Delightful Blood Syndrome: The August 2007 Poker Report

(Editor's Note: Again, it only took me one day after the last one to get this bastard to go live on my website. At this rate, I'll be caught up in no time.)

3 August 2007

320.8: Some people play a lot of hands. There’s a word for them: suckers. Over time, they’ll lose more than they win. But that’s over time. Sometimes, they’ll go on a streak of out-of-this-world luck.

Here’s an example: Twice Jesse and Bert went heads-up with Jesse holding pre-flop three-outers. Those pre-flop three-outers only happen when you and a heads-up opponent share one card and your kicker is worse than your opponent’s, which means that it needs to pair in order for you to win; otherwise, his better kicker holds up and you lose.

The odds of winning even one is 18.75%. The odds of winning two? 3.5%, roughly one-in thirty-three. And, of course, Jesse won both of those hands.

I felt Bert’s pain. Then I really felt it when a few short hands later Jesse and I went heads-up. Both of us had made a pair on the flop, my pair being better than his. We also shared a card, so that meant that Jesse was on a post-flop two-outer, making him about 8.9% to hit by the river.

He hit on the turn. Of course he did. So, let’s do some math: the odds of Jesse winning either one of his hands against Bert was 5.34-to-1 and the odds of Jesse winning his hand against me was 11.25-to-1. The equation then, is this: (5.34)(5.34)(11.25)=Jesse’s chance of winning all three hands.


The Hammer: But it got much, much worse. The Hammer is 7-2, the worst starting hand in poker. If you pair either card, you're usually nowhere. You can’t make a straight that uses both of your cards. And you can only make really weak flushes.

The only good thing about catching the Hammer is that you can dump it pre-flop and take a hand off from the grind.

You certainly don’t call the big blind from early position. And you especially don’t call a raise to $3.50, the standard 3.5-times-the-big-blind bet that’s designed to knock out weak hands.

The reason that you bet the $3.50 was so that a flop like 2-2-8 doesn’t scare you. What could somebody realistically be holding that could beat you? Pocket deuces, but that’s highly unlikely. Pocket eights, but that’s still pretty unlikely.

If you were beat, you were beat pre-flop, and the board had nothing to do with it.

But I sensed that something was amiss.

The person who had led out, Ice, doesn’t play junk hands, so I knew that he was coming in heavy. I knew that the flop had missed him, but he bet the flop and the turn and the river, so he definitely had something worth playing.

The person doing the calling? Jesse. As soon as he called the post-flop bet, I knew that he had a deuce. I also knew that he didn’t have pocket deuces. I was just wondering what crappy kicker he had to go along with his deuce.

At the showdown, Jesse flipped over his 7-2. Ice looked disgusted, half-stunned. Poker etiquette dictates that he didn’t have to show his cards even though he had been called down. Still, he flipped over A-K, the best non-pair starter hand.

It was a nightmare. Jesse had played the hand about as amateurishly as one could, yet he still made $18.50 from it.

Delightful Blood Syndrome: This week’s game was at Bert’s, and he had just finished having built a cool patio in the back of his house.

We thought that it’d be nice to play out there, but I had a little problem. I don’t know if you know, but there are some people who are more prone to getting bitten by bugs than are others.

Some people can be outside all day in the middle of a swamp and never be bitten by a mosquito. Others of us can be outside for about three seconds and be bitten by the one mosquito in the zip code.

It has to do with blood chemistry. Some of us just have tasty blood. I, myself, have tasty blood, and the bugs just can’t get enough of it. It’s a compliment, really, but also a drag.

I have to be really vigilant when I’m outdoors. I even carry a can of that Deep-Woods Off! shit in my car so that I can baste myself if I know that I’m going to be outside. But the decision to play on the patio was spur-of-the-moment, so I was going to have to free-style it.

Free-style means that I have to be hyper-aware of my skin so that I can react if I feel any bug land on me. I wasn’t hyper-aware enough, though, because one got me on my lower left shin.

Otherwise, I did a great job of not being bitten.

Porno-Style: But that hyper-awareness can make me look kind of silly, I guess. One bug landed on my neck, and it proceeded to crawl into my T-shirt. I jumped up and started shaking out my T-shirt and sort of freaking out.

Everybody thought that it was a hoot.

That’s when I had to explain that I had delightful blood. I even gave it a name: Delightful Blood Syndrome. Honestly, I think that the other guys probably ended up a little jealous of me because, really, who wouldn’t want to have delightful blood?

I also explained that every time that a bug landed on me that it was trying to “love me up and down, porno-style.”

It Wasn’t Manly: But then I ruined it a few minutes later. It was my turn to deal, so I had the deck in my extended left hand while I was flinging cards with my right. I felt something land on the back of my left palm, in between my thumb and my index finger.

I sort of yelled and tried to shake the insect off, but it wouldn’t budge. I stopped flailing my arm wildly and took a closer look at the insect. No, it wasn’t a huge blood-sucking helicopter-looking creature.

It was a cute little ladybug.

In Contrast: To the ladybug fiasco, I proved macho in the poker game. I made $76 straight, moved the YTD up to +$434.25, but the overall is still an anemic 19-14

10 August 2007

Where’d He Go?: So Ivan came back for about a minute, but he’s gone again. He’s the Pynchon of our game. The next time that we see him, he’ll probably be guest starring on The Simpsons.

It Was a Delight: Arizona plays in a softball league on Fridays before he comes over for the game, so sometimes he arrives late. Today was one of those times. When he walked in, I couldn’t help but notice that he smelled great.

I know that compliments are hard to come by, and with my being secure in my hetero-ness and with my having a hard, hard rep on the streets, I told him that he smelled great. I asked what cologne he was using because I thought that I might want to get down on a bottle myself, but he said that that smell was just soap. That’s some badass soap.

Q-6 vs. A-K: Ice has picked up this annoying habit of doubling the blind with a minimum pre-flop raise. It’s been a drag because that means that he’s always chasing after my big blind because he usually sits immediately to my left.

I was tired of that shit so when he made it $2 to go on my small blind, I re-raised to $5, thinking that he’d probably fold a junk hand or call because he was getting 3-1 on his money and I could then bet a non-scary flop and win the pot.

Nope. He makes it $10 to go, so now it’s me who’s getting 3-1 on his money. I know that I’m way behind but that I probably have two live cards, which means that I’m way better than 3-1 to call.

I call, and the flop lands Q-Q-K rainbow, which means that, with my Q-6, I've flopped trip queens. Ice checks, but I bet $5, hoping that he’s got a king and will never put me on three of a kind.

Instead, Ice folds. It’s a great fold because he had figured out that I had had a queen and he stuck with his read. I confirm this by turning over my cards. That was when Ice turned over his A-K and lost his mind a little bit.

I explain that I was tired of him doubling my blinds and had made a defensive play, had gotten 3-1 to call at the end, and had thought I had two live cards, but Ice didn’t want to hear it.

Magic Money: It was bound to happen. Ice borrowed from me after getting his heart stomped out of him for most of the night, which is usually the first step in anybody’s comeback.

For the first time ever, it didn’t work. The heart stomping continued.

I posited that the Magic Money’s failure had to do with the fact that Ice had borrowed the quan in small amounts instead of getting the whole chunk at once, as has been the common practice. I further posited that the Magic Money’s power had somehow been diluted by these small increments, as if it’s true majesty had been disguised, and, thus, somehow negated.

I Do What I Can: At last week’s game, Bert barbecued up some tasty-ass food. Not to be outdone, for tonight’s game, I stopped at McDonalds and picked up some sandwiches from their vaunted $1 menu. Hey, I’m not rich.

Five each of the McChickens and the double cheeseburgers. Everybody got down, and, cool, there were even two left over at the end of the game. What does that mean?

That’s easy: breakfast.

Speaking of Quan: I lost a fuckload of it. -$82.00, boning the YTD down to +$352.25 and pimp-slapping the overall to 19-15

17 August 2007

It Was Bound to Happen: One of our long-standing poker players will officially be disinvited from future poker games. He will never again get the heads-up about our upcoming schedule. There is a three-person executive council—my big bro, Bert, and Big Daddy (I’m Big Daddy)—but I serve a triple purpose for our game: because my big bro has got a million things going on, I am also the pseudo-host when the game is at my big bro’s, which means that I prep either the Winter Poker Room or the Summer Poker Room, and get the snacks and drinks set up.

More importantly, I am also the de facto secretary, which means that I am the one who coordinates places and times and sends out the weekly e-mail invitation.

And after I fought to keep him in the game and tried (but failed) to keep his house as one of the venues for our game, this cat kept screwing up. I know that it might be painful for him, and I feel like hell about it, but my ultimate responsibility is to the game. And if that means cutting out a player from the poker crew, then that’s how it’s going to have to go down.

Disintegration: So now I can see the game dying. There were moments when one or more of our regulars couldn’t/wouldn’t get out to the game as much, but there were always enough players among our core- and part-time members that we had always been able to run a game. But now we’ve lost one of the five players who is almost always there.

That’s a big hit to take, and I’m not sure that we can sustain it.

This Burger Tastes Like Tears: We’re starting our weekly games with a tournament nowadays, which is a whole other kind of fun. These no-limit tournaments especially bring out the bully in Jesse and in Bert.

They will push and push and push and make as many of your decisions as high-stakes as they can.

In one of the first couple of hands, with blinds still at 1-2, I made it ten to go, and the action folded back to Bert, who called. The flop landed 9-9-3, Bert checked, and I bet 25. Bert immediately said, “All in,” completely taking me aback.

He can’t have a 3 in his hand, not for an eight-chip raise, unless he has pocket threes and flopped a boat. But then he’d slow-play them and let me hang myself.

Right? Pocket nines is a possibility, but he’d be even more likely to slow-play that. He could have something like A-9 or K-9, but those are pretty weak holdings, especially against a player like me, one who only really gets involved when he has really strong hands. If he had a pair that was better than the board, 10-10 through A-A, he would have bet back pre-flop, I think.

It’s early in the tournament, and, thus, he and I are pretty even in chips (though he had four or five more chips than did I), so I don’t think that he’s risking nearly his entire stack on a pretty risky/borderline reckless play.

But Bert’s a bluffer, and an all-in really looks like it could be a bluff, but maybe that’s what he wants me to think so that I’ll call off against his huge made hand.

There’s no part of how he’s played his hand that makes sense to me, and I have absolutely no read as to what he could possibly be holding. Whatever it is, I know that I can’t be good.

I think about it for a good, long time, but I eventually fold.

Bert flips over Q-5. A pure bluff. I jump out of my seat and start yelling, “Oh, fuck! Fuck! Bert, you're a hustler!” and so on.

The jacked up thing is that I had been working on a Jumbo Jack while we were in the middle of the hand, and I had had a few bites left. I love Jumbo Jacks like crackheads love crack or Republicans love injustice, but the ass-kicking that Bert had just given me took all of the joy out of the last few bites.

(Bonus Philosophizing: As we all know, the last bites of a hamburger are especially delicious and tragic. it's like being at the end of your life, knowing that that's where you are, and trying to find as much joy as is possible.)

So, during thte next hand, just before taking a bite, I said, “This hamburger tastes like tears.”

Also Tear-like: Was my play tonight. I coughed up $87.50, gang-raped the YTD down to +$264.75 and slid the overall to an embarrassing 19-16.

24 August 2007

It’s Settled: We officially lost a player this week. After many months of low-level concern and one particularly unfortunate action (intentionally burning and turning when there was still action behind, thus leading to a dead hand and general ill will), a player is now off of the e-mail list.

So, this week, I sent him I sent him a carefully worded explanatory e-mail. It was painful to write because I knew that it was going to be painful to read. I fully expected blowback—a nasty phone call on my mobile or a bitter e-mail response—but there was nothing, which, somehow, is a little sadder.

The general sense was that this cat had been out of line on enough occasions and that he had bought his disinvitation on himself. In fact, he had been problematic from the start, and there had been discussions from the very beginning on whether he should continue to play in our game. Ultimately, what kept him in was the fact that he was a really good poker player, and it would have been unseemly to kick out a player at the same time that he was making a ton of money. Ironically enough, if he had been losing money and enriching the other players, he would have been gone.

Still, I feel for the guy, though, as the game runner, it was fundamentally my decision to have had the conversation in regards to this player’s potential expulsion. I want it to work out for him and for him to come back, but it’s pretty clear from the conversation that we had that it will probably never happen.

It’s Complicated, Though: Because the banished player is Arizona’s boy. Not only that, but it was the banished player who originally brought Arizona to the game. Now we’re worried that Arizona, in allegiance with his buddy, might decide to bail on the game.

Which means that my play may have unintended consequences that could adversely affect the game. If Arizona had proved to be as problematic as his friend, then this wouldn’t be a problem, but Arizona’s cool: intelligent, funny, and, best of all, a good poker player.

More importantly, Arizona’s become one of the regulars. Not a once-or-twice-a-month player or an I’ll-make-it-when-I-can player, but an I’m-there-every-time player. If we lose him, then the core of players gets very small, and any other player’s absence will be greatly felt.

(Editor’s Note, 7 June 2008: Nope. Arizona’s still with us.)

The Nightmare: In the last thirty minutes, I lose $90 on three hands.

One on hand, Bert makes it $3.50 and I take it to $8.50. The flop junks out, but there’s a 5 and a 6. I bet the $5 and Bert calls. The turn is an 8. I maximum bet again, and, again, Bert makes the call. The river’s a 4, and now Bert comes out betting. I call, and he turns over his A-7 of hearts for a runner runner straight to the eight. He had called down with nothing after the flop and then hit big at the end.

On a previous hand, I turned a full house that was already dead to Bert’s flopped and better full house. I also paid into another flopped boat, but this time it was my big bro who got me.

The Nightmare, Continued: August has been fucked up. I haven't been getting cards; or, when I have, they haven't held up; or, Christ, they’ve been second-best hands.

People are self-deluded, generally, and self-delusion is the enemy of all arts and crafts. You need to be clear-eyed about your skills and abilities; thinking that you're better than you actually are at anything is a sure way to guarantee that you'll never get better.

So, what I’m saying is that you’ve got to be honest. And, honestly, I’m not playing that well. I just lost for the third game in a row, tonight’s loss being -$120.00, and have so far lost $213.50 for the month, violating the YTD down to +$144.75 and the overall to a nasty looking 19-17.

I’m not that far now from running a deficit for the year or having a losing record.

31 August 2007

The Family Line: Bert had e-mailed late in the week that he wouldn’t be able to attend, one of his rare absences from the game, so we weren’t expecting to have anybody from his line in the game.

Shine that noise. Oscar, Bert’s little brother, shows up to the game without having RSVPed and says that he had to represent for his family name.

Represent he did as he made some nice money.

The Segue: Ivan’s not been around since July 20ish and hadn’t RSVPed in forever, so he wasn’t expected to play. So it was a surprise when he showed up at all. What was a bigger surprise was that he stayed much longer than his announced departure time. Not because he was losing or winning but because he was having so much fun hanging out with his bros.

The Pop-ins: Were scary because a guy just got dis-invited a week ago, and he had made noise about just showing up to see what the deal was.

He had been warned away by one of his close friends in the game. He had also left me a message seeking to talk to me, but I’m no good at confrontation and still needed to talk to the other players so that we could come to a common agreement, so I hadn’t called back.

It was just like trying to break up with a girl who’s not getting that the thing’s over.

Fried Burritos: You know that life is a delight when you ask for eight fried burritos and instead get nine. Lovely life.

I killed five of those bastards to start (because I don’t eat, really, during the day) and managed to get down one more during the game.

They were so goddamn good. Even Ice said that you can’t screw up a fried burrito, a truth that all civilized people hold to be self-evident.

August Had Blown: The summer’s been bad, really bad, but August was worse. I had lost the last three weeks in a row, losing around $280 in the process, so I was only up about $145 for the year, which means that I was pulling the staggering sum of about $18 a month.

Another crappy night and I might go negative for the year, the latest that I’d ever run a deficit in our poker game. Tonight, however, I got it turned around a little bit and managed to make $93.00.

So now, with a YTD of +$237.75 and an overall of 20-17, there’s a little breathing room between my hating myself at the usual level (about an 8.975 out of 10) and my having to hate myself in the 9.0+ range.

Line of the Post

"I love Jumbo Jacks like crackheads love crack or Republicans love injustice..." Brilliant! - Arizona