Where does the good go

In the cards

I am exhausted.
This is how I know I am getting old. I have just finished playing in my first World Series of Poker event, and all I want to do is get into my pajamas and sleep.
I guess it makes sense though, last night all I did was lay in bed staring at the ceiling –which has mirrors on it for some reason that I dare not imagine – thinking about this day. Would I really do it? Or would I chicken out? Should I play something else?
By sunrise, I had maybe gotten two hours of shut eye. Luckily, there is something about the sun being out that makes me very sleepy, so I feel asleep for another five hours. Or seven. I got up at noon, went to the gym and worked out for about an hour. And then I saw Jesus.
I swear.
There I was, about four fifths through my three mile treadmill run, when, out of nowhere, a man appeared and handed me a cold bottle of water. Like POOF. One minute I am alone in a locked hotel gym, the next I am thanking a stranger and gulping down Nestle bottled water like a…a…thing that gulps. I didn’t realize it, but I was actually very thirsty. I finished the bottle and turned to say thanks to him again, but he WAS GONE!
I can only assume that I was moments away from passing out from dehydration, hitting my head on the treadmill and slowly dying as my brain filled with blood from the pursuant concussion.
But God had saved me. He had brought me water when I didn’t even realize that I needed it. And why had he saved me?
Because I had a destiny.
A destiny that at one pm, in the Las Vegas desert, four hours before the Stud Eight event had to be to play. Carpe Diem, Dawn.
“Okay, Jesus. Thy will be done.”
I did some weights, went out to the pool and swam a few laps, before toweling off and returning to the indoors. I then saw a sign for massage/spa services.
“Do you have any appointments for today? Like in the next hour?”
“Sure. We have something at 2:30.”
“Okay. Sign me up.”
Jesus would want me loose.
I went to the lounge and waited for my masseuse.
Her name was Candy or Jane or Barbara, I wasn’t exactly paying attention. I had a tournament to win!
I finished up with Elaine and headed back to the room to get ready. It was almost four and I wanted to hurry up and register. Jesus might change his mind any minute.
I took a cab to the Rio, and found my way at the registration window.
“This is my first World Series of Poker event!”
I said to the window agent. Expressing the twin rarities in Dawn Summers land of emotion and talking to strangers.
“Well good for you,” Jimmy said, not nearly excited about my watershed moment as I was, “ID please.”
I had eagerly handed over the cashier’s check for fifteen hundred right away when I got to the window.
“Here,” my hands seemed to say as I shoved the rectangular check through the cashier’s window, “please, take this from me quickly before I use it to pay my mortgage or health insurance premiums.”
I pulled out my driver’s license and my Poker player’s rewards card. I slid these toward Jimmy.
“I have to go make a copy. I’ll be right back.”
I took a picture of him as he left.
I waited.
He came back, handed me my cards, and my seat number. Table 48, seat 5. I was playing Stud Eight, a game where you have to keep track of all the cards around the table, so being smack dab in the middle of the table at seat five was a plus.
He asked me to sign over the cashier’s check and a waiver for them to use my likeness.
I cringed at this a little. I didn’t think my event was televised…which is good because as far as my mother is concerned, I’m out here to attend a four day long wedding, and then just staying to hang out for a couple of days after that.
“Four days for a wedding?” she had asked skeptically.
“Yeah. White people. Go figure,” I said giving the answer that has served me pretty well these last twenty years of immersion in white culture.
Being on TV, with cards in my hands and shades on my face…well, that could pose a problem.
Oh well, I said channeling Carrie Underwood, Jesus take the wheel! I signed the form.
Stop judging me. It takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen.
I went to scope out the room. I saw CK running toward me. She had decided at the last minute to play too.
At the appointed time I took my place in the five seat. I was giddy, nervous, happy—in short, I had to pee.
I got my first hand…oh man, I can’t believe I don’t remember what it was…I played it, but lost.
I played the next hand and won.
The guy across the table from me in the ten seat was nicknamed ‘Snake.’ I know this because he had a giant serpent shaped chip protector and a mini sign that said “Welcome to the snake pit.” He was also wearing a jacket with the name ‘Snake’ embroidered on the top left. To top it off, he was reading the NY Post of all things. Snake quickly appointed himself the table captain. He corrected the dealer when the poor kid was going to chop up a pot between a seven high straight and an 86 low.
“Nah, nah…it’s a sweeper. Straight gets the whole thing.” “Sweeper” that’s what he called it when one player won both the high hand and the eight or better low in the game. Usually with split games, two players will each win half. Back at the home games in NY that I play in, we call it a “scoop” when one player wins both. Leading Ham Hands to shout “what flavor?” whenever it happens at the Wall Street game.
But I came to like “sweep” better because Snake (he and I now on nickname bases) would say “give that girl a broom” when I went on a mini rush to sweep three pots in a row.
This included one hand where I started with a Q showing and a Jack five under. I don’t remember why I played the hand, but on fourth I hit a King and called because now I had two possible flush draws. I bricked on fifth, but it checked around and I hit a ten on sixth. I had missed my flush draws, but now I had an open ended straight draw. The ace came on seventh!
Gimme my broom.
I did not say this out loud.
“Nice catch,” the guy to my right complained bitterly.
I had forgotten to scrunch all my cards up before turning over my hand, so he could see exactly when I hit my straight and he was pissed.
He proceeded to tilt off all his chips and bust about twenty minutes later.
Whew. I am not the first out.
I made it to the first break in really good chip position. I think Mary said she has a screen shot of me in third.
I was actually trying to play super tight. The third level I only played two hands and I won them both.
I was furiously texting with the Crackhouse gang back home – and Alceste, who is in Vegas with me, but has been forced to spend the last few days with the old ball and chain instead of cracking out with the rest of us. Sorry, I mean he’s gotten to spend the last few days with the old ball and chain.
“Hey, Mary, Annie Duke is over at the next table…should I go over and tell her she looks like you?” I texted Mary.
KJ kept instructing me not to tilt.
In truth, I was as far from tilting as I’ve ever been at a poker table. I was winning, having fun and doing something I’ve been talking about doing since 2005.
It really doesn’t get better than this. Ok, I’m sure it does, but this was pretty good.
Snake busted early in level four. He reraised himself all-in with A23 and three players called him.
He bricked and pretty much mucked his hand at the end when the Indian guy who was on a crazy heater of pocket aces every hand, had again gotten pocket aces and this time improved to a boat. Last time he just had trips. The third player in the hand, a young kid, who had to fold his two pair was pissed.
“Why’d you raise like that,” he accused Snake, “what the hell were you doing man?”
Snake, who is probably in his late sixties, fired back.
“Look kid, anytime you want to go heads up with me for real money, I’ll be waiting,” he seethed.
“Okay,” the kid said “Let’s go. Meet me in the 75/150 room on Stars.”
“Online?” Snake scoffed. “I don’t play online, boy. Let’s get a table here when you bust, which will be soon.”
The kid didn’t respond.
Snake left the table.
The kid followed him five minutes later.
I made it to the dinner break. Halfway home!
I was playing the best Stud Eight of my life…not that that’s an extraordinary feat or anything. I am a pretty bad Stud Eight player.
I learned A LOT playing the tournament and when I finally busted in the middle of the sixth round, somewhere in the 300 out of 544, I could pinpoint most of my mistakes. Not folding soon enough after I bricked on fourth, not reraising my made hands before they got run down or before the low could hit and take half the pot away…It was nearing midnight, I was losing focus and well I just don’t have an autopilot mode for Stud Eight like I do with NLHE. I went out with an As2s6s when I was super short and the bring in with a deuce showing. I bricked on every street and ended up with a measly pair of twos and no low by the end.
It wasn’t enough.
I made my way out of the Rio and got in a cab.
“You here to watch your man play in the World Series, sweetie,” the cab driver asked after I told him my destination.
“No. I was playing.”
“Oh yeah? Did you win?”
I hesitated. I played in the World Series of Poker. Me.
“Um…not money…but sort of.”

5 Responses to “In the cards”

  1. Casca Says:

    Not Hemingway running with the bulls, but what the hell. This isn’t the twenties, and we aren’t in Spain. For a physical coward like you, it’s up there at the top, congrats.

  2. F-Train Says:

    Good job. I’m glad you cowboyed up, no matter what your more evil compadre may have advised you.

  3. pearatty Says:

    “Jesus would want me loose.”

    This may be the best line ever written.

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