I took a recent trip to the Sands poker room, to much success. Having a baby, now a toddler, can be a wrecking ball to free time and sleep, so my play has obviously been greatly reduced. I even stopped tracking my results after a program I was using got jacked up and I lost a bunch of old data. But, it’s a new year and wifey Kim remains a paragon of virtue and understanding, so with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday declared a work holiday by my employer – the first time this has happened in the almost ten years I have worked here – it seemed like the Good Lord himself wanted me to get away for some hot poker action.
I texted around to my buddies, but most had to work, so I ended up traveling with my bro-in-law Marc. Marc and I have an interesting relationship. I love him like a brother, no doubt, but there is a fun rivalry. We love to gamble against each other and whenever we play poker, there is an undertone of one-ups-manship. I must be his lucky charm though, because whenever we play, he always seems to eke out a slightly better result, no matter how well I do.
We arrived at the Sands after an easy drive in a Zipcar. It was early, a little before 11am, but the Sands in Bethlehem always has some action going. I put myself down for the 2/5 and 1/2 lists. Marc opted for 1/2. As I was called to sit down at a new 2/5 table, the floor called a new 1/2 table which included both Marc and me. While I had mentally planned to play 2/5 since I feel both ready to move up in stakes regularly and my lack of play made me feel like higher stakes would mean more overall profit over fewer sessions, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take it easy at a fresh table with my bud. He took the 9 seat, I took the 2 seat.
It’s a couple of weeks later now, so individual hands elude me. However, I do recall working my $200 stack up to about $420 before everything started to fall apart. Meanwhile, Marc, who was treading water while my stack increased, began to win as my stack decreased. Next thing I knew, I was reloading my stack, having dropped below $200 total.
I was definitely feeling tilt set in and it was already 1pm or later, so I asked Marc if he wanted to grab some lunch. He was on a roll and decided to stay put, so I stood up, headed to Emeril’s burger place and grabbed a seat at the bar. $20 and a damn good burger later, and I was ready to return to the action.
Before I left for lunch, I moved to the 10 seat, immediately to the left of Marc. I sat down hoping to turn my luck around, while eying Marc’s huge stack, which had grown to north of $600. I like Marc a lot, which is a blessing since he is now bound to me through marriage to his sister, and despite our rivalry, I wanted to see him win. I just wanted to win along with him.
In the very first hand back, I was dealt AA. “Amazing,” I thought to myself. “I got back just in time.” I won that pot and a few hands later, flopped a set for another nice pot. Meanwhile, the guy who had taken most of my chips from me before lunch had suffered a change of luck. When I left, he had probably $800 or so in front of him, and now he had a much less intimidating stack of $500 or so. I had changed seats mostly to get position on him, but looking back, I wonder if I was beating myself and blaming his “skills” on my losses, rather than just losing to a superior player. On the other hand, perhaps he had fallen into the same trap as me; when I was winning, I began playing looser, to my detriment. Perhaps he, too, was now off of his game, initially emboldened by his big stack until his luck turned sour; now he was in tilt mode.
His stack continued to dwindle until he was fairly short. Meanwhile, my stack was doing fine. I was into the game for $400, and I had worked up a stack of about $300+ when I had my final noteworthy hand of the night. I had 66 and called a small raise from out of position. Marc was in the hand too, as was my Nemesis, the former big stack. The flop came down 6TJ or something awfully similar. There were two hearts and I did not hold a heart. I checked. My Nemesis pushed all-in for around $100. I was salivating when, surprisingly, Marc called. I decided to make clear that I had a winning hand. Also, I didn’t want to give Marc a chance to hit a flush or something similar. I raised $100 on top. The action was back to Marc and he thought long and hard, before finally calling. The next card was a blank and when Marc checked, I pushed all-in for around $200. Excuse me if my overall math does not make sense, because time has erased some of the details, but I recall that the bet was more than $200. Marc really tanked and I decided to Hollywood. I even went so far as to stand up and pace, acting like I was on camera. I was really hamming it up when he finally folded. (Note: When I first wrote this, I said he called, but upon further thought, I now recall that I wanted him to call, but he did not). The river was another Ten and I showed my full house, 6s full of Tens. I won the pot, busted my Nemesis and put a small dent in Marc’s stack.
We played for a while longer before calling it a day. When it was all said and done, I had won around $325. Marc had won about $375. Even with that last hand, he had managed to beat me. Arguably, he did all the work, collecting from strangers and then I robbed him of some of his profit. I like to think of it that way because it makes it feel like an accomplishment over Marc, as though he was my mark (no pun intended), as opposed to me falling short of his winnings. Either way, it was great to leave with a profit.
The next day, I was still in the mood for poker, but playing at an online casino remains illegal in New York. Now, I just need to wait for some other holiday or weekend where wifey Kim can watch the spawn and I can travel ninety minutes to a poker destination. Alas, the trials and tribulations of parenthood.
Until next time, make mine poker!