn’t you read the e-mail that I sent out?”

Jesse, who’s a busy manager-type, said that he just looks at my weekly e-mails for the essential info: the where and the when.


I’ll admit that I was hurt because I had assumed that those e-mails of mine were read by everybody from the first word to the last. I mean, I work really hard on those e-mails. I make them pretty short and to the point, so it’s not like I’m asking you to read a whole lot. And, while working on a small canvas, I still try to come up with interesting turns of phrase and to embed little comedic touches wherever I can.

I then told him that he should go back and read them because they’re really beautifully written. That was when he said that he deletes them as soon as he “reads” them.

Ouch again.

How cruel can a guy be? First to admit that he doesn’t read them and then to admit that he deletes them so quickly. Lie to me. Say that you’ve still got them on your hard drive.

Those of you who are writers will understand.

Basically anything that I write is going to be pretty, so the thought that he wasn’t saving them was just not cool. I’m thinking now of forwarding Jesse every single one of the e-mails that he deleted. That will show him, though he’ll probably just delete those bastards again.

Old School: I’m a language guy. I like talk about language. I love a well-turned phrase or clause or sentence. I especially like it when new words come in to the language because it’s exciting to see if the word will find a place in the common language.

One of my all-time favorite words is diss. Remember when that word first started coming into use, sometime in the late 1980’s? It means to disrespect or insult someone, as in “Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales got dissed by Representative Conyers today, and it was sweet.” It’s got a great sound, it’s short, and there’s no other word that means anything anywhere close to what it means or works anywhere close to how it works

What had we done without it for so long?

Then there are words that get into the language and quickly drop out, and those unloved bastard children of the English language aren’t even worth thinking about. Language is Darwinian, so those words that died obviously weren’t fit. Screw them.

There’s also that middle category of words that don’t become superstars or drop out entirely, words that find a niche and hang on.

And, ironically enough, one of those words is “word.” It’s an exclamation of agreement, as in this imagined dialogue:

“Those are nice shoes.”

“Word. I am in agreement that those shoes are in fact nice.”

Did you see how word acted to express agreement between the initial shoe observer and his or her friend?

I never used word as it had come to be used on the streets, except maybe when I was trying to be funny. I just couldn’t pull it off.

Arizona, though, thinks that he can pull it off, but he can’t, as was evident when he tried to use it at tonight’s game. Bert had made a bet at Arizona (and keep in mind that a bet is like an argument or an assertion: I believe that my hand is worth X amount of dollars and will thusly bet that amount.), and Arizona responded by asking, “Word?”, as in “Are you, Bert speaking the truth?”

That was when I noted how one word can mean so many different things based merely on pronunciation. You can, in the Arizonian style, use word as a question: “Word?” You can use it to convey anger or strong conviction: “Word!” You can, in combination with a slow head nod, use it to convey resigned agreement: “Word.”

Arizona and I were riffing on this subject and using word as much as we possibly could, inserting it everywhere that made grammatical and logical and syntactical sense, but we couldn’t get Bert to join in on using word.

Instead, Bert kept it real and real bilingual by coming back at us with palabra, which is Spanish for word.

Respect. He saw calling back to the old country and to his heritage and to his ancestors. Then Jesse jumped in and started using palabra, too. Quickly then, our poker game had balkanized. Unfortunately, Bert and Jesse could probably beat us both to death with plastic spoons, so I didn’t make too much of our differences.

When Surge arrived, Arizona and I quickly got him into our camp, and he started to also say word, but then I said that word was already used up and that he should let it go. Trends are just that fast.

But then I bought it back. Trends also come back just that fast.

The One Productive Thing: During the summer of 2006, I got in shape and lost all kinds of weight. I've since gained most of that weight back, which is both funny and tragic. I haven’t been writing very much.

I haven’t done much of anything, really.

But the one thing that I have managed to pull off this year is to grow some killer-ass sideburns. I had grown some sweet ones while I was in grad school in Seattle, the kinds of sideburns that you can only really grow while you’re in grad school, insulated from the real world and from good sense.

I think that my new sideburns are quite lovely and that they make me look kind of edgy, like maybe I've seen and done some stuff that it’s probably best not to mention.

But, you know what? Nobody at our game has even mentioned them once. Not once. I’ll be honest, I’m a little hurt.

That was when one of my homies, who, to ensure that he doesn’t end up on couch patrol, said, “I get enough of that at the house from my [special lady]. I don’t need that here,” which just shows you the types of insensitive bastards with whom I play poker.

The Magic Money: Last week, Jesse had dropped $155. He borrowed $60 from me, putting him in the red for $215, and then proceeded to get most of it back. He repaid me as I left and at that point was only down about $30. Amazing.

Then this week Arizona’s getting killed and has to borrow money from me. And then he gets all of his money back and is actually in the black for the night.

Christ. How come everybody else can make money when they borrow cash from me, but not me? I then said that I should probably just borrow money from myself, because then I’d surely make some serious cash.

But how would one pull this off in a strictly cash interaction? If I were taking money from a separate bank account which I specifically thought of and labeled as “Blas Manuel’s Account From Which to Borrow Money for Poker,” then I would be borrowing money from myself.

But I just have a paper cup at my big bro’s that’s stuffed with bills (When I last went to Las Vegas, I was pulling together my cash from its many locations and found that I had about $900 stuffed into that paper cup, which tells me two things: there’s a slight chance that I might not be as smart as I think I am or as I go around telling people that I am, and that it’s a miracle that I’m not dead broke) so there’s no way to try to fool myself. Maybe I could lend the money to one of the other players so that he, in turn, could lend it back to me.

But it turns out that my money isn’t that magical after all because Surge borrowed $80 from me, and, counting his initial $40 buy-in, he was down almost $100.

It Was Unpleasant: I put up a huge number this week, but not huge in a good way. Huge in that I managed to lose over a third of my YTD total in about 4.25 hours.

The funny thing is that I was up about $30 in no time at all, so taking that profit into account, I had a swing of right around $190.

The thing is that I was having so much fun with my homies that it didn’t really bother me. It would have bothered me if I had been playing badly, but I either wasn’t catching cards or was getting a lot of second-best hands, the kinds of hands of which it is hard to let go and which can quickly cost you vast amounts of chips.

Of the $158.50 that I lost, maybe $40 of it was on questionable post-fifth-street calls when it was pretty clear that I was beat. Usually, though, I was invested up to my ass in those hands and there was so much money in the pot that I was almost forced to call.

So the spectacular flameout took the lovely YTD down to a less lovely +$290.75 and the won-loss to a very mediocre 12-8

May 18 2007

The New Table: As you well know by now, we’re now playing a little sit-and-go tournament before our usual cash game. Unfortunately, sometimes the tournament has taken a good while to conclude, which can be a problem when two guys are taking up the table and three or four are left to stand around, waiting for the heads-up battle to end.

I came up with a solution: I bought one of those little folding tables so that, along with the poker tabletop that my big bro had long ago received as a gift, we could set up a side table so that the tournament could be moved to said side table and the cash game could begin on the main table.

As I was the second person knocked out of the six-man tournament (when my pocket sevens went up against Arizona’s A-J and he rivered a three that gave him the gutshot wheel [a five-high straight]), I set up the folding table in the living room, a few feet away from the main table. I then, after asking Bert to help me, went to get the table top out of the workout room/dojo.

The tabletop was still in the box, and we tore it open. Then we had to unzip the soft case. Then we pulled the tabletop out of the case. Both the case and the tabletop smelled lovely.

Basically, anything new is going to smell lovely, but especially so if the new thing is related to something that you dig, much as I imagine a freshly opened box of syringes must smell like heaven to a heroin addict.

Bert and I carried the tabletop back into the living room, and I placed it on the folding table. It was now time for the unfolding of the table. It was an exact copy of my tabletop, but without all of the wear. The surface was still taut and didn’t wrinkle when you ran your fingers along its green faux-felt. It felt great.

That’s when some of my homies pointed out that my tactile encounter with/appreciation of the table was perhaps going too far by asking me what I was doing to the table. I snapped out of my reverie, and that was when I joked that I wanted to love that thing up. I pretended to climb on top of the table, right leg first, and I asked my homies to give me a minute alone with the table. They, to protect the table and the sanctity of the poker room, wisely declined.

Not the Pot Stickers: There was a little refrigerator mishap, apparently, at my big bro’s house. Somehow, the freezer got left open. More accurately somebody put too much stuff in there and the freezer door wouldn’t shut. Which means that whatever it is that makes the freezer freezy never had a chance to shut down and was always running, running to the point that it had had enough and decided to stop functioning. Which means that whatever was up in the freezer unfroze.

I discovered this unfreezingness when I got to my big bro’s and went to microwave me up a deluxe plate of Costco-style chicken chunks. When I pulled those mothers out of the freezer, the bag in which they came was surprisingly soft for a bag that was essentially full of chicken-flavored ice cubes.

When I opened the bag (because it hadn't yet occurred to me that the chicken chunk’s non-frozen state may be indicative of some mishap that may have rendered the chicken chunks inedible for both gustatory and/or safety reasons), I couldn’t help but note that the chicken chunks smelled a little less appealingly than they usually did.

It was only then that I took a pass on the chicken chunks.

When my big bro got to his house for the game, I told him about the refrigerator problem. My big bro almost immediately got up to see what should be done.

My big bro is a no-nonsense kind of guy. If that stuff in the freezer might be ruined, let’s just throw that shit out and get on with our lives. I hear my big bro dropping the frozen food bags into the larger black bag that Bert is holding, these loud ten-pound thuds.

I go to stand witness over this tragic loss. I had had two bags of chicken chunks and two bags of fish sticks (if all fish came in fish-stick form, I would do my best to see that the oceans would soon be emptied) in there, and I knew that they were all getting tossed. I had bought those bags at Costco, so they were big-ass bags, about $10 each.

That was $40 in food right there. Son of a bitch.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. My big bro dug into the back of the freezer and pulled out a bag of Costco-purchased pot stickers that I had been saving. Those of you in the know know that those Costco pot stickers are incredible. But, alas, they were beyond saving. That was at least another $10, so I had just lost $50 worth of food in no time at all.

But I wasn’t the only one to get boned on the frozen food; my big bro lost two bags of hamburger patties, but he still didn’t lose anywhere close to the $50 that I did.

I Could Deal: And I don’t mean that in the sense that I can deal with stuff, and, by stuff, I mean life.

Really, I have no clue how I make it from day to day, and I’m sort of stunned that I’ve gotten along as far as I have. Philip Levine, probably the best American poet currently in the game (and, yes, of course, I'm completely biased, but, fuck you, he is) and one of my early creative writing instructors, writes in his preface to a collection of interviews of him, Don’t Ask, that if the grass grows, then so can I, and I’ll sometimes repeat that line to myself.

What I mean is that, if it came down to it, I could probably deal poker in Las Vegas.

Every year, it seems that I’m either on the verge of getting canned or on the verge of coming to my senses and quitting my crummy gig. Either would be a relief. But then I think to myself about what I would do next. I have no job skills to speak of, and being okay with the language is more of a curse than a skill.

Those of you who are afflicted with the language will understand.

To deal poker in Las Vegas, you have to start in a break-in room, which just means that you’d start at the lowest end of the poker room world, what those of us who roll on the street call the ass-end. If you do okay, you move up, and, next thing you know, you’re dealing at the Bellagio. The classier the room, the better the tips, so you can make a decent living as a dealer. And, best of all, you’re in a casino all day, so you can come off of your shift, change out of your uniform, and get right into a poker game.

Alternatively: Or if I don’t end up leading a life of dissipation and tragedy in Las Vegas, I could always beg one of my homies for a gig. This homie and I work in the same field, except that he’s in the upper echelons of management and I’m out on the factory floor.

He had wanted me to come to his factory and work for him a while ago, but I had this stupid idea that I could “make a difference” at my current factory. Yes, I know, dumb. That was before they replaced my boss with a horrible boss, and the boss of that boss, with strike four, by which I mean that four people have run through that position, and not one of them has been a keeper.

But what I hear from other factory workers is that just about every factory is its own little version of hell, so the misery that’s enveloped me at my gig will, in all likelihood, be replicated at any new gig.

That’s Not How I Roll: Speaking of bosses, my old boss used to want to play poker with us (I could sort of tell), but I never gave him the invite. It’s just not cool to socialize with a boss.

But one of my homies was in contact with my former boss, and my former boss asked about me and then asked if we were still playing poker. Now I've just got to figure out how to invite him to the game now, nearly a year from when last I saw him, when he had been looking for an invite nearly every week for the last year that I saw him nearly every day.

How I Do Roll: I got back a nice chunk of what I had lost the previous week. I made $121.00, got the YTD to $411.75, and upped the overall to a not-too-terrible 13-8

25 May 2007

The Classic Six: Our game has undergone a few changes in the past year. Two people who had been regulars, Ivan and Seann, had semi-dropped out. Fortunately, Surge started playing when he could, Oscar makes it when he can, and Seann had bought into the game Arizona and Chill before he semi-disappeared, so we’ve always been able to have a decent number of players at the game.

We just stopped having what I thought of as the core six—my big bro, Bert, Ivan, Jesse, Seann, and Big Daddy (I’m Big Daddy)—but such is life.

Tonight, however, the Classic Six was there, plus Chill and Arizona, so we had eight players at the game. It was like old times.

Everybody’s Juiced: Sean and Arizona are big Giants fans. In fact, just about every time that I see Seann, he’s wearing orange Giants gear. (Hence, his original nickname in these Poker Reports: Pumpkin Boy; but that was when I couldn’t stand him. In fact, my dislike for him was so great that I had already cleared it with the rest of the poker crew that, if Seann said one more disrespectful thing to me, I was going to kick his ass, and I wasn’t joking. But now, much like one can get used to just about anything, I can put up with Seann, more or less.)

As those of you who follow baseball know, Barry Bonds, who plays for the Giants, is chasing down Hank Aaron for the record for most home runs. As you must also know, there’s a lot of controversy about this. Apparently, Barry was juicing for a long time, but I’m pretty sure that most people suspected that he was.

Some people, doofuses mostly, and some racists, are making a big deal out of this. Hey, if Barry had been the only one, then, yes, hate him as much as you want. But he wasn’t the only one, and that’s been clear for a long time now. And where were all of these virgins when McGuire was leaking steroids from his pores? I knew that he was juicing, and I know (know deep in my cellular structure) that everybody else knew, but nobody ever talked about that. And what about all of those average players who were blasting balls out of the parks? How come none of the announcers or the MLB was talking 24/7 about how these home runs might be steroid-aided?

And let’s talk about greenies. They’re uppers, and they’ve been around baseball for forever, and probably more people have used them than have used steroids. So, if we’re going to act like pricks about Barry and start questioning his totals, then, to be fair, we should go back and put asterisks on a lot of the major league records, even the ones by beloved players.

I know, why don’t we have them all testify under oath before congress? Probably because nobody really wants to know. I wonder why. I don’t want to get racial, but it’s racial. Barry’s pretty dark-skinned, and McGuire’s, uh, not. I bet that if Barry were lighter skinned, that he wouldn’t be catching as much static as he is. I’d bet a big-ass bag of steroids on it. It’s out in my car.

And if we’re going to get all militant about performing cleanly, then let’s not be hypocrites. Starting tomorrow, I’m going to quit juicing, even if my productivity at the factory goes down.

The Call: I've been getting crap hands all night. I've occasionally gotten good starter hands, but they turned to dust when the flop missed me. In one hand, I look down at A-10, a decent hand with which to see a flop.

The flop comes K-X-6, and it’s missed me completely. Seann’s the only one in the hand with me, and I know that it’s missed him, too. But he bets $5 after the flop. I knew from the beginning that Seann didn’t have shit. I expressed this thought to Seann by saying, “I know that you don’t have shit.”

I didn’t have a hand, either, but I was pretty sure that my non-hand was better than his non-hand. Maybe he had a king, but I just didn’t think so. Then the turn bought a second king, which reduced the likelihood of Seann’s having a king by 33%. But he bet the $5 again. I went with my original read that he had nothing, so I called.

Then it got tricky on the river when a queen landed. He could have a queen, I thought, and the read that I had made that he was on a bluff could have been correct all along, only to have him get lucky on the river.

He bet the $5, and I took a while to think about it. I still had nothing, but I still thought that it might be good. I said, “I don’t think you have it,” and called his bet. He immediately said, “Good call,” and turned over his A-9.

Then I called him a bitch—as in “What’s up, bitch?”—but that was mostly just to be funny.

It’s Nerdy: As stated previously in this week’s Poker Report, Ivan made an appearance at the game. After he busted out (hey, he hadn’t played in a while, and he was perhaps a little rusty), he cracked open his laptop and started tweaking it.

As I walked by, I noticed that he had a lovely wallpaper of what looked like a close-up of early-morning, sunlit, dewy grass. I noted the loveliness of the picture, and then Ivan, true tech-geek that he is, said, “Check this out.” Then he did some shit where he used the cursor to drag down a corner of his current desktop to see what was happening behind it on another desktop. Then he made his desktop into a cube, and he started rotating the cube, and the other five sides were also different desktops.

That shit blew my mind. I didn’t even know that that was possible, and I got pretty excited (because I’m an amateur tech-geek). My excitement got everybody else excited, and, pretty soon, we were all gathered behind Ivan for an impromptu demo of his computer. All of this happened, by the way, in the middle of a hand where there was plenty of money in the pot. Yeah, we’re nerds.

It’s Really Real: With eight players and no reverse gear on any one of us, we got some gigantic pots. In fact, we had our all-time biggest pot, $187, and there was no split. Even small hands that went heads-up early got to some decent sizes, in the $30-$45 range.

One way that I keep rough track of how much money is in play is by looking at the amount of green chips in the chip cases. We’ve ‘got 100 $5 green chips in the two cases that we use, and deep into the game, all of them were gone. On the table, there were a lot of blue and black $1 chips. Probably too much because, with eight players, the table was getting pretty crowded.

It was nuts. After a while of seeing mountains of chips move back and forth across the table, I decided, out of curiosity, to count the money in the till: $766.

Goddamn, that also has to be a record.

As I try to run a clean, well-ordered table, I knew that I should probably trade $1 chips for $5 chips. Luckily, we’ve got five chip cases at my big bro’s (because you just never know when you’re going to need 2,500 chips), and I traded the chips out. So now we’re capable of having $750 in just green chips on the table. The way it’s going nowadays, we might soon need to up that to an even grand.

It Broke: Seann used this little electronic football game as his card protector because he left his usual one at home. When he cashed out (with a profit of $195), he left his little game behind in one of the chip cases. I noticed it shortly after Seann left, and I gave it to Arizona to give to Seann, who was going with him to a Giants game the next day.

He took it and then, a little while later and for no obvious reason. Arizona chucked the hell out of it right out the front door. It hit something out there (or maybe ricocheted off of the door on its way out), and we heard it come apart. I've got to say it: Arizona has an arm.

Then I got a text from Seann. Could I give the game to Arizona, because Seann’s three-year-old daughter really loves it?


Meh: Certainly not a bad month, but also certainly not a great month. I did go 3-1, which is a nice winning percentage, but I only pulled a total $87.75 in the four games that I played, taking the YTD to an only decent +$489.75. And the overall is at a very average 14-8.

The title of this section says it all, and I stand by it: meh.



(Editor’s Note, 3 June 2008: The title of this post comes from Cloud Cult's song, Pretty Voice. I only discovered this song yesterday, but I've already played it thirty-two times. It's playing now, as I type this and try to figure out something smart to say, but it's art, and there's not much to say about great art, other than that it moves me. And this song moves me, makes me so happy, so gaddamn happy, even though it's terribly sad.

It's been so long since I've heard your pretty voice.