The Answer

Posted by in Poker

Is the answer to fly to PA on the 22nd? πŸ™‚
Posted by: JoeSpeaker at September 13, 2006 11:49 AM

Sorry Mr. Speaker, it was not. I did strongly consider making the trip out, but work schedules + side projects + school + lame Southwest flight schedules = no Bash para mi. It’s all good though, as we Austin types have plans to gamboool it up that weekend locally. I’ll miss you guys tons, but I have to pass this time. But look for me to make a rare LA appearance next month!

So what was Scott’s answer to the trying out the new watch dilemma? For weeks (months?) now he’s been trying to get me to join him at a local card room. I’ve declined, as for the most part, I’m trying to be a good girl and play within my bankroll – a novel concept that I’ve never been one to adhere to. $100 crazy rebuy tournaments are not within that bankroll, and techincally neither are $1/$2 no-limit games. My bankroll has always been small; I started with just a couple hundred dollars. It’s grown nicely in recent months, but my robbing it for plane tickets and silly little things like rent depleted it fast. I have enough cash hidden under the mattress to easily cushion a $200 loss or two, but that’s not the point and defeats the purpose. So I always decline the game invites, rolling my eyes as my cell phone fills up with text messages calling me a “candy ass”.

Last Thursday though, I couldn’t get out of going to the game. I’m pretty sure all of you would kill for a boss that not only permits you to take off a few hours in the middle of the day to go play cards, but actually orders you to do so, and threatens termination if you disobey said order. The Kid arrived in the office earlier than normal, mere minutes before Scott and I were about to depart, and suddenly the three of us were headed out for an offsite meeting.

While legal interpretations are subject to change, the general populace reads the Texas law on poker games to say that if the house isn’t profiting from the game in any way, it’s not illegal. But it doesn’t take a legal genius to determine that many many people across the state do run games where the “house” is turning quite a profit. If the video camera over the front door didn’t clue you in that we had just entered such a place, the poker tables crammed in every available corner certainly would have.

While we waited for more players to arrive, Scott showed us around the club, pointing out the variety of free food, snacks, and drinks, and leading us to the lounge, where players can relax with a smoke and watch a bit of TV. A regular in this game, Scott gave us the run-down of the players we could expect to meet. After listening to his donkey tales, I said “Why does this sound like the kind of game where you can loose a buyin brutally and fast?”

Soon we got to meet the regulars Scott had warned us about, and witness the action for ourselves. Techincally, he warned us about all of them, and not a one of those warnings included the words “solid”, “good”, or “tough”. In the very first hand we played, the dealer ended up heads-up on the flop with the club owner, who bet out at an all baby flop. The dealer pondered for a while, announced he had an over-pair, and raised. The owner pushed all-in, causing the dealer to again announce he had an overpair, while I thought “That’s nice, but he has a set.” The all-in was called, the set was shown, and boom went $200.

It was by no means a tough game – not really tight, but not too crazy loose either. A raise was usually called by only two players, and a continuation bet would take it down, unless the Asian boy with the iPod was humming or singing, because then he had a hand. None of the players seemed real interested in playing the game correctly, save for the Jessie Camp look-alike in the one seat. From the moment he sat down, I had him pegged as a rocker-wannabe who was just here to blow off money. When he opened his mouth though, it all changed. With the voice of Huckleberry Hound, he spewed off odds and strategy, tales of games he’d played in elsewhere, and mostly wrong poker news. He did most of the talking at the table, and I spent most of it wondering how that voice came with that outfit. Scott completely disagrees with me, but I sense that Huck’s got a real desire to learn the game. In one hand, the table folded to him on the button, and he put in a modest raise. The small blind folded, and I in the big blind reraised with pocket jacks. It wasn’t a big raise – just a blind more than minimum. Huck considered the raise for a moment, then slowly mucked his hand, saying the raise was too high, he couldn’t call that. I didn’t say anything, first surprised that he would fold to such a puny raise; more surprised by the reason he gave for it. As the dealer shuffled for the next hand, I could hear Huck counting under his breath, and he then announced that it was a terrible fold on his part; he was getting a good price to call. I think he’s trying, but I also think his ego and general knowitallness stands a good chance of getting in the way.

Somewhere during the game, in between being dealt 9-2o for the tenth time and Scott telling me to get in the game more, it dawned on me why I don’t jump at the chance to get out to a poker game. It’s incredibly boring. I can play online for about twenty minutes before my mind starts to wander. Live, I can focus on the game, look for tells, make mental notes about who’s playing what for about an hour before I zone out, staring at the middle of the felt and spinning my card protector around my index finger. I think part of this is because I’m a wee bit ADD, but the major reason for it is that my poker game is really really boring. It’s a simple way to play, and one that makes money, but it’s hardly inspiring. I play on auto-pilot; folding bad hands unless the table has folded around to me, betting my draws when I know there’s a good chance I’ll take the pot right then, etc., etc., etc. Boring.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the game. But I’m nowhere near as obsessed with it as I once was, and oddly enough, it’s now that I really need to be. I’m a very easily bored person, and I’m notorious for crushing on people/things only to completely change my mind days, weeks, or months later. (The MGM Grand being the only crush with real staying power.) In short, I’m fickle and difficult, and prone to falling out of love with people or things the moment something better comes along. But unlike previous falling outs, I actually want poker and I to patch this one up. Sure, he’s a rotten bastard sometimes, but overall he’s pretty good, and I do like a challenge.

And that’s the key – it’s not a challenge to me to sit back and play ABC poker. There is nothing engaging, nothing creative, nothing new. I played ABC poker because that’s how I learned to play and it’s all I could play given the limits I was sitting at versus my bankroll. That’s no longer the case, but I haven’t awoken to that fact and started doing something about it.

That changes now. Well, actually it changes once I finish reading three chapters for my game theory class, get some sleep, go to work, study some more, take in a baseball game, and so on, but you get the point. The loose plan is to move some money around [most likely to Ford Motor Credit], leaving me with a bankroll that requires play in the micro limits, and then actually stick to those limits and work my way up again, focusing less on my cards and more on outplaying others, being a bit of a LAG, and learning to love my inner donkey; a bit of a remedial poker course if you will. Will I still donk off a few bucks playing $1/$2 donkey blogger Razz? Of course, because the entertainment value from seeing Drizz brick up on 6th hand after hand after hand is well worth it.

That’s the real goal, after all – to have fun with poker again. For some people fun is raking in chips on a regular basis. While I can’t deny the pleasantness of such, it’s not what gets me going about the game. I had the most fun with it when I was starting out, losing money but generally trying to figure it all out. So call this the search for the happy medium between Huckleberry Jesse, and those that would take money from him.