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Poker Blog established in 2003 as the first stop for poker news, poker stories, and bad poker advice.

August 25, 2005

Bradoween V: Five Years in Suburbia

by Otis

I sat on the edge of my suburban tract, my back to the railroad ties, and my voice a cracked mess of overuse and abuse. When I tried to hit a note I could on almost any day, it came out in an ugly squeal. So, I leaned back, rested my chin on the edge of my guitar, and picked few notes as the first hints of sunlight started to rise over the horizon.

Like the poor young guns who hadn't lasted the night and passed out underneath trees or on storm drains, I was on the edge between finished and disaster. And when given a choice by Iggy and Daddy, I chose disaster. Because, I'm not finished until the party is. And if the waitress at the Waffle House doesn't notice that we're arriving by cab at the same time church services are starting, she certainly won't realize we brought our beer with us.


Starting at the end is easier than starting at the beginning. The beginning is so long ago and ethereal at best. It's five years ago when the party grew from the seed of a joke. It's five months ago when I got the first hint that this year would be different than the past. It's five minutes ago when I sat down to write this and could still smell the Southern Comfort wafting in from the garage.

My head tells me to begin this chronology and take you moment by moment through the tedium. But, my instinct tells me that even the most avid and loyal reader wouldn't make it to the end. If I were to delve as deeply as I felt it when G-Rob bounded from the car and ran into the Publix, if I were to truly express the friendship it must've taken to run across a black-tar-hot parking lot in search of orange-dusted cheez balls, well I fear you might just go running to Pink is the New Blog in search of real entertainment.

Instead, let us begin with the real fear. It's the fear any host feels on the precipice of his party. It's the fear no one will come. It's the fear the everyone will come and no one will have fun. It's the burn in your belly at lunch time when the first shots of Southern Comfort slide down your esophogus. It's getting caught hosing down coolers when the first guests start to arrive for a pre-pre-party poker game. It's finally showering and making it to BadBlood's "G-Vegas is Doomed" tournament.

Yes, that's where it begins.

Pregame at Blood's

Ever since the moment she grabbed a tiara and was hence dubbed the Pai Gow Princess, I've been a bit intimidaed by Heather. Off the table, she is as affable and cordial as you'd like. But get her around felt--any felt--and her eyes take on the icy glint of a hunter.

And so, as I sat down for my first poker of the weekend and found myself at her table, I did not feel at all comfortable. The tone her voice made me want to muck so badly that I was tempted to muck my discards after I'd already mucked them. You know, just for good measure.

As I sat in fear, players busted out around me and I had no playable hands. Somehow, I convinced myself to play with marginal hands and suddenly we were down to one table, then six-handed. When G-Rob offered his in-game interview with Gracie and said, expectedly, that he was the best player at the table, I had a brief fantasy that I'd bust him. And I did when he thought I was making a move and his thinking was basically wrong. By that point he'd been drinking for nine straight hours.

I only really thought about one hand the entire tournament. Gamecock raised pre-flop and I called in late position with K9s. The flop came nine-high and Gamecock pushed. I didn't figure him for a set (he would've let me hang myself with that one), so I had to take him off an overpair. It took longer than I would've liked to make the decision, but finally, I called. He showed JT for a gutshot draw and two overs. He didn't get there and it was only a matter of time before I cashed for the first time at Casa de Blood. The only things that made it sweeter were:

1) It was a first place finish
2) Team Scott Smith repeatedly calling out from the other room, "Why does Otis have all of G-Rob's chips?"


I wrote the above words over the course of a few days in five minute increments. Every time I stopped writing, I'd read the other Braodween posts and sit in awe. Something neat happened here this past weeked. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it has something to do with two conversations I had during the party. One was with my brother, Dr. Jeff. The other was with Al Cant Hang.

In both conversations, I'd looked up and scanned the party area.

"Not as big as past years," I mused, but not unhappily.

In both conversations, the reply was as obvious as it was true: "It's quality, not quantity."

The Bait Shack

In years past, I'd sit in the underground (literally, underground) bar and drink until I needed the raw wood booths to old me up. I've played tournament poker in the back room. I've found and lost my favorite bartender. My exploits are chronicled on the walls in black Sharpie. There was a time (a better time, I should add) when the bar was called "Wings Down Under." It was managed better back then and the entertainment was always better. Every friend who has ever come in town has been taken for at least one beer at the basement bar.

Last Friday night, after making a frantic run around town at 11pm to make sure one of my guests would be comfortable, I slipped into the bar in the ground and there sat everyonoe, already drinking. They raised their glasses, nodded their heads, and went back to drinking. Because that's what my friends do. Bless'em for that.

It was a shortlived stay at the Shack. We got there too late to tear it up and the newly passed (and somehow still antiquated) drinking laws downtown precluded a later stay. Still, the crew managed to have some fun.

As I licked one ounce of ranch dress from a plastic cup, I learned that my $5 payday could've been $100. And I couldn't have been happier. Prop bets that pay off big for something little are not nearly as sweet as prop bets that pay little for something big. The ranch dressing was no big deal. I would've let the bartendress lick it off my belly for $5.

Maybe $10.

Th Bradoween Open

Security was in place. My wife, kid, and friend Su sat on the front lawn pretending to be perfect little suburbanites. The kid splashed in his birthday turtle pool. A Merry Christmas banner hung on the front door. From the street, it would've appeared that the suburban family--even if a little confused about the holiday--was having a perfect suburban day.

What the casual observer would not have seen was the walkie talkie strapped to my wife's waist band at the small of her back. What they would not have seen behind the locked doors and drawn shades was a group of people 43 large, all sitting around four poker tables and ready to begin.

Security was a big deal this year, as the G-Vegas poker community had been set back two weeks before by a gun-happy poker raid in a neighboring suburb. Mrs. Otis was not keen on automatic weapon-wielding state agents crashing the party.

Me, I was ready to play some cards. A cursory drive around the perimeter showed no cops staging for a raid, and suddenly I was at ease. The Henry's BBQ had been consumed, Eva had started her run behind the bar, and the poker tournament (under BadBlood and eventually CJ's capable hands) was about to get underway.

There was only one problem: Across the red cloth, a "Poker Bitch"' shirt stretched across her chest, her eyes boring into me like she had seen my soul and it was perfect for dinner, she sat with a false look of innocence. I had drawn Cigar Girl's table.

It just so happened that her husband, The Mark, had drawn her table as well, and I hoped that would keep everything in line. It didn't. After tangling with her on the first hand, I backed down, then tangled with Uncle Ted who played the Hammer as masterfully as I have seen it played in ages.

As I recovered from the Hammer-Tilt, I looked down to find AKo. With the blinds still at 1/2, I made it seven to go. Cigar Girl called. The flop came down K93 rainbow. Finally, I thought, I am going to get the best of this girl. Unless she called with a pair of nines, I'm going to win this hand. I bet out 15. She called.

As the dealer prepared to lay out the turn, I decided she must have KQ or KJ and I was going to play the hand as if she did. So, when a four came on the turn, I put out a bet of 25, thinking to milk the most out of the hand (in retrospect, a bad idea). After some thought, she called.

I sat back and decided that if the river wasn't a queen or jack, I was going to push all in. And when the river fell as a ten, I didn't think twice before announcing, "I'm all in."

Cigar Girl looked up at me, looked down at her cards once, looked back up and with half a smile said, "I call." As the room started getting loud, my eyes darted to her cards. She was flipping them over. She was smiling. How could she be smiling? See, there is the queen. I knew she had KQ. Why is the room so loud? How is it that they are screaming? I won this hand. It couldn't be...that she had the stone cold nuts. In fact, she had QJ for a rivered gutshot.

I flipped my cards over and the room got louder. I looked up and Cigar Girl was looking at me. I couldn't help but think of a moment about eight years ago.

I was living in Missouri and basically living at the future Mrs. Otis' house. She had a roommate, a blonde chanteusse who looked a lot like the future 2005 American Idol winner. Her voice was angelic and dirty at the same time.

One morning, my girl had left me sleeping. When I finally dragged myself out of bed and headed for the bathroom, the roommate walked out, buck naked and wet, just out of the shower. Neither of us knew the other was in the house. The only words I could speak at the time were, "I just saw you naked."

Later, we'd see each other at a bar and she forgave me. But I know she saw the look in my eye. It was the same look Cigar Girl was giving me.

The look said: "I'm really sorry for that, but I really, really enjoyed it."

The Drunkalympics

Having busted out first in my own tournament gave me time to take care of a list of other things that needed done. The bar needed more booze. The drinks needed more ice. The house needed more fans. And the Drunkalympics needed Cheez Balls. Three hours of fruitless searching left me with the realization that Cheez Balls must have gone off the market. I was left disappointed and with two bags of Cheez Poofs.

Throughout the night, I kept tabs on the tournament and smiled at every turn. From DoubleAs fixing the deck at the final table, to CJ, Heather and April taking over floor duties, to the entire Smith family making the final table, to Wes Nile Virus (The Big Pirate) and Dr. Pauly getting heads up, I couldn't have been happier with the result. When they agreed to chop so that the Drunkalympics could start on time, I knew I had some real winners in the room. Dr. Pauly was the winner on the ultimate hand, but both players deserve great thanks for their sportsmanship.

And so we were left with what I thought would be the last bit of shenanigans of the night. The history of the Drunkalympics lies partly in an immature man's need to find a reason to binge drink, but mostly in the unexplained competitiveness between me and G-Rob. Late nights in G-Vegas would often degenerate into G-Rob and I shooting hoops, throwing horseshoes, or playing Roshambo with the only stakes being shots of the most powerful stuff in the liquor cabinet.

As Bradoween has its roots in silly competition, G-Rob and I thought the Drunkalympics (previously known as the Dumb Olympics) would translate well.

If you were there, you saw what happened. If you weren't, Pauly posted the rules I wrote up for each event. As expected, G-Rob chose to be Team Good, and as expected, rather than draft with his team in mind, he chose his first draft pick soley on the basis that it would save him from possibly having to compete in the eating contest. While the battle between Good and Evil was epic, I believe it was G-Rob's selfish draft pick and the bad karma that came with it that resulted in Team Good's ultimate defeat.

In setting the lines-ups, the first thing I did was take myself out of the running for the Roshambo contest. I knew G-Rob would be expecting me in that slot and I thought seeing a fresh face would take him off his game. Marty, in fact, did suprise G-Rob, but not enough to squelch his dominance in the game.

Further, I knew Al would be in Team Good's slot for the water bottle basketball game. I didn't want Big Mike there for fear Al might be bouyed by friendly competition. I needed Al against somebody that might be confusing and intimidating. Dr. Jeff came in strong, hit his first shot and retired Al handily.

My biggest mistake of the night was not putting Big Mike in the trash ball comp. I expected to see Lefty in the cheese eating contest. My addled mind thought Big Mike would have a much better chance than me. In the end, I shoud've taken the fall for my team. I feel bad for asking Mike, who had already been on the Soco for a while, to do something so vile. I owe him a drink for that.

With my dominance at Trash Ball and Caps and G-Rob's uncanny ability to win even a Team Roshambo contest, it all came down to the final game of Flip Cup. In what was surely the most exciting event of the night, I chugged my beer fast (one of my specialties), but put my team in a hole by taking one flip more than Al to overturn my cup. The rest of my team performed marvelously. However, it was Daddy who emerged from the shadows to be the real hero, climbing out of the hole and winning the entire Drunkalympics for Team Evil.

Perhaps the oddest moment of the entire event was when I was standing at the keg, filling cups three at a time in preparation for the Flip Cup game. I heard someone say my name. I turned and there stood my newest neighbor, a young Baptist minister who lives across the street.

"I just wanted to come over and say hello and Happy Bradoween," he said.

There I stood, three cups of beer dangling from my fingers and a house and yard full of degenerate gamblers, drunks, and otherwise illicit sinners. It took everything I could not to beg off the conversation. So, instead of saying, "I'm sorry, I have to go. Team Evil is about to defeat Team Good," I said, "Well, thanks. Let us know if we get too loud."

Later, I would thank that man's God that he didn't show up thirty minutes later.

The Wetness

Not long after Team Evil finished its triumph, someone came up to me and said, "There's a big problem in your upstairs bathroom."

Never has a bigger understatement ever been spoken. I'm not going to go into the details, but somebody out there is one gross son of a bitch and if I ever find out who left my john that way, I'm coming to your house with G-Rob.

Twenty minutes later, I was still in the bathroom with a plunger. Mrs Otis rushed in with a look of urgency on her face.

"You've got to let this go," she said, a bit out of breath.

"I can't," I said. "If I do, people might start doing this in the yard."

"No, really" she said. "The girls need you to hold the hose for their wet t-shirt contest."

Somewhere around three seconds later, I'd hung an "Out of Order" sign on the door and was outside with a water hose in my hand. In front of me, four girls stood in ripped Hooters shirts, begging to be soaked down. A crowd had formed around them. I grabbed Dr. Jeff and asked him to run around to the side of the house and turn on the water.

He looked at me with more seriousness than I've seen in his face in years. He spoke calmly, but pointedly. "If you start this before I get back..." His threat trailed off as he darted away.

I felt the hose in my hand fill and get hard. Dr. Jeff ran back from the other side of the house with a trail of men behind him. When it was all set, I pulled the trigger and proceded to completely soak four large-breasted women. Somehow I saw more than I expected...and yet, was left wanting more.

I guess that was the point. All eight of them.

Late night

After conscripting a young girl to carry me to the store and begging the clerk to open up for one more sale, I replenished the beer supply. The keg had floated an hour before and the four cases of beer I had behind were almost gone. Along with the gallons of Soco, Vodka, Rum, Gin, Tequila, and the rest of the bar, the partiers had put a serious dent in a paycheck's worth of booze. I was so proud.

But, there comes a time, after months of planning, weeks of work, and a day full of stress that a host has to simply say, "Fuck it," and put the show on auto-pilot. So, I did.

Of course, when the party goes on auto-pilot, Otis goes to the bar. Eva, the hardest working woman in boozing, kept me happy all night. And as such, the night fell into brief, but I'm sure very meaningful, conversations.

At one point, someone came back with a report from the back yard. Team Scott Smith had climbed the the top of a Bradford Pear and was jumping back and forth between two trees like a giant Gene Wilder-esque Monkey. I asked that someone get him down, which they did. It only served free team Scott Smith to find the tallest tree in the yard, a giant Sweet Gum, which he climbed and probably should've died as a result.

Before I knew it, I was embarassing myself with a guitar, chatting up the locals, and trying to hold a conversation with Iggy and Daddy. My conversational skills, much like my musical talents, had degenerated as I entered the early morning hours. All I know is that I ended up at Waffle House with my beer still in my hand.


I took out the trash tonight. It took me half an hour. I just finished the dishes today. I surveyed the bar and couldn't believe how little was left.

I never got a good count on the number of people at the party, but, frankly, it doesn't matter. It was the best Bradoween ever and it was because of all the people who came from near and far.

Right now, I'm a lot like I was when I was four years old and the Charlie Brown special would end. I'd cry because it was so good and I knew I wouldn't see it again for a long time.

With that in mind, I think there is only one ay to handle the post party depression.

I'll see y'all at The Boathouse on September 24th.

| Bradoween