Monday, February 20, 2006

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Subject- Guitarist: Rock Bottom

The Saga continues from Stage left. The agony, the ecstasy, and un poquito caliente fajitas from Jesus’ burrito wagon about 3:30am...

Weekends of November and December 2005

Venues: various poker rooms in STL

Hi kids, Deron’s back again! Did you miss me? Once Knucklehead went on “hiatus”, I’ve been wondering what to do with my blog in the interim. In one excerpt, I was going to write about the “day in the life of Wednesday, my dog”. Of course, most of that blog can be summed up thus: “Sleep. Sleep. Get up. Oh boy! Oh boy! Gotta go outside! I’m at the door, let me outside! I’m outside! Sniff. Sniff. Here’s a good spot to pee. Hey! Hey! Let me in! Oh boy! Oh boy! I’m inside! Run down stairs and pounce on the bed! Oh boy! Pant! Where’s he going? I guess I’ll lay down. Sleep. I’m hungry. Where’s my bowl? Mmmm. Ol’ Roy! I think I’m tired, better go lay down. Sleep. Hey, I’ve got to shit. I gotta go outside. Where is he? I’m at the door. Oh well, I just shit over here! Sleep. Hey! Where is he? Here’s his underwear. I think I’ll chew the crotch out of them. Well, that’s done, I think I’ll go lay down. Sleep. What’s that? Oh boy! Oh boy! He’s here! He’s here! Oh no! I shit on his floor! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I won’t look at him. I’m sorry! Where’s he going again? I guess I’ll lay down. Sleep. What’s that? Oh boy! Oh boy! He’s home! Hello! What the hell time is it? I can’t tell time. Lights out. It’s dark in here. I guess I’ll lay down. Sleep.”

Thrilling, to be sure.

Also, I’ve been kicking around posting some of my poker stories, as poker has become a big part of how I pass time. Problem is, this week, I’ve played so, so much, I can’t remember too many hands. I’ll try though. If you want to read a really cool blog about the life of a huge poker star, read Daniel Negreanu’s blog on It’s really something else! He gets in all these high stakes cash games where $250,000 comes and goes! Makes my $5 and $10 friendly tourneys seem quite benign!

Monday night at Mac N Mick’s, I often play with a group of guys that shoot in a pool league, and get a game going afterwards. They usually buy in for $5, each get about 120 in chips (a fairly small amount), and just play a nice easy tournament style no-limit hold ‘em. $1/$2 blinds to start. Ranges from about 5 to 7 of us. Second place takes his $5 back, winner pockets the rest. It’s more for pride than for cash. $5 just makes it interesting.

This Monday, a few more prospects were hanging about, and asked to jump in, including a husband and wife, and their buddy Shawn. I’ve played with them often on different nights. Now, the Monday night crowd usually isn’t too hip on outsiders, but they said ok, and we ended up with a multi table 14 player sit-n-go.

First hand, I wake up to a wired pair of ladies, QQ. I bet 4x the big blind (my standard pre-flop raise), or about 12 chips, and Andy, who’d limped in, calls me in “middle position” (about 3rd from the dealer), I have the button (that means I’m last to act, and I get to see what he bets first). Flop comes out A,K,10, which makes me really uneasy, but I have a gut-shot Broadway (ace high) straight draw, and a decent pair if he doesn’t have and ace or king, so I wait to see what he does. Maybe all that paint (high cards) on the flop scared him?

Andy checks, and I figure I’ll come at him, maybe make him fold right there, and bet the pot, about 25 chips. Andy check raises me another 25 to go, and I’m thinking: “what the hell does he have that he limped in pre-flop? Does he have Ace-rag (ace with a smaller card in the pocket)? Did he call me with King-rag? He check raised me! I hate that! I’ve got a friggin’ pair of Queens, you idiot!”

Foolishly, I call, hoping for another Q or the J to complete my straight. 4th street (the next card, also called “the Turn”) comes a brick (no help), and Andy moves all in. God Damn! First fricking hand! I can’t fucking call! I should have folded on the check raise, but, shit! Pair of queens, down the shitter first fucking hand!

I toss my ladies, and from the first shot, I’m crippled. I lost half my stack of chips without a showdown. I didn’t really recover from it, no other hands were really very memorable the rest of the tournament. Andy went on with a decent card rush, and took out the husband and wife, and their buddy, Shawn. I did make it to the final table of 6 just waiting my chance to hit some cards, but very, very short stacked. I think I hit an Ace Jack (Ajax) off suit, and went all in with not very much, but a chance to double up. Jordan, who is pretty loose, pretty drunk, and a big stack said “what the hell, I’ll call” turning over 10-6 suited, or something. I was ahead at least 65%/35% to double up and still have a chance. Flop hits his 10, and turn and river were bricks, and I was done. Another night of getting outdrawn...

I later asked Andy “what the hell did you have that first hand?” “Queen Jack suited,” he told me “I flopped the nut straight”. Damn, just my luck! Well, probably not that smart of him calling my preflop raise with QJ suited, but who was I to argue? Andy’s played me before, and knows I only play with decent hands, especially that early, which meant A-J or better, or pocket pairs, and I come at them with a nice raise: no cheap looks at the flop. QJ suited was a hand for him to get in big, big trouble. But, this time it wasn’t. Andy generally isn’t a formidable player, but that was a perfect check raise on my ass, and when you get the cards, anyone can do damage.

We got a little side game going, and I kept an eye on the outcome of the other one. It ended up Andy and Jordan, who are two young guys with monster chip stacks and little experience (well, Jordan has some, but he was obliterated having been drinking all day, and is far too aggressive and reckless for his own good at a poker table to begin with), and Donnie, a lawyer about my age, super nice guy, and crafty card player. By the end, Donnie had cleaned up, knocking down both their monster chips stacks to take about $35 and bragging rights. I continued to get outdrawn in the side game.

The Wednesday Night Poker Crew started about a year ago at Steve Hall’s house. We loved playing online poker, and Steve works with a younger crowd at Pizza Hut who all have caught the poker bug, so Steve invited them over on a Wednesday night, and we’ve been doing it ever since. $10 buy-in, no-limit tournament style, and depending on how many we have, that’s the purse. Usually top three get “in the money”. One disadvantage was that Steve doesn’t smoke, and doesn’t really want anyone to smoke in his living room, so during hands there would be a mad rush out the front door to light a smoke, and so forth. I finally said “hey, let’s move this to Mac N Mick’s. They have $2 macho mugs, good food, everyone that wants to smoke can, and I know poker players there, we’ll pick up even more.”

Everyone agreed, and for about the last six months, it was a fixture at the back room at M&M’s, about a dozen or so of us playing away, having a great time. We’d met a bunch of new players to keep the game interesting, and sometimes we’d have up to 20 players, really wild!

A few weeks ago, the dart league on Wednesday’s kicked in, and a new pool league started, and things were getting really crowded for Mac N Mick’s. But that’s a good thing, right? Business? Money? All good? Well, some of the dart players and pool players began complaining about us crowding them. Hey, I can’t help 20 people want to play poker, it’s hot right now! We couldn’t play out front, because even though we don’t have any money on the table, or advertise for the bar, they’d just as soon not draw too much attention to our growing game. They started to tell us to keep it to 10 people, and I suggested that none of the under 21 crowd play. They don’t drink anything, and really aren’t supposed to be in the bar after midnight.

Well, this past Wednesday, I arrived to see the usual crew, Stephanie, Amy, Ed, and Josh sitting at the small back bar. In our usual seats along the shuffleboard table, the pool players had stuck every single one of their cues straight up along the seats, an obvious message to keep us from playing. The mood was pretty tense from the get-go. I took a quick head count around the bar, and there were at least 12 players wanting to jump in, and 2 more on the way, Scott and Steve. Way over our 10 player limit. I knew this was going to go badly.

I tried to move it out front, but the co-owner Jerry quickly tried to shuttle us to the back. “The pool players won’t let us,” I told him. One of our friends kindly asked them to move their cues, when one of the pool players shrieked at him (and she’s an old friend of mine, too, but not anymore, she can go to Hell) in a completely discourteous manner, as though SHE was the fucking bar owner, and started telling us where to play. Jerry ran back to keep the peace, and I’d already made up my mind: we were going somewhere else. Jerry turned to me and said “no more poker games.” Yeah, no problem, pal. We’ll spend our money elsewhere where we’re treated kinder. Someone said lets go to ‘such and such’s’, and we were off. To protect the game, I’ll keep that under wraps. Don’t need anyone fucking with us.

We got there, and we had a wonderful time. Everyone agreed it was very nice, and smiles filled our faces. We found a new home! Open mic night, too, and my old next door neighbor was helping run it! So, when Steve and I get knocked out, we go and sing. Guess we’ll work up some acoustic stuff.

I played very, very well Wednesday night, and found myself on the bubble with a nice chip stack. That meant the next person to go out finished “out of the money”, which sucks. Play for a couple hours, and have nothing to show for it. I’ve been there too many times before. We’d made it a $15 buy-in, and with the 14 players, we paid $15 to 3rd, $30 to second, and the winner took the rest, about $165! 4th place was a terrible spot to finish!

The final four were all pretty strong, aggressive players: Stephanie and Mark, both Uber aggressive players; Josh, a “trapper”, who likes to smooth call and trap aggressive opponents by slow playing his big hands; and myself. I like to shift gears, play all different styles. I think I was chip leader for a while, and then second to Steph, who was really catching some cards.

I folded under the gun (first to act), Mark opened with a raise from the button, Josh re-raised from the small blind, and Steph moved over the top all in from the big blind. Mark, who was short stacked, called, and Josh thought about it. Stephanie had him covered, and Mark was all in too, but he felt he had a strong enough hand anyway, and called her! All three had monster hands. I can’t remember the particulars, but even though I think Josh was ahead, Stephanie caught a flush, I think, and took both of them out! I went from bubble to 2nd, doubling my money, without lifting a finger! Well, she also had a monster chip stack after that, and I was no match. She was on a real card rush, and put me out of my misery quickly. Still, I was happy to double my money, and felt I’d played a strong game. Better cards, and I’d had a strong chance to beat Stephanie. She was just unbeatable tonight, and some nights, that happens. Good for her.

Steve sang Stone Temple Pilots “Plush” with the open mic crowd, and was eager to get me up there with him now that the tourney was over. Well, some other dude from The Alley got up there, and kind of camped out doing ‘60’s and ‘70’s stuff. Steve was getting smashed, and wisely said “I’m outta here.”

A cash game had sprung up on the side as some of the others had been knocked out of our game, and others wandered in, wanting to get in on the action. I watched for a bit, and debated to get in. Cash games are different animals than tourneys; you have to play looser and that means you can win BIG pots, but also lose with good hands. I DON’T like to lose. I’m more comfortable with a tighter game. I’d made my $15 profit, and wanted to hang on to it. Still, this was a loose bunch with a couple of real drunks, so it seemed like easy pickings. I felt like I was playing some good poker, and I might make some money here. There was about 9 playing, and little room to squeeze in, but longer for the blinds to go around, so I could be more patient, play my tight game. I thought it over. Well, one guy got busted out, and I said screw it and bought in, taking his seat. It was $0.25/$0.50 No-Limit Hold ‘em, $10 max buy in. I plunked down $10, and sat like a rock, waiting for some cards to play.

Before long, they came, and I woke up to a wired pair of cowboys, KK! I made it $2 to go, and got one caller, an inebriated Patrick (who’d suggested that we play here in the first place!). Flop came blanks, most notably no ace, so my kings were strong, and no visible flush or straight draw. I had a very strong hand now. He pushes at me all in! “Call!” I said, and I flip over my KK, which I knew had to be top pair. It was. He had K10, was pushing me on a bluff, and mistakenly thought he had a decent hand despite. He was wrong! My kings dominated him, and they held up (he did have a scary back door straight draw that formed on 4th street, but vanished on the river), and I busted him out and doubled my chips to $20. I think that was the third time he busted out. He re-bought in for $10 and kept playing!

Well, I looked down having doubling my chips, and really didn’t feel like playing anymore! Ed, sitting next to me, felt the same way having won a sizeable stack himself, and we both agreed to sit on our stacks and wait. Well, that didn’t last long for Ed, who got involved with a hand I probably wouldn’t have (I can’t remember it now) ended up all in, and was busted out! I think Patrick got him. Either he spontaneously combusted, or I didn’t see him leave, because Ed was gone in a flash! He must have been steaming mad! Poor Ed! Wow, that happens fast! Was that to be my fate tonight too? Some irresistible hand that busts my ass out?

I hung around for a while, played one hand with Ajax (A-J) suited where I won a small pot, but that basically replaced my blinds I’d lost waiting for something decent. Last call rolled around, and I was glad. $10 on the cash game, $15 up on the tourney: $25 profit tonight! And, a cool new bar to play poker at where shrieking harpies playing pool won’t bother us! Laissez la bonnes temps roule! Let the good times roll!

Well, that’s life so far. Then, I hit the stage with Rock Bottom. I’ll have to save that for the next blog. I meant to get around to it here, but the poker stories just took up too much space! Well, that’s what it’s all about right now. In case you didn’t know, Danny Brown Jr. left the Rock Bottom, and they asked me to replace him, to which I said “of course, I’d love to!” We’ve played a couple weekends at Richards, and there’s lots of good, bad, and ugly to tell you about there! Until then, if I don’t see you on the stage, be nice to me at the poker table!