Sunday, June 26, 2005

Poker Night - King of the Bad Beats

How is it that I manage to win two of four games, and still come out feeling...soiled? Violated? Vamboozled? Shanghai-ed? Shafted? Hi-jacked? How many more words can I come up with to describe...swindled? Screwed? Stepped on?

My mixture of bad luck and bad timing remains legendary, at least in my own mind.

Picture this: you're playing in a game that started out with eight players, and now has whittled itself down to three. You're looking at Rich, who has the big stack with at least twice as many chips as you have, and Melanie (Mel for short), who has about the same as you in chips.

The cards are dealt, and you are dealt pocket kings while in the big blind. I shudder to think how obvious it must be, given the situation, as to what you must do right now. You must gamble. With ice water in your veins (or, more likely, a couple of Moosehead beers), you push all-in. You almost don't expect a call, but with the blinds at a significant amount at this stage of the game, raking in Rich's call of your big blind and Mel's call from the small blind can't be considered too bad.

You do, however, get a call.

Mel has called you. A bit surprised (but pleased), you wonder what she has that could possibly compete with your cowboys, especially while three-handed; pocket kings are even stronger three-handed than they are with seven or eight players still left. You turn over your cards, and get a collective shout of surprise from the players who are observing.

Mel turns over her cards, and lo and behold, has pockets aces. Bullets. American Airlines. Alcoholics Anonymous. ACES, like that book about Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, and Tim Hudson that came out some time ago. That collective shout that went up after they saw your kings? Five times as loud when the aces are revealed.

You feel like you have the Titanic in your gut -- that's the only way to describe the sinking feeling. But, perking up a bit, you do realize that you simply need to catch one card to crack the aces and set yourself up for a showdown with Rich.

The flop comes: king of clubs, nine of clubs, and the 10 of spades. Holy mother of all that is Good, you've tripped your kings! You're ahead! Mel now has to catch a card to beat you! Hallelujah, Amen, and every other word of praise you can muster comes to mind.

The turn comes: 10 of clubs. A bit of luck, there, as Mel catches a club to put her on an ace high flush draw, but as it's the 10 of clubs, it gives you a full boat, kings full of tens, which effectively nullifies the flush draw and puts Mel down to one out card. Does your heart leap with joy? Do you pump your fist, pat yourself on the back, do a backflip? No, because there's one card left, and Mel has one out.

An ace.

Can you see the freight train coming? For me, I not only saw it, but I felt it, heard it, smelled it, and tasted it.

Mel apologized afterwards, but it wasn't necessary, because I expect for people to catch cards against me -- I've got the most fatalistic approach to all-ins of anyone I've played with. Whatever can happen to me, I expect to happen to me.

For instance, what does most everyone else do when flopping a king high flush? Many would slowplay it, hoping to induce bets from someone with a smaller flush, or let someone catch a smaller flush on the turn or river.

Me? Nope. Fatalistic. I assume somebody has the freaking ace of hearts, and if I let the turn and river come out, they'll catch a higher flush. So, I bet very, very strong, not minding if everyone folds. Jay said it was the most obvious flush he's ever seen. Yeah, it was, but then, he's not me. Fatalistic, remember?

Let me tell you what the flop actually was: two of hearts, seven of hearts, and five of hearts, to make the flush with my king/nine suited.

What did Rich have? Pocket twos.

So Rich has trips against my flush. For bonus points, can anyone tell me what Rich's three out cards were? If you said any two, seven, or five, pat yourself on the back.

Does anyone care to guess which of those outs hit, and where they hit? If you said a damn seven hit on the turn to give Rich his full boat, pat yourself on the back. Heck, somebody could've whipped my king high flush with 2/7 offsuit.

Friday night was right up there with the night I was twice beat (and put out) on all-ins by running fours (once when I had flopped another king high flush), courtesy of my nemesis and the Luckiest Sumbitch on the Planet, Luis, and the only guy who's more fatalistic than me, Donnie.

And let's not forget the tournament where I was put out, again, on a king high flush that I flopped, by a guy catching running queens to beat me.

I'm still the unluckiest poker player all of you know. Break out the violins, soothsayers, and slim, winsome women to sing me dirges of pain, death, and destruction -- all while kicking me in the balls, giving me wedgies, and taking my lunch money.

...okay, it's not that bad.

...wait, nevermind, yes it is.

And with all of this in mind, I'm going to play in a tournament today with a $50 buy-in, the winner to earn about $1500 dollars. There's to be 50 players. So, your friend Daniel (along with about four of five of my friends) will have a 2% chance to take home a nice chunk of change. Call me a glutton for punishment -- or, more aptly, a freaking poker addict.

Stay tuned for more tales of my glorious ascension, only to come plummetting back down to Earth in a fiery mass of bad luck. (chuckle)

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