Thursday, August 14, 2008

All in, all out

All this poker talk lately has stoked my desire (like I need any encouragement) to go try my luck at the Muck. That and the $100,000 the casino is giving away this week to its regular poker players.

Every hour from 7 to 10 p.m., every night this week, the poker room manager draws names from a barrel until five players receive $1,000. That's $5,000 an hour, four hours a night for five nights: $100,000. Free money. All you need to do is be present, and have played at least 25 hours of Muckleshoot poker in the past three months. Nothing to it.

Well, the more hours you play the more drawing tickets you get, and we were on Pie in the Sky for two of the three months this quarter so my chances aren't so good. Still, I've got enough hours to qualify, with three tickets in the barrel. Deal me in!

With a mix of duty and hope I trundled out to Auburn on Monday -- and Tuesday, and tonight -- to mix it up with the degenerates and, on the hour, to listen for my name. I don't mean to sound bragadocious, but I've liked my chances. Since we've been home all the bad luck and the bad play from the road have receded and I've been enjoying a nice poker-room heater. Every time I've played I've booked a win; a hundred bucks here, two hundred there, a couple of tournament cashes. I'm up about $1,000 in the past month and feeling comfortable, if not cocky.

Somehow, though, through a combination of ugly cards, unprofitable decisions and unfortuitous timing, things haven't worked out as I imagined. After pot after losing pot, I found myself rebuying chips on both Monday and Tuesday. Not to mention, my ticket wasn't drawn from the free-money barrel.

Turns out my three tickets were quite the long shot. Some players have dozens of tickets. I heard there are about 3,000 in the barrel in all, meaning I'm about a tenth of 1 percent shot to hit any time a name is called. Those odds haven't stopped several players with fewer tickets than I have from scoring a thousand bucks, and some with only a few more than I have have been called two, three, four times. Gambling's so random.

Plus, all the free money in the room has brought out every crazy, money-starved wacko gambler who ever logged two dozen hours. The action has been crazy. Raising and re-raising with nothing. Drawing to two outs, or less. Betting blind. Every goofy play you've ever seen.

On Tuesday, the poker action wasn't enough for Edmund -- "not Ed" -- a 20-something, vodka-chugging Asian kid who sat down at our table. When another young drinker joined the game, Edmund challenged him to a game of rock-paper-scissors for $20. They argued terms of the bet for half an hour. "I don't know," the newcomer said, "I like to gamble on my terms. You're coming on all like some kinda a rock-paper-scissors master."

"I've got an idea," I said. "A three-way spelling bee for a thousand bucks."

That shut them up, but only for a few minutes. Eventually they went off to the bathroom -- no joke; gambling (other than poker) isn't allowed at the poker table -- to play rock-paper-scissors for $100 a pop. Edmund took him down, or so he said.

Meanwhile the hyper atmosphere seemed to have everyone on edge. One of the dealers told a story about a guy, a couple of weeks ago, who took a bad beat and literally spit on the woman who beat him -- a mouth full of chewing tobacco. Michelle and I happened to be there that night. That story prompted one about the guy who cold-cocked another player at Diamond Lil's, knocking him out with one punch (Michelle and I were there for that one too), and then I told about the guy in L.A. who, mad about a bad beat, walked out to his car, came back to the poker room and heaved a golf ball at the offending player, hitting him in the chest and knocking him down, leading to the summoning of police.

So the dealer Mario recounted the weirdest poker-table tale he'd seen recently, about a drunk young woman in Seat 6 who pulled a breast out of her lowcut dress and then, later, leaned back and plopped her leg onto the poker table, revealing a Britneyesque lack of undergarments. The way Mario told the story, three players at the table were older gentlemen with their wives sitting behind them; they concentrated on looking at the chips directly in front of them. But the guy in Seat 5 couldn't help looking at the display on his left.

"Action's on you, sir," Mario recalled saying. And, to the woman, "Please keep both feet on the floor, ma'am."

Who knows.

When I got to the Muck tonight I ran into Freddie, a 50-ish regular, who was also waiting for a game. "They draw your name yet," I asked. "Christ no," he said.

My goal, I said, was to lose less than a thousand trying to win a thousand.

"A thousand? More like two thousand," Freddie said. "I'm down 300 a night so far."

Poor bastard. At least I'm not that bad off. A couple hundred here and there, and tonight I won the first three pots I played, up a hundred-plus in half and hour. Nothing to it. But the cards turned, I yinged when I shoud have yanged, and by 8 o'clock -- the second drawing, but my fourth hour at the Muck -- I was down almost a hundred bucks, nearly $500 for the week.

Free money. But not for me. Time to go home.

1 comment:

Rita said...

Design a cover and put it on the market.