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

April 5, 2006

The Most Expensive Red Bull

by Otis

Oh, sure. You've pulled a long poker session. You've done the 13-hour binge in the cash games. Your ass is leather. Your back is a mess of knots and monkey fists. Your mind is wandering from how much the guy next to you stinks to...if that dealer would just undo just one more button on her shirt. Damn, it's on me? I raise.

Or maybe, just maybe, you are the potentate of concentrate. Maybe you've sat and played the perfect session--not too long--but every move, ever riffle of chips, every glance from the corner or your eye is so calculated, the world's biggest abacus would never be able to figure out how you reached...the...perfect...conclusion.

Yeah, we're all perfect. We all have pleather asses and perfect concentration for as long as we want.

And where is the damned waiter?

This is a true story.

John was not his real name, but certain matters of legality and discretion preclude revealing his real identity.

There would be a moment that John would be sure he was fine, that every decision would be perfect. He had a monster stack of chips and found pocket queens in the small blind. A well-known pro sat in the cutoff and came in for a standard raise, at the time to 24,000. John figured bumping it to 90,000 would do the trick. It did not. The pro came over the top all-in.

Queens, despite their royalty, look decidedly and appropriately emasculated when you send them into battle for every one of your tournament chips. And in this case, the final table was just a few eliminations away.

It was a decision so tournament-threatening that John had forgotten about another decision he'd made before the final table looked so close.


Fatigue is hard to battle at the poker table. You can buy the dollar-a-minute massage. That might help. Or it might put you to sleep. A beer could do the same thing and chances are your concentration will wane. Coffee could do the trick, but it wrecks your stomach and sends you to the john every twenty minutes.

Our John was in the middle of a physical slide. His concentration and stamina were waning. The tournament's money seemed so far away and the chips seemed so hard to come by. What's more, the tableside waiters seemed to have gone on a permanent smoke break.

John, a young man, had picked up a covey of raibirds in the last day. He didn't know them. He wasn't even sure he wanted to know them. But there they were, watching his every move, studying his play, and then waiting to analyze it during the breaks.

The breaks. God, what John would've done for a break. He wasn't sure how he felt about the railbirds, but he knew he would kill for a shot of some mainline caffeine. Finally, when the break still seemed an eon away, John broke down and asked one of his new railbirds if he would mind running to the bar for him.

"Could you get me a Red Bull?" he asked.

Some railbirds are more like gnats. They are always there, you can't shoo them away, and all they really want is one sip of your sweat. This railbird was a gnat.

"Red Bull? Sure. I'll go get it...for a tenth of a percent of you."

Jesus. Fucking gnats.

Fatigue can play M.C. Escher tricks on your mind. Suddenly, the gnats can seem like ants. And ants are workers, right? And, damn, if John were to cash, a tenth of one percent didn't seem like that bad a deal. A tenth of a percent of ten grand would only be ten bucks, about the price of the Red Bull with tip anyway.

And so John sent his little worker ant to the bar for a Red Bull. Thirty minutes later, the fatigue had disappeared and John was back into the game.


Two days of decisions and concentration followed and brought John to the question of whether to put his entire tournament on the line with his pair of queens.

He stood from his chair and put his back to the table for one whole second. Then he turned around and announced, "I call."

The well-known pro's face fell. He turned over pocket tens, knowing he was well behind. He would stay that way. The queens held up.

Less than 24 hours later, John was at the final table. Less than five hours later, he stood up from his seat for the final time. He was the last person to stand up, because he had won the whole damned thing...for a million bucks.

And somewhere on the rail, the gnat was working his mental calculator. One tenth of one percent of a million bucks was...$1,000.

John not only had the distinction of being the champion. He was also the man that had downed the most expensive Red Bull of all time.

Note: I'm in the middle of an experiment that has taken me out of my normal poker playing routine. In the interim, I'm pretending to be The Poker Nerd and Drizz. More than anything, though, this means I'm learning new stuff about life and poker and how they fit together. In short, I'm trying to get my head on straight. So, the point is, for the next little while you might see a few of these stories that have nothing to do with how I play AK under the gun. Which is probably a good thing.

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