We are not Done Yet

reno-archThe game in a small town is very hit or miss, it is best to have a set schedule so that everyone knows when to show up for the game. Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 6 PM to midnight was the schedule at the local cardroom. With just one table you need to be there on time or suffer an endless wait on the list. Some nights the game starts out weak and just falters with things shutting down at 8 PM or so. This is usually caused by a few players with limited bankrolls going broke and leaving the game shorthanded with no real live players.
One such night, there were four of us young guys in the game when it went down. We bitched and moaned about the lack of a game and the fact that we wanted to play more. We made a few quick calls down to Humboldt County looking for a game and a quick check of the Medford/Grants Pass area found no games going. At the time, Reno had pretty strong poker games going all night at several of the casinos. Reno is over 400 miles from Crescent City and takes a seven hour drive. Undeterred, the four of us jumped into a Ford explorer and took off for Reno. A pocket full of cash and the clothes on our back were all we needed to make this impromptu trip.
P. Rick, Phillipino Gene, Matt the Brat and I were headed out across the state after a quick stop for gas and snacks. A few hours into our trip the enthusiasm began to wane and Gene dozed off to sleep like a little baby. Rick and I soldiered on from the front seat as the miles clicked by and we headed south on Interstate 5 from Grants Pass toward our turn at Mount Shasta. A rest area, a stop for gas and a quick drive thru burger were the only impediments to our march on Reno.
We hit town and parked in the Circus Circus parking garage figuring that Circus would be the cheapest place to grab a room. We ended up with two rooms, one for Rick and I and Gene and Matt in the other. For $22 a night there is no sense crowding into one room.
I wandered to the poker room and jumped into a $3-6 game full of dealers and a couple locals. The game was tight and I was immediately in trouble. Nobody at the table was giving any action. I ratcheted up the aggression. Nobody seemed to ever miss a flop and I took my lumps for a couple hours. I dropped $300 in the game before I drug my first pot. That was a split pot where the elderly lady and I both made the nut straight. Yes they had a game going in Reno, it was just not a game I needed to be playing in.
I traipsed over to the Cal-Neva to see what the bottom of the barrel looked like. Circus was no frills, but Cal-Neva was just worn out and dirty. They had two games going, a $4-8 and a $3-6 with not much of a list for either game. This was during the famous two beers and two hotdogs for two bucks promo. The dealers worked hard for the quarters that were tipped in this grind joint. The chips were worn thin the carpet was threadbare and dirty. The place had a bad odor. But they had a poker game and that is what I was looking for. A drunk in the $3-6 game seemed to be giving action and running over the table. I got the seat behind him and began to play back at him. I knew this was going to be a high variance play and a bit of a crap shoot. I managed to get him to the felt before his buzz wore off. I leaked back a few chips after the action died down and I finally cashed out a $380 win for the session.
I jumped into the $4-8 game and played through the afternoon. The game was pretty dry and I was grinding around even. A tourist from the mid-west struck up a conversation with me at the table and gave me a million dollar poker tip for free. He said, “You are holding your breath on your draws”. I said, “I know, bad habit”. I made a note of it and made an effort to keep breathing smoothly and effortlessly as I could. Next time I was heads up with a good player back home, I tested out the tell and sure enough it worked. That tip was worth quite a bit to me.
We bounced around Reno for three days and two nights. I eventually made it over to the Peppermill and the $10-20 game. I was taking my lumps and paying my tuition to learn from the professional grinders. Down over $500 in the game, I had given back all of my profit from the trip. On the button, I called a raise in a multi-way pot and ended up seeing the capped flop for $50 against seven other players. I had 87 of hearts and did not feel too bad about the hand. The flop hit me hard K 6 5 with the two little ones being my suit for an open-ended straight flush draw. I got a raise in on the flop hoping to slow down the action and all it did was get me re-raised. An off-suit 9 on the turn gave me the nuts and I was feeling pretty good. There were just too many players in this hand. What could they have? The 9 of hearts on the river gave me the straight flush and paired the board. When I turned my hand over, I knew I had just won the biggest pot of my young poker life. I stacked chips for the next three hands. My hands were shaking and I was bouncing in the seat. I cashed out when the blind came around.
I grabbed a taxi and went shopping. I bought all new clothes and even a jacket. I got a little overnight bag and filled it with toiletries. I showered and shaved and went out to a nice dinner. Against all odds, we had gone on the road and booked a win against players that were far better than us.
The drive home was pretty miserable and seemed ten times longer than the drive to Reno. I still hit the road from time to time looking for a game, I am not done yet.

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