Monday, August 24, 2009

They call it poker because.....

Somebody has to get poked!

We (Troy and I) love to play poker and this weekend I certainly got my fill for a while.

The weekend of poker actually started on Thursday night with the monthly low stakes game at my house. I didn't do well, but unfortunately, that never stops me from trying again and again.

With that spirit in my heart, we made our way down to the Indiana Live casino in Shelbyville, IN on Friday night. Troy has done QUITE well there the last few times he's gone. Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing. I think there's something that happens to the men mentally when a woman sits down to the table. Until she "proves" she knows how to play, they refuse to fold and often feel like pushing her around with their chip stacks. It's like their egos can't handle actually folding to a woman. That's great when my cards are better than theirs, but unfortunately sometimes they hang around and end up beating me because they got lucky with their cards even though they shouldn't have stayed in in the first place. I kept that in mind and really tightened up my play. My play was so tight and my cards were so crappy that I played just 1 hand in the first 1 1/2 hours that I was there. Ugh. Not very interesting, but it's a great test of discipline. After a while I started getting cards and doing ok. I was never up very much, but I was definitely holding my own. That was until I made a VERY bad call. I had Ace/Queen and there was an Ace and 3 low cards on the board. The guy next to me goes all in and I call because I have a great kicker (the Queen). Unfortunately he had two pair and ended up taking all of my money. Ouch!

A little dazed, I stood up from the table and then walked around the casino for about 30 or 40 minutes (Troy was still playing and doing well). I hemmed and hawwed and eventually decided to lick my wounds and go back in with some more money. This time I was seated at a different table than Troy. Sitting down it was like I had just decided to take a dunk in the shark tank wearing a meat suit. First, all of the people at the table were men and many of them had 2, 3 or 4 times the amount of money that I was going to sit down with. Second, there was a look in their eyes that kind of scared me. Later I would realize that perhaps it was all of the alcohol that they had been consuming.

Once again I played only premium hands. I took down a couple of good sized pots and the guys began to realize that I was a pretty good player. Perhaps their folding also had something to do with the fact that I told them that 1) I don't straddle, 2) I don't play crappy cards and 3) I don't bluff. Seriously. I'm no good at lying.

After a few hours (and LOTS of badgering from one particularly drunk guy), I had made back about 3/4 of what I had lost at the first table. It was 3:40 AM and I was more than ready to go home. I headed to the cashier to cash out while Troy finished up a few last hands. Oh! And were those an AMAZING last few hands. If you want the details, just ask, but I'll sum it up quickly by saying he nearly tripled his money in just 1 hand and walked out with a very heavy wallet!!

Our final night of poker was Saturday evening at a charity event* to raise money for breast cancer research that we played in last year. This is where the poker gods showed that they have a fickle nature. First, the gods were kind to me: There were 18 participants in the tournament and things were going along pretty well for me. I had been much more blessed with good cards than the night before and my chip stack was growing steadily. Justin, the player across from me, had apparently gotten my card luck from the night before and had barely played a hand.

The blinds at this point were 20/40 and one of the short stacks went all in for 100. I called (I had about 4500 in chips) with King Jack in my hand. Justin raised the bet to 600. I paused for a moment and then called his raise. We were down to just the 3 of us in the pot. The flop came Jack/4/7. Justin again bet 600. I now had a pair of Jacks, so I called. The turn was a 3. At this point Justin went all in for another 1950. I had him covered, but if I lost I would have a LOT less left in chips. At this point, I realized he has to have pocket Aces. The smart thing to do at this point is to fold. I know he has to have me beat. Instead, I'm on the fence. I just have no idea what I want to do. It could go either way. I could fold or call. It was 50/50. At this point, I hear Troy, who's at the other table, say "I'm all in." Well, that does it for me. I'm gonna call. I figure the worst that can happen is that we will both be out at the same time. Was it a wise choice to make? No. We flip over our cards and yes, indeed, he shows his two Aces. At this point, the only cards that can help me are a King or a Jack. A king would give me two pair. A jack would give me three of a kind. Either way, those were the only two hands that could beat his pair of Aces. I stood up and prepared to leave. All the while I was begging the board to show me a King. The last card? A KING! The table erupted! Needless to say, Justin was (rightfully) pissed! I had called when I shouldn't have and now he was out of the tournament. I was actually embarrassed at my luck and I didn't want any of the attention I was getting.

Oh, how the winds of fate can turn. About an hour later, we were down to 5 players at our table and the blinds had increased to 200/400. I was the small blind and looked down at Ace/Queen of spades. When you're down to 5 players, that's a really strong hand pre-flop. The first player to act raises the bet to 1000 and I go All In for an additional 3500 or so. The Big Blind folds and now it's back to the player who originally bet 1000. Now it's his turn to hem and haw. He has more chips than me, so if he calls and loses, he's not out. Finally he decides to call. We flip over our cards and he shows a pair of sixes. At this point, we're about even. If nothing comes for me, his sixes will hold, but if an Ace or Queen comes, I win. The flop? Wait for it.......

King 6 6. Yeah! That's right. He flopped quad sixes. OUCH! No need to see the rest of the cards since there was no way I could win. It was painful, but at least I went down in a blaze of glory.

So I will lick my wounds, play a little online poker for free and save up my money for next month's games.

* If you would like to know how to help support Karen Shaffer in her fund raising efforts, please visit her site at Donations are easy, tax deductible and VERY appreciated!

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