Friday, March 23, 2007

Tales of the Poker Table, Vol 1

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.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Take a Bow

After years of blogging for others, I've decided to do it for myself.

My name is Gary Jacobs, and to the extent that the Internet community knows me at all (which is admittedly an infinitessimally small extent), they know me as a sports reporter. I used to submit baseball and hockey game stories for an online sports network - that relationship ended with a surprising amount of acrimony. Maybe I'll tell you about it one day when I'm starved for subject matter. Anyway, I currently produce features for the Boston Dirt Dogs web page. Mostly, since I'm credentialed there, my features focus on the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Boston Red Sox' AAA affiliate. For those of you who are sports-minded, I'll be reprinting my articles so that you'll be able to see them all here, as well as provide a rant or two that wouldn't be appropriate for such an august site as BDD.

But sports is not the central focus of my life: in fact, it's not even one of the central foci. Predominant among my life's pursuits is slipping in odd pluralisations that make me appear worldly (see foci). When I'm not doing that, I play the guitar - not well, but loudly - and am an avid poker player. Thankfully for my wallet, I'm a better poker player than I am a musician.

I'm not a professional poker player but I will allow myself the conceit that I'm a decent amateur. Put it this way: I've won more money than I've lost playing poker, and there aren't a whole lot of people who can say that. If I ever win the lottery (difficult indeed since I don't play), I'm heading right out to the professional circuit.

My relationship with music is purposefully frustrating. It's good to have a pursuit in your life that you know will never result in victory. I suppose it's the same sort of feeling golfers get, watching yet another drive sail majectically into the drink. You don't need to destroy the windmill - it's enough to joust at it. In fact it's comforting to know that you can joust all you like, and that goddamn windmill is going to still be there tomorrow.

I'm left-handed - hence the "crafty southpaw" monniker. The term usually describes a left handed pitcher, specifically one who throws a lot of off-speed pitches like curve balls and the like. Ironic, considering my promising career in professional baseball was cut short at the tender age of 11 when it occurred to me and my coaches that I had a crucial lack of athleticism, eye-hand coordination, or in fact any baseball skills of any kind beyond the ability to spit. I could neither throw nor hit a curve ball, and I'm proud to say that in the ensuing 30-odd years nothing has changed along those lines. The triple I hit as a member of the Minor-B Cobras stands as my lone shining athletic achievement. Sure - some, including perhaps the official scorer, might better remember the event as a "three-base error" - but I choose to see the cup as being half-full. Which, given the fact that I was 11 and Jewish, was more or less true.

I have a day job, of course, and it pays the bills. That's more or less all you'll hear about that here. We're a public company so I can't dish too much about it - besides, it's pretty boring stuff. I usually describe my job as "cog in the corporate wheel," which is accurate enough and saves me the trouble of describing a job that's difficult to define. I sit at a desk, I move paper from hither to yon, I make stuff happen, I talk on the phone. It's a living.

I live in Rhode Island, a state so small they've had to annex half of Connecticut to fit in all the corruption. My parents still live in the ancestral Manse in north suburban Boston, MA, and my brother Ross lives in the westernmost city in the Commonwealth, North Adams, Massachusetts.

That's more or less enough for you to go on. If you've read this far you probably already know me, but for those strangers among you, welcome! Look for a new post every so often.