Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Poker Karma

Jason is getting married tomorrow, so yesterday I went with him to do the preparations that we men are responsible for in the lead-up to the wedding. For Jason, that consisted of making sure he told Linda and me what time to show up. Once that was done, he and I had time to go to a local club and play in a poker tournament.

I have only played in a couple of these, and I invariably got knocked out early. But with all my online games behind me I was ready to tackle the live table one more time. What I discovered is that my poker game is much better now than it was the last time I played in a tournament. And I also discovered my online game has completely ruined me if I wanted to look like I knew what I was doing - which may not be such a bad thing in poker, of course, but it doesn't help the ego when you're not doing it deliberately.

Online poker is played at a rate of knots. Cards are dealt in microseconds, hands are bet or folded with clocks constantly ticking. In the tournament, time crawls - cards need to be shuffled after a hand, and some players have watched way too much poker on TV and seem to love going into deep meditation as they debate what to do. My version of thinking about a hand tends to last four or five seconds, which not surprisingly appears to be my attention time span nowadays.

Online poker also has given rise to some bad habits. If the other players were to give me a nickname yesterday, I believe it would have been Don "Is It My Turn" Kennedy. I am used to the little beep on the computer that lets you know it's time to bet or fold when you play online. Sitting at the table, I found that I actually had to pay attention. And as the day wore on, I started to notice the slight annoyance at my table as I once again had to ask if it was my turn to do something. Hmmm, spotting any trends?

The online game also lets you know the minimum amount you can bet. I had a couple of raises rejected because I hadn't put enough in. Funny, it seemed like a lot of chips. Even funnier, both times I would have lost more chips if they'd let me raise like I wanted. Good poker karma for the old fat guy.

Anyhow, a good result. Jason and I both made the final two tables, and best of all we never played hands against one another. I don't know how Serena feels when she beats Venus, because I would have felt pretty bad had I knocked Jason out (and I am not going to even risk asking him how he would feel about knocking me out). I think he finished about 10th.

I had good luck till right at the end and came in second. That qualified me to play in a regional tournament in a couple of weeks along with a little money. I hope that's all I ended up with yesterday.

As he left the final table, I noticed that the dealer who was giving us our cards and pushing the chips our way when we won was clutching a bottle of Robitussin. I only hope he hasn't been to Mexico lately or I think my instant poker karma might be out to get me after all.


PS For you poker players out there, I thought you'd like to see a really awful hand that happened at a table I was playing on.

Fortunately I was not involved in the hand, but if you look carefully you will see that Coaterman, the player on the right, got exceptionally lucky and hit four 10s.

His karma, however, was not quite so good on the day as the player on the left managed to get a straight flush on the last card.

I keep that picture on my computer so that I never again feel poorly done by losing a hand that I was pretty sure would win.

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