I’m not Mr. Fun. I don’t do lots of fun shit.
Sitting on the bed in my drawers typing this... that’s fun to me.
But Saturday night, I had normal-people fun. It was Yancey Arias’s charity poker tournament at a rented house in Malibu, right on the beach. (I’ve been living in California 13 years and had never set foot in Malibu. Had no reason to. Now I see what the fuss is about.)
This was a ball. There were a few familiar actors in the game – Donnie Wahlberg, Danny Masterson, Anthony Denison (remember “Crime Story”?), Victoria Pratt (“Cleo 2525”!) – plus a few professional poker players (Annie Duke, Sean Sheikhan, a couple others). There was a local TV anchorman, even a couple of cops... just a cool group of people.
The deejay was killing all night long (favorite mix: “I’d Rather Be With You” into “Footsteps in the Dark” into “I Keep Forgettin’ ” into “Yearning For Your Love”); plenty of food and drink; ridiculously good-looking women everywhere you looked.
Toward the end of the evening, as I smoked a tasty Nat Sherman cigarettello and watched a full moon rise over the pounding Pacific tide, I figured this is how the hip folks must live every day.
As for the tournament... out of about 50 players, I finished in the high teens, just before they went down to two tables. I was reasonably satisfied with myself.
I’d like to discuss one hand from the first hour. If you’re not a card player, this won’t mean much. But for those of you who are, here it is:
Everyone started with $1,000 in chips (and we could rebuy). This particular hand, I got dealt ace-king (A-K) – Big Slick. A woman to my right raised the pot pre-flop. I called the raise. I could’ve re-raised her, but something told me to play it slow. A risky choice, but that’s what I did.
Flop comes ace-garbage-garbage. I couldn’t have hoped for a better flop. The woman to my right bets at it. Hmmm..., I think. Is there any way in hell she was holding, like, A-6... and just flopped two pairs? You think of all kinds of nightmare scenarios in the midst of a hand. At least I do.
I could’ve found out where I stood by raising her. But I didn’t. I just called.
The turn comes a king. Holy crap! Now I’m holding the top two pair and feeling pretty good about life. Especially when the woman checks. So then I bet.
Now, it was early in the game so I didn’t know what kind of a player she was. But this was a head-scratcher. Could she be sitting on three-of-a-kind, and she just trapped my dumb ass? Maybe my first hunch was correct; she’d flopped aces-up and wanted to see what I’d do on the turn. Why else would she have called?
River card: another king! I am now holding kings full of aces... the second nuts. And I was damn certain she wasn’t holding the one hand that could beat me (A-A). Anyway, the woman pushes all her chips into the pot. She goes all-in!
I call without hesitation and show the world my full house.
Amazingly, when my opponent revealed her hand (actually, I think the dealer exposed it after another player asked to see it), she was holding 7-7.
A pair of sevens!
She was right to raise with those pre-flop (in a tournament). She was right to bet out post-flop. But when I called that bet – with an ace on the board – she should’ve been suspicious. Hell, she was suspicious; she checked the turn. Why, then, did she call me?
Yes, I camouflaged my ace fairly nicely... but what did she think I was betting with? There were so many ways for her to lose that hand. If I had an ace or a king – forget both – she was dead. If I had 8-8 or higher in the pocket, she was dead. Maybe she put me on a pocket pair and figured she could chase me away at the river with her all-in move (representing an A or K).
Anyhow, I doubled my stack, collected some attaboys for how I’d played the hand, and rode that confidence through the next couple of hours.
And then Annie Duke got moved to my table. She was betting so aggressively, I and the other amateurs just reeked of timidity. And as the blinds and antes grew, I soon got swept aside.
But hey... I’ll be ready for her next year.