Monday, March 3, 2008

Chapter One: No Luck

When we leave next month for our "Pie in the Sky II" road trip, part of the plan is to play poker across the country, hoping to qualify somehow for this summer's World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. If all goes well, we've thought, maybe we'll write a book about the experience.

On Sunday, in kind of a pre-trip prep run, we drove down to our favorite local cardroom, the Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn, to play in one of their monthly World Series "satellite" tournaments. You pay $170 to enter. If you're lucky or skillful enough to win, the prize is a seat in the $10,000 entry-fee World Series main event, the same tournament I played last July with help from Team Mark.

It's a long shot, but hey. Hitting the jackpot before we even hit the road would be a pretty good start.

On the 45-minute drive down to Auburn we talked tournament strategy and quizzed each other with problems from "Harrington on Hold 'Em, Vol. III." You know: You're dealt the ace and queen of clubs in late position and two players before you "limp in" to the pot (calling the blinds without raising); do you fold, call $60, raise to $240 or push all-in? Stuff like that. We had a similar conversation last summer, when Michelle gave me her pre-tourney pop quiz: If you're dealt pocket kings on the first hand and another player goes all-in do you call or fold? We disagreed about that one.

Ever the optimist, Michelle blurted out halfway to the Muck on Sunday: "OK baby, you know this is the first chapter of your book ..."

Well, I don't know about that, but I did see a pretty close approximation of Michelle's pocket-kings pop quiz. I wasn't involved in the hand, unfortunately or fortunately, but it was interesting to watch.

In the second hand of the tournament, a woman who I hadn't seen before and who didn't seem very experienced tossed a $100 chip in front of her before the flop, clearly intending to raise to $100. But the rules of tournament poker state that unless you explicitly announce the amount of your raise, any single chip bet will be assumed to be a call, not a raise. So the Seat 5 woman was forced to merely call the $50 big blind. The action folded around to Bonnie, a Muckleshoot regular and a good tournament player, who might have missed the other lady's bungled raise. Bonnie popped it to $500 and the other woman pushed all-in. Bonnie immediately called.

What disappointment and horror she must have felt when she proudly flipped over her pocket kings -- the second best hand possible before the flop -- only to find that Accidental Caller Lady had inadvertently "limped" with pocket aces. The rockets held up and Bonnie was out on the tourney's second hand.

Me, I didn't have any such close calls, or even difficult decisions. I folded hand after hand for two hours, seeing nothing even to get out of line with. I won one small pot with an offsuit 5-2 in the big blind, when no one raised and I flopped two pair. Eventually the rising blinds nicked away at my chip stack and, in the fourth round, I went out when my best starting hand of the day -- ace-king -- lost an all-in bet to a guy with pocket queens. Ah well.

Michelle, at an adjacent table, lasted about half an hour longer than I did. She said later she didn't get many good cards either. Sometimes it goes like that.

Further evidence of poker's whims: When I busted out I went to join my friend David in a live game. In the first three hands I was dealt I saw better cards than in my entire two hours of the tournament. I cashed out a $180 winner -- enough to cover my tourney entry and buy my standard Muck lunch, seafood fried rice.

Chapter One will have to wait for another day.


freda said...

when exactly will you be leaving for your 'pie in the sky' trip? I will be in Virginia/Maryland from April 15 through 22. Steven and family will be down at the same time for Matthew's second birthday. If you are in the area at that time, we could all get together. Let me know when you expect to be down in La. and I will make sure I am here. David and Ann will be leaving for Japan on April 4, busy month.

Janice said...

btw. We in Louisville have a very special pie, the Derby pie. Generally consumed around the Ky. Derby (first saturday in may) but available all the time. It's basically a chocolate pecan pie, not as good as regular pecan pie, but that fits, mint juleps are as good as regular bourbon. Just helping with the research.

kateco said...

whoa janice ... that is a very tempting research assist. Temptress.

M&M ... hard to believe the trip is so soon. I can't wait to read it. Chapter and post.

Mark said...

Yes, that is some high-end and subtle lobbying Janice is doing. As if pecan pie isn't enough temptation, she throws in chocolate too ... and then makes it sound like that's a bad thing! Genius.

Hook me up with a mint julep and you've got a deal.

We'll be in N.O. for Jazzfest on the first weekend of May, but I won't be surprised if we make it up Kentucky way shortly after that.

More details on this trip tk.

Donna said...

Your road trip sounds terrific. And great to have a Gulf Coast casino stop, too. Ed and I checked out those riverboat casinos back when he was working on Mississippi Mud.

Funny I have a chapter in my new travel book called `Pie in the Sky.' It's a weekend trek up to Julian. Lotsa apple pie. Sadly, no poker.

Rita said...

Sounds like a good first chapter to me.

What better way to start a pie-in-the-sky trip book than a pre-trip prep-run at a World Series Satellite Tournament, with all the excitement of poker strategy and chance.

Janice said...

Kentucky in May is great. Everyone must have their gardens and yards spic and span by Derby. Derby is an unlikely ticket but the track is open Wednesdays through Sundays all the way until July 4. So it is possible to have Derby pie and a mint julip at Churchill while watching the ponies run all through May. Also, it's baseball season and we have a triple-A team (for the Reds) that plays in a neat stadium with a brew pub in it. I've got third base side season tickets (the shady side in this park). And plenty of room at home for guests.

Mark said...

Sold, Janice.

Janice said...


Mike said...

spirit mountain is holding WSOP qualifiers ever Saturday in March... if your journey begins that soon and in a southerly direction, let me know and i'll join you.