I am NOT a gambling addict!

Friday, December 12th, 2003, 12:43 pm

After volleyball and during the beer-drinking and wing-eating that follows my friend Rick accused me of being addicted to gambling. Or, at least, addicted to Hold’Em. Rick is fond of hyperbole, and, anyway, he’s a jerk. I’m not a poker addict. I like to play, I enjoy it immensely, but I’m not addicted. I can step away from the tables when I’m down, I don’t risk money I can’t afford to lose, I play within my means. Old-time poker giants would sometimes belittle a tight player by saying, “He ain’t got no gamble in him”. That’s me, unfortunately. I pick my spots for aggression, I trust the occasional hunch, but it just isn’t in my makeup to be a wild and wooly gambler. I’m boring.

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t go home last night and log on for a few quick hands. I’m always a bit wired after volleyball and beer and I wanted to play a bit to relax. And to prove to Rick that I’m not an addict. Thirty minutes and then bedtime. OK, maybe forty. An hour, tops.

Twenty minutes in I was wishing I’d just gone to bed. The game followed what is becoming a depressingly familiar pattern–junk hands for the first 3 or 4 orbits, and then a few speculative hands that don’t pan out. After 20 minutes I hadn’t won a hand and had my top two pair lose to trips in my only showdown. I was also irritated by the guy sitting to my right, who raised the pot nearly every hand. That made me throw away most of my speculative hands, and I don’t like being bossed at the table by some would-be tough guy who thinks a fifty-cent raise makes him the next Stu Unger. I would have delivered a nut-crushing re-raise if I could’ve gotten a hand better than 8-3, but no such luck.

Until what turned out to be my final hand of the night. I was down about ten bucks and feeling pretty low, but I decided it was time to push away from the table and prove to Rico and myself that I’m a recreational player, not some degenerate card skank. Plus I was sleepy.

I was dealt J-10. An interesting hand, one I like to play. Mr. Bigbet of course raised the pot and I called, but then the guy right after me re-raised. Six players put three bets in the pot, so we had some nice action going. The flop came 9-Q-3. Oh, baby. Open-ended straight draw. I had to call three bets to stay in, but with two shots at the nut straight I tossed in my chips.

The turn was a five. Again the bet was raised, this time by a different player. No one re-raised by the time it got to me. Pay a buck to see the river? Six outs for the nuts, and a very big payday. The pot odds demanded I toss in my dollar, and I did. Last hand, let’s see what happens.

And what happened was one of those events that make playing poker so much fun, so rewarded, so…addictive. The river came up a mighty, benevolent King. I looked at it, and looked at it, and looked at it some more. I don’t think I’m ever going to be a successful casino player because I’m sure my face lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree. Plus I actually counted the cards out loud, “9…10…jack…queen…king”, to ensure I wasn’t delusional, and I think that’s a tell.

No raises this time around, until my turn came and I gleefully charged the three other players an additional buck to see my cards. I was hoping for a re-raise but that was unreasonable, and when I turned over my J-10 I’m sure there was howling and cursing a plenty. I raked in a $27 pot, by far the biggest I’ve won so far, and that one king turned what would have been a $15 loss for the session into a $10 gain.

I slept the sleep of the triumphator, which means that I crawled into bed and had two cats crowd me into a corner. But a happy sleep nonetheless.

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