This is a story about a hand, I love this story and after reading it you will know why. The picture gets painted like this, I have been playing in the 2/5 NL game at the Bellagio and I was doing pretty well for that game I bought in for $200.00 and as I was racking my checks I had filled the fourth rack and had 20 or 30 odd chips left over.
It was 5 handed and the rest of the guys were doing the same as I was getting ready to leave but taking hands in the process, it was 4:30am and I am sure most of them had been there as long or longer than I had, I got there around 9:00 after taking my Lucy to dinner and tucking her away in the room for the night.
It doesn’t matter sometimes you just don’t want the game to brake, one more hand, one more opportunity for catch that big starting hand and that domination only a poker player knows. This however was not to be that hand, K2 diamonds under the gun, I limped. I know I know but hey it was suited, it was short handed and hey it was 4:30 in the friggin morning for crying out loud. I guess everyone felt the same way we were 5 handed when Linda dealt the flop.
Well Well Well… I really am the luckiest man alive I ALWAYS say that at the poker table, what people don’t know is that I am talking about my girls. I have the most beautiful, intelligent & most appreciative girls a man could ever ask for and if I lost every pot I was in from now til the end I would smile and tell you the same thing, so there is never a way for me to lose and that makes me very dangerous if I end up in your pot.
Anyway, there it was just as big as Montana KK5 holy shit batman. Small: check, Big: check, your hero: check, the two others make it unanimous. Let’s see the turn, this is too much a 2 comes. Well folks we have the hidden full house and you know what is most likely going to happen, no bets no action. Well screw that I am going to make it look like I am at least stealing it, I bet the pot, fold, CALL, fold, fold.
So here we are heads up and waiting for the river. The man that called? I won’t use his real name here because I would really like it if he didn’t use mine if things were reversed. Let’s just call him Mike. Mike is a working pro and at the time he was rated 134th by card player magazine. He has had some decent tournament finishes but I suspect most of his income comes from the Bellagio poker room, the lions share cut from tourists swimming in the friendly appearing but shark infested waters of the 2/5 NLHE game. It really is funny to watch the fish, they figure that they saw poker on TV once and this really doesn’t look all that complicated does it? All of the sudden Barney from Boise is forced to make a decision for what amounts to a month and a half of pay checks back home. What he doesn’t know is he is already on ice, drawing stone cold dead. Gus Hansen won a million dollars on the travel channel with his pair of 3s, Barney doesn’t know until all his vacation money is adrift in the green felt Bermuda circle, Johnny Grinder made the nuts on the turn and is only milking the last of the money that was earned in a hardware store in Idaho. It sure didn’t go this way on TV and what the hell am I going to tell my sleeping wife upstairs in the morning? Welcome to the poker room Barney, come back real soon and the game rolls on.
Ok I know I got side tracked and that was a long walk to the river but here we are, Linda peals a 6 off. I reach into the rack now and I grab a row of 5 dollar chips, that’s $100.00 Barney. Mike raises my hundred with another hundred, he brings it out two handed like his hands are on springs. Interesting and I though I was walking down this river road all alone. I look and Mike has about three racks left after his last hostility, I have around $1800.00 and we definitely have established a fork in the road. I am either going to go get the money in the middle which belongs to me and we move on to the next dance or we blow this thing up, someone gets their head chopped of and I’m not Barney.
I don’t have THE hand but I am feel damn good about the ground I am standing on, sometimes in poker you have to just assume you are there and yes there are a couple of really nasty hands out there that can make yours look like a little school girl, but how likely is it and if you go into the dark and do find that monster waiting for you, hey that’s poker. Besides if you need the stone nuts to make your move every time then your going to die with a full tank of gas and cobwebs on your balls. SCREW that I’m firing and I’m alive, playing not watching. Yea sometime I lose but I win a lot more than those tight rocks waiting for permission from the nuts to go in ever do and besides many fear me (I have a story later for that too) and we all know deep down that is the reason we play, it was never about the money.
Let me just say this first what I said to Mike right before I fired, well I meant it and I was sincere in my heart toward him, some of the tribe I play with don’t believe me, but it’s true. Mike is a nice kid and he is grinding a living out doing something he loves, I respect him for that, I have been blessed by god in this life and I have more than enough for me and my girls, again the money just keeps score. What I really need to beat you and own your soul on that civilized battlefield of poker, to dominate, to win! I didn’t need mikes rent money to do that. So I looked right at him until he held my gaze and I said “Mike, DON’T follow me into this pot!” I pulled the trigger and four racks hit the center, “I move in”. Sure I smiled a little, the Gods were happy and for that moment in time I was king and it was a nice place to sit.
Mike was NOT happy; didn’t I know who he was? Was I so stupid not to realize that a professional poker player isn’t going to call all the way to the end and then re-pump without the goods. WTF who the hell was this guy anyway, advising me on which pots I should and should be in, the name is Nitrox and Nitrox is Boss but that is also another story.
To make matters worse for my young friend a crowd was forming; I know 4:30 in the morning, poker players huh? Still they were there about 15 of them all waiting for Mike’s response, they would need to wait. Mike went into the tank, poker players call it that when someone takes a long time deciding on their hand, derived from the term think tank I suppose, anyway Mike struggled recounting the action in his head, Linda the dealer is a true professional sitting with the remainder of the deck spread, hands in her lap, staring forward into space without a care in the world who won. I have been friends with Linda for a long time and she is a true pro in every sense, however she did care who won, not only do I treat her and the other dealers in my game with respect, I take care of the dealers when I hit and she knows I do, so deep down inside this impartial poker professional I know a little voice was chanting “Call.. Call… Oh Mike you are in the deepest water and Mark holds the hammer, please call” She also knew that if Mike won and took down that almost $4000.00 she would get two bucks from him if she was lucky.
That is one thing I hate about “PROs” they don’t tip well because it takes down their hourly rate, it is a business you know! When you say that you sound like a punk, I own a multi-million dollar computer business with over 40 employees and they ALL get a bonus on top of their regular pay EVERY month, even the guy who cleans the bathroom gets some love. Mine is a business too, I am just a better boss than you.
More waiting, I had given him enough time. “Come on Mike, stay or go” he continued to stare me down, I put my palms up and shrugged “I made the bed already what can I tell ya?” Mike had one more trick left, he showed me his cards, a 3 and 4 and said “I have the nut straight! SWEET all my money was in and I was winner no matter what, no more worries about that case King with a 5 or a 6. I was changing my attitude though this was a little much, I was playing solid and I even honestly told him not to call, but you want to yank my chain like this? Turn the page, now I want the money Mike! Your just pissing me off now!
So I take a page from the art of war…..
All warfare is based upon deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Now let’s break this little smart ass….
I shift in my seat as much as I can and try not to over play it, he is looking at your eyes Mark, look away, look back quick like you caught yourself and you don’t want him to know that those cards scare you. Briefly compose yourself and then act STRONG, the rule of thumb in poker is that a player is showing you the opposite of what they want you to believe (see “Art of War”) so here I need to dance a little, what does he think, I think, he thinks and so on.
Nice hand Mike, second best, but nice! The fact that no flush is possible is giving him confidence; the fact that I seem nervous is enhancing that feeling. He is discounting the two kings because even if I have a king he has that door nail shut and the rest of the board is little cards. Who plays King Little? Who is John Galt? Mike feels like he has set the perfect trap like only a seasoned pro like him could, play middle and little suited connectors in multi-way pots and when they connect hope for a big card, a tourist with a premium hand like AK, spread the napalm and pick up the bodies. Hey nothing personal it is a business you know.
Time to add the cherry to my pain sundae, a little more nervous this time, damn it Mike this is bullshit! I turn to Linda and say “put the clock on him” She calls for the floor person, who never shows up, big surprise there, I don’t care if he comes or not just that Mike thinks I need it. The thought here for Mike is “The guy has seen my cards so the more nervous he is the better for me, if I was beat he would be fine to just wait until I hang myself”. I need to play it just right here, he needs to “detect” my discomfort for the puzzle to fit, so I keep making little cuts in myself hoping that his superior poker sense can smell the blood and fear. Mike, I have to take a piss I will be right back, I didn’t have to, just then he says;
No wait …..
I flip over my rags that turned to riches and say “I think I have you covered.” The railbirds roared including Mike’s running buddy Ryan, “How in God’s name could you not know he was rolled up?” Hey shut up Ryan at least he was playing you were only watching. Me? I am off to throw $100.00 bills at Lucy she loves it when I do that.
Last September I went to Las Vegas with some of the poker tribe I play with Jason, Gavin & I were there with Johnny Z. celebrating how friggin old he is and so the first night we are there guess where we end up? Yea I know tough guess, so we are playing in the 2/5 NL game at the Bellagio and who of all people gets moved into our game? Hey how are you doing, I am friendly with everyone at the table, it’s just more profitable to be that way. He takes one look at me and says “Oh you, Mr. King & 2” the tribe just smiled “oh, so that’s the guy!” I may have told them that story a couple of times too many. I guess he may have taken some ribbing from his fellow pros for a while after the computer guy from Denver came and erased Microsoft Money off his hard drive that night. I said; Awe come on Mike I brought all that money right back here to give back to you, honest.
The whole thing has become a big joke with the tribe and we play around with the K2 now for fun, so if I am in your game and a King and a Deuce hit the board…
“Don’t follow me in”
See you in the Ring