More Lake Action, or How I (Deleted) Misplayed Pocket Nines Again

Monday, July 12th, 2004, 10:19 pm

One of the reasons I keep this blog, besides the groupies, is to write about my own play and, hopefully, learn from my mistakes. In a recent post I wrote about how I lost a ton of chips in a tournament by misplaying my pocket nines. Well, went away with friends this past weekend and played a little poker and lost a ton of chips by misplaying pocket nines. Am I not paying attention to my own writing? And if I’m not, is anyone else? The signs are not good.

Let me explain. We went to my friend Rico’s lake house in Somerset, PA and started the drinking. The house has a room with a poker table and it didn’t take long for us to break out the chips and get the cards in the air. We played for massive stakes, five bucks, with everyone getting $2K in chips. The play is friendly, you don’t see a lot of big raising preflop, lots of limping. Friendly game. And that’s why my pocket aces and pocket kings got busted, because I didn’t raise enough to lose the chasers. Tho, after about 17 beers, I don’t think I could’ve shook anyone even if I’d thrown up in the pot.

First tourney I got knocked out early. Second tourney…was that the one I won? Shit, I don’t even remember. I built up a big stack, hammered my outgunned opponents, and ended up beating Scott when I pulled a king on the river to beat his pocket…sevens? I remember I had two overcards when I called. If we’d had Mike Sexton chained to the wall he would’ve described it as a “classic race situation”. But we didn’t.

Up till 4AM that night, collapsed on the couch and slept a dark, dreamless sleep. My wife went out wakeboarding early that morn and sprained her ankle bad, laying her up for the rest of the weekend (and beyond). I went out on the boat myself, did a little tubing, road the jetski, pitched a few horseshoes, and then I went up to watch Mark make dinner. This is the same Mark who accompanied me on our NFL Draft Odyssey, which ended up a minor debacle. For dinner Mark was making Beer Can Chicken, which, if you’re not in the know, involves a half-emptied beer can shoved inside a chicken’s, uh, cavity, and then roasted on the grill. There are actually special cast-iron holders that have a space to stick the can in to ensure the bird stays upright. America is a wonderful goddam country, isn’t it?

Anyway, Mark wasn’t merely making Beer Can Chicken. He was making six BCCs, giving we 13 people dibs on about half a bird. Mark loaded the grill with poultry and figured it would take a couple of hours before paydirt.

There are few things on earth that smell better than roasting chicken. That golden skin, the dripping fat. It didn’t take long for those chickens to start exuding that magical odor. “Just a little bit more,” Mark said, impaling a bird with a thermometer.

There were still people out on the boat, so our friend Kris went to work making a variety of potatoes. “Just a few more minutes,” Mark said. “Hope they get back soon.”

They got back. “Just a bit longer,” Mark said, raising the lid of the grill to baste the birds. Now, I like chicken. Roasting chicken. Like it a lot. And being swathed in a miasma of chickeny vapors was getting to me. Mark went in to let Kris know the chickens were taking their goddam time cooking and she might want to delay the taters, and he told me to baste. I drizzled juice all over that golden skin and fought the very powerful urge to drink the sizzling hot liquid.

Mark checked the birds. “Man, this is taking longer than I expected.” No shit! I’m getting close to scraping the carmelized goo off the foil and spreading it on toast.

At last, the first bird was ready for carving. A few of us gathered around the cutting board and filched scraps of flesh that fell from the bones. When the bird was properly dissected (Mark’s a doctor, and his knifework is far better than mine, but I think if I need thoracic surgery I’ll give Mark a miss) we ravenous few went at the carcass with forks and fingers.

Soooo good. Mark kept carving, I kept scavenging, and by the time I actually got to the table with a full plate I wan’t that hungry. I think I only ate three pounds of bird.

Back to the tables. We only had 5 people playing, and we soon were down to 3 people, thanks to me crushing Mark when he flopped trip 10s but got screwed when an ace fell on the turn and I held aces. It was down to me, Scott, and his wife Debbie. The last time we played Debbie displayed a Lederer-like stare when confronting someone heads-up. She just stares at you, her face a mask of contempt, which is a bit outside her normal cheery personality. I was careful to sit directly to her left, a move she caught onto right away. “I can’t see Geno if he’s sitting there!” she said, and I just nodded and thought, “Got that right. Don’t need you looking into my soul”.

Scott had already won one of our tournaments, and as I know he’s a heartless bastard I knew he wouldn’t show any favoritism or compassion for his wife. So my plan was to try to grab up Debbie’s chips and then use them to cave in her husband’s (metaphorical) skull. I was also heartened by Debbie’s repeated requests for refills to her wine glass. I outweigh Debbie by about, uh, 100%, and I knew that if I drank that much wine I’d soon be seeing dancing elephants singing, “Go all-in, go all-in, go allllll-in!”, so I decided to be patient and let the grape distort her judgement.

Things worked well for awhile. I won a few tidy pots, and then my seat choice worked to perfection when I put Debbie all-in holding nothing but ace-high. I folded my hands and started at the pot. And waited. And waited.

I looked up at Scott. “She’s staring at me, isn’t she?” She laughed and the spell was broken. She folded, I scooped my chips, and prepared my victory dance.

Got dealt pocket 9s. I usually do well with this hand. It’s easy to get away from, if you don’t win the hand preflop you can toss it away if a bunch of overcards come. I raised the pot, and Scott thought it over, thought it over, and went all in. This was an easy laydown. I doubted Scott would push in all his chips with a worse pair, and if he had two overcards it was a coin flip. I should’ve folded. However, it was getting late, and after a 4AM bedtime the night before I was dreading another marathon. Knock out Scott, then polish off Debbie. Divide and conquor.

I called. Scott turned over kings and took more than half my chips. Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit.

No matter, I play a shortstack like an angel. I went all-in the next hand and won the blinds. I went all-in a hand later, with 9-10, and was not too pleased to see Debbie push in all her chips without a second thought. Uh oh. She turned over pocket jackes. Uh-oh. I flopped an inside straight draw, but no eight appeared on the board, and she took my chips. Double shit.

Scott ended up winning when he busted his wife’s pocket aces with 3-5 offsuit. That should earn him a month sleeping on the couch, the bastard.

A long post in in the works, about poker and beyond. But I wanted to get this lake post done first before wading in with a monster. I’ll be out tomorrow night, volleyball Wednesday…and then I’ll be away this weekend. So maybe no monster post until next week. Maybe I’ll break it up into several smaller posts. Maybe you don’t care. Sorry, just thinking aloud. And then typing it down. Wait, did I just think that, or say it? I can’t be sure…maybe I need to break out the ether…

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5 Responses to “More Lake Action, or How I (Deleted) Misplayed Pocket Nines Again”

  1. Dr. Pauly Says:

    Any rate, I’ll be awaiting your next post!!

  2. NemoD Says:

    great post. now i’m hungry for chicken.

  3. chrisL Says:

    mmmm…. beer and chicken and poker… mmm…

  4. oy Says:

    Geno- I can honestly say that we met a bonafide poker groupie last night. I thought they did not exist, but poker mania is apperently alive and well. Now to capitalize, we need to get a good focus concept. I suggest a poker clothing line: hooded sweatshirts that form a logo when zipped all up, padded pants and shorts for those long sessions, and shades, shades shades!

  5. neil Says:

    What about me??
    Gene-O, I stay up til 4:30 playing poker at the Lake and actually win the last of the three games Friday and I don’t even get a mention in the column?? Perhaps at 4:30 all our memories were all a bit fuzzy due to the all the alcohol consumption, but I do remember winning all those chips and the big stack of 5s and 1s for the huge $15 pot. I even brought a mini-keg. The readers would get a kick out of that, no?
    Hopefully we’ll be at it again soon.
    – Neil

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