Then the angry man swore at me

So, some time ago, a neighbor asked me if I knew of any local poker games. Umm…no. I don’t know of anything. I sit at home and drink when I’m not working or chasing Moo around the house.

But, my father knows people so I asked him. He put me in touch with a guy (this is starting to sound very Rounders) and I asked about the game. We were invited in September, but I was in FLA. In October, MerlotMan and ChurchBomber were here. They played last Friday and I knew I had to go. Luckily for me, said neighbor was unavailable.

Into the Lion’s Den I went. Fortunately, the game has a $20 buy-in so I knew I wouldn’t lose too much money.

My poker history:
The 2nd or 2rd day on a job I started in 2000, I was invited into an office game. A new coworker assured me it was all in fun and it would be good for me to get to know everyone. I played and actually won the most money that night. I also tried to play 3 pairs in one hand. I had no clue what I was doing. We played rather irregularly over the time I worked there and I lost more than I won, but it was all in fun.

Every Thanksgiving, needing an excuse to not sit around and get plastered, we play poker. MerlotMan likes to make up different games and the 3 of us don’t care because A: we’re not playing for money and 2: we’re drunk. We also play on vacation. It’s all in fun and we have no idea what we’re doing.

JewelrySlut and I have watched Rounders about 100 times.

I watched several episodes of the World Series of Poker back in in 2003 or so.

That’s it. That’s the extent of my poker playing. When I asked for the general rules about how the local game works, I got a huge email back using a lot of words I didn’t understand. I was about to walk into a foreign land. The only saving grace was the $20. It was cheap. If I got knocked out, I could leave or play “the money game” in another room. The latter sent shivers up my spine. They play winner take all and set some money aside for a year end payout.

So, I arrived and walked into a house full of flabby men, all at least 15 years older than me. They were all excitedly regaling each other with tales from their conquests on varied poker websites.

Oh crap…they were REALLY serious.

We drew cards and got seated. $20 buys you $3000 in chips. I had a lovely looking stack in front of me. I’m to the left of the dealer (out of the blinds) and scared to death. I think, to avoid looking horrified, I shoved in enough chips to see the flop. I quickly folded afterwards. That was my plan…fold everything. As long as I wasn’t in the blinds (seats where betting is mandatory), I could play for free and watch the game develop. I was hoping to start noticing trends or something. I just got more confused. I decided to only stay in a hand if I had pocket pairs of 2 cards of the same suit (one bring an ace). I even managed to win a few hands. I didn’t realize I’d won them until people told me, but winning is winning.

The guy next to me busted out and so did a few others in the other rooms. I’d survived the first wave of cuts! It was time to consolidate tables. I was shuttled off to the dining room.

By now, about 6 people were out, so the rest of us had their $18,000. Minimum bets had gone up and I was in a new room. A room filled with VERY serious-looking people. The guy next to me looked like he could be an extra on Rescue Me. Irish as can be and angry. He was also shaking violently. The table was bouncing. I figured it was best not to say anything because I liked being alive.

(Here’s where the story gets really boring)

I folded for a while until I suddenly had something like Ace-5 in my hand. The flop brought out a pair of aces and another 5. HOLY SHIT! I had a full house!!!! I bet a little more. It was me and Seamus McTwitchy. 4th Street brought some card or another. The River (look at me all cute-like using terminology) brought out another Ace. I was stoked. I had a full house!

With determination in my voice and regret that there wasn’t a camera to record this moment, I uttered the immortal “I’m all in” and pushed in all my chips.

Seamus swore. He had more chips than I did, so he called. I turned over my cards and the room went wild.

The host looked at me just before I turned them and said “Nice Ace”. I was baffled. How did he know?

“Did you see my cards?”
“No…why else did you go all-in? You had the 4th ace”

OH SHIT! I had 4 aces. I had no idea. I saw the hand all wrong. I still thought I had a full house when, in actuality, I had 4 of a kind. Seamus, not thinking I had the Ace, called my bet. He figured we’d split the pot because what was going to beat our combined 3 aces and 2 5′s. Well, my 4 aces beat it. He was PISSED! The room was happy to see 4 of a kind.

I scooted ever so slightly out of range of Seamus’s fists and we played on. I was suddenly in a good chip position.

2 hands later, I had another full house. Trying to make hay while the sun shone, I pushed in again. It was down to me and a man with gnarled hands named Bruce. He called my bet. Whoopsie…Bruce had 4 of a kind. I lost half my chips all at once.

Seamus looked happy.

A few hands later, I was in bad shape. I was down to the end. It was Seamus and me. I had 2 clubs in my hand and 2 were on the table. I was close. Seamus raised the pot enough to force me all in if I wanted to see the rest of the cards. What the hell? I only had enough for 2 or 3 more hands anyway. All in I went.

People saw my clubs and, suddenly, interest in the room went up. I don’t remember what Seamus had, but a flush would beat it.

Non-club comes out. I was resigned to my fate.

Club! Flush! Woohoo!
“Get this fucking guy out of this room! I don’t care where he goes. Get him out of here!”

I peed a little bit because I suddenly had a beet-red Irishman screaming at me. Luckily someone had come by asking for players because the group in the kitchen was short. I scurried away, simply happy to be alive.

It didn’t last long in the next room. Minimum bets were $1500 and I only had like $5000 in chips. I went down in 4 hands. I went back to the dining room to report to Seamus that I’d lost and he swore at me again.

I grabbed my coat and left.

They’d started with 20 people and 9 were left when I busted out. I’d beaten half the field. That, of course, left me short $20, but I felt some sense of pride. I’d lasted longer than 10 poker nerds.

I’ve been invited back to December’s game. I won’t be going. Shmuppie will be away that weekend and the rest of us are either going to the beach or staying home and enjoying a quiet weekend. Poker-related stress does not factor into my plans.

But, they start the new tournament in January. Would it be worth $20 per month to piss some people off? It just might be.

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