Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Debut of Brian Johnson

"Three hundred? Are you kidding?" TheMark asked.

"No, I'm not kidding. I'd like to avoid going broke right away, 'cause, you know, that wouldn't be very enjoyable."

TheMark was poking some light-hearted fun at my initial buy-in to Friday night's game down at the Depot. The table was over-flowing with chips. Two people had bought in for $1k, others with over $800. Me? I need to win a couple of pots before I can get really comfortable. And as recent readers know, sometimes that just doesn't happen.


About five minutes prior, my phone rang while I was driving towards the game. It was Otis.

"The table's about to fill up, how close are you?"

"I'm on B. Hayes road right now."

"OK, I'll lock the seat up for you."

I was doing my best to get there as soon after my son's game as I could. If I got there and had to wait, I knew disaster would strike. Even though the Depot has 4 flat panel TV's, a pool table, video games, and whatever else you'd need to bide the time, I don't think I could have played well if I didn't sit right down once I got there. Hurry up and wait is something I just can't do.

So God bless Otis for the lock up. I sat to his right with my $300 and began to play.


Even though arriving and waiting usually means me playing poorly, not doing so doesn't guarantee that I'll play well either. I paid off Rhodes far too much money with top pair on a board that given his style of play, meant that he at minimum had two-pair. He had a straight and I went to my wallet to reload.

My buy-in of three hundred turned to seven hundred.

Not soon after, I got outplayed by another player who was in actuality one of the targets I felt I could double through. I had pocket 9's in the BB and weakly called a pre-flop raise and standard continuation bet. On the turn, with a Jack-high board, I led for $50. He pushed so quickly that I had to give him credit for an over-pair. He played it like one and that's primarily why I led the turn like that, just to find out for sure. When he pushed, I folded.

He showed pocket 7's. Out played.


The very next hand I lost with big slick on a King high flop when my opponent caught two-pair on the turn. My stack was in such sad shape and it wasn't even 10pm yet. I couldn't even consider leaving just yet as my wife was babysitting two additional children that evening. If I busted out, there'd be really no place for me to go. Otis mentioned he had some cash if I needed to borrow. I hate doing that as it means I've lost more than I came with, more than my stop-loss. But Friday, I was prepared to accept whatever graces would allow me to keep playing.

Thankfully though, I wouldn't lose another pot all night.


I looked down at seven chips. Five green quarters, a red-bird and one lonely gray. One hundred and thirty one dollars. I sighed a bit on the inside, realizing that I should probably fold A5 of diamonds in such early position, especially in this straddled pot. I didn't though and as I watched nobody do any raising, I pulled my Talking Poker hat tight around my head such that I could only see the flop just below the visor.

That's a lot of red, I remember thinking to myself. A lot of pointy red cards. I flopped the nuts, K23d. I value-checked my nuts and MarkySals led at the flop for $25. He was quickly called by two other players and at that point, I thought to myself, I'll happily take the pot right here.


Only Sals called, since he flopped a set of 3's. I thought that there was a decent enough chance that he'd boat up given my play that evening, but once the 4d hit the turn, he was drawing dead. Not even quads would help. My stack grew a bit and my attitude rose a bit from the murky depths it has of late been calling home.


In poker, many times it is proper to bet for informational purposes. But sometimes, you can also "check" for information. I had pocket Kings and raised the straddle to $30. I got 3 callers, all of whom had position on me.

The flop came 267 with two clubs. Here's where I checked. The other remaining players, GucciRick, G-Rob, and Candace were most likely going to tell me if they out-flopped me or not. GucciRick led out for $100, which means he has at minimum, one pair. G-Rob flat-called in such a way that led me to think he was on a draw. He'll raise with a set there given the two-clubs and straight draw. Candace went into the tank for a bit, then reluctantly pushed $148 into the pot. My instinct immediately said "overpair," just not as high as Kings.

With my analysis in place, I felt relatively confident that I was ahead. Even if someone had a monster draw, running it twice wouldn't be out of the question. So in went all my chips. It was $250 to the Gooch to call. When he didn't insta-call, I felt much better. Still, he made an interesting play just to get G-Rob out of the hand and pushed all-in himself. G-Rob folded.

TheGooch had Jacks, Candace had tens. I had to dodge 4 outs. The turn paired the 7 but brought a 3rd club. Only GucciRick had a club in his hand, more outs for me to avoid.

At this point, Otis mumbled something about folding the hammer. But when the King hit the river, he was mighty glad he did. A G-bar pot came my way. I was in bidness.


I won some more big pots, flopping a set of 3's to win a good chunk from WingnPrayer's pocket Kings. I was catching draws too and soon my stack was nearly unmanageable. Not a bad problem to have.

Getting a bit fancy, I raised pre-flop with T8 of diamonds, but promptly got re-raised $50 more by a Furman student sitting to my right. I looked at his stack and it was big enough for me to float just in case I hit. And indeed I hit. The flop was 886 and all the money went in on the turn. He was the 4th player to bust out of the seat to my right, affectionately known as the Death seat that evening. I topped the $2k mark after that. I owe that hand to me taking night classes at the school of G-Rob.


At 3am, I finally cashed out as the game was breaking up. $131 to $2360. More than enough to get me out of the red for the year.

I was let loose. From the noose, that's kept me hangin' about.

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