lying in odessa - part three
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.
I get up, take a piss, and grab a Coke. My cell phone rings while I'm at the bar. It's my stepson, and he wants to know how I'm doing. I tell him about the 7-4, and he says, "Don't tilt, Wil."
"Too late," I say.
"Oh. That sucks. Well, don't worry about it. I'll see you when you get home. I love you."
"I love you, too." I say. We hang up.
For some reason, the conversation settles me down, and I return with new focus. I decide that I am the only person at this table who can beat me, even if the cards aren't helping me win.
I keep getting junk, so I throw away the next several hands. Mr. Lawyer busts out Mr. Magician and Mr. Webmaster. Mrs. Beautiful takes care of Mr. Agent's Assistant, and there are just five of us left at the table: Mr. Lawyer, Mrs. Funnypants, me, Mrs. Beautiful, and Mr. I'm In The Music Industry.
Finally, my cards start to come. I stick to my plan, and double through Mrs. Funnypants, the well-known comedienne. On the next hand, Mr. I'm In The Music Industry goes all-in against me with pocket tens. I've got a good chip lead on him, so I loosen up and call him with K-9. There's a king on the flop, it holds up, and I bust him out. It's the first time I've ever busted anyone out, and I feel like Howard Fucking Lederer. I sneak a look at Mr. Lawyer as I rake in the pot. He's busy shuffling his chips.
When the blinds are up to 50-100, I'm briefly the chip leader, and I tighten up again. Maybe it's not the best strategy, but . . . I'm the chip leader for the first time in my life, in my first real tournament. Where the hell is Shane?
Mr. Lawyer comes over the top of Mrs. Beautiful, all-in pre-flop. Mrs. Beautiful calls him before he's done pushing his chips in. It goes something like this:
Mr. Laywer: "I'm all i--"
Mrs. Beautiful: "Call."
Mr. Lawyer blanches, and turns over 8-9 clubs. Mrs. Beautiful flashes him a smile, and turns over KK.
"You do not have two kings!" Mr. Lawyer says. I wonder if that's his "I object!" voice.
"I'm pretty sure I do," she says. Overruled.
Mr. Lawyer stands up, and a vein throbs in his forehead. I could kiss Mrs. Beautiful right now.
He pairs his 8 on the flop, but that's it. Mrs. Beautiful sends Mr. Lawyer home.
He looks at me, and says, "I had to take my shot."
"Tough break," I say, "Guy."
Now it's his turn to shrug. "Next time. Next time."
I feel like a fucking rockstar for outlasting him.
When there are seven of us left, we take a break before we move to one table. The other players go to the bar, the bathroom, or just meander around the mostly-empty club. I walk outside and call Shane. He picks up on the first ring.
"Hey, Wil. What's up?"
"I'm at the Odessa. Where the hell are you?"
"Have you seen the news recently? I've been babysitting executives all week." He says.
"At ten o'clock on a Wednesday?"
"Yes. It's that bad. So how are you doing?"
"Better than I thought," I say. "I made it to the final table. The regulars wish your money was here."
"Maybe I'll play next time." I hear a voice in the background. He puts his hand over the mouthpiece, and says something back. "Look, I gotta go. Good luck."
The door opens behind me, and one of the big Samoan guys raises his fist at me. I wince, until I realize that he's holding up his thumb, directing me back into the club.
"They're ready for you," he says, and walks back inside. I catch the door inches before it closes. It's incredibly heavy.
We sit down, and the cards come out. On the first hand, I bust out Mr. Circus Clown. A few hands later, I bust out Mr. Drunk Guy. Goddammit, this feels great! I work hard to keep my focus, and hope my hands don't tremble as I separate my chips into hundred dollar stacks.
The blinds go up to 100-200, and that takes care of Mrs. Funnypants, who was down to the felt when we moved. I try not to get too excited, but I'm currently one off the money. That's pretty damn cool, but there's a sobering reality: if I go out next, I have as much to show for my efforts as Mr. Lawyer, and I really fucking hate that guy.
Shortly after the blinds go up to 300-600, Mr. Director busts out Mr. I Won An Emmy, and I find myself in the money! I can't believe it!
I look at my stack: I have about 2200, I guess. Mrs. Beautiful is stacked . . . and is also the chip leader with over 4000. Mr. Director has about 1000 less than she does. He reaches into his jacket, and takes out a Camel cigarette.
"You can't smoke in here, sir," the dealer says.
"What?" Mr. Director says.
"It's against the law." The dealer says.
"We're in an illegal cardroom, and you're worried about me smoking?"
"Sorry." The dealer says. "House rules."
For a moment, I think Mr. Director is going to punch him, but he laughs.
"Fucking California," he says. We all laugh as he puts the cigarette behind his ear.
The laughter fades quickly. We all know that there is a substantial money difference between 2nd and 3rd place, so play is pretty tight. A raise before the flop is usually enough to steal the blinds. I take some chances, and grab one or two with marginal hands: 10-10, and K-7. I almost wish I would see 10-2 -- the Doyle Brunson -- so I could play it. What the hell is wrong with me?
This goes on for a while, until I look at my pocket cards and find AJ on the button. Mrs. Beautiful calls, Mr. Director checks, and I call. The flop comes J-4-7. The bet is checked to me, and I move all-in. Mrs. Beautiful looks at her cards, then to me. I take a deep breath, and look down at the board. I'm pretty sure I want at least one call, but it's still nerve-wracking. If I blow this, I go home with nothing.
She calls. It's about half her stack. Well, I got my wish . . . I think.
Mr. Director calls; it hardly makes a dent. Oh shit. Two callers? They've both got jacks. Please not a pair. Please not a pair.
Mrs beautiful turns over KJ diamonds. My hand involuntarily flies up to my chin, and pulls at the corners of my mouth.
Mr. Director turns over J9. I breathe for the first time in over a minute, stand up, and show my Ajax.
Here we go: the dealer turns a 6, and then a 3.
I won? I won! Wait . . . did I? Yes! Holy shit! I won!
I can't help it. I shout, "YES!" as I double (triple?) through, and drop Mrs. Beautiful to third. I hope I can hold on.