Ladies and luck

Thursday, December 11th, 2003, 7:04 pm

Would it be terribly sexist of me to mention that the finalists in last night’s WPT show were extremely easy on the eyes? Especially right off the bat, before even mentioning the play and the results and all that? It would? Oh well. Anyway, I was rooting for Clonie to win, both because I find her extremely fetching and because a woman saddled with the first name “Cyclonia” deserves our pity and support.

Watching the show last night made me realize that I’m never going to be a top high-stakes poker player. Actually, just watching Annie Duke convinced me of that. Duke is a mom four times over, four times she has brought new life into this world thanks to the miracle of childbirth. Has this softened her, made her a kinder, gentler, more nuturing soul? To her kids, maybe. But watching her stare down her opponents with those scathing eyes made me fear the shrieking predator that lies just under her genteel surface. I’d rather play 50 games of chess against Howard Lederer while locked up in a box than one round of Hold’em with his sister. She flat-out terrifies me, and I mean that as a compliment, honestly.

Not that she did too well last night. Nor did Harmon or Liebert. I’d never seen a female player wear sunglasses at the table before, and after seeing Liebert’s nightmare shades I hope I never do again. More bad dreams for Mean Gene.

I think Daniel Negraneu should thank his lucky stars Duke didn’t rip out his thorax for cheering like a maniac after his girlfriend Evelyn Ng knocked Duke out. Set up a Duke-Negraneu bout and I’ll give you 50-1 odds that Annie leaves nothing behind but a blood-soaked goatee. Did I mention I’m afraid of Annie Duke?

Maureen Feduniak did well, and during the show it was revealed that she’d won a poker tournament at Bellagio. Not bad for a woman that the WSOP coverage on ESPN described as the very personification of “dead money”. Even if Feduniak played in the “English grandmother NL Hold’Em” tournament, a win is a win, and she played pretty well last night.

While the cards flew on TV they also flew on my computer. A tough, yet rewarding night. I didn’t play a hand the first 30 or so hands. I think I got 10-6 offsuit 15 times. A ten would appear, and I would say, “…and here comes the six” and sure enough a six popped up. Muck, muck, muck.

I won a nice little pot with AK when I made two pairs on the flop, and then another long dry spell. It isn’t fun sitting there watching other people play–until you start playing and losing. I had A-8s in the big blind and the betting was raised and re-raised before it got to me. A buck to play, but with a chance at the nut flush I went along.

The flop came A-8-2. Very tasty. I just called the bet, luring the fish to my trap. The turn was a six. I bet, the next two folks folded, and the guy behind me raised. What? Did he have trips? Then why not raise after the flop? I couldn’t see him with pocket sixes. I called.

The river was a nine. I bet. He raised. Crap. Did he have A-9? A-2? Should I jam it and break this slob to my will? The board showed a 6, 8 and 9. No straight draw, right? Right?

Uh, wrong. I called, and he showed 5-7. Offsuit. The chips moved his way and my jaw hung like Wile E. Coyote watching the Road Runner go “Beep beep!” before zipping over the horizon. What the hell was this yutz calling three bets before the flop with 5-7 offsuit? Why was he still in the pot when he needed to go runner-runner to make a straight? Why was my cat looking at me like I was off my nut? Because I was screaming, perhaps?

Things went downhill from there. I had A-J and flopped top two pair. Raise, raise, raise to the river, when I’m re-raised. I call, and my foe shows his pocket fives, made trips by the five on the river. “Am I having fun yet?” I snarled to Ernie the Cat. He twitched his tail and went back to sleep.

But I didn’t tilt, or at least I didn’t start playing goofy. I was going to quit at 11, and even though I was down $20 I knew I’d keep my promise. And then lightning struck. I had K-10 and called, and the flop rewarded me with a king. I bet and five others came along for the ride. The turn showed a glorious 10. This time I raised, but was unable to chase anyone out. A rag on the river, a final raise, and I showed my top two pair.

The very next hand I have K-8s. The flop comes K-8-4. Everyone calls my bet. No overcards to my pairs show on the turn and river and my raises get 2 callers. I fear trips, yet my fears are unfounded. Mean Gene rakes in another fat pot.

I played my two hours, won maybe 5 hands, was down $20 and in despair, and ended three bucks in the black. Just goes to show you that you have to keep that upper lip stiff, never give in to the darkness that haunts the soul. And flop top two pair every so often and have them hold up.

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