lying in odessa - part two
Note: readers who are unfamiliar with hold-em rules can find them at ultimate bet dot com. Readers who are unfamiliar with poker terminology may want to read This glossary from CNN first. Or don't. I'm not the boss of you.
The game starts at 8. My watch -- a gift from Sean Astin when we were promoting Toy Soldiers in Japan -- says it's 7:55. The tables are starting to fill up, so I ask the bartender for a glass of water. I take it, tip him a dollar, and head for my table.
The blinds start out at 5-10, and double every 30 minutes. I have studied my Sklansky and Jones faithfully for the last ten days or so, and I have what I think is a solid game plan: Play extremely tight, but aggressive. Only premium hands, no chasing, and no raising before the flop unless I'm sitting on AA or AK. For the first two levels, whenever I have something worth playing, I'll skip sandbagging and just bet into the raisers. No free cards, just survive. I thought it was a good strategy, and I hoped that my opponents wouldn't catch on that I was only in the pot when I had the nuts. I figured that if I wasn't the first one out, I'd be happy.
My seat is the only empty one at Table Two. I put my coat over the back of my chair, stack my chips, and sit down. Everyone at my table seems to know each other. They're the regulars, I guess, and I've read enough to know that I'm already at a disadvantage.
The table looks like this:
Seat One: Mr. Lawyer.
Seat Two: Mr. Magician.
Seat Three: Mr. Agent's Assistant.
Seat Four: Mrs. Funnypants.
Seat Five: Mr. Webmaster.
Seat Six: Mr. First Time Player.
Seat Seven: Mrs. Beautiful.
Seat Eight: Mr. I'm In The Music Industry.
When we cut for the deal, Mr. Lawyer gets the ace of spades. I draw the two of clubs. I hope it's not an omen.
We play a few hands, but my cards are shit, and I don't get into any pots. It's okay, I'll be patient. Stick to the plan.
For a game in Hollywood, there's precious little coffehousing, until Mr. Lawyer says to me, "Hey guy, aren't you an actor?"
I hate that question, because I always have to answer, "I used to be."
"Whaddaya mean, 'used to be?'" Says the guy to my right. He's a Webmaster from Long Beach who could have saved an hour on the freeway and played at the Bicycle, but I find out later that he comes here because he's a starfucker.
"I haven't done any acting in a long time. I'm a writer now." This answer doesn't seem to satisfy them, so I say, "I only act when something really great comes along."
("That is, before my agents dropped me a year ago. Where the hell is Shane?")
"What show do you write for?" Says Mr. Agent's Assistant.
"Oh, I don't work in the Industry. I write books."
A knowing look passes among them. "You published?" He says.
"Yeah." I don't want to talk about myself any more. I look down at my cards and find more rags. I study them like they're suited connectors and start counting my checks.
"How'd you find out about this game?" Mr. Agent's Assistant says.
The bet comes to me. I give my rags another look, and throw them away.
"I'm a friend of Shane's."
They all laugh, and I find out that Shane is the deadest of dead money. Everyone likes him, but they like his poor play even more.
"I hope you play better than he does, guy," says Mr. Lawyer.
I shrug my shoulders. I am beginning to hate Mr. Lawyer. First of all, he's a lawyer. Second of all, he keeps calling me "guy." Finally, I know that he's stealing blinds, but I'm not going to move on him because I'm sticking to my plan.
Later: I'm four seats behind the big blind. There's a raise and a couple of callers. I throw away 9-2 off suit, and the flop comes 9-2-x. Fourth street is a deuce, and the river is an ace. I'm pretty sure I made the right play . . . I would have been out of my mind to play 9-2 off-suit, especially with a raise before the flop, but Mr. I'm In The Music Industry wins it with AQ. Would have been nice to take it down, but I'm sticking to the plan.
I don't see anything worth playing until the blinds are up to 25-50. I hold AJs in the big blind. Mrs. Beautiful folds behind me, Mr. Lawyer raises, and everyone else folds around to Mr. Webmaster, who calls from the small blind. All I can think about is Mr. Lawyer stealing the blinds, and calling me "guy." I'm gonna sandbag this guy. I call. The flop is a rainbow: 5-8-J. Mr Lawyer checks, Mr. Webmaster checks, I bet 50. Mr. Lawyer raises me 50. I think for a second that he may be holding a jack, but I can't stop thinking about that 9-2 I threw away, and I'm looking at top pair with a fucking bullet kicker, so I raise 200. He calls immediately, and Mr. Webmaster folds. Oh shit.
The turn is a blank, and the river is a 6. I look at the board: 5-8-J-x-6. I wonder to myself if he's playing 7-4.
I think, "How in the WORLD can you call 200 on a draw, with four outs? There's no way. No way at all. If he played 7-4, I'm dead, but I've got about half my stack in this pot . . ."
I'm first to act, and I think I'll check raise. He checks back . . . and flips over 7-fucking-4.
"What the hell are you doing playing 7-4?!" I say.
"I guess I'm taking a whole bunch of your money, guy." Mr. Lawyer says, and he does.
"The first thing we do is kill all the lawyers," I think, and I realize that I've been on tilt since I sat down. I'm pissed at myself for not playing that hand wisely. I did everything wrong, because I let this fucking lawyer get under my skin.
I should have moved all-in on the flop . . . right?
I'm not sure.
The only thing I am sure of right now is that I played that hand like shit.
I'm better than this.
I'm not a fish.
Where the fuck is Shane?