Fun With Cards

Just had an excellent morning of goofball play money poker. No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em rather than my favorite Pot Limit Omaha, because PLO isn’t so popular at the room I’m playing now and there were no games to be had. It was looking mediocre, then a couple of live ones showed up. I was sitting at around 6300 in funny money dollars, and five minutes later was sitting on just shy of 14,000. ALL IN, BABY! 😀

I’ve been looking for challenging situations to get into in order to knock the rust off of my game, and it’s coming back to me surprisingly rapidly. It feels really, really good. I’m sitting for a while on the decision to put some real money into the game but it’s looking inevitable. Amethyst’s even talking about taking a vacation this summer to hit a Colorado card room.

Before Black Friday when I was playing cash games online, it was in the worst of all possible circumstances. We were deep into that ill fated misadventure of what we had originally thought was a mission of mercy, and in spite of that I was consistently winning for quite a long time. But that’s just not something that the rat bastard progenitors would allow because pathological narcissists cannot stand to see someone else succeeding, and especially not when that someone else is a designated victim. Especially not when that designated victim is trapped. They’d come into the room and fling random, intense shit at me very regularly, whether I was working my regular programming gig or playing poker, and it was clear that their goal after bankrupting us (as they already had) was to strip away my ability to produce income of any kind. I ended up staying up all night to work, and to play poker when I had the time for it, but the bastards would get out of bed several times a night to put pressure on me. They were relentless, and turned the heat up progressively. It was already crushing stress, but they had lots more where that came from.

My plan had been to start with just $100, and move up in the stakes each time I hit 1000 big blinds at the next higher level. So with my initial $100, I played .05/.10 stakes. When I hit $250 I moved up to .10/.25, and so on. Fate smiled upon me, and one day a potential new client called. He ran an online forum for professional Pot Limit Omaha players and needed some custom software and a system administrator. The guy who’d been working for him had gone ape shit, went incommunicado for several months and then crawled out from under the baseboards demanding money. The site owner refused, saying that their account was square until the pending project for which he’d already paid half up front was complete, and the cockroach wiped out his site. (That kind of thing sometimes happens; mine is a relatively filthy business.)

While I worked on the custom software for the site, I got involved in the forum, too. Most of the members were professional poker players, some exclusively online and others mostly playing live games with occasional forays online. The guy who owned the site was about 50/50, playing live for a few hours a day and online for a few more. I posted my interesting hand histories and win/loss results… heh, what loss? I was winning very consistently at that point. It’s very easy to confirm whether or not someone’s tales are true as there are web sites that track player performance across the multitude of online card rooms, and you can see their win/loss rates with your own eyes. It wasn’t but a couple of months before the assembled pros in the forum were goading me into getting out of the microstakes and going for it at the $1/$2 tables. With just an hour or two per day to play it would have taken me another year to reach that level, but I couldn’t justify putting almost my entire bankroll on the table at once. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was all I had to put into the game and one big loss would put me on the 1¢/2¢ tables. Man, they said, you’re easily good enough to beat the $1/$2 tables and it won’t be long before you’re playing $5/$10 where you can make a good living at it. Oh, how sweet that sounded.

So I took that gamble, and put a little more than half of my bankroll on the table all at once. I know that the quickest way to lose at poker is to play with scared money, but I girded my proverbial loins and went for it. If I could manage a strong showing for just a week or ten days, I could cash out most of it and get us out of that fucked up situation. It’d be worth it even though it’d mean going back to the microstakes tables. I figured that without the crushing stress and with more hours to devote to it, I could move quickly enough back up.

Sure enough, I was doing well and making a good run at it in my first outing. I’d just about doubled up in less than an hour when the cunt I fell out of entered the room yammering and bitching with her face a foot away from the side of my head. I had strong hole cards and the flop looked favorable so I tried to put her out of my head, but I failed… the hand I thought I had wasn’t the hand I really had. My entire stack moved across the table. If I were given to violence I’d still be in prison. Instead, I made a rule: Unless I’ve got a made Royal Flush, I fold the instant that bitch starts in on me. Naturally, I lost a lot of money that way. I’d go back later when it was quiet and review the hand histories — every damn time I folded on the turn or river, I folded what would have been the winning hand. With the aggressive style that I play, I don’t get that far without relatively serious money in the pot so it was relatively serious losses that I took.

My client/partner told me that he had a few hundred bucks in his Pokerstars account that he was never going to get around to using, and it was mine if I’d take a couple or three days to hole up in a hotel room somewhere and promise to play the $1/$2 tables with it. It wasn’t the usual stake; it was a flat out gift, contingent upon those terms, and all I had to do was call him from the room and he’d transfer it into my Pokerstars account right away. But we were flat broke and couldn’t afford to get a room to hole up in for a couple of days.

Thus ended my run at professional poker.

I put in six or seven hours over the weekend on the funny money tables, and it’s just been clicking. Though I’d suspected that the rust would be quite tenacious, it fell away quickly and I’ve been doing very well. It’s not at all possible to extrapolate play money results to real money performance because they’re very different games, but it feels good. It feels like I’m at the top of my game, and without the fear of a rat bastard attack at any moment I’m focused and confident. I feel ready to take another shot.

It’s pure foolishness, but dammit it’s my foolishness!

 

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