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Bash Poker

Here's the thing. I don't just do Vacation Trip Reports. When I went to California, for instance, I didn't write about the flight into San Fran, or the experience traveling to San Diego. I did, however, write about my stop at the Bay 101 Poker Room because, my dear readers, I know what you crave. But this is not a travel blog, so I am hesitant to go into a long trip report on the Bash.

Let me make this clear, though. I despise the type of posts that refer to insider jokes or references or bullet point highlights that make no sense to anyone not there. There were probably 30 or less bloggers in Phoenixville, PA last weekend for AlCantHang's Bash at the Boathouse, but since I have millions...and millions...of readers, I just won't sully this pristine site with lines like, "Who put the nutmeg in my hot sauce?" and just leave it at that.

So, I walk a delicate line of weighing down this blog with a story about getting drunk all day long in a random bar, in a random town, in a random state (any meaning of the word 'state' will work there), or ignoring the event altogether. The solution, let's focus on the poker and gambling.

I had caught a ride to the Bash with Alceste. We had met on his side of the river, i.e. New Jersey, and directly headed to the randomest little Philly suburb I'd ever visited (the only one, in fact). Mary and Dawn had already checked into the Flea Bag Hotel and had booked our room, so we met everyone out at a Korean restaurant with a HUGE banquet hall in the back of an otherwise non-descript restaurant.

It was probably 9:15pm, and the tourney was supposed to start at 8, but from what I could tell, we had missed less than an hour of play. Alceste and I each bought in for $60 (no idea how the structure worked, but I think it was a single $20 buy-in and two add-ons or something), and we took our seats at different tables. I sat at a table that seemed to be filled with locals, with the exception of BadBlood, a few seats to my right, and Buddy Dank, a few seats to his right. I started off tight, trying to get a feel for the table and the players. To Buddy's right was a black guy that looked just like Keenan Thompson from SNL. I'm not talking stunt-double here, either. I'm talking full-on doppleganger, complete with evil goatee. He even had a lot of Keenan's hangdog expressions. He played tight and seemed upset the entire time by the craziness at the table, even though he kept a generally pleasant demeanor.

To his right was Eeyore. You've all played with an Eeyore or two in your days. This one was an older gentleman, in fact, by appearance, the oldest in the room. He had a slight frame, grey hair, and glasses. He seemed like a cleaned-up backwoods guy, no facial hair but a lumberjack's shirt tucked into his slacks. The entire time at the table he was complaining about one thing or another. He also consistently bitched about Bad Blood who was drunk and having a great time. This guy couldn't understand why Blood would play the Hammer, as though it wasn't painfully obvious to anyone with a sense of humor. Sad sacks like this can suck the fun out of the game. A man can only take so much, "Nobody folds to Eeyore." and "Nobody doesn't catch against big cards from Eeyore." and "Nobody loves Eeyore." at the table. After a while, you just want to take him by his stupid tacked-on tail, punch the shit out of his stuffing filled body, piss on his broken corpse and say, "THERE! THERE! NOW YOU HAVE A REASON TO COMPLAIN! FUCK YOU IN YOUR FUCKING ASS, YOU FUCKING FUCK!!!!" Yeah. He annoyed me.

Besides that, there was a cute girl sitting to Blood's left, two seats to my right. She was probably the best looking broad in the joint, so I immediately assumed she knew jack-shit about poker. She wasn't a 10 in normal parlance, probably closer to a 7.5 or 8, but she had what Jordan likes in a woman: all her teeth and petite enough to know I could take her in a fight. Of course, this old dog is married, so her presence at the table, after being noted, was largely academic. I'm like a hunter on a photo expedition, look, but don't touch. (If I were Satan I would continue, Touch, but don't taste. Taste, but don't swallow! And while you are jumping from one foot to the next, what is God doing? He's laughing his fucking ass off!)

I'm a fan of man, Kevin, so I started tight, watching the play. I wasn't happy about shelling out $60 on a $20 tourney I was late for, so I wanted to figure out if this was a pushfest or a tight rebuy game before I started rebuying like mad. At other tables, I heard, "REBUY!" seemingly every other hand, but my table was kinda quiet, thanks in large part to Eeyore and Keenan.

When I heard the announcement that there was only 15 minutes left to rebuy, I made a silent pact with myself to begin pushing like mad. I was down to probably half of my starting stack, so from EP, I pushed with K6o. It folded around while I acted all super strong in an absurd manner. One guy hesitated and I said my popular dick-phrase, "Just fold and nobody gets hurt." The action ended with BadBlood in the big blind, who had said "I'm calling you with any Ace" about .5 seconds after I pushed. As he considered what to do, he exposed one card, the Ace of Spades. Realizing that I was surely behind, I did what any self-respecting cutter would do and goaded him into calling. "I believe you are committed, sir. Verbal declaration!" He called and showed AKo. I was dominated, so I decided to ham it up more by acting all calm when I said, "Show me a Six." The first card out was a Six of Spades. The table gasped and the rest were blanks, netting me a sweet double-up. Ironically, I pushed the next two hands, but got no action.

I rebought somewhere in there before the K6o hand, so I was in the game for $80 when I bought the add-on. Truth be told, I hate charity events, because I can't help but think that if I were to cash, I'd be disappointed that my hard work was for only a fraction of the usual payoff. Sorry, charities, but I am biased against you. Most donations are spent on infrastructure, which means that the money is not going to clothes kids in Cambodia; it's actually going to the Team Building Retreat that the staffers take to New Orleans during Mardi Gras. If not that, it is going to the colored paper clips that the receptionist thinks look cute or getting the second urinal fixed. I'm not saying that was the case with this event. Hardly. But I am biased to these things.

So, with that in mind, after the rebuy period ended, I tried to bust out as soon as possible. At least that's my story.

The actual hand went like this. Keenan, who was harumphing with the best of them as he limp-folded repeatedly to raises, decided to open-push from early position for 7000. BadBlood, sitting on a mighty stack, called. I decided to over-push for 12,000 with my AKo. I figured Keenan had a top hand because he had been playing so cautiously, and that Blood with his big stack would call. As long as I could beat Blood, I could win the 10k sidepot and only lose 2k on the hand, so it seemed like a great move at the time. We all showed our cards. I had AKo, Blood had 88, and Keenan had AQ. Sure enough, a Queen flops and I get no help, thus losing the pot and busting out as the first bustee after the bubble.

Oh, well, I thought. I strolled around the room and hung out with RecessRampage who had arrived late and chosen not to play. I started a prop bet with one of the locals, Millerd. He's a white dude, about my age, and a helluva loud mouth, something I can appreciate. In fact, his poker style reminds me a lot of myself, if I were turned up to 11. I'm sure it was grating on some of the other players during the cash game, but I found it amusing. Recess, Millerd and I each chose three horses in the tournament. I chose BadBlood, Falstaff, and some random kid with a big stack sitting at Falstaff's table. In the end, my two horses, Staff and the kid, lasted the longest, but I never collected on my bet.

After a while, we got a cash game going, with a starting line-up that included me, Recess, Millerd, Astin, Dawn, Vinnay, and some other assorted locals and bloggers. Vinnay completely spanked me in the early goings when I flopped an improbable two pair (with K6 on an AK6 board), only for him to spike two pair on the river with A3o. The way the hand progressed, I was worried that he had spiked a better two pair on the flop, and instead I gave him an opportunity to hit in on the river. A few hands later, we got all-in on a baby flop with my QQ vs. his KK. Sonuva! I was felted, so I rebought another $100 buy-in at the .50/1 NLHE game.

I saved one hand from the game, a real doozy between me and Astin. I straddled for $2, and Millerd, to my immediate left, re-straddled for $4. Everyone folded around to Astin, in LP (CO or button), who opted to raise to $12. It folded to me and I couldn't just hand the money to Astin, who I felt was likely playing position. By now, I had looked at my cards, T6s. It's hardly a strong hand, but it had some potential and if I were to hit, any hit would be well hidden. I called and then Millerd called as well. Knowing his game, he could have any two cards.

The flop was K9x. I think the x was a 7, giving me an inside straight draw. I checked, expecting that someone would bet and I would fold. My expectations, though, were presently surprised when both players checked. Nothing gave me the sense that they were playing coy either. None of us were too happy with that flop.

The turn was a Queen. I opted for a $15 bet. I was telling a story: Guy straddles and calls a raise, which means he has a marginal hand or better, since he is out of position. Maybe he has ATC, since it is me. He hits the flop, probably the King, but decides to check out of position so he can get some action from the other players. When they check the flop, he makes a small-ish value bet to get more money in the pot.

That's the story I was telling, hopefully. I figured it would be aided by the fact that both players seemed to give up on the flop. If neither had the King, for top pair, then they would probably both fold the fishy-looking turn bet.

Well, it worked on Millerd, who had probably mentally checked out of the hand on the flop, but Astin took his time, finally opting to call. I may have goaded him on a bit too, acting strong, since I was weak. It's a classic move, but I sometimes do it openly with people who have been watching me or know my reputation. I'll act strong whether I have it or not.

I'll let you in on a little secret, too. RecessRampage was the MVP of this hand and he wasn't even in the action. There was a lot of loose table talk and Recess, sitting to the left of Astin, was opinion about how I might have JT. The more he said it, the more Astin seemed convinced. At first I thought my story was pure shite, but when JT came into play, my strong act seemed more plausible. Loose player calls with JT after he straddles...makes sense. Checks the inside straight draw on the flop...sure. Bets a small-ish amount when he hits his miracle staight...everything checks out. It looked like Astin was considering a re-raise, which would naturally force me to fold, but Recess' chat seemed to slow him down, and he eventually called with a look on his face that told me he was not happy with the uncertainty of the situation.

Once Astin called, we saw the river, another King. If nothing else, it offered furthere assurance that Astin didn't have a King. I had pretty much felt that way anyway, so I considered my options. I couldn't possibly just check, because I couldn't win the hand at showdown, so I had to decide how much to bet to signal that I had a strong hand without sticking too much of my neck out there in case Astin was mentally sharpening his axe to cut me down to size. For all I know, he flopped a set, slowplayed the flop, was scared of a straight on the turn and was now licking his chops at his rivered full house. I bet $35, an amount that signals strength without putting too much on the line. If I were to bet more, it may look like I want him to fold. If I bet too small, he might think it's worth a call because I had a loose range. I guess I hit the sweetspot though, because he eventually folded and I showed my cards. I mean, I had to, right? It not only rubs a little salt in the wound (nothing personal), but it also advertises to my audience that I'm playing ATC.

The rest of the game was pretty quiet for me. In the end, I left -$10 in the cash game, not bad since I was -$100 at one point. Amazingly, not long after my play, Millerd played almost the exact bluff against Astin, succeeding as well. And, naturally, he showed as well, because showboating players like Millerd and I don't know any better.

At 2am, Alceste was getting fatigued so we hit the road and returned to our flea bag hotel. The rest of the trip consisted of a lot of drinking and spending time with people who share common interests and values. Suffice it to say that I feel a genuine kinship with this group that I sometimes forget when I'm back in NY. With a trip to LV in December coming up, though, I'm looking forward to more shenanigans.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:14 PM,

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