So it's the Wednesday night poker game, and the standard crew of knuckleheads are around the table: DB on my right, then Smitty, Marcella, the Mayor, and Toots to my left, rounding out the table.
I've adopted a new table persona, after DB confirmed for me that my biggest liability at the table was my mug - despite all I could do, I telegraphed the strength of my hand in a way that those who were sharp enough to read could do so. So in response I started doing what Chris Ferguson does: he caps his cards, places his hands up to his face just so and waits a 5-beat, every single time. So I adopted that mannerism, and it helped. Because DB has just been flat out kicking my sad ass for the last month, and it had to stop.
Now, these people are among the best friends I have, so I'm not going to go into a detailed description of their poker skills here. Suffice it to say, though, that collectively their skills run the gamut between pedestrian and damned good. And my friends might have other opinions - guys, you're free to air them here - but I think that generally, it's been a two-person race for table captain, and those two people are DB and me. I hope the others at the table will forgive me for making so bold a claim.
So anyway, it became clear that DB picked up a monster tell on me and was using it with complete faith, so any monkey business I tried would be punished brutally. So this past Wednesday, I debuted "the stance." Aside from a few early glitches - for example, going into "the stance" before looking at "my cards" - the general consensus was that a few big holes in my game were plugged. In fact I came down to heads up with Toots for all the marbles at the end of the night.
I looked down once and to my great joy found pocket Kings. Woo-hoo!! A little care and this little party ends right here and right now. The blinds were 500-1000, I was on the button, and raised to 3000 to go - only twice the big blind but I desperately wanted Toots in the hand.
It worked like a charm - Toots looked down with trepidation, but reluctantly called.
The flop came 8d, 3h, Jc, or something like that. Fabulous - not a sniff of an ace, just a few straight draws and no flush draw. Toots bet out a couple of grand. I waited my 5 beat and pushed all in, and I heard those magical words: "I call." My trap worked perfectly. I flipped over my Kings and saw the look of dismay on Toots's face and a raggedy 8h 5c hole. This was almost too easy. My kings against a pair of 8's. I was 75-20 to win (about 4% to tie). I was counting my money.
The turn came a blank - I think it was a deuce. Nice. 88-11 to win. But of course you know the punchline: the poker gods had other plans for me this night. A third 8 on the river dashes my hopes and makes an unlikely winner of Toots.
The uber-punchline is this: Toots' real name is Vicki, and she's my goddamn wife. I've stopped calling her "toots" and now call her "eight-five."
Well, there's always next week.