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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Poker When You Can - part 2

For the next few hands I pretty much just bit my nails and sweated it out. I took a gamble on some okay hole cards and ended up losing about a quarter of my stack. The next hand someone went all in and got put out and we were down to nine competitors left. I told myself again, the best strategy for now was to lay low, and let the others players take people out of the game. The top four would win prize money - maybe I could limp in. I’d fold on every hand unless I had something really good.

And so, naturally, I played another bad hand and lost half my stack.

I would have to be very careful and sit tight and concentrate, dammit. Some of the other players did the dirty work as the field was narrowed to eight, then seven, then six. I found myself in a showdown and put out number six myself. We were five. By now the blinds were extremely high and it was costing me a lot just to stay in even if I folded. I held tight. I could do this.

I managed to win a few small pots and built my reserves back up. Then I caught King-Queen suited and on the flop laid eyes on the beautiful Ten and Ace. Again, I was sitting on four cards to a Royal Flush. I bet heavily, and chased most of the table out of the pot. The turn was a nothing card. Where was the damn Jack I needed? The river card came out… and I had my flush. But not a Royal. It was good enough to win me quite a few chips, though and I was back in it.

A few hands later, a nice fellow named Falcon Rob was busted out and I’d made it to the money! Unreal!

Next hand, I ended up in a three-way showdown. I toyed about raising and going all-in, because if I lost I’d only have a handful of chips left anyway. I decided not to be rash.

And it was disastrous for me. A fellow known as Lars Vegas at the end of the table won the hand taking out the fourth place finisher.

Somehow I managed to take out the third place finisher on a showdown.

It was just me and Lars.

And Lars was now a force to be reckoned with because he now had about ten times the chips I did, and with the blinds coming at me hard and fast two hands out of four, I couldn’t survive more than about four or five more hands.

There was only one thing to do.

On the next hand, I barely looked at my hole cards and confidently pushed all my chips forward.

“All in.”

This could be it. Was I done? My opponent looked at his hole cards and folded. I took all my chips back, plus a few of his.

Next hand.

“All in.” I pushed my chips in again, again trying to steal the blinds.

Again he let me off the hook. I was slowly gaining some ground, but how long could this go on?

Next hand.

I had a strong pair.

“All in.” I was beginning to get used to this. But this time Lars called. We both stood up to see how the cards would fall. The crowd of onlookers leaned in. Would this be the end for me? But no, I won the hand, doubling up my chips.

Okay, so far so good.

Next hand, I had some okay hole cards. The big friendly guy across the table limped in with a small raise. I called. The flop came and I was looking good with three of kind.

“All in.”

Lars matched my bet. Again, I was staring out across the abyss. The cards came out. Lars had three eights.

But, I had three nines.

And as I eyed his chips, I could see something amazing. I was pretty sure I had a tiny chip lead on him. I now had a legitimate shot at winning it all.

I was dealt a nice looking Queen-Three of diamonds. Okay. We both checked. The flop came. Six, seven of diamonds, and a King.

I heard a voice coming from the end of the table. “All in.”

Lars pushed his chips in. He undoubtedly had a King. I was looking at a draw to a flush. All I needed was one more diamond. And for Lars not to pull a full house.

“All in.”

This was it. A buzz of excitement went through the room and we stood up to watch the cards. Someone was going to win the tournament on this hand. If Lars managed to win the hand, I wouldn’t have chips enough left for the next blind and I'd be done. It was do or die.

Lars turned over his cards. He’d been bluffing.

The river card came down.

King of Diamonds. The beautiful King of Diamonds! I had a King high flush. The final card was the Queen of Hearts but it didn’t matter – somehow, I’d won the first ever poker tournament I'd ever played in!

There were lots of congratulations and picture taking, plus shots of Patron tequila. I didn’t care if I had an empty stomach, it tasted fantastic to me. I was presented with a bracelet and best of all $600 in prize money.

Dougie, who organized and ran the tournament, congratulated me and leaned over and whispered, “It’s customary to tip the dealers.”

“How much?”

“Forty, or maybe sixty which is 10% of the pot – its up to you.”

By this point my hands were shaking with the adrenalin. I could barely focus my eyes, which were watering from the tequila. I got my wallet out and fished out a bill from my stack of twenties and tossed it onto the felt.

Then a second.

And I thought, hey, why not share the wealth? I tossed a third out. The dealers would appreciate $60 between them, I was sure.

Then there was a kind of hubbub, and as I stood up, the head of the poker room came over and threw her arms around me.

“Thank you sir, thank you. Thanks for taking care of us! Come back, come back anytime!”

Someone else said, “Holy shit, Royal Flusher just tipped the dealers $150!”

I looked down and sure enough, I’d fished out three fifty dollar bills, not twenties!

Dougie leaned over and said, “Hey man, didn’t you hear me? I said sixty bucks max!”

I looked at him and kind of bit my tongue. “Well, uh….” Oh SHIT I was thinking. A quarter of my prize money GONE. “Uh… well, we all had a good time and uh, I’m just happy to be here and participating… I didn’t expect to win and uh… hey, why not share the love?”

I was so stupefied that I never, ever told a soul at the tournament about it. (Until now.)

But hey – what could I possibly have to complain about? I’d had the experience of a lifetime and it was worth every penny.

Dougie gave me a lift downtown and I busted into the the room, a shit-eating grin on my face.

The Quad Queen looked up from her packing. “How’d you do?”

All my self doubts of the week were gone. I held my arm high, silver bracelet on my wrist.

“I won the fucker.”

“Oh my God, how????”

Smugly, I smiled and replied, “The Royal Flusher Way, that’s how.”

The Score

Triumphant First-Ever-Vegas-Hold’em-Poker-Tournament Wins: RF: 1
Cool-looking Semi-precious Metal Poker Tournament Bracelet That I’ll Treasure Forever: RF: 1
Clean and Jerk Olympic Gold Medals: RF: 1, QQ: 0
Wasted luck at El Cortez Daily Slot Tournament: RF: 1

Clean and Jerk Final Standings
RF Bets: $50 Hockey Winnings (and Gold Medal): $117.60
QQ Bets: none Winnings: $64.75


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