Mushroom Larry

I recently travelled back to my home town of Crescent City and had a chance to see a few of my old poker friends. I say a few of my old poker friends because many have passed away or moved to other parts of the world. There are new players that have come along to replace those that are no longer playing. I enjoyed meeting the younger players and I even saw a few familiar faces that have started to play poker. As the days passed I would ask about players I used to play with and the current players would update me on the last they remembered of them. I was very saddened to hear of the passing of B.J. Ward and Hippy Rich.

Among the players that have not been around in a very long time were Chuck Markey and Mushroom Larry. My friend Ira saw Chuck Markey just about a year ago up in Seattle playing at the Red Dragon under his alias J.T. When I asked about Mushroom Larry nobody could remember the last time anyone saw him. I reminded people that the players in Washington call him Lying Larry. Gene chimed in with, “At San Pablo they call him worse than that.” The younger players had never met Larry and of course we all started telling stories of Mushroom Larry. I should have taken notes because a few of those stories were prize winners.

Mushroom Larry was given the nickname because he was a mushroom buyer. Larry would bring a van up to our area once a year during mushroom season and park somewhere up in the woods at a wide space in the road and buy locally picked wild mushrooms. Every couple days Larry would take his haul of mushrooms somewhere and sell them to a broker. Every evening Larry would come in from the woods and play poker at the nearest card room. Larry spent a couple months in Crescent city for about ten straight years. I have no idea where Larry lived while he was in town and I would hazard a guess that he spent many nights in his van. Larry never smelled very good and really never looked very clean. Larry had rotten teeth and that just added to the look of the unshaven beard and trucker cap. Larry was rude and foul talking with a real love of alcohol which just escalated his already bad behavior. I loved this guy.

The mushroom business was a cash business and Larry often carried thousands of dollars in cash. Many of the mushroom pickers are English as a second language and a few are illegal immigrants. Larry was famous for screwing over the mushroom pickers. The pickers had very little choice but to sell the mushrooms to Larry for whatever he was offering as he was the only game in town. Somehow Larry managed not to get himself killed but it was by the thinnest of margins. Even the white guys like Sheldon that picked mushrooms had bad things to say about Larry and his business practices. I am sure Larry was financing his bad poker play by screwing the mushroom pickers out of their money. All I really cared about was that Larry showed up at the game with plenty of cash however he may have gotten it.

Larry actually told the truth at the poker table one time and I caught him. Every other thing that I ever heard him say was of dubious reliability. Lying Larry was probably a more accurate nickname as he did far more lying then he ever did mushroom buying. Larry played almost every hand and lied about what he had every hand. To hear him tell it he was run down on the river or just outkicked in every hand he was ever dealt.

I usually try to recall a memorable hand that I played with the person and for Larry I am going to share two hands that capture the persona. The first hand is one that I played particularly bad and will admit that up front. I bought into a $3-6 game for a rack and had run a little sour and found myself short on chips and needing to rebuy. I did not make the rebuy and started the hand with about a stack of chips ($20). I was dealt the worst possible hand pocket jacks. I raised pre-flop and Larry gave it a re-raise and Tim put cap on it. The flop came down JJ4 and Larry and Tim went war and I called off the last of my chips on the flop. Larry and Tim managed to get heads up for the turn allowing unlimited raises when a 6 hit leaving the board JJ46. Tim and Larry were putting in chips six at a time about as fast as humanly possible for the first $60. Larry stood up and looked at the board and said; “I know you don’t have a Jack.” Tim was giggling and all smiles and said; “You don’t have a Jack.” A couple more raises and Larry was getting hot; “Listen you fat son of a bitch I know you don’t have a fucking Jack.” Tim reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a $100 bill and said; “I will bet you $100 you don’t have a jack.” Larry wisely came back with; “I will bet you $1000 you don’t have one.” As is typical in a poker game two men are trying to prove who has the biggest gun and both of them are unarmed. Larry shoved his chips toward the middle no-limit style and Tim called off the rest of his chips. A 7 came down on the river and actually made me squirm a little as I wondered if that hit either one of them. Larry turned his cards over first showing AK nothing and no draw other than a pair draw. Tim sheepishly turned over his hand and split the pot with Larry and we all had a good laugh. I of course slow rolled them both at the behest of the dealer. When I tabled both Jacks we had another good laugh. Vidal shook his head and said, “Sheeet man…these guys crazy.”

The second memorable hand I played with Larry came in a four-handed $3-6 game late at night after a full night of playing. Larry is a very loose aggressive player and I was playing pretty aggressive myself as we were playing short-handed. I was outplaying Larry by a notch or two but the action was fast and the swings were wild. The key hand of the night had Larry in the big blind and I was on the button. I was dealt 62 suited and raised pre-flop. Larry called from the blind as expected. I caught a very good flop with K34 and Larry bet out and I raised. Larry instantly re-raised and I four bet the hand. Larry called and the turn brought a J and gave me a flush draw and some hope. Larry lead out and I raised him. He re-raised and I followed through making it four bets. When Larry made it five bets I decided I better call as he may have a bigger flush draw. The river card was an eight leaving the board K34J8. Larry bet and I raised him. Larry went into the tank and finally made the call saying; “I will pay you off”. I turned over my six high and Larry turned over the same hand and split the pot. Larry spent the next half hour ranting and raving about how bad I played the hand. “I have never seen you play that bad before…you surprised me.” The man called me with six high and had to split the pot.

I miss playing poker with you Larry.

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