Tiny Steps Toward Enlightenment

Monday, December 26th, 2005, 12:57 am

Last year I aimed low when asked what I wanted for Christmas. I wanted a copy of the latest Modest Mouse CD, I wanted some wool socks. I wanted a Borders gift card. This year I raised my standards a bit. With Christmas come and gone and the New Year (and my birthday) approaching, my wish list is a bit more New Agey than the year before. What I want is Peace, and Serenity. Wisdom, yes, I’d like some Wisdom, too. It doesn’t even have to be wrapped.

I won’t say that what I just experienced a few minutes ago was an epiphany, or if I just burst a blood vessel in my head. Now, we all know that the absolute WORST thing you can do when you’re running good is talk about how you’re running good. The Poker Gods hate hubris way more than Zeus and Apollo and Athena ever did. So the last week I’ve been running good. Very good. I’ve been working on my game and I’ve seen immediate positive results. I won like 5 SNGs in a row and posted tidy wins every ring game I played.

I didn’t write anything here that I was running good. I’m not that big a fool. OK, I talked to my brother about posting another nice win last night. But I wasn’t bragging on myself, just stating a fact. So after a big Christmas dinner and dessert and a few cookies I decided to settle into a nice late-night session. I’m off tomorrow, why not a little poker before bedtime?

I sat at 2 tables, one of them shorthanded. And at that short table I went on a nice run, stealing pot after pot from my weak-tight opponents and hitting a few big draws. I quickly ran up a 20BB profit. The other table was 9-handed and I won a nice hand to get myself up about 5BB even though I was card-dead. I felt pretty good. I felt like the quality of my play had definitely gone up a notch. Like I’d figured something out.

That apparently innocuous thought somehow aroused the anger of the Poker Gods. I lost a few piddling pots, no big deal, but then I lost two big ones in a row. I had a guy go runner-runner to make two pair and beat my kings, and then I lost with kings again at my shorthanded table when I trapped a guy fast-playing AK who made his ace on the river. Those two hands halved my profit, and by the time I logged off my big night had turned into a 1BB win.

I decided to play a SNG, one of the short-handed ones PokerStars offers. I like playing shorthanded. So we quickly get down to 4-handed, top 2 pay, and I’m dealt KK. There’s a raise, I re-raise, guy puts me all-in. I call. He turns over 99. I have him crushed, of course, but kings are not my hand tonight. He flops a nine, and though I have a gutshot straight draw I don’t fill and I’m out.

I was pretty pissed, as you might expect. I said a few NC-17 words. And then the anger passed. Which is odd, because I usually hang on to my anger like a bulldog with a chew toy. I thought to myself, what the hell could I have done differently? I played the hands correctly, I bet them aggressively, I got my opponents to put their money in with the worst of it…why get mad? Let the law of averages take care of itself, and try to play as well as possible.

What makes this little speech so remarkable is that I actually seemed to buy it. I wasn’t mad anymore. I untilted. I told myself, in an oddly calm voice, that I should worry about making myself a better player instead of worrying about how bad some other players are. The voice was so calm it gave me the creeps. Usually the voices in my head sound like Carol Channing, and I’ve actually gotten used that by now. Did you know that diamonds are a girl’s best friend? Believe me, I fucking knew that.

I put myself to the test by playing another SNG. I quickly lost half my stack when another guy hit his flush draw to beat my top two, but I battened down the hatches and doubled with AK against J6 (don’t ask). A hand later I made a nice laydown when a guy flopped quads, and I typed in the chat “when I win this hand will have been the turning point”.

And win I did. I doubled up again with AK, this time against jacks, and once in the money I grabbed the chip lead when my aces survived against AQ. Head to head I built up a 5-1 lead, pissed it away, then trapped my foe when I flopped two pair and he bluffed off his entire stack without even a draw. The next hand I rivered a 4 to beat his ace-high and I was the winner.

It felt pretty damn good to win. To be way up, and then down, and now I’m up again. A nice Christmas present, a little wisdom earned at little cost. And now I’m feeling pretty serene. Peaceful, too. I think it’s bedtime, enough self-examination for one night.

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One Response to “Tiny Steps Toward Enlightenment”

  1. facty Says:

    I love Carol Channing.

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