I love to play poker. What I like about it is that, of all the forms of casino-type gambling, it least relies on luck. It's much more important to be skillful, to know the odds, the percentages — to know what the hell you're doing.
I play at two regular games here — one is a mix and medley of different poker games, many of them common to the games I learned growing up, playing cards in the back of the house near the outdoor kitches of the houses of my aunts and uncles after fiestas and parties the like. It's a loose bunch of guys and I really like playing with them. It can get expensive; in most games, the pots get up to at least $40 or $50, but depending on what's being played, you can lose $500 in a few hands.
The other game is strictly Texas Hold 'Em, and the mix of guys playing is extensive — probably about 20-30 guys, but only 10 at a time, so it changes with almost every table. There's no minimum buy-in; most get in for $50 to $100. The blinds are 50 cents and $1, but the game is no-limit — at any time you can go in for everything in front of you.
I played earlier today at the latter game, though at a different location than normal. I played smart poker — no big risks, rarely bluffed, played tight. But I had THREE "bad beats" — hands that I was overwhelmingly ahead in, for most of the hand. I had monster winning percentage odds in each one.
In each one, I got smacked by Fourth Street (once) and on the river (twice).
The first time, I went all in for about $55 on a set of 6's. The guy who called me had two pair. On the river, he hit his full house. Fucker, but at least respectable as he had the two pair before the river.
Second time, I had pocket kings. I bet them hard before the flop. The flop was 9-7-4. Nothing was suited, so I shouldn't have had to worry about potential flush or straight draws — they would have to hit runner-runner to make it, which is very rare. So again, I bet the kings, even harder this time. My bet basically said: I currently have the best hand. And I did. If you had no draws and no pairs on the flop, the correct thing to do is fold. But this guy calls my bet. The turn is an ace, so I check, because if he has one ace, he's got me. But I put him on a low pair, with him hoping to pick up two pair. Last card is a blank — a jack. Doesn't help either of us. I check and he turns over ace-three, unsuited. WTF? The guy had no business in the hand.
The last time, I had ace-king of diamonds. I bet it strong, the same guy from the second time calls me. the flop comes 3 of diamonds, 7 of diamonds, 5 of hearts. I have a four-card flush draw and bet strong. The guy comes over the top, tripling my bet. I call. The turn card is a 10 of diamonds. I now have what is called the "nut flush" — no other flush can beat me. I put him on a lower flush and go all in. He calls. We turn over our hands, I show the nut flush, he shows a pocket pair of 7s. So he has a set. He needs to hit the last seven or to pair the 3, 5 or 10. He's sitting on basically a 5 percent chance to win.
What happens? The 10 of clubs comes.
What's worse is this guy was doing this all night to others — calling bets that he had no business calling. If someone is representing set after the flop and bets big, you don't call hoping to fill an inside straight. Hell, there were times he called big pre-flop bets with hands like 8-3 and ended up hitting two pair on the turn or river. Twice in a row he broke another guy by hitting gutshot straights on back-to-back hands.
I still had some money in my pocket, and about 2 hours of playing time left. But I said "fuck it." As Kenny Rogers sang that sometimes "You got to know when to walk away."
But I'm seriously hoping that he kept playing the same way and got busted by all the others over and over again after I left. But I'm guessing that instead he walks away with at least $500 over what he came there with.
I need to be that crazy lucky once in a while.
Random Guam Fact Of The Day:
• The Chamorro word for "poker chip" is "tanto."