sanghoki Holiday Gathering: Friday, Bloody Friday

 

The elevator was out-performing its capacity specifications. It had reached the point at which, when we stopped on every floor, the people on the outside took one look and said, “We’ll wait for the next one.”

A not-too-worldly girl was pressed against the mirrored wall in the back. Tight quarters and a need for attention forced her to say something. She went with, “Gawd, it seems like half of Australia is here.”

I was too tired to correct her. She’d figure it out eventually.

***

The running number was 25,000.

That is supposedly how many Brits had traveled across the pond to see Ricky Hatton fight Floyd Mayweather at the sanghoki Grand.

Despite speaking English and being even whiter than most Caucasion Americans, there was no mistaking the Brits at 100 yards. It was in their hair their dress, and, holy hell, their singing. The Brits traveled in packs and went few places without a song. The most common was a barely intelligble version of “Winter Wonderland.”

“There’s only onnnnne Ricky Hatton, only onnnnnne Ricky Hatton, walking along, singing a song, walking in a Hatton wonderland….” (Translation ripped mercilessly from I Am Livid.)

We sat at the MGM Grand for most of Friday afternoon. I was simmering on work tilt, but enjoying the Brit show. The fight weigh-in was scheduled for 2:30pm and by 2:00, the sportsbook was standing room only and backed up nearly to the lion exhibit. The songs and screams about Manchester were loud enough that we couldn’t hear each other while we played cards.

Marty, our newest devotee of no-limit hold’em, sat next to me and prodded me to stand in the middle of the crowd and accuse the crowd of being Australian.

“I’ll give you $25,” he said.

This is the same guy who cooked up a plan to get a t-shirt made reading, “Hatton is a pussy.” I was pretty sure he was ready to test the British patience and use me as his guinea pig.

Little did either of us know, I would find another way to get my ass kicked. And the story would not be nearly as fun.

***

I think I paid out somewhere in the nieghborhood of $10 worth of bad beat stories at $1 a piece this past weekend. As I don’t feel like giving each of you a buck, I’m going to skip over the hours between 12:01am and 7:00pm Friday. Suffice it to say, I took five of the most ridiculous beats I have experienced in live poker.

At a $2/$5 table, I had just told the story of a guy who had re-bought for his chips and didn’t last long enough to recaim them from the chip-runner. Less than five minutes after telling that story, I became that guy. It was that kind of day. It was during this period that I first thought the MGM massage shirts read MASSACRE and I jotted in my notes, “Like a natural gas fire.”

I was on such tilt, I don’t know what I meant. I only know that Marty had stopped trying to get me killed by the Brits and had started asking, “You wanna take a walk? Go do something else?”

When I cashed out at 6pm for dinner, I didn’t even want to go. I wanted to keep playing or get obscenely intoxiciated. Or both. Instead, I went for a great meal with some old friends, lost a few prop bets, and listened to my brother (medical consultant in residence to the blogging community) talk about how he has “lady hands” and thus cannot digitally extract vibrators from his patients’ bums. Bets were made and won on the number of extraction attempts and successes. Pauly and Derek ran hot. I lost on the odd/evens on the final dollar digit on the bill, but set a perfect line on the number of people to order Michael Mina’s lobster pot pie. If I’d managed to not order it myself, I wouldn’t have lost. That’s a lack of discipline, right there.

Back in the MGM poker room, I got on every list they had and settled into a slow, careful funk. I hated everything and was on the verge of a solo rage for the ages. I was five minutes from embarking on this trip when I got called for a $1/$2 NL game. As I was waiting for my chips, Miami Don came over and said, “Otis, we’ve got a seat if you want it.”

I didn’t even look at the line-up. If I was going to go down in flames, I might as well do it with friends.

***

“There are softer spots in this room,” I mumbled.

Over the course of the next couple of hours, I sat at the toughest cash table I’d face all weekend. I don’t recall everyone in the game, but over the course of my time there, I saw Zeem, Chad, ScottMc, WeakPlayer, Miami Don, and Blinders.

I stacked off to Chad once in a kicker battle, re-bought and told myself that if I couldn’t start playing better, I was on my way out the door for a few hours by myself. That’s when it happened–the most embarassing move I would make all weekend.

I had AK and came in for a raise. ScottMc popped me back and I pulled my “Oh, realllllllly?” maneuver. I don’t think I’ve ever played with Scott before, so I kep his range exceptionally wide. I made the call out of position.

Why exactly I decided to check dark, I don’t know. I only know I did. And I know I saw the flop come down AQx. Scott made another bet, and because I had checked dark, I had no way of knowing what the bet meant. It could mean as much as AA, as middling as AQ, or as little as some underpair. Hell, it could even be AK.

Now, I made what was the only smart move in the entire hand. I figured out where I was with a check-raise. Thing is, my chips hadn’t hit the table before Scott cupped his hands around his mouth and said, “Allllllllllll innnnnnnnnnnn” in a deep voice.

That’s pretty much where I went over the edge. After 22 hours of the worst beats ever, I was stuck bad and wrapped up in a hand with a player who is now wearing a sign that says, “You are beat, Otis!” around his neck. There is now no hand he can hold that I can conceivably beat. At best, he’s holding AK and I know that’s not the case. I might be lucky enough that he has AQ, but it’s far more likley he has a set.

So, of course, I call.

Scott is a nice damned guy, which goes beyond and sometimes against his great abilities at the poker table. He wasted no time showing me his QQ for the flopped middle set. Knowing I need runners to win, I start planning a graceful exit and wondering where the solo rage will take me. I was at once a nihilist.

I’m still not sure the next ten seconds happened.

The groan and cheer rose up from the table as the board came runners to give me aces full. Having not yet revealed my hand, I fanned my AK to the table and buried my face in my other hand. The chips landed in front of me. Now, I could no longer hate my luck.

I could only hate myself.

Scott took it much better than he should’ve. For my penance, he only required I post this list:

1) That was the worst suck-out ever

2) Scott is a better player than Otis

3) I am a donkey

Or something like that. My notes don’t make a lot of sense.

The only thing I remember with any clarity is Miami Don looking up from his vodka and remarking wryly, “Otis, I think your luck just changed.”

And somewhere in the distance, a Brit sang.

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