Win by aces, die by aces

Wednesday, January 14th, 2004, 11:14 am

Congratulations to the lovely (if slightly weird looking) Nicole Sullivan, who won last night’s Celebrity Poker championship. I think she’s rather easy on the eyes (and Phil Gordon agrees) but I’ve had a few people say she’s a bit weird looking. I think it’s just that her face is so active, she has an extremely expressive face, probably thanks to years of making weird faces on Mad TV. Compare her to Nicole Kidman, whose face at times appears frozen in a mask of practiced serene beauty.

But Ms. Sullivan played some pretty good poker to win last night. In fact, last night’s show was pretty doggone good. It was actually fun to watch. And it seemed like the players were having fun to, maybe because they each drank about 9 beers. Even Phil Gordon loosened up some! He said that Nicole was much cuter than David Gross (natch), flirted shamelessly with Shannon Elizabeth, and then when Ben Affleck and David Schwimmer showed up in the Loser Lounge and talked about getting a game together, Phil asked if he could get in on the action. He wasn’t exactly John Belushi circa 1977, but he had by far his best night.

The play was at times decent, at times lousy, and even a few times compelling. The horseshoe finally fell out of Paul Rudd’s ass and he got knocked out when Sullivan filled a runner-runner inside straight. Rudd was gutshot indeed, going out in 3rd place when he should have doubled-up. It was an absolutely horrid call by Nicole, who had nothing against Rudd’s set of sixes, but she lucked out bigtime and the momentum carried her to the title.

David Gross was rather funny, in a loud and drunken way. Willie Garson, who in his previous game played his J-4 offsuits like pocket aces, was dealt pocket kings and played them like, well, J-4 offsuit. He let Gross catch him on the river and got knocked out in a most emasculating way. Rudd flopped a straight to knock out Richard Schieff and give himself a huge chip lead, but he was unaware that he’d just used up the last of his luck. And, apparently, his brains, as he made some truly horrible plays shortly before Sullivan KO’ed him with her one-in-fifty-shot.

Oh, and can someone tell me how Gordon calculates percentages in his head that fast? In a 3-way pot he says things like “Willie is 57% favorite” and I’m still punching data into CardPlayer’s Hand Analyzer. This stuff is dubbed in afterwards, right? He can’t do the math in his head that fast? ‘Cause that wouldn’t be fair.

All in all, the final episode wasn’t too bad. The best of what had been up to that point a pretty sad lot. The rich and famous are different than you and me, yes? Affleck and Schwimmer show up to watch the game, they’re on TV, right…and then they get up and leave before the taping’s done. You or me would give our left (fill in the blank) to appear on TV, yet these guys can’t be bothered. Oh well. Schwimmer’s acting career will forever be poisoned by fans identifying him as the Ross, and once J-Lo finally tires of Affleck he’ll be reduced to dating mere strippers and starring in the occasional mid-level blockbuster. Losers.

Actually, if you’ll allow me the digression, what the hell happened to David Schwimmer on Friends? One of the driving forces of the show’s early success was the Ross/Rachel romance. Could a schlub from high-school who got his act together win the heart of the cheerleader who wouldn’t give him the time of day back when? You rooted for Ross, because just about every guy has a girl from those awkward teenage years who was, like, THE girl. And you watched and hoped he’d succeed where you so miserably and, at times, criminally failed.

But as the show progressed Ross became a figure first of pity (when his jealousy cost him Rachel), then of contempt (when he couldn’t/wouldn’t get his act together and try again with her) and finally of disgust. I mean, it seems like on every episode Ross does something that is beneath the dignity of even the most pathetic male. More and more he acts like an overgrown pre-teen, more and more he makes a complete and utter fool of himself while thinking himself the epitome of cool. He was always a geek and a nerd, but now those qualities have totally subsumed his personality. And I can’t STAND the guy. The idea of Jennifer Aniston having a child with this…this…WUSS makes me doubt the sanity of the cosmos. He’s a WUSS! Don’t mix your very appealing DNA with his! You’re polluting future generations! Nip this jerk in the bud! His sister’s just as bad, but at least she can’t have her own kids! Nip this family in the BUD!

Sorry about that, but these things had to be said.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Poker. I played last night during the Celebrity thing and got my head handed to me. Flopped the sucker straight and this guy made me pay for it, and then I had the king-high flush when another guy had the ace. Ouch. So I was down about $10 after a small comeback and I decided to leap off and do some dishes and laundry, and when I returned I decided to try another $5 SNG and see if I could get back to even. I ended up playing Pot-Limit, deciding that might be more my speed until I develop some No-Limit chops. Pretty dumb, to be sure, but that was my frame of mind at the time.

I twiddled my thumbs for the first round, picking up the blinds when I made a $90 bet with pocket 10s and no one called. Then I was dealt pocket aces. Up to that point there hadn’t been much heavy action, so my $120 raise after one caller seemed to get everyone’s attention. A lot of long pauses before I saw fold, fold, fold…call. Then raise. By the time it got to my it was $300 to call and I wasn’t having it. I went all-in. I knocked the caller out, but the raises called my all-in bet. The flop was junk, no straight or flush possibilities. The turn was a jack and I winced, fearing the other guy had pocket jacks. The river another rag, and we turned ’em over. The poor slob had pocket kings, and he and his cowboys rode off into the sunset.

About ten hands later I was dealt pocket rockets again. I made a hefty raise and was raised all-in by the guy to my right. I called, a bunch of junk hit the board, and my aces stood up against pocket tens. I had over $3200 and was ready to boss the table. But I was not a very good boss, I have to say. I didn’t get good hands for awhile, and when I did get some playable cards I sat back too much and let the other guys bash each other. I got too conservative, I had some opportunities to steal some small pots with moderate raises and instead I sat back and let other players make the moves. When I did make big plays I was twice raised all-in and didn’t have the hand to call. I played not to lose instead of playing to win, and ask Mike Martz how well that works.

There was one guy down to a mere $50 in chips, and when he bet I flexed my pecs and went all-in. He ended up hitting a pair of kings on the turn and got back on his feet. This ended up being the guy I went heads-up with at the end. Gotta take my hat off to him, he was down to the felt and battled back. He actually had $80, posted the $30 blind, and folded when there was a raise ahead of him. That’s either showing fantastic discipline or no brains. I choose the former.

He had a slight chip lead and we went back and forth a bit, him adding a few hundred to his stack. I was dealt Jc10c and I made a tidy raise. He called, and the flop came 9-6-3. I decided that now was the time to make a big bet and steal the pot, so I hit him for $500. He called. I was down to about $300 in chips and pretty much knew I was doomed, and when a deuce hit the board I bit the bullet and bet it all. He called, and after the meaningless river card he turned over pocket aces. Ouch, babe. It hurt to see those cards after how they’d helped me so much early on. I felt…betrayed.

Still, the $15 for finishing 2nd put me back to even for the night. I’ve been on the see-saw lately, win one night, lose another. Last night was my turn to lose, but I broke even. Don’t know if I’ll play tonight (basketball) or tomorrow (volleyball, drinking), but we’ll see. A little break won’t hurt nobody. Give those fish a breather.

More on my Presidential campaign will be posted soon on my other blog, promise. Iowa caucus in just a few days, got a feeling I’m gonna do really well!

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