Sunday, July 26, 2015

Some Disquieting News

The Twin River Casino, an asta-gad big-boy casino and entertainment center situated not seven miles from my house, is opening up a 16-table poker room.

May god have mercy on my wicked soul.

Monday, May 25, 2015

In Which We Put the Band Back Together

This is my first post in an unsettlingly long period of time, for which I suppose an apology is due. The fact of the matter is that working takes up more of my time, and my energy, than I would wish, and after a long day and a long commute I find myself wanting to do nothing but sleep. Plus - let's be honest here - under the best of circumstances I lead a somewhat dull existence, and adding work to the mix just means that there's just nothing to write about. So the blog goes dormant, and I lurk from time to time on the blogs of my comrades, until something happens.

Well ladies and gentlemen, that something has happened: I have played poker for the first time in perhaps two years. Forthwith, then,


I emailed Very Josie and asked her if she had any inkling to hit the tables over the holiday weekend. Enthusiastic agreement; arrangements made; we met at the Dunk's near the poker room; phase one is officially carried off without a hitch. And she took the bus down so I was off the hook for that (thank dog - it's Punch Buggy season).

I must say, as is the hallmark of friends who have not seen each other in a while, it was like no time had passed since our last contact. It was lots of laughs and people-watching to our great amusement. We even invented a game: Spot the Whore. When a scantily-clad trollop would walk by, I would affect my "Ugly American Tourist Abroad" voice and say to Josie, "Look honey - a whore!" It was an endless source of mirth. But it would only get funnier.

Because behind a woman who was wearing a dress so short that I knew the color of her pubic hair, was another woman who was dressed perhaps a bit suggestively but who was not (misogynistic comment ahead) good looking enough to pass the whore test. But Josie elbows me and says, "See her? The one in the white top?"

"Yeah," says I.

"No front teeth," she says to me.

"And how did you find that out?" 

"She comes up to me and asks me if her bra is showing. Not only is it showing but all the hooks are undone but one! So I tell her that and hook her back up. She turns around and tells me that her boyfriend did it, and smiled. No front teeth! 0 for 4."

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I have a fair amount of artificial dentition in my mouth. And there is a period of time after getting a tooth (or teeth) pulled where the gums have to heal before you set about replacing that tooth. 

But if you're going to have that done, for the love of Benji, lay low for a bit! Spend a few weeks in solitary pursuits, like building a ship in a bottle, or giving your boyfriend what must be the best fellatio he will have ever had. Something, for Chrissakes, that doesn't entail you walking your raggedy ass around Foxwoods getting hitched back together from strangers and smiling at them! 


We make it down to the poker room, sign up, and before too long we are both assigned to the same table. Josie, unlike Your Obediant Servant, has been playing a good deal of poker of late and her skills have not diminished over time - to the contrary, she has become an even better poker player than I remember. And the luck for which she has become legendary in certain circles, I'm pleased to report, has not deserted her. Case in point: She was holding JJ and she caught a flop of J-10-4. Of course that's not luck - it happens one time in (about) 8. THIS is the luck:

One of the participants in the hand was holding 44, and had filled his set, and raised the bet all-in.

Another one of those players, nestled cozily between Jo in seat 3 and me in seat 1, was none other than no-tooth not-whore (who a propos of nothing was drinking milk from a straw). She was holding 1010 and had filled her set, and also went all in.

A third poor sap was holding KQ, and either figured he had the odds to chase his straight with all the money in the middle, or was just a bad poker player, and went in too.

Josie smiled and called, and won a pot of perhaps $600, within 20 minutes of us sitting down.  Aaaand we're off!

So shortly after that, the clarion call of a WSOP qualifier tournament started being heard. The $360 entry fee was now a free-roll, so the call started becoming too loud to resist. She ambles over to tournament land with a total profit of over $700 for perhaps an hour's effort at the cash table, registers and starts playing.

Now you may ask, how was I doing during this time? Actually not that bad, for a fella who hadn't played poker in a couple of change-filled years. I knew I had to play super-tight because my judgement would be off, and you kind of need good cards to do that. I had them during the first part of the day (basking, as it were, in the reflected luck of you-know-who), but after that the cards dried up and I went on a long, slow, boring descent into loss. After a while the table pegged me as a risk-averse nit, and started taking advantage. I was just thinking about walking away when I woke up with QQ, but lost with them. I was, at the least, self-aware enough to know my game would not get that much better this session, so for a change I respected my stoploss and stopped playing. So I wandered over to the tournament section, weaving through a veritable dragnet of security guards both in uniform and in suits, speaking into their thumbs, and sweated Josie for a time.

She was playing a turbo, was our girl, and the blinds were going up and up at a dizzying pace. I must say that Josie's style of play, who some might uncharitably call "recklessly aggressive" but which I just call "unbelievably, recklessly aggressive," is particularly suited to turbo play, where you have to chip up right now or feel the bite of the headman's axe. And Jos has been doing a good amount of winning with this strategy: you combine that strategy with a Sicilian's ability to read people, and stick the knife in at just the right time, you win a lot. Make no mistake: I have nothing but big respect for her game.

Not everyone at the table felt that way.

When I got to the table, the bald dude in seat 9 was chirping at her already, calling her a luckbox and a number of other, less savory terms, looking at her and shaking his head, whispering to his friend and scowling, the whole bit. And when Josie is in someone's head like that, she starts taking advantage, and it's only a matter of time before the gods of tilt take over and, well, tilt the table towards Josie. The final hand, Josie out-sucked Baldy's suckout on the turn, and it was GG Mr. Bitter. He walked away, no joke, yelling at the top of his voice that Josie "...should play the lottery tonight. Bet the goddamn house!" as he faded away into a sea of Asians smoking and playing Pai Gow.

To her credit, Josie said nothing - didn't even crack a smile.

And the chips mounted and they mounted. I wandered off to have a bowl of noodles (not really on the standard Diabetic menu, but I was already shaking a little bit and who can resist shredded duck lo mein, I ask you), and watch the last two innings of the Red Sox game, which for twin miracles they both won and played well. When the next break was called I met up with Jos and got a debrief.

She had been playing well, but lost about half her stack in one hand right before the break, which  seemed to deflate her. They were close to the money - I think there were 32 people left at the break and they paid 18 - and she came back from the break with perhaps less confidence than she had before. She got blinded out in a half-hour and finished in 22nd place. Five hours of poker to finish four away from the money! Ugh.

Usually, when the poker is done for the day, Jo likes to play a little 21, but this time, she says to me "I want to head to the slots."

"The SLOTS?" I ask in disbelief. "You're kidding me."

"I have $25 in free slots play," she says to me, restoring for a brief time my faith in the universe. 

So OK, to the slots we go. We walk to the slots. And walk. And walk. Now walking for me isn't exactly painful, but since the stroke my left hip is not as cooperative as it was before, even when I was carrying the extra weight. So it's not listed among my favorite activities. But walk we did. You think I was gonna let a five-foot-tall chick with no cartilege in her knees outwalk me? Lead on, girly girl. I'll be right behind you, limping slightly and secretly gasping for air.

So the first place we get to has a million billion slot machines, but not the one she likes. She wants to play the "Sex and the City" slots. Why, I ask? Because it's the only one she knows how to play.

How to play? HOW TO PLAY? You press the fucking button, that's how you play! What happens next is usually a giant toilet flushes your money away. And that's the slot machine experience. But I digress.

So we walk some more. And we walk. And we walk. Until finally we find ourselves at Mohegan Sun, or perhaps Windsor, Ontario. Not sure. But we walked a looong way. But we finally sit down at a Sex and the City slot machine, she puts in her card, receives $25 credit, and starts to play.

Does anyone not know how this ends? She pressed buttons for a few minutes, sometimes she got to press a glittering bonus button where the desired outcome is, I shit you not, a pair of shoes, and after about ten minutes she cashed out a slip for 47 cents - which she gave to the lady next to her, who would press the glittering bonus button with her entire hand for luck.

Anyway, after that funfest was at an end, we hied it over to a fish joint nearby and Josie treated her Uncle Crafty to a lobster roll and a diet Pepsi, then drove back to casa molto Giuseppina.

Got a chance to see FDD Spuds, who was thinking about going but bagged in the end, and Ursa Sucrosum, who is by now a strapping lad of 17 and who was hosting a bunch of his friends in the back yard around a fire pit. There were a liberal helping of young ladies around the fire.

I've never been prouder of the lad.

But a few minutes later, he comes in and asks for the Wi-Fi password for the home network. Why, asks I. Because they don't want to use data on their phones, replies Youth.

This was too much to bear. I come striding out and address the group. Ursa Sucrosum had just enough time to apologize in advance for what was coming next.

"I bring a message from the adult contingent of the house," I boomed, grabbing their attention. I waited a beat of silence and continued. "PUT THE FUCKING PHONE DOWN! You're sitting around a fire, enjoying the  company of your friends on a beautiful holiday weekend! Put the phone down!"

Laughs all around. One little number pipes up, "But we need to Instagram..."

"No, you don't," I say. "No, you really really don't." Pause. "I have spoken. Stay in school. Don't do drugs. Or do them, I don't really give a shit."

I go back in the house and start wrapping up to leave. He comes back in and says goodbye to me, adding "all my friends think you're a funny dude."

They have no idea.

Anyway, that was my trip report. To sum up: Josie won and lost, I lost, we ate lobster rolls, no front teeth, security guard, Sex and the City, teenagers around the fire, I endear myself to the next generation.

Thanks for your attention. Go see a doctor if you haven't recently.

You're mooshing my glasses, Josie.