Thursday, December 29, 2005

Low-limit comedy

It's only been in the last month that I've switched from Party to playing almost exclusively on Poker Stars. One of the elements of the site that I've enjoyed (in addition to the vastly improved interface) is the variety of $1.75 multi-table SNGs. That's a buy-in I'm quite comfortable with to play Stud Hi/Lo and NL Omaha 8, games I know virtually nothing about but figure I should learn in order to become a well-rounded poker player. (That's right, next stop the Big Game at Bellagio).

A testament to how badly other people play in these things, I've found that I've actually one a few, resulting in massive 500-600 percent ROIs -- WOOHOO! Last night, in a stud hi/lo game, I went on one of those incredible rushes that made me wish I was playing for real money. About 4 levels into the tournament I had collected nearly half of the chips and had recorded more KOs that Mike Tyson. When the two tables merged, I had miraculously managed not to donk off my swollen stack and prepared myself for a Sherman-like march through the rest of these chuckleheads. Here's where the low-limit comedy begins. Two of the donks, I noticed, were sitting out, paying their small antes, content to watch the rest of the action go by. The reason quickly became apparent -- they were attempting to ante their way into the money. WTF? Four places paid with prize ranging from $2.40 for fourth to $9.60 for first. What kind of desperate losers are these people? My stack, aggression and a little luck, in fact, allowed them to do just that. One of the feckless souls never played another hand and collected his life-changing $2.40.

When I got heads-up with the other loser, I felt it my responsibility as a responsible adult and a guardian of poker integrity to calmly lecture him about his actions. Thus, I typed:

"You and the other guy are big p*ssies for having sat out all those hands." (We professional writers take great care in choosing just the right word at moments like these.)

His response set me rocking on my heels. "Sore loser," he typed with what I'm sure were trembling, nicotine-stained and possibly palsied fingers. He hit me hard with that one, especially given the fact I had him outchipped 2-to-1 at the time. Undaunted, I continued to lecture him about the temerity of his actions and managed another "big p*ssy" broadside to drive home my point. (Repetition is a favorite of mine in the toolbox of literary devices.)

That's when he typed: "But I got a family."

Say what? Got a freakin' family? Are you living in some Third World country where the average annual income is $4.99? Is Sally Struthers putting money in your Neteller account? Should we get Bob Geldof to organize a Donkey Aid concert on your behalf?

Then, in a moment of enlightenment, I conceived a plan ingenious for both its charity and evilness -- a duality that set my head spinning with self-congratulation. I would allow his stack to dwindle to one bet and then sit out, allowing him to win the tournament, netting him an additional $2.40, but only after waiting the 4 or 5 hours it would take to ante me off. (Okay, maybe it would have taken 20 minutes.) I pondered this possibility for a moment, but then scuttled the plan, once again failing to seize a golden opportunity laid before me (a recurring theme in my life). Instead, I dispatched him with a vicious suck-out on 7th street, depriving him of much-needed cash that would have filled the distended bellies of his starving chirren for the next month. Do I feel bad about this, you ask? No, sir. I thought he could use a cold, hard lesson in Darwinian theory.

Plus, I say, screw him. I got a family, too, you know.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Why, why, why another poker blog?

Beats me. There's obviously no desperate need for another degenerate poker player to natter on about his accomplishments or lack thereof. But that's not stopping me, nosiree. My sordid past is replete with examples of ignoring conventional wisdom, staggering blindly into places I neither belong nor need to be and generally making myself a pain in the ass. Given that resume, I think I'm more than eligible to blog about poker.

I've been playing poker on a semi-frequent basis for the last two years, mostly online and, increasingly, in local home games. And I am very good. Okay, I'm kinda good. All right, I'm exceptionally mediocre. I've won some money online, mostly playing $1/2 6-max. (You can find me playing under my screen name of Hacker59). But a modicum of ability is more than enough to fry the low-limit fish that school on Party and Poker Stars. There have been a couple of decent online tournament finishes, but nothing in excess of $1,000. I'm starting to become more confident about my tournament play as I slowly emerge from my weak-tight, risk-averse shell. At no-limit ring games, I am either cursed or I just plain suck. I suspect it's the latter. But poker has scratched a weird, competitive itch that my aging body can no longer reach through sports. For that, I am grateful.

So, why a poker blog? It's my hope that, like other bloggers, by honestly discussing my poker fortunes with the world it will force me to examine my play and lead, in the long run, to self-improvement. But it's not just about poker. Like millions of other kids who learned to correctly conjugate verbs and read too much Hemingway, I've always wanted to be a writer. I've managed to accomplish that in a limited way over the past 20-some odd years. Yes, I'm a professional writer. I earn a living wage and my words are published. And I am lucky enough to say that I find the work fulfilling. Yet there is another part of me that says I've failed miserably to live up to my potential as a writer (and poker player) because of sloth, avarice and other myriad, untold sins. It's my hope that blogging about poker will create synergy that will lead to some sort of break-through. And hey, it's cheaper than therapy.

Whether this blog will reverberate with the intensity of one hand clapping or might actually be read by someone lurking in the ether is, ultimately, unimportant. I hope that somehow, someway, these efforts will make be a better writer, poker player, and, who knows, maybe a better person. (And, as soon as that's accomplished, I'll begin work on world hunger, world peace and safer silicone implants.)

Beginnings are easy. Endings are hard. Who knows how this will end.

And with that, I say, welcome to my world.