Hitting my thumb with the Hammer

Friday, February 20th, 2004, 3:27 pm

Day by day, bit by bit, I’m getting better at this game we call Hold-Em. Reading my Brunson, learning a few moves, adding to the bankroll. But it is true that we learn more from our failures than our successes…actually, let’s stop to think about that for a moment. Wouldn’t it be great if we learned MORE from our successes than our failures? We’d be successful a lot more often. We wouldn’t have to go through the misery of screwing up over and over and OVER again before we finally got it figured out. I mean, I’m the not the sort of person who gets that golden sense of satisfaction once I finally accomplish something tough. Like when I started playing golf a bit, I shanked about 98% of my drives. I adjusted my footwork, my address of the ball, my backswing, and one day THWOCK! Dead solid perfect, nice right-to-left draw. Did I think, “Yay, Gene!”? No, I thought, “Jesus, that was a piece of cake. Why couldn’t you figure this out like 3 months ago, jerkface?”

Or, for another example, it took my like 3 years to learn how to get up on a wakeboard. All my friends could do it no problem, my wife was shushing back and forth across the wake, and I couldn’t get my ass out of the water. Once I figured out what I was doing wrong (just about everything) and learned a simple way to get up, it was friggin’ easy. I had this 15 second period of absolute bliss, I mean it was just magical gliding across the water like some kind of water god…and then I thought, “It took you 3 YEARS do do this, moron! There are goddam SQUIRRELS who wakeboard. Get over yourself”. And get over I did.

As you probably figured out, I goofed last night, and fortunately I didn’t have to pay such a big price in money or self-esteem to figure it out. Thursday night is volleyball night, me and a bunch of my friends gather at a local school to play 2 hours of VB. Played rather well last night, and afterwards we all retired to a local pub for beer, wings, and chat. I pulled out of there around midnight and, still a bit wired, logged on to play a few hands.

Mistake. I’ve been good at not playing Thursday nights, not because I’m totally crocked but because I’m totally exhausted. Two hours of running and jumping followed by beer and wings is NOT a receipe for cognitive success. You don’t see law students the night before the bar exam running a 5K and then stuffing their faces with fried skin and chugging Buds.

I had maybe one beer too many because I was in a more aggressive mood than usual. After reading a bit of Brunson and having his mantra of “attack, attack, attack” throbbing in my skull I was anxious to impose my will. I forgot 2 important points–one, I was only going to play about 30 minutes and wouldn’t have much time to either assert myself or take advantage of such assertion; and, two, Brunson says several times that the tactics he describes are to be used only against strong players–weak, fishy players will call with anything and are too stupid to be scared of you. I forgot that lesson.

But, fortunately, it only took one hand to teach me that lesson. I was dealt the Hammer and decided to call and hopefully win a big pot to brag about on these pages. The flop came Q-Q-Q. Hmm. There were 6 of us in the pot and I was in early position, but I resisted the urge to steal the pot right there. We all checked, and I had a feeling I’d pair up. No, that must’ve been the beer. A six on the turn and this time the last guy in line bet the pot. I didn’t like it, I didn’t want this guy stealing a move on me. So I called. Duh, nice call, dude. A re-raise might have won me the pot, but I just called. Brilliant.

Another card on the river, don’t know what, but it was higher than a six. You gotta have heart to win, right? You gotta have uranium balls, heavy heavy heavy. I bet the pot, about seven bucks. He re-raised me the pot. I folded. I had the absolute worst starting hand in Hold-Em, didn’t make any sort of a hand after the flop, turn, or river, and still managed to throw away about $15 bucks without even showing down my hand. That, dear readers, was embarassing.

I lost about $15 more before I got my bearings and won half of it back. When I quit I was pooped and hit the sack hard. I don’t know how Iggy drinks Guinness while playing (not that I like Guinness any other time, I’m more a Bassman myself) or Chris Halverson drinks $900 single-malt extra-peat heavy-bog Scotch while at play. I’ll be sipping water or Pepsi One for the Grublog, to be sure.

My goal is to finish my Phil post tonight. Need to do a little more research before I publish. It almost blew up into a 5000 word novelette, but a fun idea I came up with can wait for another post. I realize I’ve been promising it for about a month now, and missing deadlines weighs on my mind. So, tonight, I should finish it. Probably. Almost definitely. Yes.

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