Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Zone of Terror

Recall that Friends episode with Monica’s boyfriend Pete who had just got his ass whipped in an Ultimate fighting competition?  Pete is standing there with both arms in a cast and oblivious to his lack of skill says, “See this circle I'm marking off here? This is my zone of terror.”

Last night I was taken to someone else’s zone of terror.

To be fair, it really wasn’t a zone of terror.  It was, however, a visit outside my zone of comfort, which for all intents and purposes might as well be a zone of terror.


Whenever my cell phone rings on a weekday, I know I’m in for trouble.  Last night as I was putting the mini’s to bed, I heard it’s familiar ring and bolted downstairs to answer it.  The caller id said “The Mark” and I knew what was coming.

“You up for a game tonight?”

Generally I don’t like to press my luck with playing “unscheduled” poker.  Mrs_Blood is more than generous with my time out of the house pursuing unattainable bankroll goals and since I know that overextending myself in this regard is very, very –EV, I try to pick my spots.

I received one of those telltale “You can go’s.”  It the kind where you know that you’re on the borderline of having to watch a chick flick on the weekend in order to make up for going out on a Monday.  Still, I took the bait and told her I’d be back by midnight.


The game would be played at The Rick’s – brother of The Mark.  As I was driving to the game, I got a phone call from G-Rob wondering why I didn’t alert him to the game.  I had incorrectly assumed that The Mark had called him too.  No matter, G-Rob forgave my oversight and arranged for his attendance.

As I pulled into the driveway, I knew right away that I was in for something different.  Rather than the normal assortment of Hondas, Toyotas and Minivans, I parked my 1997 beater next to a shiny Mercedes which just so happened to be parked next to an equally as shiny Jaguar.  I’m sure I was devaluing their vehicles simply by being in the same parking lot.



I was hoping it would be reminiscent of that scene in Rounders when Mike and Worm take big cash from the rich kids.  Not that G-Rob and I are sharks, but I felt that both of us stood a good chance of taking home some serious cash if the players were a bit loose with their play.

The game was dealer’s choice – Hold ‘em, Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo – all for no limit stakes.  The blinds were $2/4 with a buy-in of $200.  Like I said, out of my comfort zone.

The poker room atop The Rick’s garage was unbelievable - by far the best I’d ever played in.  Custom ChipCo poker chips adorned the racetrack poker table.  If the 50+” HDTV next to the wall wasn’t enough, a smaller TV located above the bar on the other side of the room was available.  Monday Night Football on one, post-season baseball on the other.


As I sat there and played cautiously, G-Rob noted that he’d read somewhere that the buy-in to the game shouldn’t matter – you should just play your own game.  Very true, but very hard to do.

I had missed a few flops early and dropped about one third of my buy-in.  Secretly I wondered how I’d be perceived if I left after dropping “only” one buy-in – the equivalent of four at my normal game.  I didn’t want to be one of those guys obviously in over his head forced to leave with his tail between his legs.  I don’t like being that guy.


Luckily, I found a few hands and managed to win my way to over double my buy-in.  Unfortunately, it wouldn’t last.  The nature of the Omaha beast did me in.  On three occasions, I had the nuts on the turn.  As Omaha experts know, when you have the nuts with no redraws, you can get into trouble.  On each of those three occasions, the river brought an opponent a better hand than mine.

All was not lost, however, and as midnight rolled around I was able to cash out a modest winner.  It’s not the results that I was pleased about, it was the transitioning of zones.  Most assuredly, I was out of my normal comfort zone.  As The Mark would say to me as a big Omaha pot got scooped by his brother, “Welcome to my world.”  It was quite a welcoming, but one I’m glad I endured.

My attempts to move up in limits online has met with failure thus far.  Since the days of Brad-o-ween, I’ve managed to build up the live bankroll to a point where I think I can sit down at this game and eventually be comfortable.  One thing is for sure, leaving your own comfort zone is a sure way to bring the excitement back into your game.

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