It Was Like I Looked Into His Soul: The June 2007 Poker Report

(Editor’s Note: It only took me four days to get this whore to go live on my website. I'm finally within a year of getting caught up on Poker Reports.)

2 June 2007

One in 484: Sometimes, you get boned. You have a great hand and you’re leading the entire way. There are draws against you, and you know that there are, but they are pretty thin, so you’re not too worried. The turn doesn’t hurt you, and you’re still comfortable.

Then comes the disaster on the river. Kaboom goes your hand. You are left with nothing but a losing hand and your chips in a pot that is no longer yours.

But, like I said, sometimes you get boned.

But then for that to happen in the very next hand? That’s just cold-blooded. On one hand, I flopped trip fours, and I bet the hell out of it. I got called to the bitter end and lost to trip tens when a ten came at the end. A guy dumped all of that money on a two-outer, which meant that he had a 4.55% chance to hit, which meant the he would have had to have been getting 22-to-1 odds to have made that an even marginal call.

Then Ice caught one of the two kings left in the deck to make a K-K-K-J-J full house to beat my Q-Q-Q-J-J full house. Also a 4.55% chance. Combined, then, the odds of me losing both of these hands on two-outers is one in 484. How’s that for unlikely?


I Have Powers: Bert was dealing it out and one of the cards coming toward Jesse got a little bit of air under it and did a bit of a flutter. Jesse asked if I had seen his card, and I jokingly said, “Yeah, a three of diamonds.”

I hadn’t seen it, of course, but at the end of the hand, Jesse showed me that I had in fact called his card.

That was when I declared that I must have mystical powers. First, I closed my eyes and pretended to go into a vision, holding up my right hand as if I were receiving information from across the chasm between reality and unreality, or something like that.

I was open to receive, and I said, “Wait, wait. When you were five, there was that guy in that park restroom, and he touched you in an inappropriate way,” but, no, that hadn’t happened. My other guess on a matter of nearly equal sensitivity was also way off.

That was when I realized that my numinous insights into the spirit realm were probably limited only to poker. But how to test this hypothesis? By guessing who would be the winner in each dealt hand. As a pretend scientist, I’m all about data (, so I decided to keep a log of my guesses and then figure out if I did indeed have magical abilities.

The Data:

Predictions Made: 74
Correct Predictions: 14

Correct Prediction Percentage: 18.92%

Most of the evening, we were six-handed, so, over time, merely guessing would have tended to have given you a success rate of 16.67%. We did, however play five-handed for a large part of the night, so the success rate there would have been 20%. My success rate, then, is pretty much where it should have been if I had guessed instead of trying to use my newly observed powers.

What keeps my numbers from looking worse is the fact that out of the seventy-four predictions that I made, I picked myself to win 29.5 times, which means that I should have won 39.7% of the time.

Yes, predicting myself to win so often seems like a recipe for failure. Fortunately I won seven of the hands that I predicted myself to win, for a success rate of 23.7%. If I take my own numbers out of the data, then I only had a success rate of 15.7%.

But it also means that when it came to predicting my own successes, I was more accurate than mere chance dictated that I should be.

How to use this newly gleaned insight into my own mystical connection to the higher plane in relation to whether I will win a hand? If I really get the vibe that I’m golden in a hand, I’m going to put in as much money as I can because I’m solid to win with my 3.7% edge.

Party Time: At some point in the evening. Jesse asked if I had something for a headache. I did, indeed, have a little something: a big-ass bottle of Costco pseudo-Advil. Those bottles are the perfect size for me because I seem always to have a headache.

Not to get all Hannah and Her Sisters on you, but I’m 70-30 that I have a brain tumor. It’s either a tumor, or it’s the stress, man (or maybe it’s the lack of sleep [or some horrible combination of all three; Christ]), but I live on pseudo-Advil. Two in the morning, along with a caffeine pill, and I call it breakfast.

I keep a bottle down at the factory and I carry another one with me in my computer case, so I went to get some dope for Jesse. Out of curiosity, I looked at the bottle and immediately saw that the expiration date had passed me by in mid-March. I went back to the poker room to share this info with Jesse but also to reassure him that he should be fine if he took them.

To show my confidence in the drugs, I popped two of them myself so that Jesse, as I said, wouldn’t have to “tweak alone.” I was walking back to my room to put my stash away when I realized that I wasn’t being a good host. I turned around, held the bottle up in my right hand, and asked the poker crew if anybody else wanted to “party.” Squares that they are, they all said no.

It Could Have Been Worse: I got off to a horrible start and was down about $104, which meant that I had had to go to the Second Hundred™ (which is merely what is sounds like: the second hundred as I’m going down to felt on the first buy-in). Then I got it turned around and was up about $40. Then I went cold and ended up losing $73.25. What that means is that I had three three-digit swings in my chips: First I had a –$104 swing, then a +$144 swing, and then a closing swing of -S113.75.

So, taking all of that into consideration, I could have lost a whole hell of a lot more than the $73.25 that I did. That’s the bright side. The darkness is this: The YTD’s down to +$416.50 and the won-loss drops to a shameful 14-9.

8 June 2007

Nasty Business: After my big bro left, we were three handed, with Seann to my left and Jesse to my right. Since Jesse likes to get his money in there, I was in good position to not hang myself on bad plays; if Jesse made a big bet, as is his wont, I could bail out without too much damage.

What made my job easier was the fact that Seann was getting in plenty of bets pre-flop. I tend to give Seann more credit for hands than I do Jesse; if Seann is putting money in, it’s because he has a hand that’s worth playing, and I have to take a close look at my cards; if it’s Jesse who’s betting I’ll tend to call even if my hands aren’t great.

But it wasn’t just that Seann was betting. Jesse was calling just about all of these pre-flop bets, so any call I’d make would have to be an overcall. You only really want to make an overcall if you have a brilliant hand. More correctly, though, if a hand is worth an overcall, then it is certainly worth a raise because then you’d get credit for your hand, and you might get one of the other two players to fold, and you’d only have one person drawing against you.

I tend to be pretty conservative, so I’m not big on overcalls. I spent most of the last part of the game just folding and folding. That can be boring sometimes, but these guys put on a great show.

On one hand, Jesse flopped a six-high heart flush. Any flush with only two players to the flop is usually a great hand on which you can make some money. Usually, Jesse would have come out betting this hand, but Seann was first to act, and he bet the $5. Jesse re-raised to $10, which, if Seann was on a draw or had a weak hand, might have gotten a fold. Instead, Seann took it to $15. I could actually see some of the air go out of Jesse after Seann’s re-raise of his re-raise. Jesse called, though, and he called $5 bets after the turn and after the river.

Jesse’s six-high heart flush? Absolutely worthless because Seann flopped the ace-high flush. Jesse had had no outs at all in the deck, and he lost $25 in the hand.

That type of result happened again and again, with Jesse making a great hand and Seann making a better hand. It was a wonder to behold, but I also felt bad for Jesse. I had had the good fortune to have gotten miserable cards while Jesse was getting second-best hands and Seann was getting best hands. I could fold out and wait for them to try to fillet each other.

Fold, fold fold. Easy.

In the midst of Seann’s run, Jesse lost at least $127 in that short hour, and Seann got all of it.

Let’s Do This: Jesse went down to felt, and he declared that he was done. Who can blame him? It was nearly time for me to go so that I could get to my Saturday gig in semi-coherent shape, so I said that we should just wrap it up, which Seann was fine with. He was going to walk out with over $100 in profit when he had spent most of the night at just about even. No shit, he was perfectly fine with it.

But then I got this stupid idea that I wanted to go heads-up against Seann. He was playing really well, and I wanted the challenge of seeing if I could hang.

It was pretty even for a while until Seann dealt me pocket nines. Any pocket pair heads-up is a good starter hand, but pocket nines are really good. Not great, because there are tons of overcards for draws against your nines, which means that you can’t slow play them pre-flop.

I bet $5, thinking that it’ll end there or that I’ll get a hesitant call, but Seann re-raises me to $10. There are many ways to read his hand. I knew that he didn’t have a pair, and I had seen that he had been raising Jesse into oblivion, so he could be making a play or betting a huge draw.

But I’m not going to merely call and let him take the lead in the hand. I take it to $15, fully assuming that Seann’s going to $20. In fact, I had expected Seann to reach to his chips and call “raise” and had already started to say “call” in anticipation, but Seann had decided to just call.

What I’m hoping for on the flop is all undercards to my nines, or maybe just one overcard so that I still have a reasonable chance of being in the lead or so that I can bet as if I hit the overcard.

Instead, I get a brutal flop for my nines: A-K-Q. Not just one overcard, but three. I’m nowhere, with not even a straight draw to the king.

What do I do now? If I start checking after getting so much money into the pot, I’ll give up the lead in the hand, and Seann can start betting and I’ll never know where I am in the hand. I bet $5 as if I got a piece of the flop. Almost before my chip settles onto the table, Seann makes it $10.

I know that I’m screwed. I stand up, say “fuck,” and throw my crummy nines face-up on the table so that they can both see how cruel life is (though Jesse had just spent an hour learning this very same lesson) and walk outside to “trip out,” as we say in California. Seann doesn’t even show his cards, which some players will do, either out of mercy or to show off a little bit, but I knew that I was beat. If he had paired any of the three cards on the flop (and with his being willing to invest $15 pre-flop, he had to have had a ton of paint), I would have been on a two-outer, which means that I would have had a roughly 9% chance to catch, if he didn’t already have a set himself.

It was a good fold, doubtless, but it still cost me $20 to make it.

At the end of the night, as we were straightening out a little bit, Seann, in his infinite benevolence, let me know that he had flopped top two: aces and kings. Bastard.

I’ll Take It: It was another one of those nights where not too much is happening for me with my cards. Three of the times that I did make good hands, I had to chop with a player who had an identical hand, once with my big bro when we both made the nut straight on the turn, and twice with Jesse, once when we both had pocket queens and once when both of us hit queens with a deuce kicker.

At the end of the evening, I had made $24.25. A large pizza. The YTD did head upward, which is always nice, but the overall, 15-9, still looks like hell.

15 June 2007

The Reading: Tonight, I dropped some hometown rhymes at the local library. How important was this reading to me? I’ve been growing these crazy-ass sideburns for nearly a year now, and they were looking pretty 70’s and sexy, but I trimmed those bastards for the reading because I wanted to look presentable, and not like I’d finally made parole.

The Heckler: You’d think that I’d get respect during a hometown gig, but you’d be wrong. There was this old Mexicano who I thought looked sort of sketchy from the first moment that I walked in and laid eyes on him, maybe a little drunk or just off of his nut.

Not a big deal. I’ll be doing my reading and he’ll be in the audience, and everything will be fine. But then the whole time that I was reading, this guy was heckling me. Either he thought that I going to bring it in Spanish (with my name being obviously Latino and the fact that the guy playing guitar after me was also of Latin extraction) and he was disappointed to have to sit through my reading, or he just didn’t like my work and felt that he had to express his displeasure in a verbal manner.

The Inhaler: I hadn't eaten all day, so after the reading I went to pick up two jumbo Jacks and three chicken sandwiches at Jack in the Box. I know that that sounds like a lot, but I bought a bunch of extras in case anybody in the poker crew wanted to partake. I’m just considerate that way.

I had just finished getting down on a Jumbo Jack when I went into the bag for a chicken sandwich. That’s when I discovered that I had been shorted a sandwich at Jack in the Box. I expressed this fact by saying, “They shorted me, man. What the hell?”

Jesse then said that he had eaten one of the chicken sandwiches. That’s when I said, “Damn, Jesse, you must have inhaled that thing” because I hadn't even noticed him eating, even though he was sitting immediately to my right.

Of course, Jesse got defensive and said that he had been working on it for a while. Then I felt sort of like an ill-mannered ass. First, true or not about the inhaling, I shouldn’t have made that kind of joke. And it wasn’t even true. I had been involved in a few hands, so I had been focused on the felt; truthfully, I hadn't even noticed that he had actually left the table.

Not classy, and I pride myself on being classy.

It Was Like I Looked into His Soul: I’m in the big blind with 5-2, but I get a free flop, which lands 10-7-5. I've got bottom pair with the worst kicker possible. I check the flop, and Bert bets it when it comes to him.

Bert had won a huge hand in the early going when he flopped four sevens and two other guys turned straights and one other guy rivered a flush, all for a grand total of $107. Bert was now playing with a huge stack, and he had gotten pretty aggressive at moving in on pots.

I didn’t think that he had a seven or a five in his hand, and if he had had a ten, he probably only would have played it if he had a kicker higher than the ten, anything from a jack to a king. If he had had A-10, he would have raised pre-flop, so I didn’t think that he had that. If he did have J-10 through K-10, he wouldn’t have made such a strong move on such a tiny pot. After I ran though all of these scenarios, I knew that there was no way that he was holding a ten and that he was on a pure bluff.

A six lands on the turn, but that card scares me less than anything else that was on the board. Bert bets $5 again, and this time I say, “I know that you don’t have shit,” and some of our fellow players start laughing. I make the call, confident that I’m way ahead in this hand.

An ace lands on the river. A huge overcard to the board, and definitely something which Bert could be holding and with which he could have gotten into the pot. There are almost $23 in the pot at this point, Bert makes another $5 bet, but this time I’m sure that he’s made his hand. I even say, “I know you didn’t have anything, but I know that you’ve got aces now. I’m going to call just because I want to see it.” I call, and Bert turns over his A-3. His kicker didn’t even play. He had been on a three-outer after the flop, which gave him a 12.49% chance to pass me up.

I had made three perfect reads, and I still lost $15.

I Was Scared: Oscar’s a legit player. He doesn’t play around too much or force action on feeler hands. Also, he was sitting to my left, which meant that he had position on me the entire night.

It’s a dangerous place to be, but having Oscar sitting where he was helped me to stay disciplined because I didn’t want to make a play and have Oscar smooth-call me. I especially didn’t want him re-raising me because then he’d have position on me for the duration of any given hand.

But then I got a hand where I didn’t think that I’d have to worry about any of that. I look down, and I’ve got A-K offsuit. Big Slick. And, better still, I've got Jesse to my right. He gives a lot of action with some pretty silly bets, and he’ll tend to stay with you if you re-raise him until at least after the flop.

Sure enough, Jesse makes it $2.50 to go pre-flop. I don’t think for a second before I make it $7.50 to go. I expect folds behind me and for Jesse and me to be heads-up for the duration of the hand. Not exactly, because Oscar, without any hesitation, makes it $12.50.

Counting the antes and blinds there’s already $24.75 in the pot, and I’m getting nearly five to one to make a call. It’s an automatic. But Oscar’s not in unless he’s holding something awfully pretty, probably at least a really high pair. I have almost no faith anymore in my A-K, but I make the call anyway.

The flop could hardly have been any better for me—A-K-X—but I’m still worried that I’m behind. I check my hand, and Oscar, obviously not scared by the flop, bets another $5. I call, fully expecting that I’m still behind. A junk card comes on the turn, I check, he bets $5, and I call. I’m not even sure at this point what I’m hoping will land on the board.

Another worthless card lands on the river, I check again, and Oscar bets again. There's now $54.75 in the pot, and I’m sure that I’m beat. I am convinced that Oscar has pocket aces and that the flop, which looked to be so good for me, was actually a disaster. Not that I ever thought that I was ahead, but just because it would take a better man than me to fold flopped aces and kings. I say, “I’m going to call even though I know that you’ve got pocket aces.” I push my chips into the pot at the same time that I turn over my A-K.

Oscar then turns over his hand. A-J. I had led the whole way, and he had needed running jacks to pass me up.

I stand up and say, “Thank Christ.” As I walk outside, I say, “Oscar, you scared the hell out of me.” I sit down, and I’m half stunned as I rake in the $59.75 pot.

I had been raising Jesse on a bunch of pots because that’s often the best way to deal with overly aggressive players to your right. You get them in isolations and put pressure on them and over time you’ll tend to pull money out of them. Most of the time, I had had legitimate hands, but once or twice I showed down bluffs after Jesse folded, and I think that Oscar thought that my raise of Jesse’s bet had been another bluff.

Eighty-Three Percent: Tonight, five out of the six players who played actually made some money. That hardly ever happens; usually the split is closer to fifty-fifty or forty-sixty. Somewhere in that range.

I was almost on the losing side, but I came out ahead for a grand total of $2.75. Two other guys each made $11.25, one made $14.75, and Bert made $120. A quick calculation tells you that one player, who, to ensure that he doesn’t have to put in serious Couch Time™, will remain nameless, lost $160.

The Power of the De Luna Brand: My big bro bought in for $55 to start, but that didn’t last very long. He bought another forty, but that also disappeared. At this point, my big bro stopped playing. I thought that maybe he was going to call it a night. A lot of players would. He got up, went to his ride, where I thought he was getting ready to leave, but he came back with a Ben Franklin and bought in again.

At this point, he was in for $195, but that hundred was getting chopped into, too.

Did my big bro get discouraged? Did he tighten up? Did he play scared? You must not know how De Lunas roll.

My big bro fought back to close to even, and then on the last hand of the night he got at least $17 each from Jesse and me, and he ended up winning the second most for the night. It was only $14.75, but it’s still pretty impressive considering from how far back he made his comeback.

I couldn’t be prouder of my big bro.

A Hamburger, Maybe: Is what I could have bought with my winnings: $2.75. The YTD’s up to +$443.50 and the overall’s at 16-9.

22 June 2007

The Las Vegas Trip: it’s all booked and we’re ready to go. I’m staying there from the 8th to the 12th of July, as is Bert and his special lady. My big bro might be going, and he’ll either drive up with me, or fly in, depending on his work and such.

So, there might be three members of the poker crew in Las Vegas that week. It’s going to be sweet.

June’s No Good: Historically speaking, I've tended to have bad Junes. So far this year, I've lost $96 in four games, going 2-2, and there’s one more week to go. That sounds bad, but it could be worse.

In 2005, I went 2-2 and lost $131.50. And June 2006 was the worst month that I've ever had at a poker table. I went 0-5 (the first of the only two five-game losing streaks that I've ever had [both of which went down in 2006]) and lost $605.75, which was a mind-blowing 94.46% of the profit that I had managed to make in the first five months of the year. So, bright side, at least I can’t do as badly as I did last year.

I mean, theoretically, I could have a night in which I lose $507 because it wouldn’t be out of the question for me to play badly enough to do just that. What makes it impossible, though, is the fact that I have a new $200 limit for how much I’ll lose in a night. It used to be $300, but I finally decided that that was probably a little too irresponsible and self-destructive. So, worst-case, I could lose almost $300 for the month of June, but it’ll still be a 50% improvement from last year.

The Target: I had also been hoping to be up right around $500 at this point in the year. That way, I’d have a chance to get to $1,000 by the end of the year, a grand being the target winning amount for which I always aim; as you can see, though, so far I’m 0 for 2 on that goal. Still, this year, I have a decent chance. If I can have a moderate win at the last game of June, I could be at almost $500, which would mean that I’d only have to make a slight improvement in the last half of the year. If however, I lose even a little bit, then it’s going to be a real battle to make The Grand™.

All-In: I was having an awful night. I couldn’t make hands, and the few times that I did, somebody else had a better hand.

I was down $50 in no time, had to re-buy with the Second Hundred™, cut into that bastard amazingly quickly, and found myself with a stack of about $11 in chips.

That’s right; I had dropped almost $190, and was on the verge of having to quit early for the first time ever because I had burned through both of my buy-ins.

I was looking for a strong hand after which I could put in all my chips pre-flop and hope for the best. I had hoped that this hand would be in hold 'em, and that it would be a made hand at which other players would be drawing at a disadvantage.

The problem was that we were playing a lot of Omaha, and I wasn’t getting many made hands. Finally, I looked down at J-10-9-6, with a heart draw. Not an ideal hand, but a reasonable hand with which to draw if I could get all of my money in early.

Bert obliged me by making it $5 to go. I thought long and hard. My first instinct was to fold and look for a better spot, but Bert likes to make a lot of plays at pots, so his hand may not have been much better than mine. If it were better, I’d still have a hand that could improve in a number of ways.

I re-raised Bert and went all-in. At that point, Bert was getting 3 to 1 to call, so even if he had been on a bluff or semi-bluff, he’d have to call. He does call, and he turns over two rags to go along with his pocket kings. I’m decidedly behind and in need of some help.

The flop gives Bert a set of kings, but also gives me an open-ended straight draw, and I complete the J-10-9-8-7 straight on the turn. Bert’s drawing nearly dead at the river, and I manage to double up to a little over $22. Not great, but I now have a little room to maneuver and I don’t necessarily have to make any grand moves to win pots.

The Long Crawl: So now I had $22. Not a lot, but my fear of my being knocked out of the game was eased a little bit. I could really tighten up and just try to get to our agreed-upon end time. I’d only play hands where I had a good hand going in and a solid chance of pulling in big pots.

Little by little my cards started to hold up. Then I drew out twice on some big pots. Arizona wasn’t too happy, but both times I had been getting great pot odds, and making the calls was reasonable.

As it’s approaching 3:00 a.m. and we’re getting to the last few hands of the night, I’m only down a little over $70. I’m not saying that $70 isn't a lot, but it sure beats losing $189.

Nasty Business, Again: The second-to-last hand of the night. I’ll be honest; I’m hoping to get junk so that I can fold out on the last few hands and be happy that I only lost $70 when it had been so much worse.

But then Arizona deals hold 'em, and I look down at my hole cards. A-K. Big slick. A monster hand.

Great. I could win a lot of money on this hand, but I could also lose a lot of money on this hand if it misses and I play it badly.

The worst way to play A-K is, of course, to play it passively. Whatever Jesse does, my play is to raise him.

The flop lands queen-high. I don’t think that Jesse has a queen, and I’m certain that he doesn’t have a pocket pair, a hand with which he probably would have re-raised me. He bets the $5, and I almost immediately call. The turn is another blank, but Jesse still bets the $5. At this point, I’m already into the hand for $12.75 and there’s $29.50 in the pot. Most importantly, though, is the fact that I just don’t think that Jesse’s hand is that strong. I make the call.

The river is another low card that I don’t think helps Jesse. This time, he checks. I’m not sure why he’s checking at the end after he called my $5 pre-flop raise and then max bet the flop and the turn. I hadn't thought that he had had anything all along, but neither do I want to bet $5 here only to have Jesse check-raise me for another $5, a $5 that I’d have to call.

I also check, and turn over my A-K. Jesse then turns over his A-J. We had both missed badly on the flop, and then Jesse had made two plays at the pot. He had been drawing thin the whole way, having three jacks in the deck that helped him, so I had been in great position from the start.

Counting the antes and blinds, I win $18.75 in this hand, and I finish the night down only $49.75. But the YTD crawls under $400 to end up at +$393.75 and the won-loss falls to 16-10.

29 June 2007

Everybody’s a Baller: I know a guy who had expressed interest in poker whenever he and I got a chance to talk. I ran into him last week, and he said that perhaps we should put a game together. No need, my man, I responded. I then informed him that I’ve been co-running a weekly game for thirty-two months and that I would put him on the e-mail list.

This happened on a Friday, a few hours before that week’s game, so I put him on the e-mail list for the upcoming game, which was tonight’s.

I usually send out the e-mail Tuesday evening; that way, there’s plenty of time to get in RSVPs and to make any adjustments to time and/or location. This week’s e-mail went out on Tuesday, and I got the usual number of RSVP’s; Bert even said that he knew of a guy who might want to sit in on this Friday’s game. Sweet, more players means more action, so word up.

One guy who’s not RSVPing is the guy with whom I had talked. This week there was some talk of moving the game to Saturday, so I sent out a follow-up e-mail on Wednesday in order to let everybody know that we were still solid for Friday. My guy didn’t respond to that e-mail, either, but that could have been for any number of reasons. Those of you out there who are in long-term things with your respective beloveds know that sometimes permission, if it is granted, is granted at the absolute last minute, you know, just to keep you on your toes and grateful for the few seconds that he or she lets you have fun without him or her.

(Sometimes, of course, your request for going out is rejected with extreme prejudice, but that’s what they invented sneaking out for.)

The other reason that a person might not respond is because you really don’t want to get down at the poker table after all, but you’re too embarrassed to say so. My guy didn’t e-mail at all.

What a surprise. Every single guy whom I have invited from this group of people has wussed out every single time. There was even one guy who I called just about every week for about two months who always found an excuse to not come play; eventually I deleted his sorry-ass number from my mobile.

Bert’s guy punked out, too, But at least Bert’s guy called in and opted out because he had to work on Saturday. Hey, man, for most of the year I have to be at my Saturday gig by 7:45 a.m., and I’ve managed to play Friday poker and get to work in a semi-coherent state, so, come on, dude, you could have made it.

Arizona’s Skilled Up: It’s late in the evening, I’m stuck about $40, and I’m not getting any cards. Finally, I look down at pocket kings in the big blind. We’re three-handed—Bert, Arizona, and Big Daddy—so you can play many more types of hands. You can even raise with them. Bert’s first to act, and he mucks his cards. Arizona’s in a great position to steal, so he might push with just about any two cards. Instead, though, he calls.

Now it’s up to me to make a play. I want to get money into the pot, which is just at $1.75 with antes and blinds, but if I make too big a bet, Arizona might fold out, and I don’t get anything at all. Pocket kings aren’t very vulnerable, so I decide to slow-play them and try to get action with them on later rounds. I check my blind.

The flop lands 10-8-3, with two diamonds, and I’m hoping that Arizona got a piece of it, maybe even top pair, so that he’ll put some money into the pot and I can raise him and either get a fold, or, best case, get a raise that I can then re-raise. I make a small bet of $1.50 into the $1.75 pot, and Arizona immediately says that he “fucked up.” He looks a little frustrated that he didn’t play his hand like he should have.

That lets me know four things: One, he’s probably holding an ace and didn’t bet it, doing a little slow-playing of his own. Two, he probably thinks that he had me beat pre-flop and that he should have bet then but instead let me catch for free. Three, that I’ve paired the board and am now a 4-to-1 favorite to win the hand. And, four, that he’s folding.

Sure enough, he folds, but turns over his cards to show me that he had had A-J. I flip over my kings

I had actually underbet the flop. With two diamonds out there, I probably should have gotten more money in there so that Arizona would be pushed off of a flush draw

Dragovic: There used to be this guy that played in our game all of the time. He was part of the Classic Five. He was pretty cool. But then he fell in love. He hardly ever plays now, but he’s still on the e-mail list, so he always knows what’s going on, and where.

Tonight, I’m in the middle of setting up the Summer Poker Room when I get a call on my mobile. It’s a number that I don’t recognize, so I always ignore those calls because there’s a giant list of people whom I am trying to avoid. Seven pages, single-spaced. But it’s poker night, so it might be one of the poker crew guys calling from some random phone. I answer it, and the caller asks for “Blas.”

I’ve never gone by just Blas; I go by either “Manuel,” the name most people know me by, or by “Blas Manuel,” so I’m not sure who the hell is calling.

It’s Ivan, calling in to get in on the tournament. He’s played five times in the first six months, most often in the last few months. What does that mean? Remember that I was talking about love?

Bad for him, but good for us.

The Summer Room: I mentioned earlier that I spent part of the evening getting the Summer Room ready. It’s pretty easy because I’ve already done it for two years, but this year was different. Now that we’re playing a little mini-tournament before the cash game, I also had to figure out where to set up the tournament table.

I know that it seems easy: Find a clear spot, and drop that bastard in. Yes, but its location has to be pleasing to the eye. I trained in aesthetics, and it would be a violation of everything that I’d been taught if I didn’t try to maximize the beauty of the placement of that table.

I spent about twenty minutes moving the cash table and the tournament table from place to place to place to place, and I think that I found a setup that’s quite lovely.

Of course, none of the guys even said a thing.

Duplicate CDs: I order a lot of CDs online, but there’s a problem: I don’t have the hard drive space that I need to put them on my rig, which means that I've got a little over eighteen months of CDs—118 of them—just sitting around.

Well, make that 116. When you buy CDs and just stack them up in your “New CDs Stack,” you end up forgetting that you’ve already purchased some of them in the past. I was reminded of this fact when earlier this week I decided to organize the “New CDs Stack” and found that I had ended up with two copies of The Eels’ “Blinking Lights and Other Revelations,” and the Magic Numbers self-titled debut.

Yeah, that’s dumb, but also kind of funny. What to do with these duplicate CDs? Easy: I’ll give them away at the poker game.

Nobody but Ivan showed the slightest interest, which, I’ll admit, was a little bit painful, especially after nobody had made mention of the lovely Summer Poker Room layout.

But then it got worse. I told Ivan to throw his new CDs into the stereo so that we could all listen to them. Nobody said one complimentary thing about the music. Arizona was dissing the music, but I got payback by dealing Omaha because I know that he hates Omaha.

After a while Ice did say a few nice things about the music, but that was because I kept asking him if he thought that the songs were “pretty cool.” Probably, he was just trying to get me to shut up.

June Blows: I had yet another bad June. Tonight, I lost $36.75. I went 3-2 for June and lost $132.75, taking the YTD to a lame-ass +$357.00 and the miserable overall to a miserable 16-11.

That’s three bad Junes in a row. Next year, I’m going to spend June traveling. Even if I’m broke, I’ll just drive around for a month and sleep in my car. Maybe I’ll hide out for the month of June. I’m turning off my mobile, ignoring e-mail, refusing to answer knocks on my door, even if my place is on fire.