Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Blurry vision?

The next time my trusty nurse practitioner Jennifer asks at our monthly appointment whether I'm having blurry vision maybe I should say yes. At least that's the excuse I'm trying to allow myself for a huge blunder in my afternoon poker session at the Muck. I misread the board -- a rookie mistake that I haven't made in a very long time -- and it cost me a lot of chips.

I was playing with the hole cards K-Q, a pretty good starting hand that, at this loose table, stood to drag a good pot if it hit. The flop brought scary but potentially lucrative cards -- 10, 9, 3, but with two clubs. That meant I had an inside straight draw but was vulnerable if someone else were drawing to a flush.

Six people were in the pot and somehow it checked around without a bet on the flop. This was doubly good, I thought -- a free card for me, and diminishing pot odds for the flush-drawers if I wanted to bet or raise to go for a steal on the next street.

Beautifully, the turn brought the jack of diamonds, completing my straight and missing the flush-drawers. A tough, aggressive player in Seat 7, two seats to my right, bet out in early position, which again was perfect for me. Now I was able to raise, forcing the players behind me to fold or call $16 for one chance at catching their flush card in what was now a $48 pot. That would be an error if they did so, and if they were calling with one pair they were probably drawing dead, unable to catch a card that would win them the pot.

Predictably, and happily, everyone laid down until it got back to the original bettor, who just called. Any non-club on the river, I figured, and I was good. The final card was a red queen, which I took as probably good news with an asterisk. It wasn't a club -- nice! -- but now the board included 9-10-J-Q. If Seat 7 had any king I'd split the pot with him instead of hogging it, and on the off chance that he had ace-king I'd be toast. Otherwise, though, I was golden.

Again he bet! What? A-K, really?

That holding didn't make sense to me, though, given the way he'd played the hand. I thought it was much more likely he had K-J, which would have explained the turn bet and call and would have made him think he'd pulled ahead with a straight on the end. My thinking at this point was that unless he has the unlikely A-K, I had no worse than a tie for the pot. So I raised, only to be reraised (!) for my last eight chips.

My opponent turned over A-Q for top pair with top kicker, but nothing close to my straight.

"That's a good hand," Dave the dealer said.

Me, snarkily: "Not good enough," and I flipped over my king-queen and started reaching for the chips.

Nope, Dave said. Nut flush.

I looked again. Yike! The flop -- the original three common cards -- included three clubs, not two, and Seat 7's hand was the ace and queen of clubs. He'd flopped it -- the nuts, the best possible hand -- and then played me for a chump, extracting the maximum possible from my dwindling stack.

Argh, how could I have overlooked that? It happens, but it hasn't happened to me in a long time.

Embarrassed, I bought another rack of chips, refocused, and resolved to study the board -- twice -- before raising again.

Luckily, the patience and resolve paid off, or I just caught a little lucky streak, and by the time I got up to leave a couple hours later I had recovered the hundred bucks I lost and added another $130 to boot. Nice comeback to cash out a winner, but I know that my bankroll's about $40 lighter than it should have been if I were paying attention.

Tomorrow, I'm planning on playing again with my friend David. Since there won't be time to get fitted for glasses between now and then, I'm going to have to sit up close and squint.


Michelle said...

man, what a drag. i hate it when that happens!

Janice said...

great story. It's all a game.

David said...

Mark, when we play today, I'll be happy to help you read the board.
And I promise never to call you with anything but a monster.
So just remember, when I call your raise, you can fold right away and feel good about it.

kateco said...

heh -- sounds like a case of too much goddamned blogging to me ...

Ronelle said...

I woukd add a really intelligent comment here if I had any idea what you all are talking about!

Rita said...

Good luck today! Mama needs a new dress.

kateco said...

I know ronelle -- one thing Mark taught me: I have never played poker. I really figured this out during the World Series of Poker Blog. I guess I pretended to play poker sometimes and I even took some people's money, but this man is playing another, far more complicated game that I have never even really understood existed. I guess I been playing Candyland or something.