Random thoughts from the “Green Felt”

26 05 2009

If you are someone that knows me remotely well, you will know that I am an avid poker player. Love the fucking poker. Except for one thing: if you play a lot of poker, you have to play it with mostly men. There are females who play poker, but if you go to your local card room, chances are you will find yourself in the middle of a sausage-fest that rivals that of even a monster truck rally or strip club.

After visiting the local card club today (and notching a satisfactory final table appearance), I felt compelled to riff on some random things that caught my attention:

Guys stink (literally)

It occurred to me, as I was sitting at the table at the start of the tournament, virtually holding my breath, that I hadn’t been to the card club once in the past dozen times, where I wasn’t sitting next to someone who stank like the depths of Hell.  I used to think I was just unlucky, but now I have come to the conclusion that men just, as a general rule, smell awful.  What’s up with that?  Why do guys smell so much worse than girls?  Both sexes are perspiring the same substance, are they not?  Is it a hygiene issue?  Whatever it is, it kills my soul.

Just a general rule of thumb: if you are leaving your house, and you know you will be sitting at a table with a group of relative strangers, in close proximity, for significant amount of time…maybe you wanna throw on some deodorant, or cologne, or maybe just hang one of those pine tree car air fresheners around your  neck.  Something, anything…I’m dying over here!

Guys stink (figuratively)

I don’t want to be one of those stereotypical self-hating men, but god, men say some disgusting things when women aren’t around.  Here is a dozy from today.  One guy, an obvious insecure, manly, jock type, was discussing his wife being pregnant, when he said this awesome statement:

“Yeah, I told her she could have one more, and that was it.”

Now on the surface I know this may sound like a pretty innocent, casual statement.  But let’s break it down:

“…I told her she could have…”  So…she’s having the baby?  Not you?  I mean, you’re only the FATHER for Christ’s sake, so it’s not really your responsibility.  The moment I heard this, I knew without a doubt this is one of those men who is sitting on the couch, beer in hand, while his newborn son or daughter is bawling, and yells at his wife who is busy doing 900 other things at the moment, “Hey, for Christ’s sake, get in here and take care of your kid, will you?”  Vomit.

“…one more, and that was it.” Oh, well, thank you, your Highness.  How nice of you to bestow so generosity upon your wife, that you let her have the honor of bearing one more of the children that come from your white-trash seed.  You know what your wife should do?  Tell you she’s on the pill, but not take it, and see if you STOP STICKING YOUR DICK INSIDE OF HER.  And then we will see which one of you really controls if it will be “one more” or not.

Fucking men.

Speaking of men being assholes…

If you can’t lose with class, can you at least lose with intelligence?

Here’s the deal for those of you considering taking up the beautiful game of poker, or those of you that play just casually.  It is, without question, the most important rule of playing.  Here is the rule:

Never criticize other people for how they play.  (EDIT: Unless that person is my brother-in-law, Jeremy.  Criticize him all you want…he fucking sucks.  Wins one tournament at the Venetian and thinks he’s so great…)

Just don’t do it.  And in the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t always followed this rule.  I have been guilty of breaking this one, and I always feel like a shit after I do it.  Even if you think you are being friendly, trying to give a little advice…just don’t.   It is never, ever, okay…

That being said, the only thing worse than criticizing other people’s play, is criticizing other people’s play and BEING WRONG ABOUT IT.  Seriously, you really look like an ass when you try to point out others flaws, and you are actually dead wrong yourself.  An example that I was on the receiving end of today:

With blinds at 300/600, I am sitting in the big blind, and the first player to act makes the minimum raise to 1200.  Quick No-Limit Hold ’em lesson: a minimum raise is almost always a bad idea.  It puts no pressure on the people to act after you and allows them a cheap look at a flop that might let them catch up to you.  So…

First guy min raises, everyone folds to the small blind who also calls.  At this point, I am probably calling with any two cards, as there is now 3000 chips in the pot (Initial raiser + small blind + my blind) and I only have to call 600 more.  The chance to win 3000 chips, plus possibly more after the flop, for an investment of 600 is always a great deal, and it’s even more inviting when I look down at my cards and see that I have 97, both of clubs (sooooted).  Listen, I am not a poker expert by any means, but I can tell you unequivocally that there is not a professional poker player in the world that is folding in this spot.  Never, ever, ever.

So I don’t either.  The flop rolls off Jack, 7, 7.  Sweet.  I check to the initial raiser, who makes a pretty strong 4000 chip bet into the pot.  Small blind folds, I move all-in, he snap calls, I say “I have a seven” and he says, “That sucks,” and shows pocket kings.  After the turn and river blank off, he shakes his head, and in a way that was semi-friendly, but clearly meant to be a dig, says “You called a raise with 97?  Nice call.”  (The subtext of this line: What a crappy call.)  As he walked away from the table, he was still muttering angrily about how someone can call with 97.

Well let me inform you now, good sir: it was not a good call.  It was, rather, a STANDARD CALL.  Which you would know, if you had a clue how to play.  Which you don’t, like 90% of the people that play in these tournaments, which is fine, but here’s the thing: If you don’t know how to play, SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT HOW I DO.

Incidentally I saw at least three more instances (none that I was involved in, though) of this exact scenario before the tournament ended…someone pissed about how bad someone played, when what they did was, at worst, a little unusual, and often times, totally standard.

This leads nicely to my last point…

Holy crap, live poker players are mind-shatteringly bad

There is a persistent, but pointless, debate in all online poker forums about whether so called “live” poker players (that is, players that play primarily in card rooms and casinos) or “internet” players (players that primarily play on the internet) are, overall, better than the other.  Now, I am a hobbyist playing for peanuts poker player, so I can’t speak on the higher limits, but I can say with zero reservation that at the lower levels, internet players are so much better that it’s not even funny.  I could give example after example of some of the ludicrous plays I saw today that, just from a simple, elementary math perspective, are awful, and you would never see online.  However, instead I will just tell this one awesome story, that I think encapsulates everything.

Now, even if you have never played poker in your life, you probably are aware that one of the fundamental components of poker is hiding your emotions so that other players can’t tell what you have.  That’s where the term “poker face” comes in, right?  I mean, isn’t this just stupid, simple, obvious?  Apparently not…

When we were down to 16 players, a hand came up at my table where one player raised, but still had more chips left.  It gets to this other guy (another, I must point out, jock looking faux bad-ass), who looked at his cards, and I am not even making this up, says “I’m all in,” pushes his chips excitedly in this middle, then leaps out of his seat, claps his hands, high fives his buddy, and starts celebrating like he already won something! It was the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen.  I didn’t say anything, obviously, but inside I’m thinking: “Okay, either this guy has pocket aces, or this is the most elaborate, best acted bluff I have ever seen.”  But I know acting, and this guy wasn’t acting.  He obviously had aces, maybe kings.

The original raiser tanked for a surprisingly long time, but finally folded.  As soon as he did, Excited Guy proudly flipped up his pocket aces for the table to see, as if he had done something incredible.  I guess if there is any sort of point I am getting to with this story, it’s this: If you are someone who has an interest in poker, but have been too afraid to play because you felt like everyone else would be better than you, or you don’t have a good enough “poker face,” let me inform you that there are people who play in casinos who literally jump up and down and clap their hands when they have a good hand. Again, I’m not a poker expert, but I believe that would be considered a “tell.”  So come on down and enjoy this great game!

Just please remember to wear some deodorant.