Monday, June 20, 2005

The Calm Before the Storming: Day Two, Part III

The Excalibur can be a strange place. It exists on that particular level in the pantheon of Vegas casinos where it’s not ghetto, but it’s not necessarily nice either. However, the completely vanilla flavor of its theme and surroundings does have one bright spot, the poker room.

It doesn’t shine because of its physical surroundings, no sir. The carpet is kind of dirty and on the whole it looks a bit worn. It’s also a bit of an unorganized madhouse since all they have is a guy with a clipboard and a mic that has a hard time coping when the madhouse gets in full swing. I hope you like your table, because getting an efficient table change can be difficult.

If you have never been, you might ask yourself why in the hell someone would ever go there; I know that I asked myself that very question on the way.

You can smell it long before you even find the room itself; in fact you don’t even need signs. Use your nose and follow the fish scent all the way there. If you’ve ever wondered who is behind those avatars at the virtual micro-limit tables, you don’t really have to look much further. The room was packed with a small crowd waiting, and I wondered for just a second if I was even going to get on a table. That feeling quickly dissipated when I spied Iggy, who was sitting on the customary pile of phone books behind a giant pile of chips which you could tell was making everyone at the table pretty unhappy. People don’t like having their chips taken, but they like it even less when it’s a dwarf that does the taking.

I spied BadBlood and Otis sitting at a $4/8 table and stopped by to offer my condolences to Otis for busting out so close to the money. After speaking briefly, I spied someone I hadn’t met yet, PokerGeek. Turns out he’d been there all day long and had one hell of a chip tower. You could tell he was tired, but it was a happy tired that only comes from steadily raking in pots for many hours. I tried looking for others that I had yet to meet, like Shelly, but the room was quite packed and it was hard to pick people out, so with that I decided to follow Mrs. Head over to the Let it Ride tables for a bit before we gave the low-limit donkfest a go.

Per usual, Mrs. Head got a full house about 20 minutes after sitting down at the table. It never ceases to amaze me just how in the hell she scores a full house or better each and every time she plays Let it Ride, but dammit she does. I hung back and sucked down cokes and things continued to go well until they brought in the black widow dealer to cool things down. I wish I knew why this happened, because logically it shouldn’t, but sure enough the cards turned and the fun that was being had at the table quickly dried up signaling that it was time to hit the poker tables.

Mrs. Head wanted to play a bit more, so I went back and got my name on the list for a $2-6 Spread Limit game, and after a small wait of about 10 minutes they decided to start up a new game. I grabbed $120 in chips and sat down eagerly as everyone made their way to the table in the back corner. I tried to heed everyone’s advice about trying to look ignorant and blend in, so when one tattooed NASCAR guy asked me what I was in Vegas for and what I did, I replied that I was a writer currently employed to pen for a prison rag called ‘Stuffed Cornhole’. He looked at me as though he couldn’t quite fathom what I was talking about and I was only able to hold a straight face for about 20 seconds. It’s hard for me to continue outlandish lies when I’m drunk, so I quickly caved and admitted that I was a charter pilot who was simply messing around while waiting for my clients to leave in a couple of days **wink wink**. Mrs. Head finally walked up and was wondering which game she should buy into. One of the guys didn’t show for the table we started, so they let her have the seat right next to me. FINALLY, we got a dealer and the game began. I took a deep breath and channeled my SSHE lessons, and made sure one last time that Mrs. Head realized that her drawing and speculative hand value went way up on a table like this.

I wasn’t counting on making a large profit since I was well into a nice drunk. I also kept getting up to chat with other bloggers scattered throughout the room and to check out the situation when “HAMMER!” cries filled the room, which was often. It never ceases to amaze me how many people buy in short, even at these incredibly low limits. I felt my $120 was a bit short and was prepared to buy more, but these people made me feel like Daddy Warbucks with the typical buy-in being $50-80. After folding the first few hands, I knew we had a perfect table; 2 LAG’s. 4 Passives, 2 Rocks, and the Mrs. and I.

One notable LAG was VERY drunk and talking to anyone who would listen about how he was dealing in the WSOP, I guess in some sort of lame effort to intimidate the table. KK was the first good hand I received. Of, course the inevitable Ace flopped, I bet out and got 2 callers, including the LAG dealer. The turn came a blank, so I bet out again, and one caller folded but the LAG raises me. Crap, I figure I’m beaten by the mighty A2 or something and determine to call it down and see. LAG bets the river, I call, and he turns up…..what? Bottom pair. Ummm, yeah, way to put the moves on me there, bud.

The Mrs. and I raked a few more pots and the LAG was still alive after taking down some chips with mediocre holdings when a couple of others tried to bluff him. Silly, silly. Being used to only talking to virtual tables, I nearly opened my mouth to comment on the fact that you should never bluff bad players, but quickly shut that down and tried to start a conversation extolling the virtues of Yahoo! Poker which nobody seemed interested in continuing. A couple of folks were starting to get a bit steamed at the Mrs. and I, and their short buy-ins were now on life support.

Hand of the Night: I had J9s in the big blind with 4 callers and we take a flop which has 2 spades. Someone bets out $2 and the LAG raises to $6 and now I have a decision. I have a good flush draw, but not the nuts. With $18 in the pot, I’m getting 3 to 1 on my draw (not really, I wasn’t figuring rake), and I really want to bust the LAG so I call and the $2 bettor folds so we’re heads up. Turn is a blank, and I call another $6 with 2nd pair (9 on the board). The river brings my spade, and I want the checkraise which the LAG happily walks into with the last of his chips. I look at him and tell him I don’t have the nuts and he confidently slams down 73s and yells “Flush!” Ummm, yeah, good hand but I have a bigger flush and the beautiful pot gets pushed my way. That was the first time I have ever taken someone’s last chips in a live game and goddamn it felt gooooooooood. With a trail of dejected epithets, the drunk LAG dealer left the room to try and impress someone else with WSOP dealing tales.

After a couple more folks lost their chips or left, the game got really rocky, so the Mrs. and I decided to pack it in. Up 2 racks after about 2.5 hours I was experiencing a full dose of poker euphoria. The Bloods were ready to head out as well, so we split a cab with them back downtown. Lemme tell ya, you’d be hard pressed to find folks better than the Bloods, and after seeing pics of the mini’s, the Mrs. and I found ourselves wondering for the second time in as many days if breeding might not be such a bad idea after all. As we walked back to our room I pondered how odd it was that after two short days and meeting some strangers we had gone from ‘Absolutely NOT’ to ‘What the hell, we should at least consider it’ on the subject of kids.

The degenerate lure of The Plaza called to us, but the voice of our exhaustion was stronger, so we headed to our room. As I drifted off to wet dreams involving the Excalibur’s poker room, it didn’t take to much convincing to realize that sleep was indeed the correct decision.

After all, we had a tournament in the morning, and morning was very near….

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