I Can’t Hog All the Luck…Can’t I?

Tuesday, December 28th, 2004, 2:58 pm

Ugh, just felt like writing a bit, have a mammoth post inbound but it’ll probably hit these pages after the New Year. Oh, yeah, in case my buddy Oy reads this, the hell you doing New Years Eve? I think I’m going to the volleyball party myself. Maybe bring a nice bottle of red along…no, not the Black Russian Red, I’m thinking either the Pindar Merlot or the Pythagorus. Or, maybe I’ll just say the hell with it and drink Rico’s Miller Lite.

It looks like the asteroid I mentioned yesterday is going to miss us after all. It’s been downgraded to a zero on the Torino scale, which means we got all excited about nothing. Not that we don’t have enough global catastrophies to deal with, now that the full horror of the earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean is becoming known.

Such colossal tragedies put bitching about poker in perspective. Actually, remember the scene in “This Is Spinal Tap”, the band is visiting Elvis’s grave at Graceland, and they’re gathered around the tomb, and Derek Smalls says, “Sort of…puts it all in perspective, doesn’t it?”

And David St. Hubbins says, “Well, yeah, but too much, too much fucking perspective.”

So I can accept this rough patch of poker with ease, knowing full well how incredibly lucky I am. And I don’t just mean in a general “I’m fortunate to live in America and have my health and the family is OK and Ben Roethlisburger looks like the goddam Second Coming” sense, but in a specific, kicked-in-the-nuts by a leprauchaun sense. Let me explain.

Last Monday I’m heading to work and battery light on my dashboard is on. I hit some traffic so I pull out my owners manual, look up “Idiot Lights” and find that this light indicates that my battery charging system might not be working. OK. Is that bad? Reading on, I learn that I should turn off all electrical systems and get the car serviced as soon as possible. I may be able to drive a short distance, but…

OK. That is bad. Because today of course there’s traffic, a car broke down by the 31st Street Bridge, and it takes me nearly 25 minutes to get to work. I turn off headlights, radio, and heater, which is uncomfortable because its like 4 degrees outside. I get to work before I turn into a Genesicle, but now I have to hope and pray my dejuiced car will start in the cold and get me to my trusty mechanic. I call them (they know me well enough to send me a goddam Christmas card) and they say that if I can get it to them ASAP they’ll try to squeeze me in. I want to leave early anyway so that I’m not driving in the dark, so I saddle up and take off.

My car starts, and soon I’m heading to the repair shop. Which is located on McKnight Road, aka McKnightmare Road, one of the most congested retail corridors in Pittsburgh. I do NOT want my car dying on McKnight Road three days before Christmas. I will block traffic for miles, I will have people honking and screaming at me, I’ll have to wait for my car to get towed, in the cold…please, Betsy, don’t let me down…

I’m halfway down the road when I see that traffic is a mess. Cars backed up as far as the eye can see. I calculate that I have three traffic signals to negotiate and then I’ll be in the clear. My car is running fine, but it sounds ominously quiet. No radio of course, but the idling engine sounds very, very quiet.

The next five minutes resemble “Apollo 13”. I make it through one light, only to come to a stop at the perilous intersection of McKnight and Seibert Road, the busiest crossroads along my route. Each of the four spokes has its own turning lane and light, meaning I have to sit there, waiting and waiting and waiting, while amps and volts slowly leach away under my hood.

And then it begins. A light flashes on my dash, my anti-lock braking system is down. Uh-oh. The light in front of me turns green, I apply the gas, and my AIR BAG warning light goes on. Oh, please, not here. If my car croaks in the middle of McKnight and Seibert, I’m gonna be on the news. You’ll see the framing shot from the orbiting traffic helicopter, cars backed up beyond the horizon, and as the reporter starts to speak the graphic “ASSHOLE CAUSES TRAFFIC SNARL” appears on the screen. Please, please…

I catch a break and sail through the next light. I can see ProCare, I’m on level ground, its smooth sailing. Until I make a mistake. An understandable mistake, but I should’ve known better. I instinctively hit my turn signal before I turn into the parking lot. That’s enough to completely drain what little juice I have left in my battery, and as I start to turn every light on my dash flares. I lose power steering, power brakes…I’m just a projectile now.

To get into the parking lot I have to drive up a brief but steep little rise in the pavement. My car barely, BARELY, gets over that bump. I try starting the car, but of course that’s futile. I look over my shoulder and see that I’m about a foot off the road. I’m safe. No one will be honking at me. I won’t be on the news. Not only that, but as my car dies three guys from the shop happen to come outside, see my problem, and push my car into an open repair bay.

Had my car given up the ghost just 5 seconds earlier, I would’ve been seriously inconvienienced. Had my car croaked 2 minutes earlier, I would’ve been seriously screwed. Instead, I made it safe and sound, and two hours later I was on my way, my replacement alternator supplying my ride with an almost decadent amount of electricity.

So I can’t complain about bad luck playing poker. No…I SHOULDN’T complain. I’m gonna complain, but I shouldn’t, that’s my point. This is (allegedly) a poker blog, so I will speak briefly about putting together perhaps the worst 50-hand stretch of my life last night. I was up 12BB (which sounds better than twelve bucks), which put my account back over $50 and had me feeling like I was back in the saddle again. I then proceeded to drop 25BB through a combination of horrible play, dumb play, and ludicrous play. Here’s what happened–we had a nice, friendly table, everyone having fun and giving me their money, and then this asshole takes a tough beat (and it was tough, guy paired and made trips on the last two streets) and starts lecturing the lucky player about how terrible a play it was, how stupid he is, etc etc. The lucky player leaves, and me and this other guy tell the asshole that lecturing bad players is bad for business, and no fun besides, and he starts telling us that he’s the best player at this table and he made over $3500 last year playing poker and he wins by getting into people’s heads.

I wasn’t impressed. “Dude,” I typed, “you’re playing $.50/$1 poker.”

The ass went on a tear, running his stack up over $60. I hit my high of $37 and started bleeding away a bit. But no matter, I was enjoying myself. Perhaps a bit too much. My problems started when I won a hand by bluffing with the Hammer. A small pot that ended up costing me dear, because I fell into a trap I thought I’d learned to avoid–I started playing Fancy. Check-raising with nothing against 4 opponents, raising out of position, slow playing a big pair to re-raise later…I broke every rule in every book. What did T.J. Cloutier say, that the biggest mistake you can make in poker is trying to bluff an idiot? I did that a couple of times and loathed myself afterwards.

And then I played perhaps the Worst Hand Of My Life. Another sourpuss sat down at our table, and I was dealt QQ and raised, and three people called, including Sourpuss. The flop was icky–K-K-10, with 2 hearts. I didn’t have a heart. It was checked around and I bet, hoping against hope no one held a King. Sourpuss check-raised me, everyone else folded, and I decided to bail too. If he was bluffing, more power to him. But he wasn’t bluffing–he showed down K-10. Had he played a bit slower he might have bled me a bit, but he didn’t, and I decided a little good-natured coffeehousing was in order.

“So I guess my aces weren’t good?” I said, lying about my hand in a good-natured way.

“You didn’t have fxxxing aces” he shot back.

I was outraged. I didn’t really care that he’d correctly assumed I was fibbing, because laying down aces there wouldn’t have been such an absurd play. It was his lack of civility. I vowed to set him straight.

So I had the Sourpuss and the Asshole to deal with. And I played the worst hand of my life. I had AK, both hearts, and ended up three-betting with my two foes and another player. Flop came three rags. No hearts. I bet, Sourpuss raised, Asshole called…and I called. Coulda got away from the hand there, but I didn’t. Nothing exciting on the turn, and this time, and I’m afraid to admit this, I check-raised Sourpuss. He raised me back, which got everyone else to fold. The river didn’t help me, I checked, Sourpuss bet, and with like $15 in the pot, I folded. I was too embarassed to show down my hand, even though I was pretty much compelled to call by the pot odds. I didn’t want to waste the buck, nor show how stupidly I’d played.

The Poker Gods punished me by not giving me a hand the rest of the night. But they also punished the Puss and the Hole, by making them lock horns with each other in several scabby hands that were won by third parties. When I finally went to bed the Puss was down to about $6 and the Hole had bled away nearly $40 of his once mighty $60 stack. When I logged off I looked around the table to see who’d won all the money, but it’d been a stealthy strike, whoever had won the money was long gone.

I’m down to the nitty-gritty in my account, time to refocus, time to show some heart…time to stop playing like…like…like a contestant on “Celebrity Poker Showdown”! Yes, I know that’s harsh, but I deserve it! Time to start playing better, or it’ll be time to stop playing yet again. Can’t wait for luck, as I’ve had more than my fair share lately. Time to show a little bit of skill.

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One Response to “I Can’t Hog All the Luck…Can’t I?”

  1. Drizztdj Says:

    You should play on the blogger table, much easier competition and no sourpusses. Except me of course.

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