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

May 12, 2008

Urine trouble, boy

by Otis

The first year I played a World Series event, I found myself at Table 2, Seat 1. I was nervous beyond my normal "There's a good chance I'm dying" standard of anxiety. The buy-in money had come out of my own pocket, there were thousands of players in the room, and I had friends and family on the rail. Yet, despite it all, I found myself dedicating an inordinate amount of thought to one subject that had nothing to do with how to play ace-king under the gun.

Table 2 was in the farthest corner of the room. To exit the Amazon Room, a player had to wade through a deadfall of tables, chips, people, and ugly humanity. With a fresh bottle of Diet Mountain Dew in front of me and the cards going in the air, my mind wandered off to the same thought I have when I go just about anywhere.

How in the hell was I going to get to the bathroom?

I used to say, "I have the bladder of a pregnant woman." Then, my wife got pregnant and still lasted longer between trips to the head than me. The Otis family bladder is pretty legendary. It defies all marketing plans about the distance between truck stops and laughs out loud at medical studies. If you were to put my father, brother, and me in a car for a road trip to Vegas and someone offered you an over/under bet on the number of times we'd stop to use the restroom, you should take the over--no matter what the line was.

Here's a confession I think I've only made to one person in my life.

Back in the late 90s, my relationship with Mrs. Otis was only a couple of years old. I lived in Jackson, Mississippi. She lived in Columbia, Missouri. I made the drive up to my old college town about once every two weeks. I'd get off work around 6pm, grab a bag of sunflower seeds and two one-liter bottles of Diet Mountain Dew. Even if I drove like a crazy person, the drive usually took around eight hours. I could cut 20 minutes off the trip if I only stopped for gas. I don't think I have to tell you that I saved the lids off the one-liter soda bottles for a reason.

Why do I bring it up now? Well, as I might have mentioned a few weeks back, I am an occasional reader of high-stakes no-limit grinder Leatherass9's blog. He recently made a confession on his blog to which I can relate--at least to the degree that I know where he's coming from, if not related to poker and EV. Here's a quick synopsis...the guy figured out how much he was costing himself to get up and go to the bathroom. He wrote, "So it essentially cost me $100 to pee. Twice a day makes that $200 and if I play about 250 days a year (very conservative estimate) that means it costs me $50,000 a year to pee which was more than I used to make at my old job!"

While I've never been serious enough about poker to pee in a bottle (I wonder what Jim Croce would've sung about that), I have put significant thought into how urination and poker go together. See, I've never understood people who take multiple breaks during poker tournaments. I know a couple of people who will take one or two smoke breaks per level (not including the official breaks) of major poker tournament. Leaving the table for a nic-fix or to go to the bathroom requires more than a "I want it" or "I gotta go." One should take into consideration a wide variety of factors. If leaving the table, it should be done in such a way that you give up as little positional advantage as possible while not missing any of your blinds. Thus, there are only a couple of times during an orbit when you can leave the table.

During that first year at the World Series, I happened upon this way of doing things. I'm happy to share it with you now.

The Otis Strategy for Urinating During a Poker Game

  • Time trip from table to bathroom before game begins
  • Calculate average length of one hand.
  • Do the math and leave with enough time to get you back to the table on the turn card of the hand in which you were under the gun.

    That is the basic strategy. There are other factors. Here are a few more tips.

  • Avoid leaving during heads-up pots
  • Never leave when you hear the words "All-in."
  • The time to make a break for it is when you see more than two players limp to the big blind and they all see a flop without a raise.

    It's not foolproof, but it's as close as I've got to perfection yet.

    Oh, and always wash your hands. Forget once, and your friends will never let you hear the end of it.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to see a man about a stable of horses.

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