Saturday, 6:40pm, 101 degrees

Posted by in Poker

“Like living on the sun” I said to my friend J as we waited for the finishing touches on the car wash this afternoon. “No, not really” he replied. He likes to argue, likes to say he’s always right, much like someone else I know. I sighed as the man did the little rag wave thing to signal that the car was ready, and we left the air-conditioned goodness of the building and hit the outdoor heat. Back into the car with its vents blasting, cooling off as we watched the guy in the car in front of us circle his SUV, checking to make sure he was pleased with his wash job. He was not. He made one of the wash attendants go back over multiple spots with a rag…all this for a $10 wash. All while his girlfriend waited in the passenger seat. Was she supposed to be impressed? Was she? I wondered aloud if he was going to pee on the tires next to further assert his dominance. “He’s probably from Dallas” was J’s reply. I thought of TheFatGuy and how he would probably get a good laugh from that one, seeing as how J was probably right.

My presence is requested at the lake this weekend with the family. I don’t think I can handle all weekend. Here and there, yes. But essentially moving in for the weekend, doing nothing but sitting around with my relatives, drinking? Eh…I’ll be over tomorrow morning. Did I mention it’s 101?

Besides, I have to make back the $25 I lost last night playing the hammer a bit too agressively. (I did pair my 2…) I actually had a good night at UB, doubling up my buyin rather quickly. Then I went down a bit, due to shorthanded play and bad moves. Still finished up from where I started, but not as up as I had been.

Today is the anniversary of the event that started my poker devotion. A year ago, I was fired from the job that I, at one time, loved a great deal. I always read statistics that say a woman will be fired at least once by the time she turns 30. At 27, I thought not me! I’m quitting. Going back to school, and giving 6 months notice too. Resignations can be accepted early. I was really torn about leaving that job, debated for months if I was doing the right thing…sometimes decisions are made for you.

Faced with nothing to do during the day (didn’t really need to work, knew I needed all my energy for school when it started in a month) I turned to the play chip tables at PokerStars, where I literally spent all day and night. As a result, I would often dream about poker. I would see the tables in my mind, play out the hands, etc. Sickness? A lot of people would say so, but I bet not many of you reading this. 🙂

I had learned to play a month before, in June during a trip to Colorado Springs. My best friend’s husband, Fred, had taken me to one of the casinos in Cripple Creek, and I joined him at the poker table. I played every hand dealt, and actually managed to make my $40 buyin last a while. When I busted out, I was so tempted to rebuy. (Gambling gene? What gambling gene?). However, I knew better – I had little clue what I was doing. Later, Fred gave me pointers on starting hands and when the three of us played at home, it was only the next day before comments were made about how much better I was doing.

I like praise. I like being good at things. I like being the best at what I enjoy. It’s one of the things that made me like my job so much. Fred didn’t play online for money, just play chips, so he put the bug in my ear about the ability to do that. When I returned home, I signed up. It wasn’t long before our spouses would be coming home from work to find us on the phone to each other, talking about our freeroll tourney tables.

When I lost my job, I lost my daily contact with most of my friends. Playing poker became a way to keep in contact with them, by having them over for games, but also allowed me to make new friendships, via this crazy little thing we call the intarnet. In a lot of ways, that was the main goal for the time at the play chip tables – just hanging out with friends. But there was always the competition aspect. Maybe not everyone had that in mind, but I did. I always had that desire to be the best. To have everyone see it.

Do I still have that desire? I suppose so, but in a lot of ways I feel it’s an unattainable goal. I will never be on the level of Hank or DoubleAs, much less Doyle or Johnny. And even as I write that, I realize how wrong it is to say. No better way to be a self-fulfilling prophecy than to decide right up front that you’re never going to be anything more than a Grade A hack. Still, I am a person who likes to shine, and it can be hard to do that in this little passion of ours. I am used to getting such things quickly. Poker doesn’t work that way.

It’s been a year, and my bankroll hasn’t moved much. I’ve been down to the proverbial felt and seen record highs. Right now I’m in the middle. I suppose in some ways this is an accomplishment. One of the very first things Hank ever told me was that losses are lessons. Hard lessons to swallow at that, and I know that many of you have taken far worse losses than I have ever seen. On the other hand, I see other players who haven’t put anywhere near the time I have tearing up the tables, and I can’t help but wonder, after a year – why not me?

How did I know last night that my KT was good when my opponent went all-in on the river with his last $22.75, netting me a $40 pot? Dumb luck? Or a great read on my opponent? More importantly, where in the hell did I get the guts to call that bet? Same thing with my T5c in the BB, when the flop came 3c 4c Td. I min bet, get raised to $3, and call. Why? (Well…he was in LP, I doubted he had a piece of that really). Turn was Qc. HU, I feel pretty good about my flush. I bet $5, get re-raised to $10, and call. Again, still feeling good about it. River comes Qh. I check, he goes all-in for $10.80. I call, because at this point…what’s another $11? He had 7c9c, and I double-up. Who is this woman and where did she come from?

More importantly, where did she go? She can’t keep herself from playing the hammer. She apparently really thought her 4h5c was good on a Kh 5h 9d flop, betting the pot, getting a caller, betting again when the turn came Kc, getting raised and calling, and then folding when the river came 6h and her opponent bet all-in. And when the flop comes all diamonds, and she only has one, and someone bets the pot – screw it, she’s calling. (And btw, apparently the new move is to bet the pot when you’ve actually already flopped the nuts. Either it’s the fancy new move or people are just really dumb. Then again, I’m the stubborn ass who called on my draw anyway.)

So where do I go from here? What’s my goal, my plan, etc.? Aside from as many visits to the MGM Grand as possible, that is. Well, the simple fact is that I enjoy poker. I may have been drawn to it originally because it offered me a distraction and a way to connect with people I loved, but at the core – I truly love the game. I love sitting at the MGM, knowing that the frat boy in the 6 seat has nothing more than Ace high and my AK is of course better than his, and then getting to see that I’m right. I love that feeling when you flop the nuts and then it’s all a matter of extracting the most money possible from the table.

I feel like I’m treading water though. While I’ve learned a lot in the past year, clearly there is still something amiss. While I can pinpoint a lot of things – is that it? Study more, control my self-destructive tendencies, and poof – I’ll be at the $5/$10 tables in no time? In a lot of ways I feel like I haven’t learned anything at all – like I still am just plugging away with those starting hand requirements that Fred taught me, getting lucky enough times to keep the bankroll somewhat healthy. I can re-read books, read more books, pour through blogger archives, finally memorize those damn odds – but is that going to do it? And I do have that matter of that silly little degree that I’m working on…the biggest reason I haven’t studied as much poker as I should have is because I wasn’t even studying for my classes – it felt wrong to pick up Theory of Poker instead, although I did many times. I might have forgotten my homework assignment for the day, forgotten that I had a test that week, but by God if you checked my backpack there was a poker book in there, and I was hitting the tables every night. I have the passion, just not sure if my direction is in the right place.

I suppose all I can do is to keep plugging along. In some ways this is probably a test for me. I’ve never stuck with any hobby or other pursuit this long. I’ve dabbled in lots of things, but anything that I couldn’t immediately become a success at, I moved on to something else. Always searching for that glory and praise. With poker, I just want to keep advancing – each step up in levels is a little bit of glory, a little bit of self-praise. So back to work.