Luckbox has been doing most of the heavy lifting in this fifth birthday of Up For Poker. I'm wrapped up in other activities right now, but couldn't let the time pass without a brief submission. Some of these are repeats, some are original, but all of them will stick in my memory as long as I'm playing.
Five most memorable hands against a poker blogger
5. vs. The Rooster, December 2007
It might have been my emergence from focus that ended up losing me the tournament. Still, a sense of understanding about what was happening around me was welcome. What had once been half a dozen people standing around and watching poker was suddenly a crowd of familiar faces. For the past several hours, I'd rather forgotten everything except trying to win. Now, I took half a second to relish the moment. I knew it wouldn't last long. Though the heads-up battle has been described as epic, I don't remember it as such. It seemed to be over as soon as it started.
I made a quick decision that I wasn't going to give The Rooster the opportunity to dictate the terms of the heads-up match. With the blinds as high as they were, there was very little opportunity for post-flop poker. My decisions were made before the match even began. It would be up to The Rooster to decide when he was calling and when he was folding.
If there was a surreal moment for me, it was the split second between the time I looked at my final hand and the time The Rooser announced, "Call!"
I peaked at K9o and said nothing. I simply put my hands around my chips and started to move them. They had barely moved an inch when The Rooster nearly jumped from his seat and said, "Call!"
Without going into it what was actually happening in my head at that second, that fraction of time defined who I was, who I am, who I hope to be forever.
Oh, and I was surpised to see I was ahead, too. The Rooster's snap-call didn't mean I was beat. It meant he was tired of my aggression. In this case, it also meant I was better than 60/40 to win. By the river, we had seen no kings, nines, queens, or eights. I had to dodge six cards when that final piece of plastic hung in the air.
It was what it was.
4. vs. ScottMc , December 2007
"There are softer spots in this room," I mumbled.
Over the course of the next couple of hours, I sat at the toughest cash table I'd face all weekend. I don't recall everyone in the game, but over the course of my time there, I saw Zeem, Chad, ScottMc, WeakPlayer, Miami Don and Blinders.
I stacked off to Chad once in a kicker battle, re-bought and told myself that if I couldn't start playing better, I was on my way out the door for a few hours by myself. That's when it happened--the most embarassing move I would make all weekend.
I had AK and came in for a raise. ScottMc popped me back and I pulled my "Oh, realllllllly?" maneuver. I don't think I've ever played with Scott before, so I kept his range exceptionally wide. I made the call out of position.
Why exactly I decided to check dark, I don't know. I only know I did. And I know I saw the flop come down AQx. Scott made another bet, and because I had checked dark, I had no way of knowing what the bet meant. It could mean as much as AA, as middling as AQ, or as little as some underpair. Hell, it could even be AK.
Now, I made what was the only smart move in the entire hand. I figured out where I was with a check-raise. Thing is, my chips hadn't hit the table before Scott cupped his hands around his mouth and said, "Allllllllllll innnnnnnnnnnn" in a deep voice.
That's pretty much where I went over the edge. After 22 hours of the worst beats ever, I was stuck bad and wrapped up in a hand with a player who is now wearing a sign that says, "You are beat, Otis!" around his neck. There is now no hand he can hold that I can conceivably beat. At best, he's holding AK and I know that's not the case. I might be lucky enough that he has AQ, but it's far more likely he has a set.
So, of course, I call.
Scott is a nice damned guy, which goes beyond and sometimes against his great abilities at the poker table. He wasted no time showing me his QQ for the flopped middle set. Knowing I need runners to win, I start planning a graceful exit and wondering where the solo rage will take me. I was at once a nihilist.
I'm still not sure the next ten seconds happened.
The groan and cheer rose up from the table as the board came runners to give me aces full. Having not yet revealed my hand, I fanned my AK to the table and buried my face in my other hand. The chips landed in front of me. Now, I could no longer hate my luck.
I could only hate myself.
Scott took it much better than he should've. For my penance, he only required I post this list:
1) That was the worst suck-out ever
2) Scott is a better player than Otis
3) I am a donkey
Or something like that. My notes don't make a lot of sense.
The only thing I remember with any clarity is Miami Don looking up from his vodka and remarking wryly, "Otis, I think your luck just changed."
3. vs. Absinthe, December 2006
I was angry. So angry.
There is a particular table at the MGM where I cannot win. Don't call it superstition, because if you do, I will soak your toothbrush in a jar of hot peppers. I can't win there. Ever.
I'd just called off several hundred dollars when people at the other end of the Strip in Caesars knew I was beat. It was so obvious that it was actually embarrassing to continuing breathing. Making it worse, the off-duty dealer to whom I'd stacked off berated me for losing. I wanted to crawl in a hole, stuff the rest of my cash in an uncomfortable place, and light it on fire. Due penance, I thought.
I'd had pocket kings. Not that it matters, but it mattered.
Absinthe sat on my right, quiet as always, and ostensibly targeting everybody at the table but me. We're friends. We've shared time. We've eaten at fancy restaurants. He wouldn't fuck with me.
I found pocket kings on the button a few hands later. I figured I'd get no action, because, hell, everybody knew I wasn't rebuying. I had to set my ass on fire in a few minutes.
Absinthe came in for a raise to around $20. I don't recall the size of my re-raise, but I think it was around $100. Absinthe did this thing he does. I can't explain it, and if I could, I wouldn't write about it, because we're friends. We don't fuck with each other. But he did this thing.
He quietly slid out a raise. I don't recall the exact amount, and it doesn't matter, because it was a giant, flashing sign that said, "Hey, bitch, I have aces. Get the hell out and get on with the ass-fire."
I gritted my teeth, I wondered whether I was going to use a lighter or a match, and mucked my hand.
A few minutes later, he raised his eyebrows.
"Kings," I said.
He shook his head. "What a cooler," he said.
"Aces," I nodded.
"Same hand," he said.
For a moment, I felt okay. It wasn't a lot of money and, you know, no flop, no drop.
Half an hour later as we headed to a fancy dinner, I brought up the cooler.
"I had ace-ten," he said and kept walking.
2. vs. Bill Rini, and I honestly don't remember the date
Okay, we were drunk. Let's get that out of the way. I'm pretty sure it was summer, I'm vaguely certain Spaceman and Pokerati Dan were there, and I know we are at the Excalibur. The size of the pot makes me believe Bill and I both had around $800 in front of us. Everything else is pretty much a blur.
I know I had pocket aces. I'm pretty sure one was black. Let's call it the ace of spades. It doesn't matter.
I raised and Bill re-raised me. I complained in a way guys with pocket aces do. Folded back to me and I decide to give the guy a break.
"All-in," I said. Because, in poker, that's how you give a guy a break.
Bill looked peeved, but only for a second. "I call," he said. Because, with AK, he didn't want a break. He wanted my $800. When he saw my aces, he was visibly agitated. I said something to the effect of, "I was trying to give you a break."
He said something to the effect of, "Fuck your mother." That's not an exact quote, but it's close I think.
Bill didn't win. He left.
To this day, I actually feel bad about that hand.
1. vs. Iggy , December 2004
I was still steaming from having my Hiltons cracked, and raised pre-flop with pocket sixes. Of course, Iggy called. The flop came down 589. Again, Iggy and I went to war.
Now, I know I'm not necessarily favored to win this hand. In fact, I should assume that Iggy is ahead. Maybe a set. More likely, A9 or A8. If he is ahead, I know that I only have six outs to catch up. Still, having played low-limit with him before, I know Iggy can sometimes be aggressive when he's way behind. I could only hope he was on a draw.
I think I maintained my poker face when the turn brought a seven, giving me the straight. I check-raised Iggy, who cold called and gave me a look.
The turn was a blank, as I recall. This time I bet into him and the sonofabitch raised me. I re-raised, and he capped.
But as he put in his final bet, he turned to the dealer and said, "You know, in a lot of cardrooms, when play gets to be heads up there's no limit on the number of raises."
It was at this moment that my heart sank and I picked up on Iggy's biggest tell: When he has the nuts, he'll turn to the dealer and ask for the game to be no-limit.
The dealer said we could do whatever we wanted, but I already knew what was about to happen. I put in my final crying call and watched Iggy turn up Vince Van Patton's favorite hand, JTo.
Iggy began raking the pot and eyed me from behind his locks, "Drawing at the dummy end of the straight," he said with a playful scoff.
In one moment I felt both chastened and so happy to be alive that I didn't mind losing another big pot to Iggy.