Celebration 4 Trip Report – Part 2

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(Cross-posted at Geekza. You can read Part 1 here.)

A note before moving on with my tale: A few of you that read Part 1 observed rather quickly that I was a dumb bastard for not switching seats with the father in the other row. While I did make the observation that such an arrangement could be made while on the plane, the best response I can give was that the father was sitting in the middle seat. Between dealing with a crying kid that has some chance of calming down at some point on the flight, and sitting in the center seat, I’ll take my chances with the kid any day of the week. The window seat offers something to lean against, the aisle seat gives me just a twinge more legroom and my legs can migrate into the aisle a tad. The middle seat is claustrophobic hell. Not to mention I go from sitting beside the tyke to sitting directly in front of her. Marginal improvement at best, and not worth it.

I will also say that near the end of the flight, I actually chatted with the mom a bit, who is from Hawaii and was on the first leg of a flight back to Maui. Orlando to the islands? Crap, thank God I’m getting off the plane in Los Angeles. In any case, they were just nice people that had a normal toddler. Maybe I’m too nice in situations like this, I don’t know. But I was polite, cursed not being able to sleep, and disembarked.

Saturday Afternoon – Los Angeles

My host Andy doesn’t use a car, he lives downtown and takes the Metro everywhere he goes. Doing my best to fend for myself, Andy had given me instructions on how to take the Flyaway from LAX to Union Station and hop on the Metro to get to his place. There’s three things I’d managed not to do during my time in Los Angeles: Ride the bus, ride the Metro, and walk around downtown on my own. Skinny white kids tend to shy away from such situations, even if it is a pussy move that’s more paranoid than neccessary, especially on a Saturday afternoon. Despite all this, I didn’t want to pay for a cab to Downtown, and wasn’t about to ask anyone else to come pick me up on such short notice. I called Andy and confirmed instructions. He told me to call him when I got to Pershing Square, and I trudged over to the bus stop in front of the terminal, sitting down with a giant, gravity affirming thud.

I looked down at my shoes and closed my eyes as I attempted to do the math on just how long I’d been awake. I had a short nap around 2AM, but it was well over 24 hours since I’d had any real sleep. I moaned audibly in a woe-is-me fashion as a fellow with a badge nudged me in the shoulder. I turned to look up at him, my eyes blinking uncertainly.

“What are you waiting for, buddy?”
“The Flyaway to Union Station.” The man began to laugh.
“Thought so. You just missed it, I think you were asleep.”
“Aw, FUCK.” He laughed harder.

I didn’t wait around to find out when the next one would show up. All I knew is I would have to be alert enough to catch a couple different stops, and the odds weren’t good. I grabbed my bag and headed for the taxi station. 20 minutes and 45 dollars later, I was outside Andy’s apartment building and dialing his phone.

“Hey Chris, where are you?”
“I’m here, dude.”
“Oh, you’re at Pershing Square already?”
“Uh, no, I’m at your place.”
“Shit! I’m not gonna be home for twenty minutes, how’d you get there so quick?”

I told him what happened and was promptly laughed at again. Thankfully Andy’s roommate Thomas was around to let me in and I started to make myself at home. Andy’s apartment is actually a spacious loft, a large white space on the top floor with lots of skylights and not much else. Blue tape marks up the floor where divisions will be going up in the future, a part of an extremely ambitious remodeling that Andy’s starting soon. In the main area sat the most important items of the evening: Two poker tables, full size with traditional red felt and room for 10.

I dumped my stuff and made a beeline for the nearest sleeping surface, laying down and attempting to shut my eyes for a bit. I figured my body would immediately shut down, but instead, I groggily thought about the weekend and how nervous I really was. Every so often, my train of thought would interrupt itself with, “You know, you’re supposed to be asleep right now,” but no love. Adrenaline had made its entrance. I wasn’t going anywhere.

Andy arrived with tons of refreshments that he’d purchased for the evening and I went to work helping count out chipstacks for the tournament while people began to slowly show up for the evening. In attendance for the game this evening were Ryan and his brother who I’d never met, Wil, and a few of Andy’s friends. We were expecting about 15-20 but only ended up with about 8 due to various no-shows (*cough*Pauly*cough*).

Andy went to go turn on some music, putting on the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack but turning it up way too loud, which was impressive considering the sound system was on the other end of the loft. After a couple hands it was agreed that it needed to be turned down and Andy left on the long trek to decrease the volume. As he walked someone requested something quieter overall.

“C’mon, put in something else.”
“Aw, I like this.”
“But it’s loud!”
“He’s turning it down!”
“I know, but-”

The music stopped and a few seconds later was replaced with the Star Wars theme, which earned some laughter. Andy walked back slightly triumphant.

“Is this music okay with everyone?” Wil gave his best shit eating grin.
“I dunno, you got any Cowboy Bebop?”


The tournament was pretty blah for me. I played fine but managed to run Kings into Aces in a multi-way pot that made me the bubbleboy. Two of Andy’s friends chopped heads up and the cash game became all about getting my money back while steering as clear of Ryan and Wil as possible, which is about how it went down. The discussion during the game, however, was much more fun than the game itself. If anything, it’s the number one reason I miss living in Los Angeles.

First of all, as mentioned in a previous post, I have a tell. Ryan wouldn’t confirm that everyone in Murderer’s Row had the exact same info, but he did say I had one.
“You’ve already given it off once tonight,” he said, the tiniest of smiles on the corner of his mouth.
“And you won’t tell me?”
“You couldn’t pay me enough.”

I paused long enough to reraise Joe, the LAG player on my right.

“Is it a tell that I could give off playing online?” Ryan stopped to look at me for a beat.
“You’re too smart to answer that question.” I pouted at his response.
“Hey, that’s a compliment.”

Joe dropped his hand and I dropped the hammer. Cheers all around.

“HAMMER!” I bellowed. Laughter came from all the right people, and even Joe cheered.
“Now that’s what i’m talking about, we got a game!” Joe said as he offered a fist. I gave a fist back and the game went on. I was playing goofy and even managed to try playing SMTL (that’s 38o for you non-poker bloggers) though with not much success, though I showed just the same.

“Just getting them all out of the way,” I smirked.

It came with a reason though. Joe was out to pay people off. If you made it to the river with a hand of any kind of strength against him, you could feel pretty good. His habit was betting huge on the river in an effort to buy pots. I folded to them a couple times after he had the goods the first time he did it, but he was starting to do it too much and I knew I had to catch him.

The first time, I called his raise from the BB with A2. I flopped a deuce and called his auto-bet on the flop. I turned trips and he bet again, though not nearly enough to get me off of a draw if I was on one. I called again.

The river put an overcard on the board, but it also made a flush. Joe bet 20 dollars into the 12 dollar pot. I called pretty quickly and he showed his one pair which he’d rivered. I dragged a nice pot.

A few hands later I raised with KT and 3 people called. The flop was AQ3 and I led out. Joe called from the BB along with one other player. The river was a beeeeyoutiful Jack and Joe bet 6 dollars.

“Raise,” I said, eyeing my chipstack. I had about 60 dollars behind, Joe a bit less. Joe seemed to like his hand.

“I’m all in.” I made an effort not to Hollywood. I’ve noticed that when I act unsure or pause too long, people read me for acting and drop it quick. This time, I just wanted to look like I had Ace-rag and was scared to death of a call.

Joe exhaled loudly and asked me to count it out. I had him covered. He thought for about 30 seconds before his inner monologue started to show itself.

“Man, I like my hand a lot, here, check it out.” He flipped up QJ for the table and continued to think. I stared at it for a solid minute and then raised my hands to my face, my palms pressed against each other.

“You praying for me to fold or you praying for me to call?” Discussion went around the table started to percolate, which I made no effort to quiet. People tried putting me on AQ, a set, or Ace-rag. I was hoping someone would bring up that I was probably playing the hammer again, but no luck.

“You bet any less at all, and I move in,” Joe said as he folded his hand. I collected the chips in the middle and wondered what the Wondercam would have showed. Thankfully, I never had to sweat it.

A little while later I’d finally get the chips in his stack when I was playing a rush. I’d raised for the fifth hand in a row and Joe reraised. I put him in with AK and he called with TT. Ace on the flop, King on the turn, no help on the river. Huge pot on a coin flip… not exactly the way I play my cash games, but at the time I felt like a genius. It’s always much easier to do when you’re the one dragging the chips. I left up 100 dollars for the night, not bad for a .25/.50 game. Pat was the surprising star of the game, though. At the start of the night, it seemed like he’d never played before, not grasping the concept of checking, content to simply fold his hand instead. By the end of the night, however, he’d used this table image to push me off of hands with small raises that had me completely scared of the nuts, only to be shown a semi-bluff. Whatever Ryan was doing that night to tutor Pat into poker superstardom, it was working. Kudos to Pat, he should make a regular practice out of it.

It was around 3:30 AM when we finally wrapped up for the night. After walking everyone out to their cars, I helped to clean up for a bit, shocked that I was still awake enough to do so.

“God, that was fun,” I told Andy in passing.
“Yeah, good people,” he responded. “I think I’m gonna make this a regular thing.”
“Good, it’s about time someone brought it back.”
“Murderer’s Row?”
“Well, yes, but you can’t call it that.”
“What was the name you were joking about calling tonight’s game?”
“Pickpocket Alley.” Andy scrunched his nose.
“Eh…I’ll think of something.”

I called it a night and crawled into my sleeping space for the night. Something clicked internally that a long period of rest was about to commence, and all I had time to think was–


(To be continued!)