I stood in Otis' Secret Cubby, thumbing through the stack of bills, trying to hide the look of eager anticipation that always runs through my nervous system before I hit a homegame. I peeled $100 off the stack and pushed it into my back pocket. I needed to leave soon and my poker feet were already tapping on the hardwood.
"A hundred is more than enough," I said to myself. The max buy-in was only going to be $30. If history proved a good barometer of my monetary necessities, I would need no more than $60 to ride my way to a modest profit for the night.
That's when I heard it. The other voice, benevolent in its tenor, said, "Peel off another hundred. You know, just in case there are some gamblers there that want to play for some real money."
Bravado has never been one of my strong suits. Every time I try to play the confident, devil-may care road gambler, it looks silly on me.
Still, I listened, peeled off another hundred, stuffed it in my pocket with its friend from the secret cubby hole, and departed for BadBlood's.
After my last trip to The Mark had ended in booze-induced folly, I decided that virtual sobriety would better serve me on Saturday evening. Plus, I'd never been to Badblood's house, and I didn't want to scare the rest of the Blood clan.
With that in mind, I decided to pull a small bottle of Absolut off the liquor shelf. My last big win at The Mark had been fueled by a spiked Sonic Limeaide. I figured a Route 44 would serve me well, Plus, it would have a lid and if I turned clutzy, as is my wont, I wouldn't ruin BadBlood's new table.
But I mis-navigated my drive, bypassed Sonic entirely, and ended up picking up G-Rob without refreshment in tow. G-Rob just lives around the corner from BadBlood, and a convenience store sits in between, so we stopped and picked up some schwag beer, and made it to Blood's about five minutes early.
In retrospect, I think there may be some corrolation between schwag beer and poor poker performance on my part. While I barely drank at all at Blood's on Saturday night, I think the ghost of August A. Busch may have something against me.
A compromise may be in order. I'm thinking Guinness in a sippy cup may be the best idea.
But, really, this talk of alcohol, sippy cups, and August Busch is no more than a distraction from the real story, a digression from a place I just don't want to take this respectable blog.
But, if we must, I figure we should go there now.
As I walked into Blood's to a chorus of incredibly polite children, I made a note to title this post "GANT at BadBlood's." GANT (as in "Got A New Table") would be my whimsical way to approach a humble post about raking pot after pot on BadBlood's brand-spankin' new full-sized table.
Complete with a padded rail, cup-holders, and seating for ten, it was beauty in the form of furniture. Blood opted for the dark red (he would say, "plum") fabric for the table top. His new cards slid across the fabric with the ease of an air hockey puck.
I made the concious effort to find a seat to G-Rob's left. His aggressive playing style has been known to kill and tilt me in the past. I figured I could stem that tide early if I could keep an eye on him.
In the adjoining room, Game 1 of the World Series began. BadBlood, a BoSox fan, and I, a Missouri-native redbird fan, settled on a six-pack of good beer to the winning fan. I made a mental note to ask for Guinness when the Cardinals swept the Sox.
As the players pulled out their buy-ins, I sat quietly as G-Rob covered my first $30. I'd won a prop bet the previous weekend by failing to fall down in a drunken stupor more than 2.5 times. G-Rob, who had taken the over, owed me.
This, I thought, is going to be the best freeroll I've ever played.
The table consisted of accountants, engineers, a banker, and two TV personalities. The smart money would be on the numbers guys, but I planned to prove the smart money stupid.
Still, I bled off a few chips to begin, not necessarily sure how to handle the loose style of number-guy, Rank, and laying down top pair to an obvious flush on the turn.
Within two orbits, though, I played AQs (a hand that would get a bad name before the night was over) when two of my suit hit on the flop. I made my flush on the turn and played it slow. Mr. Matt and I got all in on the river, to which he said, "I straighted you."
Almost apologetically, I said, "I flushed" and raked the pot.
Ah, yes, I thought. This is how it will be all night. Be humble, Otis. You don't want these guys thinking you're a cocky bastard.
I'm not really sure what happened after that.
Okay, yes, I am, but I'll get to that in a little while.
After about a hour or so of play, a new player walked in wearing a Cardinals hat and University of Missouri shirt.
"You from Missouri?" I asked, sizing him up. He looked a little younger than me and initially bore the tells of a player new to the game (boy, I can form misimpressions really, really fast).
We chatted for a few minutes before discovering that not only had we gone to the same college, we grew up in the same city, and our high schools were in the same athletic conference. In fact, our high schools were arch rivals that shared the same mascot.
Missouri Josh, as I would take to thinking of him, should be my nemesis, I thought.
You wanna be a Tiger, buddy? Let's get to growlin'.
I'm so fucking stupid.
See, after a couple of days, I've discovered what happened.
After months of promoting the tight-aggressive style to burgeoning poker player, G-Rob, I found myself unwilling to play in that fashion. The table was as loose as the fabled mother-fucker. What's more, it was loose-aggressive. At first, $3 raises would be enough to scare almost any player off a pot. Within a few hours, $3 raises seemed like Post Oak bluffs. Any bet less than $10 was seen as weakness. Big, red-bird filled pots became the norm.
I thought I could portray myself as a loose player as well. I flopped a king-high flush draw and called for all my chips with two cards to come. No clubs, no money.
"Well, hell," I said, "I was on a freeroll anyway. Now it's time to play."
Two buy-ins later, I was on my heels, twice laying down the best hand in large pots when facing bets from ultra-aggressive G-Rob or Missouri Josh.
Before long, Josh and G-Rob had the largest stacks on the table.
BadBlood commented, "We're going to have to be careful the table doesn't tilt that way."
I could only respond from my spot on the other side of the table, "No worries. I have enough tilt for this entire side of the table."
It was shortly thereafter that most of the table called a $3 raise from Missouri Josh. It came around to me on the button, where I found AQo. After being on my heels and playing tight-passive for an hour or so, I figured I could steal the pot.
"All in," I said.
Everybody folded but Missouri Josh, who called with JTs.
Ordinarily, this is where I would begin lamenting the number of bad beats I faced or the impossible luck of my opponents. Unfortunately, I don't recall suffering any bad beats and--against me--my opponents didn't need to rely on luck.
BadBlood, Missouri Josh, and G-Rob dominated the table. They each had different stlyes. BadBlood played a good tight-aggressive game, was kaing professional reads on all of his opponetns, and only fell a couple of times when he got sucked out on. Missouri Josh played a spectacular loose-aggressive game that made him the biggest winner of the night. G-Rob played a hyper-aggressive game that suits his demeanor and style very well. He held a massive cheap lead for much of the night but suffered a massive beat when, in one hand, the river counterfeited his flush with a fourth spade, giving Missouri Josh another massive win.
In a fun moment later in the evening, G-Rob went to war with Josh, flopping the nut-straight and doubling up when Josh flopped a middle pair with a straight draw.
All the while, I sat with my elbows on the spectacularly padded rail of the table, wondering at what point in the night I became a fish.
I am no Tiger. I'm a fish.
Glub, glub, my good man.
I could go on like this for another thousand words or so, but I'll spare you any more verbosity. While there were some amazing hands played at that table, I didn't play any of them. My two chances to make any sort of big money fell apart when I overplayed Cowboys and forced out a guy with TPTK, and when everybody folded to a minimum raise when I held AA.
After finally peeling myself away from the table, more than $100 in the hole, I realized that I might as well have been playing with my cards face up. My opponents didn't need their cards to beat me.
I struggled for most of the next day, trying to figure out how I could be so successful online, but fail so miserably sitting at a cheap $30 max buy-in NL homegame table. It was, to date, my worst live performance ever.
I've come up with a few conclusions, and would appreciate any thoughts from people who play a good mix of online and live play.
1) No matter how good my hand, I mentally noted the nuts and convinced myself my opponent was holding it. When I believe my opponent is always holding the nuts, I can't convince myself to play my game. As such, as a matter of pride, I refused to show down my hand and cost myself money in the long run. That leads me to...
2) Pride cometh (or perhaps, goeth) before the fall. See, since I hadn't played at this game before, I wanted to look good. I wanted people to see me as I see myself: A solid poker player. Since I wanted show down amazing hands, I folded weak but winning hands. Unfortunately, my pride backfired on me. After initially representing myself as a solid rockish player, I became known as a passive player who would fold to bets on the river. The good players at the table picked up this tell very quickly and exploited it to their advantage.
3) After playing tens of thousands of hands online, I think I have forgotten the absolute necessity of maintaining--for need of a better term-- my poker face. After eighteen months of auto-posted blinds and the ability to cheer out loud when I hit my flush, my tells were so obvious that even I was picking up on them. By the end of the night, heads up with Missouri Josh, I caught myself picking up my cards to fold them before he even bet. That's just sad.
4) After losing two buy-ins, I became obsessed with the idea of getting back to even, forgetting that in a ring game you don't have to play your stack like one would in a tournament.
5) I'm not as good as I think I am. My B&M play has been basically limited to limit play (my strong suit). My homegame NL play has been limited to two games that I can beat with some regularity. This was a new NL game, however, against relative unknowns. Good players can adjust their style to fit the game. In an effort to do so, I adjusted improperly and lost several buy-ins as a result.
I made it home by about 2:30am and willed myself to go to bed instead of firing up Empire. By Sunday, I had recovered emotionally enough to get back to playing my regular online game. I played my limit ring game and SNG's all day long, cashing in 75% of the SNGs. I made back my losses from the previous night and woke up this morning feeling a little better about my game.
BadBlood is thinking about another game in a couple of weeks.
I think I'll title that post, "Fish, back in the water."