Tonight was a decent night at the poker tables. I’m no longer playing full-time as most of my friends know, and play only a couple of times a month at most these days while I refocus my efforts on the web development and marketing and sure enough, now that I don’t do this full-time I can’t lose.
I haven’t lost a live poker session this year, and though I don’t know exactly when this streak started it’s been close to a full year now without any live losses. I won 2k+ tonight on the 2/5 tables. I wasn’t getting any hands, but picking my spots to steal the pots I needed to stay even. Then with pocket Jacks two people bet hard in front of me, one of them bet $300 and made me think a full minute about laying it down despite my read telling me this was a bluff.
I pushed all-in and the other guy folded and was relieved to hear that I was right, he had “air” (meaning nothing in poker jargon) and even more relieved that he was going to call my final $200 or so. Hitting a set on the flop allowed me to ignore the rest of the cards that came, and I doubled up (and didn’t see what cards he was calling with). So my $500 buy-in was now over $1000 and I stole a couple of small pots while waiting for my next hand.
The table was gunning for me, and starting to loosen up so I moved off my cards a bit and started calling in position with suited hands and low connectors when there were a lot of players in. I bled out a bit while missing a few flops but then hit what I needed with a K8 of diamonds. The flop had an Ace/rag of diamonds and I used body language to indicate that I hit (looked down at my chips immediately after flop was dealt and appeared to be sizing up a big bet). There were 5 players in the hand, but they checked to me, letting me check for a free turn.
The turn came diamond rag, giving me the nuts and I slow played, only calling the small turn bets. At the river, there were 4 of us left, and the first to act bets out $100 and the next guy calls. I do my best “gamble gamble” body language in a huge overbet and push all in for over $1,000. The next guy folds and the action returns to the guy who led out with $100+. He was clearly suspicious of my huge bet, and the pot was pretty big just because of how many people were in. There had been a couple of all-in bluffs previously and he was determined not to be outplayed. I didn’t think my overbet would have any biters, but I immediately began to play the role I needed, putting off a couple of subtle tells. When he stacked up around $900 to call I acted (only with the eyes, too much and they think you are doing it on purpose) like my heart just sank and kept eye contact (looking around casually is a tell that you have a hand so I did my best “I’m trying to scare you off the pot, but I really don’t want a call” act). He bought the act (which is as much a credit to his bad play as my “all in the eyes” acting job because there is no hand he could have that he should not have folded without much thought) and doubled me up again leaving me with a 2k+ stack and lots of room to work the table a bit more.
I changed gears and played most of the rest of the night tight, and picked a couple of spots to steal my way to a couple hundred more in winnings here and there. I finished the night with about $2,900 off my $500 buy in, which was a nice night for a 2/5 table and that extended my run of winning sessions. But this brings me to the disturbing thing about the poker tables. A couple of weeks ago, I played poker with a gentleman who subsequently passed away that night. I only met him that night, and it didn’t personally affect me beyond the usual weird feeling about whether to feel better or worse about taking a dead man’s money on his last night alive but the thing is this is not the first time this has happened in the last year. He died of a stroke, but earlier another poker aquaintance died driving home from the game.
Given that another poker aquaintance was murdered in 07, and that I last saw him on the poker tables as well made for a disturbing déjà vu or two. It has wierded me out a bit, and I wish I were taking more bad beats and losses and that the poker players were living to play another day.