The danger in writing about poker is that people will read about it.
That may read strangely to you, but it was something I'd never really considered when I sat down to write up my first trip to the State Park game.
It was something I didn't really consider when I mentioned how the host's wife's beauty put me on tilt. It was something I didn't really consider when I wrote the game sat on a razor's edge between dangerous and safe.
It was something I didn't really consider, indeed. That is until I decided to go back tonight and one of the player's said, "You know, I read that web site you have."
Therein, friends, lies the danger of writing about poker.
There's a chance people will read it.
So, when word of Up For Poker came up in pre-game conversation, I looked for a quick exit. For instance, I wasn't sure how comfortable the host would be knowing I found his wife tilt-worthy.
Then one of Greenville County's finest said, "You know, I walked in the other day and my Lieutenant asked me if I was the one that played in the State Park game."
That can't be good, I thought.
"How did he find the site?" I asked, throwing back a mouthful of beer (that's a nervous habit of mine by the way. Whenever I get a little nervous, I drink whatever is in my hand to the bottom of the glass. It keeps my mouth from saying stupid things).
"Oh, they read all kinds of shit up there," he said.
"The names have been changed to protect the guilty," I said. It was a declarative statement, but I'm pretty sure it sounded like a question. I wanted the answer to be, "It's cool, man."
"Damn right," he said.
That was good enough for me.
I walked into the billiard room that had been coverted to a poker room. The host (he still hadn't mentioned me mentioning his wife) had built a brand new ten-seat poketr table with a padded rail. He is a genius with building that kind of stuff and is already talking about building a new one. A better one. I may contract him to build one for me. I was itching to sit and play.
I could immediately tell that the poker crowd wasn't as rowdy as the last time I visited. The room felt calm and it calmed me down. I took the eight-seat at the end of the table and bought in.
In the State Park Game, your buy in gets you $50 in tournament chips. Blinds start at $1/$2 and double every 15 minutes until they reach $10/$20. Then they stop going up. Only the top two finishers get paid, and second place barely gets anything. In essence, it's winner take all.
The stucture is fast. If you don't double up in the first two levels, you can forget about winning. While it doesn't allow for the best poker in the world, it does make for quick tourneys and allows for two or three games a night.
Once I realized I wasn't going to get beat down for writing up the last game I attended (some of the guys even took to calling me The Writer) I settled down, situated my beer, and got ready to play.
A couple hands in, still during the first level, I'm dealing from the button. It comes to me with the man called Bear calling the BB. I look down and see 88. I raise three times the BB. The Firefighter called, as did Bear.
I burned the top card, dealt out three and flipped them over.
It was at this point that I considered an ugly possiblity. I had just dealt myself the nuts. I'd only played at this game once before. We had just started to play and I dealt myself the ever-loving nuts.
That's no way to makes friends.
I thought for two seconds and considered laying them down. After all, the Firefighter led out big and Bear raised. But I held the ever-lovin', papa's got a brand new bag, slap your mama it's so good nuts.
I looked around for my beer to keep me from saying something stupid. I couldn't fiind it.
That's no way to make friends, either, but, yeah, that's what I said.
I simultaneously cheered and gulped when the Firefighter said, "Call." You could've knocked me over with a poker chip when Bear, too, said, "Call."
What? It occured to me that maybe I'd misread my hand. The Firefighter puts out fires, Smoky Bear prevents forest fires. And now my head is on fire.
I turned over my cards to show my top set. The Firefighter groaned and turned over The Hilton Sisters (QQ). Bear, inexplicably, turned over A7.
I did the quick math. Only the two remaining two bitches or two running cards beat me.
The Turn brought a four, giving Bear the gutshot straight draw. Now six cards in the deck beat me. Four remaining fives, two remaining queens.
As an aside, I have to wonder how Siegfried has been getting along since Roy did the floppy tiger dance. I only wonder, because somehow The Hilton Sisters just weren't enough for that hand. They needed a third queen and Siegfried came on the river.
When that happenens to me, I always black out for half a second. I never know exactly what I do or say in that moment. All I know is as I came to I was pushing the Firefighter the pot and saying something about his lieutenant being able to read about that one on Monday.
In retrospect, the guy played a good hand and played it just as I would have (although, if I were him, I might have put me on a position raise pre-flop and re-raised me to see where I was in the hand). So, if I wasn't going to win the hand, I'm glad he did. If I'd lost to damned A7 on a gutshot straight draw on the river, then I might have said a few things that wouldn't have won me any friends. What's more, I had the Firefighter covered and beat Bear's hand, so I was still in the game, although severely wounded.
I was able to control my emotions and not go on tilt. My head lasted until the second hand of the second level when I found Big Slick spades. The host called my raise (not quite three times the BB). The flop came K8x rainbow. I bet, he called. The turn was a Q. I bet almost my entire stack. He cold called and I knew I was screwed. The flop was a blank, but it didn't matter. The Host had me with Q8, two pair.
"I would've folded before the flop if your raise had been bigger," he said, almost apologetically.
I'm not quite sure what I said, but it's advice I'll take. I should've at least raised three times the BB. Why I didn't go the extra couple bucks I don't know. I'm not quite sure why he called my big bet on the flop with second pair, but that's moot now.
Player out at table one. Otis was unceremoniously dispatched to the rail.
I played in a cheap side game until the second tourney started.
This is not a summary. This is it:
I folded my way to fourth place out of eleven entries. I was shortstacked and pushed in with AQo. Bear, the huge stack, called my bet with KQo. I'm a huge favorite to double up, but Bear flopped his K and I didn't improve.
And so the second trip to the State Park game ended in defeat. Twice.
But there was victory in this, friends: Nobody seemed overly pissed that I wrote up the last game. What's more, I got invited back. That's more poker to play and poker to write about.
That'll do for me.
And, Lieutenant, give the Firefighter some light duty next week. I think he hurt his back raking all my chips.