Poker Cats

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Vegas -- Sunday in the Church of Poker

I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I've worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn't work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. ... I've tried 'em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.
--Annie Savoy, Bull Durham

It's ok to eat fish/Cause they don't have any feelings
--Nirvana

LAS VEGAS -- "Know the difference between praying in church and praying in poker?" asks Gary the dealer asks Table 33 at the Bellagio.
"When they pray in the poker room, they're really serious," he says with a laugh.
Maybe that explained the lightning I saw off of the highway by the Palms as I zoomed down Interstate 15 to my downtown hotel, the Four Queens. Poker players are in a classic table dilemma with that comment -- we're either way up or way behind with The Man Upstairs. LOL
I didn't get much play in between playing this morning at the Wynn. I went downtown, tried to get a game at Binion's, after I ate lunch in Binion's always excellent Coffee Shop. But they were really just getting some tables started. I got my hotel room squared away at the 'Queens but was told it wouldn't be ready until 4 p.m. So I shuffled my way up the Strip to the Bellagio, where I waited a few but soon got a great table.
Just like my last outing there early this morning, I soon found myself $100 down, after getting punk'd by an old Russian-looking guy to my left who seemed to have no regard for draws and pot odds. He made his baby straight versus my pair of Kings (AK) on the river.
But then, I was in middle position when I limped with JTs, one guy limped, a guy in late raised, a fishy player in early called. I called.
Flop was JKJ, all red. Fishy checks, I check, third guy (who later says he had no idea why people waited for the button before they left for a smoke) checks, raiser bets.
Then it all happened. The stuff that makes you sit up straight in your plush Bellagio pew in the Church of Poker.
Fishy raises. I say raise.
But the dealer makes a mistake. "Make it $16" he says. My 3-bet should have been $12 at $4/8.
I oblige him, thinking there's no way the third guy will cold call $16 just like that.
But he does. And the preflop raiser and fishy guy do also. No one complains they've been made to pay more than they should.
At this point, I realize there's nothing I can do to protect the hand, with a possible flush draw (2 diamonds) out there.
So I just bomb. Third guy and fishy call the turn. Preflop raiser folds in disgust.
It's only fishy on the river. I bet when he checks to me. He calls.
"Trip Jacks?" I say as I flip over my cards. He mucks.
And there you have it. Down and out one moment, a hero the next.
To tell the truth, I think people treat the Church of Poker the same way they treat the regular church. There's nothing that goes through a fish's mind as he's trying to defy pot odds to suckout on you on the river. There's either fish food in that river or there isn't.
They don't realize that the religious God (or the poker Gods?), to steal from the movie Bull Durham gave you a thunderbolt for a betting arm with texts such as SSH or Super/System 2. It's the same God that brought you poker theologians Yoda and Ed Miller.
And to tell the truth, I don't know how religious I feel when I'm at the poker table. The Jedi Arts are an anomaly for me. I feel like I'm more "good with a blaster," better with the confidence I have in my skills than any mysticism. But I do feel a sense of awe, a "purpose-driven life," when I walk into the best poker rooms such as the Bellagio or Wynn and know that I can hold my own, or even that some players may even fear me. If this is part of what I was meant to do, so be it. I can still do some good in the process.

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