Cheering Up

At the end of the work-week I was feeling decidedly glum. I was getting frustrated with my current project at work (which isn’t my favorite sort of project even when it’s going well), and I’d tried and failed – twice – to organize a Magic draft, but not enough people were interested. So Saturday morning I was feeling lethargic and not enthusiastic about anything we might do that day. (This despite an impromptu trip to the coast to see the sun set Friday night.)

After going out for lunch, though, I motivated myself to go down to Bay 101 to play some low-limit poker. And although it took more than an hour to get seated, I ended up having my best session in many months, and coming away feeling considerably cheered up!

Not only was it a fun and profitable session, but it was also memorable. Some notes:

  • I came in on the big blind when I sat down, and then got dealt crappy hands for the whole first orbit of the table (oddly, I got dealt Q-5 four times in those nine hands). At one point, worried that people would see me as an extremely tight player (and thus not want to play with me), I idly said, “Someday I’ll get some high cards…” The guy on my left commiserated with me and said that he’d learned that Hold ‘Em is a game that requires patience.

    My big blind came back around and he said, “Okay, here’s your high cards. Now you gotta play ’em!” I said, “I will, if no one raises me!” He laughed, and the woman on his left said, “Well I’m going to raise you!” So she raised and four people called. And I looked at my cards… and had two Aces! So I said, “Well I’m going to re-raise you!” Everyone called, and five opponents isn’t a great situation for pocket pairs unless you hit a set (three of a kind), but the board was an innocuous collection of low cards. I bet the flop, and everyone called. I bet the turn, and got two callers. And I bet the river, and only the original raiser called, and then mucked when I showed my Aces. So I won a huge pot!
  • About 15 minutes later I got Aces again in my big blind – the two red Aces, this time. I raised, and got 5 callers again. And the flop, the flop was… A-A-9. Yes, I flopped four Aces. Everyone checked the flop, everyone checked the turn, so on the river I hoped someone had hit something, so I bet, and everyone folded. “You guys are No Fun At All,” I said as I showed my Aces. Everyone groaned, and one person said, “Well at least you got your preflop raise in!” Not a huge pot, but not bad at all.

    Afterwards I said, “I do actually raise with cards other than Aces,” just in case anyone was wondering.
  • An hour into the game our table got broken up. The casino wanted to reclaim one of the low-limit games for a high-stakes game, so they waited until there were enough open seats at other tables and then we got dispersed. I learned that – at Bay 101 at least – if you get moved, then you come in after the dealer button has passed and effectively get to play a round without posting the blind. So that was nice. The new table was a little tougher than the first table, but I also got a little luckier, so it worked out.
  • At the new table, I got dealt Kings twice, and won once and lost once. I lost most of my winnings to the player on my right, who was both playing well and catching a lot of cards, but then I managed to chip up again over the course of several pots.
  • The most memorable hand at this table involved playing a trick on another player. I played Q-Jo from the big blind, and the betting went like this:
    • Five players, including the woman who played the whole hand, limped in. I checked my blind (Q-Jo isn’t a hand I’m thrilled to play for a raise against 6 players, although maybe I should have).
    • The flop was Q-8-3 rainbow. I bet, and the woman calls. Everyone else folds.
    • The turn is another Q. Now I have trip Queens, and I’m thinking, “Hmm, if I bet, she’s going to assume I have a Queen and fold. So maybe I can be sneaky to get one more bet out of her. Better yet, she might bet into me!” I check, and she checks.
    • The river is an 6. No flush possibilities. I bet, and the woman thinks for a bit and calls. I win with my trip Queens (she didn’t show her hand).

    I was a little surprised this trick worked, and actually felt a little bad about it (but only a little). I assume she had middle pair or maybe Jacks, Tens or Nines, or maybe even two pair (she might have been playing 8-6, for instance, though that’s not very likely as she was a moderately tight player). I’m not sure what she put me on, but it’s not she might have thought I had the same sorts of hands.

    Several other players declared they were suspicious of my check on the turn, but who knows what they might have done in her place!

So I left feeling considerably cheered up, and better about my poker playing than I have in a long time. Okay, I know I had a bit of a lucky streak, but it seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve had a lucky streak. It made me happy.

The rest of the weekend was also fun, although not something conducive to deconstruction: Saturday night we joined some friends for bowing at Strike, an upscale bowling alley in a nearby mall. The food and drinks were good (if a bit slow to arrive), and bowling was fun – always kind of entertaining to play a game that I’m not much good at, and don’t have much interest to get better at. My friend Josh cleaned up, but then, I think he’s bowled more than the rest of us.

Sunday morning some other friends came over and we went to the farmer’s market, and then for a bike ride, stopping at the Shoreline Cafe for lunch. It was just about a perfect day for a ride, and we had a good time. Afterwards, Debbi and I went out for coffee, and when we got back I spent some time working on some Magic decks for a constructed game another friend hosts each week.

So all-in-all it was a good weekend with friends and relaxation and some good luck. And maybe it’s recharged me enough to tackle the new week head-on.