2007 – February – Jason's Birthday Party
There we were in Las Vegas for the 40th anniversary of the birth of one of my closest friends, Mr. Jason Writer. I woke up after some much needed rest about 5:00 PM. I had played all night the previous night and tonight we were going to have dinner at FIX and go out to a club for Jason's birthday.
If you know Lucy and I, you are saying "Mark, Night Club?". Yes, he is THAT good of a friend. I haven't had a drink in over 8 years, I am allergic to alcohol. I break out in handcuffs, not to mention that Lucy and I both hate crowds. Jason wanted to blow it out a little on his birthday and we wouldn't miss it, however, LuAnn and I politely made our exit around midnight and left Jason in the care of his two brothers, Gavin and Adam.
I walked my date back to the room and she was in her jammies in 3 seconds flat. Your hero was off to the poker room to slay a dragon! I got involved in an extremely live 2/5 NL game, the max buy in for this game is $500.00 and 4 or 5 players at this table have over $2,500.00 in front of them. They were all gambling and re-buying. I sat down in seat number four. Seat seven held an asian player by the name of Kyle. Kyle was in every pot raising and saying "Raisy Daisy" as the chips went in. For you non-poker types, that is what Sammy Farha says on High Stakes Poker on GSN. I think Kyle watches too much T.V. and should buy a poker book or two. The eighth seat was a guy I would later find out was just an asshole. He was the type of player that is an expert. He was stuck $1,500.00 when I sat down and lost another grand as the night wore on. He continually complained about how the other players were making poor decisions and causing him to lose him money. He was a white man, 50ish, with a red beard. I called him "Pedro" all night until he finally got pissed and said "Why the #$%^& do you keep calling me Pedro!!?? " His card protector was a little plastic donkey and I told him he was such an ass and that I thought they were brothers. The table roared. He said "did you just call me an ass"? I said, "you should switch your card protector to a little plastic baby if you really want my opinion". He didn't.
The guy next to me was a very tight player. I would suspect him of being a working pro, but I never asked him. He was losing in chunks, mostly following Kyle into pots with good cards, $50.00 a bet, until the river and when Kyle made it $105.00. It was then that he decided he was beat and cut the losses. Later, he was getting frustrated and calling the bets on the end, and then Kyle would have it. I felt bad for him. He reloaded $200.00 at a time for at least 2K and given the night he was obviously having, I didn't want to start with "so… this is how you make your living huh?". I am only mean to the meanies and he was a nice kid and got a pass from Big Papa. I was playing well and I had full control of the table. I knew who was doing what and I would have bet money I could tell you what the other players were holding.
When I am in the zone, everyone, except a couple assholes at the table, are having fun. They are losing money but they don't care because we are laughing and having the time of our lives and playing poker in Vegas. Big Papa showed up and told them jokes and made fun of the bullies…while he took their money. I take their money too, but with me, they get some value and we have fun and laugh as long as I am in the game. I always show them respect and I NEVER make them feel bad about how they play.
They hit a four outter on the river and I tell them how I did that to Daniel Negreanu in the 04 World Series Of Poker, "just don't expect me to be as nice about it as he was" and then we all laugh. I want them to stay, I want them to keep doing that, they are my chips. If it makes the tourist feel like a winner to have my chips in front of him/her for awhile, it's good for the game. The only way the beginners get to keep the money, is when some EXPERT player starts shouting about how stupid they are and how they are bad at math. Then the nice people get up with the money and they leave the game, with the money (who is stupid now Pedro)?
When I start hammering the rocks and the crabby old farts know I am only protecting my lambs, I admit that it is more than a little fun to raise their blood pressure.
It is 4:45 a.m. Jason and Adam walk in, a little drunk and happy to be alive. They pull up a couple of chairs and start telling me about the evening and Adam wants to know if he can sit behind me and look at the cards I am playing. I told him "no problem". It is a common thing that happens all the time and they call it "sweating". After about 5 minutes of me folding hands my slightly inebriated sweater leans into me and says "come on Mark, show me some MAGIC!" Adam wanted to see a big pot. He doesn't play, but both of his brothers do and he hears about all the "Action" that happens at the WSOP from them. He wanted to see a little "blood" hit the felt, so I opened up my game a little and started entering raised pots with some screwy, low-suited, skip connectors, knowing that if I hooked one up, I would be involved with a big starting hand like AA, KK, QQ or the like. At which point, all the money would go in and young Adam would get a front row seat when the train wreak happened. Now, when I say all the money was going in, I need to define "All The Money". Like I said, I had been playing for four hours and things were really going my way. I bought in the game for a rack of red chips ($5.00) and normally in this game, you play with only reds and some blues ($1.00) for the small blinds and when you're up, you can make a mountain out of the chips and your opponents know you have chips (Power). However, in this game, I didn't really want to make such a big thing about what I was taking away from the game, especially since I had such a strong table presence, so every time I was up over three racks of red, I would color up to one stack of green ($25.00) and when I got two stacks of green, I would trade those up for 10 black ($100.00). By doing this, my hope was to make me look less intimidating.
Anyway, I had the largest towers at the table well covered, so when Adam got his wish, and the cinder block went down the hole, all the goats tied to it were going in. They were all headed for deep water and no one knew a thing, except my running partner Jason. Jason was sweating behind Adam and by now he was sober. He knew me, and he saw the hole cards that Adam saw, except the cards told Jason something Adam couldn't read. I was opening the door and letting death come in. Jason knew the dicey game I was playing to give a thrill to Adam. Jason knew now that the game had changed and in this game, sometimes the lambs eat the lion.
In an odd twist, just as I was opening pandora's box, we got a new dealer in the game. Wanda is a nice, old school dealer, 50ish, and huge Loretta Lynn type, female country singer hair. Wanda started making all kinds of noise about the $25.00 checks. "Why are those $25.00 chips on the table…they don't play in this game… yak yak yak". "Well, Wanda you know us poker players. We aren't real big rule followers" (translation… Shhhhhh your going to wake up my lambs before it's time). She let it go with a little huff; "PLAYERS" and myself made ship of doom cut through the water, barely leaving a ripple.
The tourists were still laughing about all the funny names we were calling each other, the rocks were crumbling and cursing their "lucky" plastic donkey card covers, but one sound was absent…ME. I was no longer leading the band. I was silent and focused knowing that when I made the moveI was going to make, I would HAVE to be right this time about what cards my babies had. There would be no "nice hand" and a story about Danny and the 04 WSOP. If it went bad now, I would be pissed and not for losing a big hand that happens in this game. I would be mad at myself for showboating and making all this firestorm happen, when I was in control, and I could have safely vacuumed all those chips up as we laughed and had fun. This needed to go down correctly because I was allowing them to come in where I normally force them to go away. In poker they call it trapping, the only problem is, the gate swings both ways.
I am under the gun and pick up 58 spades and call the $5.00 blind. Two players call and Krazy Kyle makes it $20.00, like he always does, and three people call and then I call. I'm fishing for sure on this one, the first two callers complete and we take seven people into the flop. Now we have dynamite. The flop comes 647 with 2 diamonds. I have flopped the nuts. Now we just need a match.
Come on Kyle, do your job! There is $120.00 in the middle and I check. The guy to my left shocks me, and moves in for the rest of his money. $240.00 - crap! This is not what we wanted. He may scare off the larger stacks. The next guys folds. Kyle starts to think about his hand when Wanda pipes up "Hey, Ski what is up with the $25.00 chips in this game?" Perfect! Ski is one of the poker room managers and a good friend of mine over the years. He is standing behind me now with his hands on my shoulders and says, "She is right Mark, those $25 chips need to be changed". I said, "Ok Ski, I will, but I am in a pot right now. Can we deal with this in a second?" Ski responds with "Oh, I am sorry, I didn't notice. Of course, we can wait". I said, "Plus, these are all going in, so you can sort it all out with whoever wins this pot!" and I shoved it all in.
Kyle jumped out of his chair to call. He would have to commit all of his chips. I could have said something to encourage him to call, but this was a lot of money and fun was fun. Up to now, he was on the hook for $260.00 something. If he was going to lose another $1700.00, I wanted his greed to make him call, not me.
While Kyle struggled, I turned around and to ask Adam if this was enough magic for him? His reply was "you guys are NUTS and, yes, this is GREAT!" Just then, I heard something I was not real sure I wanted to hear… "I call!" It was Kyle. As he said it, he flipped over the hand I knew he had, A4 suited diamonds, he was drawing at the nut flush and we were nowhere near safe. I was fine with the whole thing, either way, Adam got his show and I got my money in with the best hand. Two black cards slid off and I turned to Jason and gave him a big hug and said "Happy Birthday Brother"!! He just smiled and I knew he was happy. I was happy, but not for the reason you might think, I had friends that were worth a dump truck worth of those chips and I was in Vegas with John W. Galt.
I tipped Wanda one of those green $25.00 checks; she never said another word about those chips being in the game.