Now What?

Playing a little poker can be a relaxing break from the stresses of everyday life. When faced with a little boredom and free time there is rarely anything I would rather do than play a few hands of poker. Friday night I was sitting around the house whining about the fights not being on television until 11:30 instead of the seven or eight I was hoping for. A friend sent me a text and asked me to come downtown and play some poker.

I have sworn off playing at Club One but I thought I might drive down and socialize for an hour or two and maybe pick up some late dinner. I was chatting up my friend and generally hanging around the table being an annoyance when a seat opened up right next to my friend. I figured what the Hell and jumped in for a couple hundred dollars.

The game has a bit of a different structure with a $2-2 blind structure. After that it is no limit hold’em just like we are familiar with. I ran extremely well and flopped a couple big hands that filled up allowing me to double and re-double my stack. I was over $800 within the first thirty minutes. The game was very active and several young guys were bluffing way too much. There were lots of chips on the table with a couple stacks having more chips than I did. I wanted to go get something to eat and my friend decided we would eat at nine in a little more than an hour.

I was really done playing and ready to shut it down for the night but I was out of the house and hanging with my friend. I was telling plenty of stories and generally talking more than playing. I raised the bet to $10 from the button with 89 suited and was called by three players. The flop was JT4 and the big blind bet out $6 and a player in early position raised to $17 and a player in middle position called and I called bringing the big blind along. The pot held a little over $100 even with the ridiculous rake. The turn card was a perfect 7 and I made the straight. The big blind checked and the early position player bet $60 and the middle position folded. I thought about making a smooth call and decided I was going to raise and protect my hand. I moved all-in hoping to pick up the $160 pot. The big blind folded and the early position player instantly called. I was shocked by the instant call and figured he had the same straight with a flush draw. I turned my cards over and he slow rolled his over to reveal a set of fours. The river card was an ace and I doubled up to a little over $1600.

I was sitting at the table killing time not really playing poker just socializing and thinking about going to eat. I thought about picking up my chips and cashing out. I even thought about picking up when the blind got to me. Of course I did not cash out and when I was in the small blind I was dealt AK of hearts. The pot had already been raised to $10 and I called along with several other players. I thought for about half a second of re-raising pre-flop but I wanted to keep the pot small and not risk too much money. The flop was K84 with the eight and four being hearts. I bet out $50 trying to pick up the pot. Three players called and I thought to myself this is so ugly. The turn card was the 6 of hearts making my flush. I bet $150 trying to keep an opponent with a set in the pot. The only player at the table with as many chips raised the bet and moved all-in.

I went into the tank for a long time. I obviously saw the straight flush possibility and yet I was on the number two possible hand. The pot was between $1900 and $2000 and I needed to call $1387. I was in a miserable position and had to make a decision for all my chips. For the first time all night I needed to play poker and I was really not in the mood to play. I made my mind up that the opponent would have to call the clock on me. My plan was to take as much time as possible and try to read the guy. I asked, “Do you have any more money in your pocket?” He looked at me kind of strange. I had his attention. “I want to know if you are going to re-buy if you lose this hand?” The question is really meant to see if he has any chance of losing the hand. He turtled up and withdrew from the conversation. “Oh no! Don’t run away we were just starting to have fun.”

I planned to continue with my stalling tactics and decided to have the dealer spread the pot. I got out of my chair at the end of the table and walked over next to the five-seat squeezing between the two players and had them make room so I could study the pot. This pot was absolutely massive because the game was played with $2 chips. I asked the dealer to call the floor and ask if the pot can be stacked because there is not room to spread it out on the felt where I can see all of the chips. “I need to count this pot”. The floor of course said no. I glanced at the opponent and my watch and noted that I had killed exactly nine minutes. I pretended to be counting the pot for another minute and finally returned to my chair. I asked for a count of his chips again. After the chips were counted by the dealer, I counted my chips and then asked the dealer to count them for me.

I would glance at the opponent from time to time to see if he was becoming annoyed. I knew he had the nuts and I knew I would be folding at some point but I was trying to make sure nobody else would make such a large bet against me. I may fold the hand but there will be a price to pay. I had killed a near record 27 minutes on the hand and there were still no signs of anyone asking for the clock. I asked for the floor man to come to the table again for another rule interpretation. I asked the floor if could turn my cards face up since we were heads up. The floor man was unable to make a ruling and went off to find help. I was so proud of him. This was going to provide me with at least another couple minutes. The answer came back that I could not show my cards to another player.

I began to negotiate a rebate from my opponent. I set aside my buy-in and enough to pay for dinner and asked if he would give me back $250 if I called and lost. He really did not understand what I was proposing and I tried to explain that if I call and lose I would expect he give me back $250. The dealer tried to get involved and I got very angry with the dealer and told him that he was concerned only with the rake and our deal is totally separate from the poker game. My thought at the time was that he would offer a rebate because he had the nuts and wanted a call. A bluff and he would have said no. As it turned out he did not answer and it just served to delay the game a little longer.

At the 40 minute mark I had really run out of material and was just desperate to keep up the act of possibly making the call. I told the world that I had AK of hearts and the big flush. “I do not know how I can lay this hand down.” “Do you want to take your bet back and we will just play for what is in the middle?” Finally he broke and asked if that was a firm offer. I responded, “Meaning that if you say yes that it is a done deal?” He said simply, “That is what I am asking”. I said, “No, that offer is gone, I am no longer offering that to you.” I had finally broken him. I called.

He tabled the final two kings and I showed my flush. The dealer burned and turned putting a 4 on the board and making my hand the loser. I saw the enormous pot pushed across the table to my young opponent. I simply stood up and walked to the restaurant and had myself dinner. I had lost over $3000 on the turn of a card and yet I was trying to convince myself that I really only lost $200.

Poker is a tough game and even under the best circumstances when you play the game perfect you can still lose. I used everything I had available to me and I stretched the rules as far as possible and finally got what I was looking for and was able to make a really difficult decision with some certainty and it was correct and still the luck factor got me.

I will go back downtown again but it will be several months before I decide to actually play in that card room. The lesson to be learned is to cash out when you feel like leaving and do not hang out at the table with chips you do not want to risk.

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