Friday, December 31, 2004

Tilt-a-whirl - Vegas pt. 3

My hand throbbed. It hadn't started swelling yet, but it hurt. A lot. People looked at me somewhat curiously, but a solo guy muttering to himself after midnight in a Vegas Strip casino probably isn't that uncommon a sight.

I fed some money into a slot machine and checked out my hand; the pain was starting to fade into the backround, and I pounded the keys on the slot machine, settling in for a good think.

I'd arrived in Vegas 48 hours earlier. I sat down at a poker table and began cleaning out a drunk. I was making money - plenty of money, and I was kicking all sorts off ass at the tables.

But winning is always fun.

I could do no wrong - outside of Saturday's tournament, but around midnight on Saturday, the horseshoe fell out of my ass, and everyone at the table started beating me over the head with it.

By Sunday afternoon, I'd lost a ton of money. People playing crap hands were catching their breaks. I would go 45 minutes to an hour without catching any good cards - then I would draw dead on the flop. Painful.

I'm not a particularly patient person. I'm far more patient than I once was, but there are limits. And when I sat down at the table of drunken frat boys, I could see the line. When my two pairs lost because one of them caught his straight on the river (with his pocket 6-8o) I could feel the boil building. Walk away! said the voice in my head. One more hand. I seethed.

Pocket aces peeked up at me, and the little voice called for the attack. I raised preflop and found four callers. Not what I expected, but I'd happily take their cash. So of course, two queens come up on the flop. By now, I was tilting so hard people playing the slots were trying to figure out what that ringing sound was. I began throwing money in the pot, even when I knew I'd drawn dead yet again. I finally folded - fortunately, because one of my opponents showed the third queen.

So I smiled. Cashed out my few remaining chips, walked out of the poker room and slapped the wall. Hard.

Stupid. I was playing badly. Trying to force hands that I'd clearly won. Pocket aces lose 50% of the time. Patience. I had it yesterday, but I'd lost it. I needed to rediscover it. And most importanly, I'd stopped having fun.

And really, that was the reason we were there: to have fun. Not to win a fortune - though it would be nice. So lighten up, dammit!

I walked back to the Excalibur and sat back down at a 1-3 table full of cowboys and college kids. Lots of action - lots of calling down to the river. Patience. Patience.

Finally, pocket aces showed up. I raised pre-flop and had three callers. Better. Two sevens flopped. Crap. But this table wasn't very good, so I might be able to steal the pot right here, so I bet. Two folds - and the remaining guy - a younger guy with a mess of curly hair pushing out from under his red baseball cap - stared at his cards for a long, long time.

This was stupid. He just told me that he didn't have the seven. It should have been clear to him that I had overcards, so unless he paired the board, he was hosed. Then he called. And the third seven came up on the river. Now I knew I had him beat, so I bet him all the way down. And his 10-6o didn't hold up to the aces.

It was a nice pot and a nice confidence-rebuilder. I was ready to face Monday - a day of poker "experts" and a very nice rush.

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