Monday, January 14, 2008

The ballad of the beginner

— "Life has been kind to you...
You will learn."

Sweeney Todd in "The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

Dear Beginning Poker Player:

I have to admit, it was fun to watch you fall in love with poker.
At our occasional home poker tournaments with friends, it's always nice to have new players, and so we gathered in a table after we busted and taught you how to play. This is the flop, we said, and these are the chips you bet, and these are the hand rankings. We enjoyed teaching you the game because that's what our friends did for us, and it taught us to love this horrible yet fascinating game.
Horrible, you say? How could it be? Never mind. We'll get to that later.
When the game started, you played carefully, as we told you to, until you couldn't stand it any longer, and though I was at the other table, sweating out a pot with A-J, you scooped a massive chip stack after rivering an 8 to go with your K and to beat your opponent's A-K.
I did not see the other two pots where you apparently dragged nice pots, and I began to hear you say "this game is easy!", and I smiled.
A knowing smile, mind you, the kind of grin the aforementioned Todd flashed on his pale face as his young friend revels about the wonders of London.
Yes, it's easy when you're catching cards and the blinds are so fast, at 10 minutes, that our hard-earned skill means nothing, and we're at the same level, a hand versus a hand, and with that, anyone can win.
That's all right. Let her enjoy it, I thought. Bad girls are fun at first, too, until you wake up one morning and she's taken $40,000 worth of your stuff (head to 2+2 to see what I'm talking about. But when you don't know that's what's gonna happen, you just enjoy the fun.
When we were at the final table, I had a good stack, but I knew I was going to have to push eventually and hope for the best.
You got Q-Q to go against a shoved J-J and 4-4, and I smiled again. Ah, yes, Q-Q. The Cunts. The hand that's caused me more pain than any other in the history of poker.
But you flopped a set with it. and you laughed and cheered.
And four hands later, I know I've got no choice, peek down at my cards and see Q-Q.
Sigh. I smile.
A knowing smile.
And I push.
"How much is that," you ask quickly, but I'm not worried. You are a beginner, after all, and you'll be just as infatuated with any pair.
But you flip over K-K, and you have a quizzical look when you hear me say, "That's why I hate that fucking hand," even when I am smiling at your beginner's luck.
"Man, poker is fun," I hear you say as you rake my chips. "When do you guys play again?"
I smile once again as I say my goodbyes to everyone and head home to feed the twins.
You will learn, I silently thought to myself as I look at your huge stack. You will learn.

P.S. I will be here Wednesday during the Mookie:

As the featured guest! Supposedly. I'll talk about some of my mountain climbing adventures and I guess poker. Buddy Dank used to climb, too, but this isn't his show, so I have no idea what it will be like.


Stacie said...

When you start a post by quoting a serial killer you know life hasn't been good lately.

(I don't really like grahams which is why I don't insist on toddler sharing)

Tam said...

Just blog browsing, think I stumbled across you via JoeSpeaker's blog.

Good piece that. Never heard that particular nickname for QQ before. Odd as I play the majority of my live poker in foul mouthed Glasgow/Scotland.

Keep it up, I'll be back.