Friday, January 25, 2008

No senior discount

Yesterday, hot to press my 2008-long winning streak at the tables, I drove down to the Muck for some afternoon poker action. I've been building big chip stacks lately and so playing with a lot of confidence -- the winning and the confidence can multiply each other -- and this looked like a juicy game: a couple of tight old farts (usually a sign they can be pushed off a pot) and a bunch of overeager youngsters, including several I've played with before and knew to be beatable (wait for a hand and let them overplay their cards).

But from the beginning my session didn't go well. The kids were hitting their unlikely draws, the old guys were standing firm to notch me with a better kicker, and my cards were going dead when I needed help. Losing, like winning, can build on itself, and it wasn't long before I needed to rebuy. It was a good game, I still thought, but it was slowly dawning on me that I was the player making it good ... for everyone else.

In one hand I flopped four cards to a flush. Normally I might bet out, hoping to pick up the pot right then or, even if I were called, expecting to collect even more when my strong draw came through on the turn or river. I was feeling cautious, though, afraid my bet might be raised by one of the young aggressives, so I just checked, hoping to get a free card.

"No way," said the punk in Seat 8, flipping out four white chips, "no senior discount."

Ouch. Ow.

So I'm not a young gun, or even a savvy middle-aged player to be reckoned with. I'm another pathetic pensioner bleeding off chips.

The old guys at the table looked at me with ... not sympathy exactly, more like camaraderie. Yeah, it's annoying, isn't it, they seemed to be saying. Not bad enough that we're old guys, but these damn whippersnappers have to dangle it right here in our wrinkled old faces. Welcome to our world.

Needless to say, my draw failed to come in, again, and I had to put two more bets into Seat 8's pot.

Here's where a wise old man might have sussed out the situation with its dwindling prospects and called it a day. Me, stubborn beyond my years, I ran through another rack of chips looking for a chance to wipe the smirks off all that peach fuzz. Never happened. No senior discount, or comeback either.

All the major food groups

Tonight we get another chance, and with like-aged pals and the friendly setting of a reporter's home game. Michelle and I are invited to play at Jack Broom's house with a couple of old Times colleagues, including my friend Jim Simon, and Michelle's boss from the P-I, David McCumber. It's a reprise of a game we had a few months back at Simon's house, and I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone and trading stories over a deck of cards.

Jack's a great guy and was the first member of Team Mark, my financial backers and rooting section last summer for the World Series of Poker. We've been playing cards together, off and on, for 20 years.

I asked him what we could bring tonight and he said he's already covered on cards, poker chips and drinks. So I walked up to the Junction just now and bought a can of nuts and a bag of chips. Then, as I was walking past the donut case I noticed a chocolate raised calling out to me. I decided to break my weeks-long donut fast, what the heck, and take it home to have with a cup of coffee.

When I got to the counter the checkout lady rang up my order and half-smiled at me: "This is a healthy-looking meal if I've ever seen one."

Man, you'd think they'd train the employees not to mock the customers. Yeah, I said, you gotta take care of yourself.

When she asked for my Safeway Club Card I half expected her to offer a senior discount too. But no. Healthy eating is its own reward, I guess.

"Have a nice day, sir," she said. Close enough.


Michelle said...

wow, hilarious. people flicking you shit left and right. :)

freda said...

the check out lady was probably just jealous, I know I would have been, all I really want is chocolate cheesecake, but I have to eat healthy stuff because every time I walk past a cheesecake I gain ten pounds. I am now on the couch with a pulled muscle in my neck, too much work in the garden, chopping down bushes, pulling out vines, all I really wanted to do was play tennis, oh well, I'll have another glass of wine and maybe it won't hurt so much. damn.

mich said...

God, I'm sitting here at work laughing my head off. Good thing people are already used to me acting crazy.

I gotta say, though, your definition of "weeks" is pretty loose. You last had a donut exactly two weeks ago today, when you bought me birthday lunch and an old-fashioned. Of course, we each had only half. But a good editor might call you on your claim.

kateco said...

1) "knock the smirks off all that peach fuzz" -- damn, what am I gonna do when you're off in europe for two weeks! I already definitely feel a laugh-scab jones coming on.

2)val and I thought of you last night because Charles Nessen, Harvard law professor and founder of the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society was on Colbert. He was great! And, unlike me, he actually plays the same game you do. I told Val, "M&M definitely need to add Harvard to the M&M poker book road trip, because this guy needs to be in that book." You will enjoy watching the cool 6 minute video here.

3) Freda: It sounds like you weed with the vigor of Michelle Nicolosi! Advil, ice, wine, rest.

4) I can't believe M&M are europe-bound so soon! I cannot wait to read the Paris card club story.

5) Mich: har.

kateco said...

PS: my monday through thursday wine fast is holding fast. Week 3 and counting. It blows.

Rita said...

My reaction is like the rest of your will we make it through the next couple of weeks!!

Hope your poker skills wake up and take charge while in 'travel mode'. Senior discounts don't come cheap!

Take journal notes, we'll be waiting for details.

Ronelle said...

Nothing worse than being called sir or ma'am! Teaching 7th and 8th graders provides me with multiple opportunitites for daily insults and highlighting of my age -those kids need to learn some manners! HA! Anyway - the first boy scout that tries to help me across the street is dead meat! That is... unless it is dark out and I can't see very well, or I am limping because my feet hurt so bad at the end of the day, or my back hurts and my bags age heavy or, well you get the idea! I remember a time when it was cool to be a SENIOR -now it just sucks!

I am also setting up some therapy appointmemts to deal with the stress of a forced 2 week withdrawal from this blog. I am so happy for you guys (although jealous) and I am sure you will come back with many stories to tell. Have a great time!

Mark said...

Mich, first: This is why no one likes an editor. Don't be pulling out technicalities to screw up a good story. Besides which, two weeks is weeks.

Michelle and I had a great time tonight. It was a great group, as predicted, even though Simon was sick and couldn't show up. Rayo was there, and McCumber, and Jack and our friend Roger, who I've known since Jim and I were Olympia reporters together 20 years ago.

In honor of Bob Blethen, a newspaper magnate and former occasional member of the Times old farts poker group, Michelle and I showed up with a couple buckets of chicken along with the aforementioned snacks, and we also both lost, just like Bob. So everyone must have enjoyed our company. I got a little bit drunk on Jack's gin, but Michelle was driving and she was cool.

We had a great time, despite donating.

Maybe we'll do better in Paris.

Rita said...

Sounds like a great time. Think I'll start an old-farts-poker-group. Win or lose, you can't go wrong with old friends, buckets of chicken and gin.

Have a great trip - give my regards to Paree and pinch a few Italians for me.

Ronelle: You're a right in with this wacky outfit.