Thursday, April 26, 2018

Is it a Skill Game--or Weird Science?

"It's a movie about a woman having sex with a fish!"  The older gentleman at the table said that about five times within a short period.  And that's, as best as I can recall, how I knew we were discussing movies at this table.  I knew he was talking about the film, The Shape of Water.  I haven't seen it.  But it won the best picture Oscar, so of course I knew what it was about.  It was, as the guy said, about a woman having sex with a fish.

I finally said, "Well, I'm a fish.  Where is this woman who likes having sex with fish?"  No, really, I didn't say that.  It wasn't until I was driving home that I realized the situation was ripe for someone to make a joke about a woman having sex with a poker fish.

The poker at this session in Ventura, which took place last Saturday, was, umm, interesting.  It was a bad news/good news/bad news session for me.  I'll get to that.  But first I want to talk about the chatter at the table.  Which was mostly about movies.

The table was a bunch of "mature" players.  That's a nice way to say that more than half the players at this 1/2 game were older than me.  It was a friendly group and it was the standard mix.  There was a guy who never saw a hand he didn't like, and a couple of major nits.  As you would expect from a game where the min/max buy-in is $50-$100, there was no one at that table who could possibly make a living playing this game.

But a dealer pushed in who was much younger than the players, and for some reason he started talking about movies.  I'm thinking he knew most of the players and that one of them got him started on this by mentioning some current movie, perhaps it was the movie that was about a woman having sex with a fish.  But he started mentioning a whole bunch of recent movies he had or hadn't seen, and players were giving their one-line reviews of them.  The dealer started talking about older movies….you know like five years old.  It seems he is trying to "catch up" on most of the notable movies he's missed in that five year period.

Of course, Molly's Game came up.  How could you discuss a plethora of movies at a poker table and not discuss that movie?  Everyone who had seen it agreed it was a good movie, although we all did have to allow from some inaccuracies about poker. 

It was actually a fun discussion, and a good distraction from the fact that I was absolutely card dead and just bleeding chips.  But then someone mentioned Star Wars and it seemed like the dealer and I were the only ones who liked it!  Seriously? What kind of freaks were these folks?  Where do you find people like this?

Finally the movie-buff dealer was finished was pushed out.  I asked him, "So, you gonna watch a movie tonite?"  A few people laughed and the dealer did too, and responded, "Yes…well probably, it's date night."

The next dealer that came to our table had a rather remarkable resemblance to a famous movie actor—Anthony Michael Hall.  Or at least he looks a lot like Hall looked back when he was in Weird Science. Oh this dealer is older than Hall was then, and looks it, but you can't deny the resemblance.  So sort of an older version Hall from Weird Science.  Except that he's younger than Hall is now (I guess he's always been younger than Hall is).  One of us (actually it was me), looked it up on that Interweb thing and discovered that Hall is now 50 and the dealer is younger than that.  But the dealer confessed he gets that all the time, he is constantly being told he looks like Hall.  The players were saying that he could/should try to make some money as a Anthony Michael Hall impersonator.  Or be in the sequel to Weird Science.

Yeah, it was Weird Science that they kept remembering Hall from.  Now I did see that flick when it came out, and I have a vague memory of liking it.  But when I think of Anthony Michael Hall, the movie I think of is Sixteen Candles.  That's because in it, he has one of the all-time great movie lines: "I'm kinda like king of the dipshits."

I was pretty card dead and just trying to hit something with the few playable hands I was dealt. I ran low on chips.  I had to add chips a couple of times, so I was in for $200 and I was down to about $70-$80.  I wasn't going to add any more chips, $200 is enough to invest in this particular game.  The only pot I'd won was when I flopped a set of 3's and didn't get any action on the turn…a very small pot.

So on the button with 9-7 of hearts. I called a raise to $8.  It was three-way.  The preflop raiser had me covered and the other caller was the guy who never saw a hand he didn't like.  He was short-stacked.  The flop was favorable: 9-7-3, two diamonds.  The preflop raiser led out for $28.  I looked at my stack and didn't really have enough to make a normal raise, so I just shoved.  The short stack called of course.  The preflop raiser tanked a bit but ultimately called, although he was clearly not happy about it.  The board bricked out (no diamonds).  I showed my two pair.  The preflop raiser showed two Jacks and said, "I couldn't fold."  The shortie stared at the board for awhile and then mucked face down and said he missed his flush.  While it certainly made sense that he had the flush draw, I can honestly say that based on his play, he could have easily had a much worse hand than that.  Like overcards.  Or one overcard.  Anyway, I was more than happy to take a nice pot.

The guy with the Jacks reiterated that he "just couldn't fold," even though he said he "knew" I had two pair.  Ok then.  Then he said, "I should have bet more preflop.  Maybe you wouldn't have called with 9-7 if I bet more."  Now ordinarily in that situation I just sort of smile and say nothing.  But it was a real friendly table and I decided to have a little fun.  So I said, "I dunno, I'm a pretty bad player, I might have called anyway. A good player you could have gotten to fold there, but maybe not me."  Everyone laughed, even the guy who had the Jacks.  But he didn't laugh as much as everyone else.  Then after a few seconds, the guy on my immediate right, who hadn't been in the hand (and hadn't been at the table very long) said, "You hear that?  Silence.  Notice that no one is arguing with you."  Ahem.  Now of course I had invited that kind of comment with my joke.  Still, a few years ago I probably would have been pissed at that.  Not this time.  I just laughed and agreed with him.  I don't mind if anyone thinks I'm a bad player.

The guy with Jacks said something about taking good care of his chips. Like he expected to get them back.  Again, I just laughed.  It was all in good fun.

About two or three hands later, guess who got Jacks?  Yours truly. In early position I opened to $10.  This time the guy with Jacks three-bet to $25.  It was his first three-bet of the day.  It folded back to me. Hmm….Unless he was on tilt from the previous hand, or specifically targeting me, I saw nothing from his game that would indicate he didn't have my Jacks beat, or at the very least, he had Ace-King.  Well….I suppose that, having seen me call his raise with 9-7,  he now might think I was raising light and he could steal the pot from me.  But my call with 9-7 was on the button and my open this time was in early position and surely he would have noticed the difference.

I called.  We were heads up.  The flop was Queen-Queen-X.  I checked, he bet $35.  I tanked a bit and then folded. Now the two Queens on the flop pretty much eliminated one overpair that beat me, but I still was pretty sure I was beat.  When I folded, he said, "Did you have Jacks?"  I laughed and said no.  "I wouldn't fold Jacks."  He laughed and said, "I had better."  I'm sure he did. I know it's possible I folded the best hand but I doubt it.  So I said, "I thought you had quads there."  He laughed and said, "No, if I had quads I would have bet less."  And I said, "If you had quads there you wouldn't have bet."  He sort of agreed.

Sometime later I had King-Queen off in the big blind.  There was a small raise so I called.  Seven of us saw a flop of King-Queen-3.  Once again, a favorable flop.  I decided to take a chance and check, hoping for a check-raise.  Sure enough, someone bet $8 and at least two players called.  When it got back to me, I made it $40.  The guy who led out for $8 shoved for about $100.  He was new to the table.  I had him covered.  A lady with a short stack put all her chips in.  Everyone else was gone. Of course I called. The board bricked out and the guy who shoved didn't show when he saw my hand.  The lady somehow showed pocket 9's, unimproved. 

Another female player, sitting directly across from me, saw me stacking all those chips and said, "What did you say about being a bad player?  You've got all the chips."  I just laughed.  This woman is a regular and I've played with her many times.

Now I had a nice profit.  I was up almost $70, not bad for this game.  I played a few more orbits and decided I was now on my last round.  The guy with the Jacks was still commenting every so often about me having his chips.  It was funny.  I guess it could have gotten obnoxious but he never took it that far.

So it was to be my second to last hand. I was UTG +1.  And I looked down at pocket deuces. I limped in and then the big blind made it $8.  It was multi-way.  The flop was Jack-10-2.  Quite favorable!  The preflop raiser bet $20.  I made it $40.  It folded back to him and he tanked.  Finally he called, reluctantly.  The turn was a brick and he checked.  I bet $40 again.  I was expecting a fold. He tanked again and then finally called.  Damn.  My Spidey sense started going off.  Maybe his reluctance was not whether to call but whether to raise?  Did he have a bigger set?  Or Jack-10?  That's very likely.  People love Jack-10.

What concerned me was this guy had been at the table almost as long as I had and hadn't played very many hands. There was no way this guy was still here with just a pair.  I had him covered but not by all that much.  I was beginning to smell a rat.

When the river was another brick, I saw him seriously thinking about betting.  I decided to play it safe and check behind.  He flipped over pocket 10's.  Ugh. Not so favorable.  He said he thought I had a set of Jacks.

That was it, I picked up and left.  I was up nearly $70 and ended up with a $20 loss.  Of course, I could have lost a lot more on that last hand, set-over-set is a good way to get felted if you're on the wrong end of it. My story of a near $200 loss becoming a $70 win was now a story of a $70 win becoming a $20 loss.  Still, a decent recovery.

The guy with Jacks had missed that hand and just got back at the table in time to see me leave.  He was sorry to see me go.  "I didn't get my chips back."  I pointed to the fellow with the set of 10's.  "Get it from him." 


  1. I can only recall one time in live poker when another player at the table called me a "bad player." I'm trying to remember who said it. I think he has a poker blog ... Any guesses, Rob? of course, u see, there was another poker blogger who didn't say anything to me at the table, but texted a fellow blogger that I was a "f***ing donkey." I guess one has to be careful when a blogger plays poker and gets upstaged ...

    1. You have to get over this, my friend. Let it go, let it go. Holding a grudge this long isn't healthy.