Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The poker night of fun and frolic

I am SO tapped. My brain spigot is down to a trickle. My creative pipes are clogged and I'm out of Draino™ and dynamite. I've worked on three other posts before this one and hated every one. Did I say hated? More like loathed down to the last serif.

And with each one I toss aside I have the overwhelming thought that I have to get SOMETHING posted or the last few of you who visit will give up, walk out and lock the door behind you. It's a stupid feeling, yet overwhelming and probably true.

So here it is. The post that will hopefully knock free the clog.

I'm going to talk about the Dead Money Poker Tournament (per Derek's command).

To start off, on Wednesday, three days before the game, my ex told me that she was very likely going to have to work on Saturday. Since she works nights that was a big, potential short notice problem. We work opposite shifts so we don't have a regular babysitter that I could call, and I couldn't have afforded one anyway. And while my mom is usually pretty good with pleas for kid watching, she doesn't seem to enjoy watching them late into the evening on a Saturday night for some reason.

On Thursday my ex found out that her hours were going to be the dayshift hours, so it turned out there were only going to be about two hours that the kiddos needed watching. So problem averted. My mom was fine with it and the kids got to eat nachos so there was much happiness for them (mom and step dad make real tasty nachos*).

Derek wanted everyone to arrive at 5:30. I think we made it around 5:45 and nobody else had arrived. The sun was blinding me as I was walking up to the porch so I totally missed seeing a knee high box-thing (that was left there by the previous owners... apparently) but I didn't miss walking right into it. Fortunately it sounded worse than it felt. And it really hurt so you can imagine how it sounded.

Once inside and bandages applied we started talking and I mentioned that Trevor was feeling kinda pissed about not being able to come, since it was a 21 and older tournament. Then Derek said something like, "Well, he could have come. He just can't drink any alcohol." ... Oh. See, I thought it was the whole illegal gambling thing that was a problem. Not the booze.

So I called him up and asked if he still wanted to come over. Well, duh! After Derek gave him directions** other players started showing up.

Once everyone had arrived Derek passed the hat so we could draw for which table we would be playing at. My Heather got the grownup's table (as did Derek's Heather) and I got the kiddie's table. We were disappointed that we were being split up, but what could we do? I figured I would be out in no time anyhow, what with barely knowing how to play poker.

My fellow players at the tiny table were Derek, Trevor and Sandy (who is a sneaky player). I briefly considered going "all in" (betting all my chips) on the first hand blindly just for a giggle, but didn't. Even though I *know* I could have goaded Trevor into going up against me. Instead I decided to stick it out and enjoy myself.

Overall it went better than I feared. I won a bit, lost enough to get nervous, then won some more. I didn't even need to cheat, which was a good thing because all I could think of was to yell "FIRE!" and steal a bunch of $100 chips while everyone ran in circles.

I think my biggest "tell" (that thing you do that other players can pick up on to tell if you have a good hand or not) was probably looking at the list of the poker hands Derek provided, looking upward until I found what I had and smiling. It wasn't nearly as subtle as I hoped. Yet in spite of this minor flaw in my strategy I helped Derek put Trevor out of the game, and then later took out Derek as well. To his credit lady luck was flipping him the bird pretty much all night.

Then I moved up to a seat at the big table. It was around 10:30 p.m.

While gathering my chips for the move something inside my messed up head must have clicked. I lost all perspective. What I had in my hands no longer represented a possible $20 and a tee-shirt. It was thousands of freakin' dollars and I have student loans to pay! I blame the pizza rolls.

So I get to the big table and take the seat to the right of my dearest Heather (who had a mountain of chips). To her left was Jason, then Lorne, then Sandy on my right. The blind was at the third highest tier of $120/$250 (if I recall right) and I started to play REAL conservatively. I was doooooomed. I don't think I won a single hand, but it's all a blur.

The 20 minutes for the tier was about to end, my stack was MUCH smaller and I was going to be to the left of the dealer so I would have to put up $500 on the next hand no matter what it was, and I only had a bit more than $1000 in chips. So I went all in with nothing in my hand except matching suit. I think I had a 10 high. (blur). Heather folded and it was down to me and Jason. He called.

I did learn one thing from this. Okay, two things. When I am totally freaked out I forget how to count. We must have spent what felt like a day and a half counting the chips I had left because I just kept messing up. The other thing is DON'T EVEN BOTHER COUNTING YOUR CHIPS UNLESS YOU WIN THE HAND! He obviously had enough to cover me. But I kept counting. Partly because a bit of my brain had finally kicked in. I was counting on a flush since I had two spades and there was one spade on the table. So I thought I had a chance. Not a BIG chance, obviously. THEN I realized mid count that there were already four cards down and only one was a spade. So only one more card was going to drop. You can't make a flush in a five card game with four cards. I was BONED!

So, yeah. Jason took me with a straight. He COULD have taken me with a high card. I was in shock. I moved back to the small table and helped Trevor sort chips until I was able to regain my mind. It took awhile. By the time Heather won I was about as normal as I come.

And, yes, I do want to play again. I just hope I can manage to keep my shit together better next time. Perhaps I should make "It's only $5..." my mantra. Or go drugged or something.

Wish me luck.

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*They melt a box of Velveeta until it's creamy, include some good chili and salsa and other magical things that all other parents seem to know how to do, but I don't. And it's goooood.

Whereas I make "Lazy Man Nachos." I take the chips, spread them out in a baking pan, sprinkle a few types of shredded cheese on them and then bake them for about 8 minutes (or until I smell burning chips or the cheese looks melted) at 350˚ in the oven.

The recipe varies depending on how lazy I feel.

If its not-so-lazy I will brown some beef, add spices, chop up some precooked southwest chicken, get out the salsa and sour cream and make the nachos three layers deep.

If it's very-damned-lazy it's sliced cheese on chips for 40 seconds in the microwave and be thankful I'm feeding you.
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**Me: "Derek, give him directions on how to get here from his house"

Derek: "You give him directions."

Me: "I only know how to get here from Powers." (Heather drove us from my mom's house, and when I'm the passenger I never pay attention to how I'm getting anywhere. I figure if I have to I can find my way home, and the rest is just details I don't need to hang on to. It's a flaw, but it's MY flaw!)

Derek: (looks at me like I'm an idiot) "*sigh* fine."

Me: (Walking away eating pizza rolls and smiling. I hate giving directions.)

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"Boring a hole in the patient’s head creates a door through which the demons can escape, and - viola! - out goes the crazy."