The show was great. When we all walked backstage, we were happy and satisfied. Travis gave us all good constructive notes. This show is just going to keep getting better.
While I changed out of my costume and back into my regular clothes, Matt asked, "Are you coming next door for a drink?"
As I've written before, the esprit de corps I feel with the cast — the post-show bonding and goofing off — is the greatest reward I get for doing the show, but . . .
"Actually, I'm going to call Anne and Nolan and see if they're awake. If they are, I'm going home to hang out with them."
Matt is probably the only person in the cast who won't tease me too much about ditching the them to be a family guy.
"Cool," he said, "Maybe I'll see you next door."
"Maybe." I finished changing and closed my locker.
I walked out the back door of the theater, and pulled my cellphone out of my pocket. When I opened it, Felix's little face looked up at me.
"Hi The Bear," I said, as I speed-dialed my house.
Anne picked up after one ring.
"Hi Puss," she said, "How was your show?"
"I had fun," I said. "The audience was a little weird, but I think we did a good performance anyway."
"How were they weird?"
"There was this huge block of people who were 'smilers' rather than 'laughers.' I think they enjoyed themselves, but they were so quiet, it sort of sucked the energy out of the house."
"I'm sorry," she said. "Are you coming home?"
"That's why I was calling. If you guys are awake, I'll come home right now."
"Yeah, Nolan and I are just up watching COPS."
COPS is our full-on guilty pleasure. One time, several years ago, Anne and I had a COPS-a-thon. We invited all of our friends. None of them showed up, but we didn't care, man. We watched four hours of COPS alone, and it was awesome.
"Do you think you guys will be awake in forty minutes or so?"
"Yeah, I think so," she said.
"Then I'm coming home."
I smiled. "Yeah, it's like that. See you in a little bit."
"Okay. Drive carefully. I love you."
"I love you too."
I hung up the phone, grabbed my stuff out of the dressing room, and walked out to my car. On the way, I passed through the bar where the entire cast was sitting together.
"Are you staying for a drink?" Margaret asked.
Margaret and I usually talk each other into staying out too late, having one more drink that we probably shouldn't have, eating the junk food that's been backstage for a week, but . . .
"No, I'm going home to hang out with my family," I said. "Well, two thirds of my family. Ryan's sleeping over at his friend's house."
"Tell Ferris I love her, and I hope she feels better," Chris said, as I walked out of the bar.
"She knows. She keeps asking when you're going to come visit her again," I said.
I opened the door, and heard Chris tell Kurt, "His dog is the sweetest . . ." as I walked out into La Brea and got into my car.
I listened to The Drop on KCRW on the way home, and the drive was over before I knew it. I walked into my house around 11.
Riley met me at the front door. Ferris had surgery on her knee on Monday, so she won't be meeting me at the door for at least five months.
I walked back to my bedroom, where my wife was sound asleep. Ferris was on the floor next to my side of the bed, wearing her "life of the party lampshade" cone.
"Hi Berris," I whispered as I walked into the room. "Chris says he loves you and hopes you feel better." She wagged her tail against the side of my bed and Anne opened her sleepy eyes.
"I think I fell asleep," she said.
"I think you did," I said. "I'll see you in the morning."
She rubbed her face and said, "Okay. I love you."
"I love you too, honey."
I walked around the side of our bed, and kissed her forehead. She smiled, and mooshed her head down into her pillow.
It always takes me a few hours to unwind after a show, and last night was no different. Though my house was asleep, and I was physically tired, my brain was still filled with adrenaline from performing. So I sat down in my office, and surfed The Internets.
After I read my e-mail and caught up on all my regular sites, it was only 11:30 . . . so I decided to hop onto PokerStars and play a tournament. You know, to unwind.
In these single-table games I don't open without a super-premium hand, and I let the aggressive players beat the shit out of each other for the first few levels. Occasionally, I'll pick up something to play with, but I'm primarily interested in establishing Fold Equity early on, and protecting my stack. Since I drew the 1 seat in this game, I got an entire round to watch the way my opponents played. It was pretty uneventful for the first level, but Seat 7 was one of the worst players I've ever seen: raising with draws, calling on the river when he was beat, always showing down when he got an opponent to fold . . . I thanked the poker gods for putting him at my table. I hadn't played many pots. I opened a few times, but never really made a hand I could play after the flop. I was still about average, though, when I got into it with Seat 7:
PokerStars Game #161708xxxx: Tournament #750xxxx, Hold'em No Limit - Level II (15/30) - 2005/05/01 - 02:54:26 (ET)
Table '750xxxx 1' Seat #7 is the button
Seat 1: [Wil] (1110 in chips)
Seat 2: (1620 in chips)
Seat 3: (1270 in chips)
Seat 4: (2580 in chips)
Seat 5: (2650 in chips)
Seat 7: (460 in chips)
Seat 8: (2180 in chips)
Seat 9: (1630 in chips)
Seat 8: posts small blind 15
Seat 9: posts big blind 30
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to [Wil] [Ac Kh]
Hey! Big Slick under the gun. I hate this hand in early position, but I think I'll raise here. I've got some Fold Equity, so I will probably just steal the blinds, which is fine with me. If someone plays back, at least I have some kind of hand.
[Wil]: raises 70 to 100
Seat 2: folds
Seat 3: folds
Seat 4: folds
Seat 5: folds
Seat 6: raises 360 to 460 and is all-in
Seat 7: folds
Seat 8: folds
Easiest call I've made in days. This guy's ready to pop, and something tells me this is an impatient short-stack push. He just lost a big hand, too, so maybe he's steaming. He probably thinks I'm stealing, so I'll gamble a little bit.
[Wil]: calls 360
He showed the Ad Qh. Well, I'm ahead, but just barely. And the AQ has been cockpunching me an awful lot lately . . .
Okay, I'm still ahead. I wish I had one of those WPT percentage thingies in my head . . .
*** FLOP *** [5c Tc Ah]
The turn was the 9 of spades.
Okay, this is a three-outer for him . . .
*** RIVER *** [5c Tc Ah 9s] [Qs]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
[Wil]: shows [Ac Kh] (a pair of Aces)
Seat 6: shows [Ad Qh] (two pair, Aces and Queens)
Seat 6 collected 965 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 965 | Rake 0
Board [5c Tc Ah 9s Qs]
Oh fuck me. The goddamn AQo! Will I ever win a pot against that hand?! I took a deep breath, and let it go. "That's poker," I reminded myself. I settled down, focused, and I played well. Very few draws unless I could get in cheap and with position, and I stole blinds when I felt the time was right. Like TJ says, "Timing is everything."
Fun fact: According to Doyle Brunson in Super System 2, if you play in Texas, the AQ is called "The Doyle Brunson," because, he says, he tries to never play that hand. Additional, Less-fun Fact: I really wish they'd put the / back into the title, so it'd be called Super/System 2.
I played my tight/aggressive raise-or-fold game, knocked a couple guys out, and found myself in at least third place. The big stack was about T10000, I was about T3000, and the short stack was Broomcorned down to T280. He pushed against me when I held the . . . wait for it . . . Ace of Clubs and Queen of Spades in the Small Blind. I pushed all-in, so I wouldn't have to worry about the leader getting in cheaply to make some bullshit freak set or something, and he folded. The short stack showed the other, better-known, Doyle Brunson: 10-2.
The flop came Kc 3h Js, and I had myself a
n open ended straight draw.
The turn brought one of my three outs: the 10s, and I had Broadway. The river was the 2 of spades, and I was heads up!
The big stack was a very loose-aggressive player. After I busted Broomcorn's Uncle, I had T3500 while he sat behind T10000. I knew I was only one all-in bet away from seriously challenging him, and the blinds were only 100/200, so I had a little bit of time — not much, but a little — to pick my spot. I had a perfect read on this guy: he was using his big stack to call everything, then betting at every flop. He'd taken just about all of Broomcorn's stack playing this way, so it was likely that he'd play the same way against me. I don't usually trap, but I knew that if I flopped a big hand, I'd easily make him pay me off.
We went back and forth for a while, and he played exactly the way I expected. He stole lots of blinds, but I stayed on my game. I made a few little moves when I figured he missed the flop, and I was lucky enough to be correct each time. I won a few small pots without having to showdown, and worked my way back to about even with him. I stayed patient: If I got the opportunity to use the rope-a-dope, I could probably bust him.
PokerStars Game #161728xxxx: Tournament #750xxxx, Hold'em No Limit - Level VII (100/200) - 2005/05/01 - 03:53:16 (ET)
Table '750xxxx 1' Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: [Wil] (6825 in chips)
Seat 3: (6675 in chips)
[Wil]: posts the ante 25
Seat 3: posts the ante 25
Seat 3: posts small blind 100
[Wil]: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to [Wil] [6s 6d]
Okay, I think I can raise here. He'll play back at me, but I can afford to come back and at least see a flop.
Seat 3: raises 200 to 400
[Wil]: raises 800 to 1200
Seat 3: calls 800
*** FLOP *** [6h 7s 7h]
Seat 3: bets 200
[Wil]: calls 200
*** TURN *** [6h 7s 7h] [3c]
Seat 3: bets 2200
[Wil]: raises 3200 to 5400 and is all-in
Seat 3: folds
[Wil] collected 7250 from pot
Awesome. Possum. If I don't screw this up, that could be the hand where he lost.
Seat 1: [Wil] (10450 in chips)
Seat 3: (3050 in chips)
Dude. I must admit: I felt like was out-playing this guy. I'd clearly read him as an aggressive (bordering on maniac) player, so I was able to adjust enough to stay alive, and wait for that moment when eventually he'd try to push me out when I held the nuts. (Yeah, I know that I can't always sit back and wait for the nuts to make a play, but I got some luck when I needed it.)
We traded blinds for the next three hands. On the fourth hand, he moved all-in against me pre-flop. I had the Ace and Ten of hearts. It felt like a loose call, but I figured it was a stronger-than-average hand heads up. I guess I should figure out for sure if it is or not, right? I'll probably have to make this decision again in the future . . . Anyway, it was a good chance to send him home, and if he won, I still had enough of a stack to keep going.
He showed the Ace of clubs and the 4 of diamonds. My heart started to beat a little faster.
The flop came Ks, Qd, 9s. It's not quite "w00t" time, but I'll at least take a deep breath.
The turn was the 9c. I'm still in the lead.
In the chat window, my opponent said, "gg."
"Dude, *fantastic* game," I typed back.
The river was the Kh.
Aw, fuck. We both made two pair, Kings and Nines. Our aces played, and we chopped.
"luck," he said.
Is he talking about me or him? No time to worry about that. The cards were out. I had the 6d and the 3c. He pushed, I folded. He may be tilting, but there's no way I'm calling with that trash.
On the next hand, I was the small blind.
Dealt to [Wil] [Ah Qh]
[Wil]: raises 800 to 1200
Seat 3: raises 3350 to 4550 and is all-in
Maybe the damn AQ will break my way this time.
[Wil]: calls 3350
He showed a King and a Jack, both of spades. Excuse me while I don't get excited.
Of course. Of. Fucking. Course.
*** FLOP *** [7h Jh 5d]
It was 12:56 in the morning. Riley was asleep at my feet. My office door was open, and any sound I made would certainly travel straight down the hallway and into my bedroom, where my slumbering wife's sleep cocoon was the only thing which separated me from The Wrath.
In spite of myself, I said, out loud, "A Jack?! Motherfucker! Why does Ace Queen hate me so much?"
Wait. Are there two hearts on the board? Holy crap, there are two hearts on the board! I've got a four flush!
I quickly looked over my shoulder at the open door, then back to my computer. "Come on, Heart! Give me a Heart! Daddy needs a Heart!" You'd think I was at the final table of the WSOP.
After a long moment, the turn card came out
*** TURN *** [7h Jh 5d] [3h]
I shot my arms up into the air, and shouted "Yes! Flush, baby!"
Riley jumped up from under my desk and cocked her head at me. From my bedroom, I heard Ferris' tail thump thump thump against the floor. I listened for The Wrath, but my outburst apparently failed to pierce Anne's veil of sleep. When I get lucky, I really get lucky!
Seat 3 said, "gg," as the River card came: the King of Clubs.
I won. Oh my god, I won! I stuck to my guns. I never lost focus, played my game, and I won.
I sat back in my chair, and smiled to myself. My console beeped that I had mail. I clicked into my desktop called teh mail and saw it
PokerStars Tournament #750xxxx, No Limit Hold'em
Total Prize Pool: $45.00
Tournament started - 2005/05/01 - 02:43:29 (ET)
You finished the tournament in 1st place.
A $22.50 award has been credited to your Real Money account.
Thank you for participating.
I'm often asked why poker is so popular right now. Is it because it's on television all the time? Is it because guys like Phil Ivey, Erick Lindgren, and Daniel Negreanu are young, and seem like rock stars? Is it because anyone can buy into an event and have an opportunity to compete with the best in the world, something you just can't do in any other sport?
Maybe it's all of those things, but I think it has a lot more to do with the awesome rush I felt when I made my flush on fourth street. Yeah, I had only risked five bucks, and I only won 22 . . . but when the little window popped up and said "Congratulations! You're the winner!" I felt like I'd taken home a bracelet.
Now, I needed to unwind from my unwinding . . . so I grabbed a Newcastle from the fridge, parked it on the couch, and watched SportsCenter. In all, not a bad way to spend an evening. Not bad at all.