Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Down the river

Last night was poker night. It's one of the rare moments my blue collar upbringing gives me the upper hand at the office. The players vary but a few of us are constants. We start with a $10 buy in, then purchase chips off each other when we get short-stacked.

Last night we had Rich, one of the wealthiest of the brokers. The man brings in $3mil a year and sets a raise limit of $2 per raise. Rich doesn't understand the concept of a "poker face." When he doesn't cringe, then raises my bet, I know to fold.

Next was Jeffrey, an up and coming young broker with too much cash and an expensive housewife who's into Gucci. Jeffrey likes to "build the pot". Even when he has jack shit in his hands, he's throwing in the $2 max just to get a bigger pot that he has no chance of winning. He likes to play Black Widow because the pots build quickly.

Monty is our alcoholic. Every month he shows up with Diet Coke, then puts away most of someone else's 12 pack of Miller Lite (fuck you, jack). He hates "pussy games" with wild cards. We play dealer's choice so Monty always goes with 7-card Down the River and usually with a Low Chicago in the Hole.

Tony is another conservative player who spends too much time counting his chips and keeping tally of who's drinking his beer. I've never seen him win a hand. He prefers a game called Mexican Sweat. Monty hates it.

About 9pm the cell phones start going off as their wives begin to hunt them down. That's when the furror begins as people try to recoup their losses in one last hand. Our last game was dealt by Monty, who by this time was so drunk he was throwing in way too many chips on each round and holding when he should have been folding.

Each man got two down and one up and the betting went around. I never look at my face down cards on the first round because I know I'm staying in. The first guy checked. I threw in $1. Rich stayed in, groaning softly. Jeffrey saw my $1 and raised it to $3. A low grumbling went around for such a high bet on the first round. I had a 9 of hearts showing.

The next card was laid out. Monty got the bet with an Ace-Queen high. Drunk, he threw in $4. We made him take $2 back but by the time the bet got around to me it had been raised to $4 anyway.

I now had a 9-5 showing, both hearts. I slide my face down cards off the table and take a peek before tossing in my $4. So far, no one was dropping.

The third face up came around with lots of "uh-ohs" when Monty paired his Ace, Rich paired his King, I got a third Heart, and Tony landed a possible outside straight with a 6-7-8 showing. Jeffrey didn't have shit but that didn't stop that son of a bitch from raising and getting raised again. That round cost me $6 just to stay in.

The last face card came around. Rich was showing two pairs, Kings & tres, Monty had nothing better than the Aces, Tony landed a 4 giving him a 4-6-7-8 and possibly forcing an inside straight which is harder to hit, and Jeffrey finally got a pair of 10's. My last face up card was another 9, giving me 2-5-9-9, the lowest hand showing. I jokingly asked if this was Low Chicago. They laughed, confident they each had a pretty good chance of winning. In the hole I had an Ace and a third 9. The betting went around and I raised with a cavalier, "Fuck it, take it!" they laughed and threw in their chips, raising twice more to hit the 3max limit on raises we'd set.

Down and dirty. The final card went out, face down. I watched them peek, pretty sure Rich boated up since he didn't flinch. Tony tossed his cards all face down, obviously not hitting his straight. Monty never looked, too drunk to care. And I couldn't read Jeffrey. "Kings & tres talk, Rich, what's your bet?"

"All in."

There was a loud roar of laughter as the game suddenly got much more exciting. I pulled my cards off the table and sweat in the most recent hole card. I took a peek....nice.

"I can't let you buy the pot. I'm in," I agreed.

Monty folded. Jeffrey looked at my hand and shrugged. No big deal, he had too much fucking money anyway. "I'll keep you honest. All in."

Rich bet first so he showed his hand first. Sure enough, he boated up, Kings over tres. Jeffrey swore and dropped his cards. Trip tens, good enough to beat Rich's two pair, but not his full house. Now it was my turn. "Sorry man. Your boat won't float against 4 of kind."

I laid my four 9's on the table, scraped in my pot amidst the chaos, and paid Tony for the beer I drank. I kept half and used the other half to buy lunch for the ladies at work here, today. Not a bad night.