Dispatches from the Creation Wars

An Atypical Night of Poker

Went to Soaring Eagle last night to play some poker for the first time since they reopened the poker room. I arrived about 4, but there were already fairly substantial lists going for most of the games. I put myself on the lists for 3/6 and 6/12 holdem and went to the buffet for some dinner. Came back in perfect time to get called for a 3/6 game, but was still well down the list for 6/12. I buy a rack of chips and as I’m walking to the table I hear my name. I turn around to see an old friend of mine that I haven’t seen in probably a decade sitting in a 10/20 game. I’ve known Will since he was in high school. I coached debate against him when I was in college, when he was still in high school, then watched him go into debate coaching as well and now become one of the top college debate coaches in the country (he informed me that MSU won the National Debate Tournament this year – Go State). I had heard through the grapevine that he was a pretty serious poker player, but we hadn’t crossed paths in a long time. So my night started out great, getting to see an old friend I’ve missed very much. Anyway, on to the poker…

The 3/6 game was a mixture, about half old rocks and half maniac college kids. First mistake I made, I should have waited for the big blind to jump in and spent the 10 minutes or so until then talking to my friend, but I decided to post in just behind the button and I promptly flopped top two pair and lost to a rivered inside straight. Ouch, not a good start, but that’s poker.

The player to my left, a college kid, is playing very aggressively, virtually never folding and raising with almost anything. If I’ve folded in a hand, he’d expose his cards to me and I could see that he was pretty much always on an unlikely draw or trying to buy the pot. Why would he give me that kind of information? Well, because he was an idiot. But for the first couple hours I was at the table, he was doing very well, building a bigger and bigger stack by pushing people around, and he was clearly feeling his oats and thinking that he was a poker stud. I decide to just sit back and play relatively tight for a little while and pick him off when I have the chance.

For the first couple hours, I vacillated up and down. Got sucked out on a few times, as would be expected at such a table, but stayed within about a half a rack of what I started with one way or the other. I took a short break, talked to my friend a little bit, and sat back down at virtual dead even. I noticed while I was gone that 3 of the old rocks had left and 3 college kids, all buddies of each other, had taken their place. Now it was pretty much me and one other solid player at the other end of the table and a whole bunch of maniacs who’ve been watching too much WPT and think they’re Gus Hansen. Beautiful. Sit back and get your money in when you’ve got the best of it, let them drive the action and then reraise them and pick off their bluffs.

At that point, I caught an amazing rush of cards. I caught pocket kings on two consecutive hands and both of them turned into full houses, with 3 or 4 callers right to the end on both of them. Then I get AK and flop an AK. I also had AA twice and dragged both pots. All in all, in about a half hour I had almost 4 racks worth of chips in front of me. And of course the maniac to my left was just about down to the felt. Unfortunately, the rush didn’t last and poker karma decided to get me back a little bit. Two hands stick out on my little anti-rush of cards because both involved Presto (pocket 5s).

Hand #1:

I’m in the big blind with pocket 5s. One raise before me, I call, 4 players in the pot. Flop comes 235 of clubs. I bet, everyone calls. Good, probably no one has the flush or straight. Turn is a K. I bet, the original raiser folds, the other solid player raises me and the 4th player folds. I figure two possibilities – either he slow played the flush or he’s playing something like AK or KQ and thinks he has top pair with a good kicker. I decide to test it and reraise and he just calls me. Good, he’s afraid of the flush or straight too, so I’m still feeling good. The only hand that I’m really worried about at this point is KK. River comes a blank. I bet, he raises, I reraise, he reraises and now I’m a little worried and call. He flips over A4 of clubs for the straight flush. Nice hand, and well played, he got extra bets out of me.

Hand #2:

A short time later, I’m in late position and get those pocket 5s again. I raise, 4 players call. Flop comes 56Q rainbow. Checked to me, I bet, everyone calls. Turn is an A. First guy bets, second guy folds, 3rd guy calls, I raise. First guy drops, last guy left calls me. River is a 6 and I’ve got the full house. He bets in front of me, I raise, he reraises, I reraise and he reraises again. Hmmm. A6? Q6? I call. He turns over pocket 6s for four of a kind. Oddly bet, but effective.

In my little anti-rush of cards, I also lost with another three of a kind to a rivered straight, and with a straight to a rivered flush. As quickly as I’d built up my 4 racks, I was down to about 2.5 racks. And that was where I left it a short time later as I was getting tired. In the meantime, the other solid player had left a couple racks up as well and at least 4 of the college kids busted out and crawled away. All in all, a good night of poker, but the highlight was getting to see an old friend and get caught up on him and his family and exchange information so we can get together sometime soon.