Thursday, November 29, 2012

There's No Excuse for Abusing the Dealer

I feel like venting.
I’m going to vent about poker players who vent. 
More specifically, poker players who vent against dealers who had the audacity to put a river card down they didn’t like, or give them too many garbage hands in a row, or who, even worse, keep dealing them the second best hand.
When I first starting playing poker—and then even more when I first started playing No Limit—I would occasionally take some abuse from another player at the table.  One such example was described here.  It took me awhile, but when I run into a person who gets upset with me for some dumb reason at the poker table (and it would have to be a dumb reason, since I would never give them a good reason to be upset with me), I pretty much handle it in stride now.  I don’t let it get to me.
But to this day, it irks me a lot more when some jerk at the poker table starts screaming at a poker dealer.  Especially when the poker dealer has done nothing wrong.  Of course, even if the dealer did make a mistake, it’s no excuse for abusing him or her.  We all make mistakes.  If the dealer screws up, I’m willing to bet that dealer feels a lot worse about it than the players involved do. 
However, what is really inexcusable is when a blames a dealer for the way the poker gods are treating him at that moment.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, I found myself once again playing at The Bike. Unfortunately, my results from this day are not worthy of a blog post, because I only played around 2 hours and had to leave before I really got my teeth into the session due to my back starting to ache.  But I was there long enough to witness the actions of a total jerk.
It’s funny because I had actually been thinking recently that since I started the higher limits (higher for me) at The Bike, I was actually encountering a better class of people.  One thing I didn’t like about the L.A. clubs when I was still playing limit and even the 1/2 NL there was how many low class people I found at my table.  Now, it wasn’t like everyone was nasty, most were fine and some were damn nice folks.  But it seemed like the odds or running into a jerk were somewhat higher at the L.A. clubs than in Vegas. 
Which is weird, because it’s the reverse in Vegas.  I find a higher percentage of unpleasant people at the NL table in Vegas than I ever did at the 2/4 game I used to frequent.  The 1/2 players aren’t necessarily rude or nasty, but so many of them seem so darn serious.
Anyway, since I started playing either $1/3 or $2/3 in LA., the only real jerk I had encountered up until now was the guy I described here.  The guy I ran into the other day started out seemingly harmless.  He was even a little chatty, and rather pleasant.  And he quietly built up his $200 buy in to about $400+ in about. 
And then proceeded to lose it all in two hands, back-to-back.
The first hand, he had the bad luck to have his pocket Kings run up against pocket Aces. This cost him about 2/3’s of his chips. Clearly not a reader of my blog, or he would have insta-folded those dreaded pocket Kings.  Of course, not being a reader of this blog doesn’t make one a jerk, necessarily. 
What made him a jerk was what happened next.  Very next hand he has a big Ace, raised with it, got a couple of callers and flopped top pair, top kicker.  He made a $40 bet on the flop and one guy called.  A seemingly harmless 6 hit on the turn and his bet was met by a shove by the other guy.  He called with all the rest of his chips.  The other guy had pocket 6’s.  So he had turned his set.  He hit his two-outer on the turn, and had called a $40 flop bet (about the size of the pot) with just a lousy pair of 6’s.  But he lucked out and took the rest of the jerk’s chips.
So the jerk, having gone from $400 in front of him to nothing in two hands started screaming.  He was pissed.  He was very angry.  He started calling someone at the table nasty names.
Was he yelling at the person with the set of 6’s?  No, not at first, at least.  He was screaming at the dealer, a tiny little Asian lady who had been quite pleasant with all of us to that point.  “You cost me $400 you idiot.  I just lost $400 in two hands.  How could you do that to me?  I left that other table to get away from you and come here and cost me all my money.”
I guess he’d been playing at another game (this was the only $2/$3 going at the time) and had some bad luck with the same dealer.  But that hardly justified his screaming at her.  She made no mistake, she just put the cards out as they came.  There’s an explanation for what happened to the guy’s chips.  It’s called “poker.”  If you can’t deal with it better than that, you should find something else to do with your free time.
Seriously, what is it with these bastards who think it’s the dealer’s fault?  Guys like that must go home and kick their dog, too?  

He got out of his chair and I assumed he was done for the day, or at least for that table.  At least, that’s what I was hoping for.  But no, he eventually got some money out of his pocket and rebought.  All the while yelling some more at the dealer.
I never know what to do in that situation.  I’ve seen other players try to calm idiots down, or stick up for the person being berated, and it never ends well for either player.  Usually a challenge to take it out to the parking lot is made. Or both players are either warned or even asked to leave. So I just feebly whispered something like, “tough luck” which did no good.  Of course, the dealer has a remedy; she can call the floor.  Although players seem to get away with more nasty behavior at the L.A. clubs than in Vegas, I have seen players asked to leave, or at least told to cool off in the parking lot for a half hour before returning.
But the dealer didn’t call the floor.  She looked at the rest of us and said, “What did I do?”  And then when he kept pissing and moaning, she did somehow warn him to cut it out, and he did quiet down a bit.  Now he was merely mumbling under his breath about losing $400 in an instant. 
And then he finally turned his ire on the guy who turned the set of 6’s.  “How could you call $40 with that hand?  You had nothing.”  It was in an unpleasant tone, but not nearly as loud or as nasty as he had been with the dealer.  The guy responded in kind.  “I felt like gambling.  Aren’t I allowed to play my hand the way I want to?”  Jerk said nothing.  Two hands later, the guy raised and as he did, he said to the jerk, “Is that ok with you, if I raise?”
Anyway, the jerk finally shut up but it was uncomfortable situation.  I felt badly that I didn’t really do much.  I guess I could have gone to the floor myself, but again, the dealer had that option herself, for whatever reason, she didn’t think it had gotten to that point.  Then too, I’m sure there were floor people around who must have heard him shouting, they could have come over themselves to see what was going on.  But no one did.
By the time I felt no longer physically up to continuing—which wasn’t much later—he was still there, trying to build his stack back up, but at least he was quiet.  So I left.  But I kept thinking about the guy taking out his bad luck on the poor, innocent dealer.  What an asshole!  I mean, if you can’t control your temper any better than that, don’t go out in public and don’t play poker.  The poor dealer seemed like a perfectly nice woman, working on a holiday weekend, and I’m sure she doesn’t make a lot of money.  She deals the cards they way they are supposed to be dealt, and sometimes that doesn’t work out the way we’d like.  She wasn’t doing it to screw you over, putz.  Take a few Anger Management classes and stay out of the poker room until you can control your emotions, jerk.
I’m sure the dealer was quite a bit more upset than I was by this idiot’s classlessness.  But he sorta ruined the game for all of us. 
And that’s my rant about players abusing dealers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Shouldn't A Stripper Take Her Clothes Off?

A movie review:  Lay the Favorite
This is only the second time I’ve done a movie review on this blog (the first is here).  I’m only reviewing this particular film because its subject matter (Vegas and gambling) seem to be a fit for this blog. 
Recently I needed a movie to watch while resting my aching back on the couch. Looking through the “on demand” offerings of my cable provider, I didn’t find a whole lot of interesting options (I guess that’s why my movie going has diminished drastically lately).  But then I saw the title “Lay the Favorite” which caught my attention.  It sounded familiar, and when I looked up the description, I found out I was right.
It seems I had kinda/sorta seen part of this movie being filmed.  I recalled going to Fremont Street sometime back to play some poker at Golden Nugget.  I had some trouble navigating walking to the Golden Nugget because part of Fremont Street was closed to pedestrians for some kind of movie filming.  When I got to the poker room I asked some of the players what was going on, and I was told they were filming a movie.  Bruce Willis and Vince Vaughn were in it they said, I don’t recall if they mentioned anyone else. Willis supposedly played a gambler on a hot streak, which explains why they would be filming in Vegas. One or two of the players claimed they had even seen Willis out on Fremont between takes.  When I left the game, the film crew was done and everyone was gone.  Oh well, I came close to seeing the movie being filmed, and seeing some famous Hollywood types.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I stored this information, and it clicked when I saw the film listed “on demand.”  Since I couldn’t find anything that appealed to me more, I went ahead and ordered it.  I mean, how bad could it be?  It had Bruce Willis in it, it was about Vegas, it was about gambling….and besides I’d been somewhat inconvenienced by its filming.  I figured I would give it a shot.
Now I should explain that you might not have heard of it because it hasn’t actually come out yet.  It’s one of those “on demand” movies that is actually available on pay-per-view before it hits the theaters.  I think the movie was released overseas earlier this year but hits theaters in the U.S. this week.  Yeah, I know that’s not a good sign.  They didn’t release The Avengers or Skyfall that way. But I went ahead and ordered it anyway, thinking that between Willis, Vegas, and gambling, it would at least hold my interest.
It did that, but not a whole lot more. The gambling in the picture is all sports and horserace betting.  Poker is mentioned briefly, but never seen.  Bruce Willis plays who a professional gambler named Dink who runs some sort of sports betting operation.  He has a huge office that is filled wall to wall with TV screens that carry every major sports event in the world, and feeds from racetracks around the country.  There are also betting lines all around the place.  It looks like a Casino sports book, except instead of comfy chairs for gamblers, there’s a few phones and a big desk and Dink’s employees are on the phone all the time making bets.
I’m not much of an expert on sports betting (I know some of my readers and fellow bloggers are).  I’ve made less than half a dozen (legitimate) sports bets in my time in Vegas.  So it really wasn’t obvious to me exactly how Dink made his money.  He made it clear that he was totally legit, so he was not a bookie.  He explained that he got busted as a bookie once and therefore everything he does now is legal.
So he can’t be taking bets from other people, since he’s not licensed to do that.  It may be that he just makes a tremendous amount of bets, and uses all that info coming in to get the best line.  I suspect that he may be intentionally manipulating the lines too by making huge bets that change the lines.  Although he’s in Vegas and can make all the bets he wants to there, he also places a lot of bets on the phone with offshore sportsbooks.
I only mention this confusion on my part because it distracted me somewhat trying to figure out exactly how Willis’s character operated.  I think it would have been a slightly better movie if they spent a few sentences explaining exactly how he operated.
Willis is not playing his action-hero, Diehard character.  He’s more of the lovable rogue, more of his character from TV’s Moonlighting.  But he is good; he’s almost always fun to watch.
But he’s not really the main character of the movie.  No, that would be a character played by British actress Rebecca Hall, who I was not familiar with before.  Probably few Americans are.  But she will become better known soon, as she has a major part in the upcoming Iron Man 3.
Hall plays the character of Beth—a stripper who doesn’t take her clothes off.  Yeah, that’s what I said.  OK, what she really is, when we meet her, is a “private dancer” working in Florida.  She’s one of those girls who shows up at a guy’s door to give him a “private dance” from an attractive woman.
Of course, I have never hired a woman to perform this service for me, but I’m pretty damn sure any guy who does is expecting the “dancer” to get completely naked, or at the very least, topless. I’m pretty sure that’s what the guy is paying for.  Yet at the beginning of the film, as they are establishing Beth’s character, we see two of her private dancing sessions.  In both cases, she is wearing a bra and panties the entire time.
So….a stripper who doesn’t take her clothes off.
OK, so you may think, well, they didn’t want to get an R-rating for this film.  No, the film is rated R for language.  The “f-word” is heard often and even the “c-word” makes an appearance.
Well, ok, so maybe they didn’t want to have any nudity in the movie for artistic reasons.  You know, director’s decision.
Except there are indeed bare breasts in this film.  Once in Vegas, Beth befriends two strippers. These strippers apparently do take their clothes off (although we never see them working).  But there is a scene where the two strippers are sunbathing topless on a rooftop and Beth joins them.  But unlike her two stripper friends (who presumably work in a Vegas strip club, tho we never see them in one), Beth keeps her top on.
OK, so the explanation is that the actress, Ms. Hall, refuses to do nudity on screen, right?
Nope.  A quick Google search revealed that she had done quite a bit of nudity (well, topless, at least) in both films and British TV.  She’s not a shy girl at all.
In fact, the only thing more puzzling than the nudity we don’t see is the nudity we do see.  The nudity in the scene with the two sunbathing strippers (and the covered former “private dancer”) is completely gratuitous and adds nothing to movie. The characters are relatively minor (for one, this is her only scene) and there is no reason for them to be topless, other than to appeal to prurient interests. The scene could have easily been easily shot with the ladies’ wearing their tops.  Or for that matter, it could have taken place at a Starbucks, or at a kitchen table. 
But it would have been perfectly logical to see Beth topless, when we actually see her on the job, as a “private dancer.”  By the way, when Beth confesses her past to Willis, she admits that in addition to working as private dancer, she had her own website that featured nude pictures of herself.  Making it even harder to believe that she didn’t get nekkid in her other job. 
And it is not implied that when she was a “private dancer” she performed, well “extra services” beyond just dancing.  After all, she didn’t even get naked.  But then, maybe she was not only a stripper who didn’t take her clothes off, but a hooker who didn’t take her clothes off, as well.  And by the way, I have a female friend who insists that there is absolutely no difference between a stripper and a hooker.  But I bet she thinks either way, they do usually take their clothes off.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the name of one of the two topless sunbathers (the one who appears in a few other scenes, and is of some importance to the film).  That’s because that, unlike Ms. Hall, she is someone you’ve very likely heard of, and even seen.  She is Laura Prepon, who starred in the sitcom That 70’s Show (the show that, for better or worse, introduced Austin Kutcher to the world), where, I’m led to believe, she developed quite a following.  So I think there may be some fans of hers who might be interested in seeing her bare breasts. I know you will find this hard to believe, but there are guys who really like to see attractive, female celebrities they’ve admired from afar with their clothes off.  I’m also fairly certain that this the very first time that Ms. Prepon has publically displayed her assets, making this film noteworthy for that, if nothing else.

So, if you’re scoring at home, Rebecca Hall, who has a long resume of film nudity, keeps her clothes on in this movie, and Laura Prepon, never before seen nude in front of a camera, does a totally gratuitous topless scene in a minor role.  And both of them play strippers.
By the way, if you’re wondering why I went on this long tangent on the appropriateness/lack of appropriateness of the skin in this film, well, it’s simple.  It seems that some of my readers have been complaining that too many of my recent posts have had too much serious discussion of poker, and not enough sleaze.  So I needed to add some sleaze to keep those readers happy.
Anyway, Beth decides that she wants to upgrade her life by leaving Florida and the private dancing biz and trying to become a cocktail waitress in Las Vegas.  Yeah, that’s what she wants to do.  But once in Vegas, she can’t get a waitress job.  So, the two (real) strippers she befriends send her to Dink and she is hired as a—well, I’m not sure what.  She places bets for him, both in person and on the phone, and is good with numbers.  Also, she is trustworthy, something very important to Dink.  Then it appears she becomes Dink’s good luck charm, as he goes on a hot streak after hiring her. 
And then of course, despite their age difference, Beth falls for Dink and vice versa.  This is a problem because Dink is married (apparently happily so) to a woman played by Catherine Zeta-Jones.  Now, I don’t know what they did to Zeta-Jones, or what happened to her, but I didn’t recognize her in the film.  She looks very different than I’ve ever seen her look before.  Weird.
Of course the romance doesn’t end well and that is the cause of much of the film’s conflict.  Eventually Beth leaves Dink’s employ and, having met a new friend who gets her to move to New York, she ends up working for Vince Vaughn, playing his usual shady character.  Unlike Dink, Vaughn’s character is into illegal bookmaking, and of course, several of the characters eventually run afoul of the law.
I guess what happens after that is supposed to be the point of the film.  Frankly, I’m not really sure what they were going for in this movie.  It’s not an action film.  It might be considered a comedy, but it wasn’t really funny.  I did chuckle a few times, but I wouldn’t watch it for the laughs.  I guess it is more a human interest drama, a character study of the growth of the character Beth.  She does grow as a person as the movie progresses.  It would seem that the point is that an ex-private dancer can become a…..well, that would spoil it, wouldn’t it?
I should point out that this film is supposedly a true story based on a book written by the character Beth.  Knowing that makes the movie a bit more inherently interesting, I think.
I will say that, despite some of the sleazy aspects of Vegas and gambling on display, I found most of the major characters likeable, making me want things to turn out well for them, and keeping me interested in their exploits.  So on that level the movie was successful.  Also, I enjoyed the Vegas and (hard to follow) gambling aspects of it, that kind of thing almost always appeals to me.
So, it was an OK movie, I wouldn’t say it was good.  I would only recommend it to people who like Vegas, or gambling, or Bruce Willis.  Perhaps all three would be best.  But at least for me, I don’t regret having rented it.
By the way, I never did notice anything in the movie that looked like it was film anywhere I had seen them filming.  Either I just didn’t notice it, or it was cut from the film.

((Edited to add:  In a comment below, the inimitable Mr. Poker Grump has pointed out that there's a poker connection with Ms. Prepon.  She appeared on a short lived poker show, and was actually one of the executive producers of the show.  See here.))

Sunday, November 25, 2012

She Doubled Down......on Blackjack!

This one goes back a long, long way.  It happened some 30 years ago, give or take.  This was well before I started taking notes on my Vegas trips so I’m going entirely by aging memory.  But I told this story so often for years that I think I can get most of the details right.  If not, I’ll just make them up.
My friend Norm and I used to visit Vegas regularly at this time, two, three times a year.  We enjoyed gambling of course.  Mostly blackjack and craps, with the occasional foray into Keno if we were losing too much.  We also enjoyed the mass quantities of cheap food that was available then.  The buffets back then were not profit centers, they were loss leaders, and almost every hotel had extremely cheap buffets where you could easily stuff enough food in your face to make you sick for just a few bucks.  And it was good food too.  In those days, we were actually young enough, stupid enough, and gluttonous enough to sometimes have more than one buffet a day!  I sure as hell don’t do that any more.
We also saw a lot of shows back then.  Whatever headliners we liked (almost always comedians, not music stars) and the big production shows too.  Again, they were a lot cheaper in those days.
After a few visits, our favorite casino, and indeed, our favorite hotel, became The Maxim.  As I explained recently here, the Maxim was located on Flamingo, across the street from the Bally’s employee parking lot.  Except that Bally’s was actually the MGM when we first started playing and staying at The Maxim.  The Maxim closed down many years ago and something called the Westin Casuarina now sits in the same corner.
We liked the Maxim for a several reasons.  As a hotel, it had the benefit of being cheap, and so were we.  Being off the Strip, it was lower priced than the rooms on the Strip.  And the room was nice enough, not luxurious but quite pleasant for the price.  Also, it was close enough to the Strip that it was an easy walk to it, right past The Stage Door bar that I talked about in the post I just linked to.  And that corner of the Strip had a ton of casinos we also liked to play at, such as Barbary Coast (now Bill’s), Flamingo Hilton (now without the “Hilton” attached), Imperial Palace, the Holiday Casino (now Harrah’s), The Sands (where the Venetian now sits), The Dunes (where Bellagio now resides), Caesars (though we could never afford to play there) and the aforementioned MGM.
But we also loved the Maxim casino.  It was smaller than most of those on the Strip, but it was also a lot friendlier.  The dealers on the Strip were robotic and soulless.  The dealers at the Maxim (most of them, anyway) were friendly and often funny.  Hey, if you’re losing your money in a game where the odds are stacked against you, you might as well be entertained.  We even got to be fairly friendly with some of the dealers because we started going there so often.  If I’m not mistaken, Norm actually made a friend of sorts of the very attractive, very exuberant lady dealer who worked the Wheel of Fortune (or Big 6 Wheel, whatever the called it).
More importantly, the Maxim, being off the Strip, had lower limits than a lot of the Strip casinos, and that was important to us.  We could only afford to go to Vegas so often if we could play $2 blackjack and $2 craps.  And yes, it was still possible to find games like that in those days.  But the bigger, nicer casinos had already started to phase them out, so that was what was so appealing about the Maxim.
So if we stayed at the Maxim, we’d end up in that casino for our last session of the day before calling it a night.  So there I was, one night, playing $2 blackjack before retiring.  I don’t recall if Norm was with me at this point or at another game, or whatever.  All I know is that a rather cute, very young girl sat next to me and bought into the game.
OK, so I remember her being cute.  I don’t remember if she was provocatively dressed.  I suspect she was not, because, knowing me, if she had been, I’d remember it.  Actually, this took place so long ago it might have predated the era when women dressed sexily in Las Vegas.  Hell, it might have taken place before cleavage was invented.
And she sat down next to me and started chatting with the dealer.  And ordered a drink.  Yes, she definitely ordered a drink.  Repeatedly.  From the conversation she was having with the first dealer, it was apparent that she used to be a cocktail waitress right there at the Maxim.  I soon learned that she was now working as a blackjack dealer somewhere else. But not in Vegas.  I’m not sure if she was working in one of the (then) two casinos that are located in what is now known as Primm, which is right on the California/Nevada border, or she was working in Laughlin.  Laughlin wasn’t much in those days.  Neither was Primm.  I gathered she was working at a locale like that because she was brand new as a dealer and was attempting to get some experience on her resume so that she could work her way into a position in Vegas.
So she knew all the dealers and the cocktail waitresses who were serving her—they were all her old colleagues.  She was getting tips from the dealers as to how to be a better blackjack dealer.  And she was tipping big herself whenever she won, which wasn’t very often.  She was also tipping the waitresses generously for the drinks they kept bringing her…..and bringing her.
It seems she was depressed about something, but I can’t remember why.  Maybe she didn’t even say.  But it was obvious that she was there to get hammered as much as she was for any other reason.  She was drinking to forget.  And it worked, because, all these many years later, I’ve totally forgotten what was bothering her.  I’m sure she also wanted to visit her old friends, and tell them she was now a dealer and no longer a waitress, as well. 
She was friendly at the beginning, but mostly with the employees.  As she downed more and more drinks, she started interacting more with the other players as well.  One thing she was upset about, at least at the beginning, was the way the deck was treating her.  She was losing money rather quickly, and had to keep buying in.  I guess I must have doing ok myself, as I stayed there for quite some time.
At first, she was playing totally normal, totally by-the-book blackjack.  And losing steadily.  After awhile, though, she started veering off the basic blackjack strategy, and started playing based on “feelings” and “hunches” and guesses about what the next card would be.  I’m sure some this was due to the fact that she was losing with the basic strategy, but most of it was due to the alcohol.
Now, as she was getting more inebriated and thus more outgoing, she started taking it upon herself to help me with my game.  This wasn’t really necessary, but she couldn’t help herself.  Interestingly, as she kept playing crazier and crazier, she never gave me the wrong play.  So for example, she would stick on a 16 when the dealers up card was a face card, because of a hunch, but she would tell me to take a card in the same situation.  Again, to be clear, I didn’t need her help, she was just being “helpful.”  Have I mentioned she was drinking a lot?
She also started doing weird things whenever she got a double down, or a split situation, or a soft hand.  She would split cards you shouldn’t split and vice versa, double down when she shouldn’t, and even not take a card when she had a soft hand that she couldn’t bust.  But again, whenever she offered me advice, it was always dead on the correct play.
The combination of being drunk and playing crazy had an amazing affect.  She started winning.  The crazier she played—and the more she drank—the better she did.  She started winning almost every time she did something dumb—like splitting face cards, or hitting hard 12’s, weird things like that.  She frequently told me before she did something stupid that she was going to do it.  I would of course say that it was a bad play and suggest she not do it.  She ignored me and made the bad play and usual won the hand.
As she started winning, she started getting very excited.  The dour demeanor of a drunk woman disappeared, to be replace by a bubbly drunk.  And she started interacting with me more and more.  For one thing, every time she won one of her crazy bets, she would actually grab my arm in delight.  Sometimes, she would put her arms around me and hug me.  When I won a decent sized bet, she also grabbed my arm.  I’m not a touchy feely type, but I didn’t object. 
Then, she started giving me advice, making suggestions as to how to play my hands.  As I said, I didn’t really need this, nor did I ask for this, she just couldn’t help herself.  The thing was, as her own play became less and less optimal, she never once suggested that I do anything but play by the book blackjack.  She always gave me the correct advice.  And when it worked, she would squeal with delight and grab my arm. 
I knew the basic strategy, and almost always played it, but I have to admit, that some of the double downs on soft hands, and some of the splits, were a bit problematic for me.  They came so rarely that I didn’t always know them cold.  Then too, it seemed that anytime I did make the right play doubling down on a soft hand, it didn’t work out, so a lot of times I didn’t make that play, and just took a card instead.  A couple of times she caught me doing this and suggested—more like begged me—to double down (the right play).  As long as she suggested it, it worked.
I suppose you might be wondering if, with all the arm grabbing she did, and all the hugging, this is going to veer off into something tawdry.  But then, as now, I would never take advantage of a drunk female.  Now, I might offer them a ride, but I would never take advantage. 
As she started winning, she started betting more and more.  This too paid off, as she was still having her run of luck and was therefore winning more and more money.
This went on for awhile and then after a couple of nice wins, she put out the biggest bet she had all night.  I don’t remember what it was.  But since it was $2 table it was likely around $40, $50, I doubt it was more than that.  Still, it was a big bet for her, having sat there because she wanted to play for two bucks a hand (and consume a lot of liquor).
And thus, with that big bet out, she was dealt a blackjack.  It was the first one she had been dealt in quite some time, probably since before she started betting more than just a few bucks.  She squealed and jumped up in her chair and grabbed my arm.  I noticed that the dealer’s upcard was a 6.
I really don’t know what possessed me to do what I did then.  It’s possible that, back in those days, I might have had an adult beverage or two myself at that point.  Or maybe it was because she had been ignoring all my good advice, and she had been only too willing to offer me her advice.  But I got a little devilish right then.  As she was celebrating, I suddenly found myself saying to her, “You should double down on it.”
Now she had done some stupid plays before, but nothing that stupid.  But she stopped celebrating to consider it.  “What?  Really?”
I continued, although I knew I shouldn’t.  “Yeah.  I mean, it’s just an ‘eleven’ right?  You could double your win.  You’ll probably get a face card, and the dealer’s gonna bust anyway.  You should definitely go for it.”
I’m sure I felt at the time that there was no way she would do anything quite that stupid.  Giving up a guaranteed $150% payback while risking 100% of her bet—with only 50% more reward if she won?  She wasn’t that drunk, was she?
But she started thinking about it, and stopped the dealer from paying her off for the blackjack.  “I don’t know.  Should I really do it?  Should I?”
It was that at that point that I meant to say, “No, no, I was just kidding.  You don’t double down on blackjack.  Take the money.”
But somehow, it came out, “Sure, go ahead.  Do it.  It’s practically money in the bank.”
And she pondered it a few seconds longer and then—just as I was about to say, “No, no, I’m kidding, don’t do it,” she grabbed some more chips and said, “Double down.”
I think I kinda prayed there for her to win the hand.  I would have felt like shit if she had lost.  I don’t recall the details, I don’t remember if she drew a face card or what.  But she definitely won the hand.  She squealed and yelled like she had just won a million dollars.  She leaned over and gave me a really big hug.
Of course now, I was only too willing to take credit.  “See, I told you.”
She thanked me and kept squealing.  And then…..
Well, that’s all I remember.  I don’t even remember for sure if she left the table before I did or if it was the other way around.  I can’t recall if she ended up keeping all those chips or not.  I seem to have a vague recollection of her asking one of her cocktail waitresses buddies to drive her home at one point, which was a very good thing.
But for years and years, I had a story about the girl who doubled down on blackjack, and how I was the one who talked her into it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

My New Ante Up Column is Now Online

You can read my newest column for Ante Up Magazine right here.  

It will probably be another week or so before it starts appearing in poker rooms around the country.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Of Flopping Nuts; And Kings

This is the prequel to my previous post.  In that post, I told the sordid tale of how, after getting ahead over $300, I took the wrong attitude about continuing to play, then, despite that attitude, decided to play a hand anyway.  That was good, because it showed I was capable of playing a hand and taking a risk even though I thought I wasn’t.  But it was bad because I picked a terrible hand to actually play and played it badly.  (Note, if you go back to that post and read the comments, some of my readers think it was a decent hand to play and that I indeed played it ok…..)  For that hand, I should have paid attention to my otherwise terrible instincts not to play a hand.  Got that?
Anyway, the story of how I got to be over $300 up is a much more pleasant one, so here it is.  I once again found myself playing some 2/3 No Limit down at The Bike.  And as I was for this post here, I was distracted for a good part of the session.  But it wasn’t because of poor food service this time.  The service was fine, as was the free meal (I know for some of you, this is the most important part of the post, but I urge you to read on, you might enjoy the rest of this anyway).  What was distracting was the football game that was on in the room, the annual UCLA-USC game.  Being an alumnus of UCLA, it was very enjoyable to watch goodness finally triumph over evil as my beloved Bruins burst the Trojans, 38-28.
Ok, despite that distraction, I did manage to pay attention to the poker for the most part.  And what I was mostly paying attention to was my chips leaving my stack slowly but surely.  I wasn’t getting cards, unless you consider getting King-rag time and time again getting cards.  Every time I saw that first King, I was waiting for that other shoe to drop and the second King to show up.  But instead, it would be deuce, a five, a seven, maybe a nine if I was “lucky”.  At least it saved me the dilemma of having to deal with the dreaded pocket Kings for awhile.
My $300 buy in had dipped below $200.  No major disasters, just a slow exodus of chips.  But after awhile I had a pretty good read on most of the players at the table and remembered my vow to try to play outside my comfort zone (see here).  Waiting for a good hand to play was getting me nowhere.  So I looked for opportunities to play a little aggressively (or, to put it another way, less nitty).  But since this is still new to me, I prefer to at least have position when I try something.  So on the button would be my preference.
After another orbit or two, I had my chance.  On the button, there were three limpers when it got to me, but no raises.  I looked down at King-deuce of hearts.  As I mentioned, I was getting tons of King-rag hands, but this was the first time it was sooooted.  With all that limper money in, and having position, this was my chance.
I made it $20.  It folded to the one guy I didn’t want to call me, a guy I’ll call “Basketball Player.”  I’m calling him that because he looked like a basketball player.  He actually did look a little familiar, so perhaps he was a low level player somewhere.  If he was really well known, I probably would have been able to identify him easily, since I follow basketball closely.  Mostly, he was very tall, thin but not “too thin”—and he was black.  Sorry if that seems like I’m stereotyping.  It’s just that, I watch a lot of basketball and it does seem that there are a rather large number of tall black guys who play that game.
Basketball Player was the newest player at the table and the only one who hadn’t seen me fold about a thousand times in a row before this hand.  Actually, it was the same situation as the last time I tried something like this at The Bike, as told in the last post I linked to above.  Sure enough, he was the only person to call me.  He had been somewhat aggressive since he got there, but he hadn’t been there long.  He did straddle UTG every time he could.  He raised a fair number of times preflop, but he didn’t make continuation bets very often.
The flop was rainbow and none of the rainbow was a heart.  But I did catch a deuce.  Yeah, I had flopped bottom pair!  Oh joy.  BP checked, and I made my move.  I put out $30, hoping the flop missed him and he would fold.  Nope.  He rather unhesitantly called.  Damn.
The turn card seemed harmless and didn’t help me.  He checked again.  I wasn’t really wanting to invest a lot of money here.  I tried and failed.  How many barrels should I fire on a hand like this?  If it had been one of the other players, one who had played with me long enough to see how tight I’d been playing, perhaps I would have tried again.  I just figured I should cut my losses.  I checked behind him.
River was another seemingly meaningless card.  He checked again.  I considered that he might have missed a draw (sorry, I can’t really recall the cards here) and would have folded to my bet, but I just couldn’t bring myself to put any more $ at risk.  I checked behind him and embarrassingly showed my King-deuce of hearts for bottom pair.  He flipped over pocket 5’s and took the pot.  All I could do was hope my exposed hand would get someone to pay me off down the road.  In my opinion, based on his subsequent play, I think he would have called me on the river unless I went all in, and possibly even then.
Now I was running low on chips.  I had around $150 left, about half my buy in.  I was trying to decide whether to keep playing with a short-stack strategy or reload a bit.  Sometimes the short-stack strategy pays off; you play hands differently than you would with a bigger stack and it works.  Or you lose it all and re-buy.  Or go home.
I was still trying to decide when I got a hand that made the point moot.  Again, I apologize for not writing down the details and forgetting them.  But I had Ace-10 of clubs and I think I was on the button and had to call a fairly small raise.  I figured with my shortish stack, if I flopped the flush draw I would play it super aggressively.  Three of us saw the flop, I’m guessing the pot was around $45.  I didn’t flop the flush draw.  I flopped the nut flush.  
Yeah, all three cards were clubs.  But the preflop raiser checked and so did the other guy.  I decided to check as well.  I assumed the three clubs were scary and no one would call me.  I hoped the turn card would be something somebody liked.
It was the Queen of spades.  First guy checked, preflop raiser out a nice size bet, an odd amount like $43, close to the size of the pot.  Did he like the queen or was he just betting to see if he could steal it since no one bet the flop?  I decided to find out.  Since three times that bet would put me almost all in anyway, I just shoved.  The next guy to my surprise went all in—but he was really short stacked, he only had about $30-$40.  The original bettor thought about it for awhile and then, sadly, folded.  The guy who called short asked if I “already had it.”  I showed him the nuts and he groaned.  When a meaningless red card that didn’t pair the board hit on the river, he mucked face down and left the table.
But now I had enough money to keep playing without having to think about buying more chips.  I was still down a little, but not that much.
A couple of orbits later, after little or no action for me, I looked at my cards one at a time and saw a King.  I looked at the other card, expecting a card 6 or under, as had been my pattern all day.  Nope.  This time that other card was a King too.  Gulp.  There it was, my favorite hand, the dreaded pocket Kings.  I was in late position, so I was ready to count the limpers to size my raise.
But instead, a guy in early position made it $13.  I think one guy called.  The guy who raised was, again, fairly new to the table, but this was only the first or second time he’d raised.  He’d called a few preflop raises though. I made it $45.  Folded back to him and he called without any hesitation.  The other guy folded.
The flop was 10 high and not at all scary.  He put out a bet of $90, which was a little more than half his remaining stack.  So I just shoved.  He snap called. I decided to show my Kings.  If he had Aces—or worse, pocket 10’s—might as well see it right then and there.  He turned very pale and showed his pocket Jacks.  The next two cards helped neither one of us, and he was busted and I was stacking chips.
Yes, it’s true.  I had won a hand with pocket Kings.  I had won a hand at showdown with pocket Kings.  I had won a hand with pocket Kings that didn’t improve at showdown!  I had even risked most of a pretty healthy stack with pocket Kings.
So now I know that it’s possible to win with pocket Kings.  Glory be! I was now up for the day.  Nice turnaround.
But I wasn’t up so much that I was mentally unprepared to put chips into play to win more.  No that happened later, as I explained in my last post.  That happened after the hand I’m about to describe.
In middle position I looked at pocket 7’s. In early position, the Basketball Player raised to $15.  I called, knowing that in absence of some freaky straight draw, I’m done if I don’t flop a set.  One other guy called.
I noticed a 7 on the flop and was very happy.  Then I noticed what looked like another 7 there too.  Was I seeing double?  Nope. I didn’t flop a set.  I flopped quads. You could say I found that flop somewhat to my liking.
The other card was an 8, but when you flop quads, you don’t really care.  But to my dismay, the preflop raiser—the Basketball Player—checked.  No way am I betting there, I want someone to catch a card.  I assume if I bet there, everyone folds and I win a rather small pot.  Definitely a hand to slow play. 
The third guy checked too.  The turn card was an Ace, I hoped somebody liked that.  But no, apparently not.  BP checked, I checked, last guy checked.
Damn, didn’t look like I was gonna get paid for my quads.
Don’t remember the last card, but it didn’t double pair the board, or put three to a flush out there.  Damn, I thought.  I’ll have to bet, no one will call, and I’ll show off my flopped quads even though I won’t have to because, if you have quads, you have to show it off, right?
Well, it didn’t work out that way.  Basketball Player puts out a big bet.  It was like $100, more than the size of the pot.  Seemed like an overbet.  I assumed that he was bluffing at the pot, thinking since no one had bet, he could steal it.  I wasn’t paying much attention, other than to notice his bet was about half his stack, give or take a few chips.  Therefore, that’s an easy shove for me.  If he’s bluffing, he folds no matter what I raise.  If he’s got something, he’s pot committed to call me.  The third guy had shown no interest in the hand and I assumed he’d fold to BP’s bet even if I just called.
Third guy did indeed fold, and BP snap called and tabled his hand.  “I flopped it,” he said. 
Indeed he had.  He had pocket 8’s.  He flopped a very nice full house.  I wasted no time in showing my hand.  “I flopped it too” and showed my quad 7’s. 
He looked sick and merely said, “wow.”  He got up from the table and disappeared.  I didn’t give the insincere “Sorry.”  I just said, “ouch.”
Then, remembering that The Bike has a bad beat jackpot, I asked, “That doesn’t count as a ‘Bad Beat’?”  The dealer said he needed a fourth 8.  If he got his case 8, that would have been a bad beat.  I would have lost the pot but won the larger portion of the bad beat jackpot.  The lowest losing hand is Aces full.  Eights full didn’t quite cut it.
Too bad he didn’t catch his 8.  That would have been one big pot I would have been delighted to lose.  I didn’t bother to check on what the jackpot was.  Since I didn’t get, why bother?
Anyway, once I finished stacking my chips from this pot, I counted almost $650, more than a double up for the day.  Summarizing, from a stack of around $150 I actually quadrupled up with three hands—1) flopping the nut flush; 2) pocket Kings holding up unimproved (a miracle, for me); 3 )flopping quads against a flopped boat.  There were a few other hands in there where I either won a little or lost a little, but nothing of major significance.
And that’s how I got to the point where I played that sickening AJ hand that I wrote about last time, here

Note, I got out a chuckle out of this latest Dilbert cartoon.  I know he was talking about corporate America, but it really seemed to me like he was talking about poker, and that he had read my previous post about the dilemma I had then....keep playing with all those recently won chips or pick them up and book the win!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Scared, Fat & Stupid is No Way to Play Poker

It’s going to take me a while to get to the point of this post.  Sorry.  I know that in this age of instant gratification, you’re really supposed to catch the reader’s attention in the first sentence or two—especially on the internet, when it’s so easy to click to something else.  So I hope that I have built up enough credibility with my regular readers that they will bear with me as I explain how I got to this post.  For those who I have no credibility with (either because they’re new or because they don’t like my blog but stop by anyway—to torture themselves, I presume—well, I hope they will scan down through this post until they find something that may catch their attention or interest.  For many of those folks, I suspect the word “naked” will be it.
Last night I started a post about my winning session at The Bike yesterday.  I didn’t complete it before having to retire for the night.  I hadn’t gotten very fair, and as I was writing it, I was still debating in my mind whether or not I was going to include the last hand I played that “ruined” the day for me, or leave it out and make the post entirely positive.  You see, even though I won $200, that last hand cost me some money, and I obsessed over that one hand instead of the positive results of the rest of the day.  And frankly, there was no way I could discuss that last hand without embarrassing myself.  So I thought about ignoring that hand.  I hadn’t decided when I went to bed.
But this morning, after some blog reading, I decided not only to talk about it, but to use it as a public lesson to myself, a public lecture to myself, even, and to discuss a bit about my progress as a poker player.  And also to devote one entire post just to that hand, rather than add it as a downer afterthought to an otherwise positive post about a nice day of poker.
You see, this morning I read Lightning’s latest post about the recent struggles of fellow blogger TBC.  I’m sure almost all (if not all) of my readers are familiar with both Lightning and Tony, they have both been blogging a lot longer than I have.  I won’t go into Tony’s current problems, you can read Lightning’s post for that (or Tony’s own blog, of course).  But in the comments section there was a comment from yet another famous blogger, Poker Grump.
Anyway, Grump (aka “Rakewell”) made a comment basically giving a link to the posts he’s made on his blog about Tony.  I figured I had read all those posts, but just for the hell of it, I went ahead and checked those posts on Grump’s blog anyway.  And I am very glad I did. 
Reading Grump’s older TBC posts was quite enlightening.  For one thing, I discovered an absolute gem of a “woman said” story that I hadn’t heard before.  For those of you who like the “woman said” stories I post here, I urge you to read this old post of Grump’s that can be found here.  I won’t repeat it here myself—that would be plagiarism—just go ahead and click on it, it should open up in a new window and you can read it when you are finished with this post.  As an enticement to check it out, I will tell you that, had I been there to witness the story he told, and had I decided to blog about it (and there’s no chance in hell if I had witnessed this that I would not have blogged about it), I would have called that post, “Were you naked?”
At first I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t heard that story before, but then I saw the date.  It was from June, 2011, before I started blogging and before I had spent much time in the poker blogosphere.
But that’s not the reason I was so glad I read those TBC posts of Grump’s  No, it was because in reading those old posts of Grump’s, I found something where Grump was talking about Tony’s game that totally relates to mine as well.  Yes, I confess, Tony and I have something in common (yes, I know, straight-line of the year).  We have the same hole in our poker games, and Grump did a great post about it.  And even better, it totally relates to the last half hour or so of poker I played yesterday at the Bike.
The post I’m referring to is this one here, entitled, “Playing Scared.” I believe I should read this post daily until I remember every word.  Because although he was talking to Tony, he was really talking to me.  I should have already remembered that post and committed it to memory.  It was from early in the year, right after I had switched to NL, and I actually noticed that I had commented on the post at the time, saying I needed to learn that lesson!  But I didn’t.  One of the reasons I’m doing this post is that, hopefully, by taking the time to do it, this time it will sink in.
Grump talked about a hand Tony had posted about where he played way too timidly (in Grump’s estimation) because he was ahead for the day and wanted to “book the win.”  He wanted to leave that session a winner, he had made a nice profit at that game and was dedicated to not losing his stack, or even a significant portion of his stack.  So, according to Grump, he didn’t make the optimal play, and not only lost a hand he might very well have won had he played it “right” but made a play that was –EV in the long run, which is all that really counts (for those of you less familiar with poker terms, that means a negative “expected value.”)
I confess, this is what happens to me regularly.  Simply put, I am a much better poker player when I am losing at a particular table than when I am winning a “significant” amount.  Once I get up, say, $100, I can’t get it out of my mind that I can, and will, and should, leave the table a winner for this session.  I completely ignored the rule in poker, “it’s all one session.”
Grump makes some excellent points in his post (as he usually does) and also quoted noted pro Antonio Esfandiari about how a poker player has to look at “poker money” totally differently from “money outside the poker room.”  The chips in front of you at the poker table are tools of the trade used to make money.
Grump was talking about Tony with this line, but he could have been talking about me.  “If he is doing well, he will often go into lock-down mode, playing in a miserly fashion because he doesn’t want to put his winnings at risk.”  Guilty as charged.
Now, truth be told, I’m not a professional poker player.  Never professed to be.  I don’t consider myself a great player or even a good one.  “Decent” is what I aspire to, for the time being.  I started playing poker not as a means of making money, but because I found I enjoyed it more than playing the table games I was playing when I visited Vegas.
I actually found that playing poker was generally a more socially enjoyable experience than those table games were.  Especially playing 2/4 limit, as I did for many years.  A high percentage of those 2/4 players were nice people, friendly, fun to play with (my thoughts on this were expressed here).  Also, I did find it more mentally stimulating than the table games, where it was just a matter of memorizing basic blackjack strategy or a betting pattern.  And of course, those table games are stacked against you, in the long run, you’re gonna lose money.  In poker, if you’re good enough, you could be a long term winner, or at least a long term break-evener (there’s that pesky rake to deal with).
So I had fun with the social part of the game, and got a lot of stories out of it.  So much so that I was encouraged to start a blog to relate them (see here).  Originally this blog was mostly people saying or doing outrageous things at a poker table (or in other parts of Vegas).  Poker itself—and any strategy—was fairly minimal.  That’s because I was playing 2/4, having a lot of fun and laughs, and not taking things too seriously.  Now that I’ve been playing more “seriously”—i.e, No Limit—there’s actually been more “real” poker content here.  I’m sure some people miss the silly stories.
So if you’re playing 2/4 and you’re there mainly to socialize, you don’t have to worry too much about protecting your wins.  There aren’t any.  When you do have a good session and get ahead, it usually takes a long time to dwindle that away in a low limit game.  I was playing tight anyway so I didn’t have to play any tighter to secure those winnings.  When I lost a bit too much of my profits, I usually had played enough to satisfy my poker itch and could take most of my winnings with me.
But then I made the switch to NL.  No limit is so different than low limit that they should really have different names.  They really are totally different games.  So for someone like me who spent around six years playing low limit almost exclusively, it’s really difficult to retrain myself on certain things.  I’m not talking about poker strategy, although that is one obviously a huge difference.  I’m talking about the way I think about poker, about what I’m playing poker for.
In my mind, I’m still playing poker for social interaction more than for making money at it.  Since I’m not a professional player, I suppose that might be ok.  But if I really want to make some money at it—and why not?—I have to change my thinking.
Of course, I want to have my cake and eat it, too. Especially when I’m in Vegas, especially when I’m playing at BSC.  I want to socialize with all my “pals” there—the dealers, the floor persons, Prudence, the other regulars who I’ve come to know a bit.  After all, when I return to BSC after being away for awhile, they practically treat me like they treated Norm whenever he walked into Cheers.  But I also want to make some money at the game, “book” those winnings and minimize the losses.  Can I do both?  It might be hard.  I may have to pick one.
But yesterday at The Bike, I wasn’t there to socialize at all.  I was there to work on my game, and yes, to try to win some money.  So I have absolutely no excuse for what happened in that last hand. 
And I want to talk about it here, publically, as a lesson to myself, if not others. 
I had bought in for $300 and now had over $600 in front of me.  How I got there is the subject for the post I was writing last night, and will be my next post, in all probability.
But sitting there, looking at nearly $650 in chips, all I could think of was that I was going to leave there with a really nice double up, a $300+ profit for 3-1/2 hours of poker.  When I had stacked my chips from that last big pot, and saw that I was over $300 ahead, that was the precise moment I should have racked up my chips and cashed out. I have no excuse for not doing so.  There was no one at the table I was really conversing with, no dealer I was waiting to chat with, no nothing.  Unlike playing at BSC, where leaving might make it “too early” an evening, going back to my hotel room and missing my “pals”, I had plenty of reason to leave The Bike then and there.  I was eager to watch the UCLA-USC game which I had Tivo’d.  I sorta/kinda watched the game in the poker room, but since it was a glorious UCLA win, I wanted to watch the whole thing with my undivided attention.  After that, I could get started on the blog post about my successful day.
But no, for reasons I cannot explain, I stayed.  I guess I somehow decided that maybe if I stayed a few more orbits, I could win some more money and get an even bigger score.  That would have been fine, and even possible, if I had the right attitude about playing on.  But I most assuredly did not.  I wasn’t thinking of the money in front of me as tools to use to make more money.  I was thinking of how it would look on my log to book a nice win like this.  I was thinking that I’d stay for a few orbits and only play absolute premium hands and nothing even remotely speculative, and hope that I could get some more chips in front of me that way.
What a fool.  There was pretty much no way I could win with that attitude.  I’d have to get pocket Aces and then flop a set—if not quads—in order to risk anything more.  I was even asking myself if I would play the dreaded pocket Kings if I got them (and I had already won with them earlier in the day).  I don’t know why I was being so damn stupid, I just was.
Of course, for an orbit, I got nothing much to play.  I limped in a few hands, called a preflop raise with a low pocket pair knowing it’s an easy fold if I don’t catch my set, and was ready to call it a day.  But the game was losing players and the blinds came around faster than I expected.  Even a better reason to leave, except they broke another game and sent us some players.  Looks like I could get another orbit with a full table, so I decided to stay.
Bad decision.  Really bad decision.
I put out my $3 blind and had garbage and folded to a preflop raise.  Then I put out my $2 small blind and looked down at Ace Jack.  But it was sooooted.  Yeah, they were both spades.  I thought about what to do.  A fairly new player, an older gentleman, under the gun, raised to $12.  He had made a few preflop raises and hadn’t had to show his cards.  He had around $225 or so in front of him.  I actually assumed he was a fairly tight player, though that was a gut instinct more than anything else.
It folded to me.  That should have made for a very easy decision on my part.  I mean, maybe the big blind would call, but no one else was in, I had a hand that was easily dominated, I don’t want to play speculative hands anyway, why not just fold the damn thing, let him take the blinds, and be done with it?
But it seems I had exactly $610 left at that point.  In other words, if I called, and folded on the flop, I would still have that somehow “magical” $300 profit that I could walk away with.  Hell, I’ve got Ace Jack sooooted, right?  Maybe, maybe……Ok, I know this is probably the stupidest play I’ve ever made, but I thought, I can get away from this easy, I’ll call and see if I get real lucky, I’ve still got my double up if the flop doesn’t hit me hard.  Yeah, I knew if I flopped the flush draw, it might cost me plenty to chase it, but I was willing to risk that for the nut flush. Otherwise, I’m gone.
So I’m sitting there like a jerk, hoping for a flop that totally misses me or basically either 2 Jacks or a flopped flush.  Good plan.  Really good plan.
I got exactly what I didn’t want.  There was an Ace on the flop, and one spade, not two.  It was something like A-10-6.  I didn’t want to dip into my “profit” unless I had to, so I checked.  (Honestly, having stupidly gotten to that point, not sure what the right move there is if I’m trying to play smart.  He could easily have a bigger Ace).  He put out $20.
With my attitude, I should have easily folded top pair, decent kicker.  But I called.  Twenty bucks to see one more card.  Maybe I’d really like it?  Dumb, really dumb.
River card was the Queen of spades.  Why did it have to be a spade?  Now I did have the flush draw.  Did he have AQ?  Pocket Queens?  I checked again and he put out $40.  Someone can do the math and tell me how bad the odds for me were there, but I thought about it and somehow, I called.  I wanted to see that flush come on the river and I’d make a really nice add on to my profit.  Jerk.
The river was a black 6.  But it was the 6 of clubs, not the 6 of spades.  I missed.  I checked, and he put out another $40.
I swear I would have folded if he had put out one dollar more.  But now I figured, maybe he had King Queen?  The flop bet was a continuation bet, and he got lucky on the turn?  Or pocket Kings?  Jacks?  For only forty bucks more I had to see.  He sized his bet perfectly to suck me in.
I called.  He had Ace King.  Duh.  I felt like I had just given away $110.  Merry Christmas, sir!
I sat there shaking my head, and actually stayed at the table until the big blind came back to me. I have no idea why I didn’t leave immediately, that was also dumb.  I didn’t get anything to play, but I’m pretty sure I would have mucked pocket Aces right then. 
What should have been a celebration over a profitable day had me beating myself up all the way home.  I still had $200 more than when I walked into the place, but all I could think of was how stupid I played that hand.
Here’s the thing.  Reading that Grump post this morning actually made me feel a bit better, if you can believe it.  I felt better about playing a hand.  I mean, I should have been willing to play a hand and risk chips as long as I was sitting at that table.  Otherwise, what was I there for?
I just shouldn’t have played that hand.  That I know, and no blog post will make me think otherwise.
So, the lesson for me is:  Either get over the idea that I can’t play my normal game when I get “satisfied” with the winnings in front of me…..or, as soon as I find myself with the attitude that I can’t play every hand I get the “right” way, then pick up my chips and get the hell out of there.
Thanks, Grump.

(Note:  OK, the "prequel" to this post, the story of how I managed to get all those chips that gave me this problem, is now posted.  You can read it above this post, or just click here).