I’m an addict. I’ve had my struggles with booze, food, and blackberries. I’ve always lost betting the ponies. I went to Vegas once and won a couple grand on black jack and then bet it all on the Red Sox (really, WTF was I thinking?). Once a year I participate in a large all-male poker tournament. The first year I got knocked out in the first hour. The second year I lasted until just out of the money, which means four hours of poker with nothing to show for it. This last year I was at the final table and in it to the end before losing and going home with a wad of hundreds in my pocket…probably not a good thing for a guy like me.
Recently a buddy asked me to join a monthly game of Texas Hold ‘Em. $500 buy-in $10/$5 blinds. Real money.
Besides being an addict I’m a bully. When you play poker with people who don’t know your style that comes in very handy. The host of the game is a huge LSU fan. The first night I played was the national championships game, which was on in the background. I spent the night writing emails on my iPhone, making fun of LSU, and betting very aggressively in spurts. The key in this form of poker is that unless you have to contribute the blinds, you get to see your cards for free. That means 95% of the time you should not bet. No blood, no foul.
But people get bored and start betting with shit hands. That’s not my style. I pretend I am bored and then come flying out of the gates when I actually have cards to work with. I bully people, scare them off. The first night it worked so well I was kind of embarrassed. I was the big winner and rarely even had to show my cards.
The second time we played, the guys were out for revenge. I was down early but battled my way back to a respectable chip pile. I was up probably $300 after playing for three hours.
Then it happened. I had pocket jacks so bet aggressively but not so aggressively to scare everybody off. The goal is to get a lot of money into the pot before bringing down the hammer. It worked. Three players went right along with me, including my LSU buddy. The flop showed nothing as did 4th Street. Only the river card left and the trap had been set.
I bet first and went all in, trying to contain my shit-eating grin. The next two guys bailed leaving the chips they have thrown into the pot to me. It was down to my LSU buddy who had dealt to decide. He took his time. Probably close to ten minutes.
Finally he announced, “I really should fold but because it’s you I am not going to let you get away with this shit. I’m all in.”
We showed our cards. He had pocket 10s to my pocket jacks. I was a very happy man. I immediately did the math in my head. He had two pocket 10s. I had two cards and there was now four cards face up on the table (everyone else folded not showing their cards). So with eight cards out, he had to hit one of the two 10s our of the remaining 44 cards. The chance of that happening was 4.5%. In other words my chance of winning the massive pot was 95.5%. I liked my odds.
So here’s the thing about manhood, and life. You just don’t know what the fuck is going to happen. And sometimes being a bully can bite you in the ass. If I hadn’t been frankly a poor winner (my wife heard from my LSU friend’s wife after the first night of gambling that the only thing she heard out of the poker room was her husband screaming at me, “Are you going to be a dick ALL NIGHT LONG!” which I most definitely was and enjoyed every moment of) I would have won the hand without even having to show my hand. The logical thing for my buddy to do was to fold. But he did the illogical thing to get me back. And with horror he looked at my cards and realized he had lost, AGAIN. To me, the dickhead.
The last card was a 10.