Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Of Bad Beats and River cards

. . . and we're back! Grinding all those long hours at Showboat trying to hit the Bad beat Jackpot disrupted my normal routines and got me out of writing on any regular kind of basis. But I'm back playing normal hours and moving between poker rooms, including my favorite room-The Borgata. Which is ironic because it's also the only poker room in AC that I've ever been banned from.

It all started with me flopping a set of Queens in a 2/5 NL Hold'em game after I had raised Pre-Flop to $25 and gotten four callers. The board came out Queen high with two small Hearts, so I fired $80 into the $132 pot and got called by a young kid who I figured was on a flush draw, the Turn was a black Eight and I decided to price him out of his draw, which basically means I was going to bet more than he could get proper odds to call. I pushed $180 into the almost $300 pot and without much hesitation he called. I didn't really like it because now the pot was so big it was going to be difficult for me to fold on the River if a Heart came, which of course it did. I checked and he quickly moved All-In, and now I had a decision to make. My read was that he had been on a draw and that the turn helped him somehow, but why would he move All-In and blow me off the hand? Especially since he could bet $200 and I would have a tough time folding. I had started the hand with ~$700 and still had more than $400 left, because he had me covered it was going to cost me all my chips to see his hand. I figured this was a good spot for him to bluff, especially if he had a hand like KQ or QJ and was afraid I might have AQ (which beat him.) Despite my read, I decided to call and he flipped up the A8 of Hearts. I cursed my luck and fired my two holecards into the muck, as anger rose through me like fire through an elevator shaft in an apartment building. "You Dumbass" I told myself, "You put him on a hand and then paid him off like a donkey" I was now stuck $1000 in this game after running KK into AA for my whole stack earlier. I pulled out my roll and snatched off another five Benjamins, then tossed them onto the table. I was so pissed at myself I could barely see straight and after stacking my new chips decided I was too emotional to keep playing. I got up and headed to the bathroom so I could take a break and relieve the pressure in my bladder that had been building for the last hour as I attempted to get even.

I am allergic to dust (and thus most particulate matter in the air) and I often avoid the bathrooms in the Borgata poker room because they tend to fill with cigarette smoke, especially on days when there is a tournament being played, but the morning tourny was down to a few tables, so I figured it would be relatively clear.  Imagine my chagrin when I turned the corner and was greeted with the sight of a guy standing in front of the mirror with a lit cancer stick dangling from his mouth like he was in his own private smoking parlor. "Excuse me" I said, "This is a non-smoking area, I'd really appreciate it if you wouldn't smoke here" and then turned to use the urinal. I finished my business quickly and then turned to see him still standing there puffing away. "Yo, Man" I said with a voice that had gained a slight quiver, "I asked you nicely not to smoke that in here." He smiled and said "Sorry Pal, maybe next time." And who knows what it was exactly; maybe it was his smirk or his $500 Versace sunglasses and his $250 Girbaud shirt or his NYC accented arrogance or all the bad beats I'd taken that day, but suddenly I was a metal pail placed under a leaking roof that had filled past the brim and had a bulging skin of water curving above it, held in place only by surface tension. And his comment was one drop too many, the crown of water burst and overflowed the sides of the pail. Before either of us knew exactly what had happened my right hand flew up and knocked the cigarette from his mouth and into the mirror, causing it to hit the sink and bounce back towards us. I picked it up and said "No, this time" and put the still fuming stub out on his forehead. He rocked backed in shock, reached up to wipe ash from his forehead and said "What the Fuck?!?!?" And now my eyes were two lasers boring into his, my fists clenched, my facial expression saying only "If you feel froggish, then leap motherfucker." He took another step back, his own face now covered with a mask of infuriation. I was silent, but noticed that the guy behind him had turned and was angry as well.

I diverted my eyes from the smirky smoker and eyed his boy. He was about 6'2" and looked like he knew his way around a weight room. Have you ever been so pissed that you ceased caring about anything, anywhere? I stopped his boy with my glare and said "If you want some, you can get some too, tough guy." They both took stock of the situation. I knew if there was going to be a fight that I was going down on the losing end, but one of them was going down with me. We stood there frozen in our stances, nobody speaking or looking away, my eyes blazing like a pack of Marlboros in the mouths of a platoon of soldiers. Finally, the second guy said "Come on Amir, this isn't worth it, let's just get Security." They eased past me and out the door into the bustle of the poker room. I exhaled slowly and realized that my whole body was trembling, I leaned against the sink and tried to compose myself. But my hands wouldn't stop shaking. I figured walking back to the table might calm me down, so I left the bathroom and headed back to my seat. As I approached the table I could see both guys at the front of the poker room talking to a Security Guard, so rather than sit, I headed in that direction. "There he is!" they said "That's the guy." By now there were several officers converging, their radios crackling. As I reached the front, a Security Supervisor rounded the corner into the poker room and positioned himself between us. "Did you just have an altercation with these gentlemen in the Men's Room?" he asked me. I nodded yes. "Hold it right here, Sir" he said. After taking their statement he came over and asked me for my version of what happened. I told him straight up with no embellishment whatsoever. By now, the guy was claiming that I had punched him in the face and spit on him as well. When asked if I punched him, I said "Look, I'm 6'3" and 235 pounds, If I had punched him in the face you wouldn't need to ask me, it would be clear from the damage to his face." The Supervisor nodded. He informed me that Amir wanted to press charges and therefore an Incident report would need to be filed, did I have any ID? He also said that as a result of the paperwork I would automatically be banned from the Borgata. I produced my ID and stood there quietly, Amir was now talking very loudly about all the things he was going to do to me when we got to the parking lot. More Security arrived and got between us and it seemed like the more officers that came, the louder he got, until finally they had to ask him several times to calm down.

Eventually we wound up downstairs in the Security Office where I was asked to wait in a Holding Cell until ACPD arrived. The cop got there quickly and took Amir's statement before coming to the Cell where I sat. He asked me if I had slapped the cigarette from his mouth and I said yes. He asked me if I had put it out on any part of his body and I replied "Yes, his forehead." He then informed me that in the state of New Jersey that constituted Assault. "No problem" I said, "All I ask is that you prosecute him for smoking in the bathroom." The officer said that was a fair deal. He then went out and asked Amir if he was smoking a cigarette when the incident started, "Yes" said Amir, the officer then told him that if he wanted to press charges against me that that meant that he would be prosecuted for smoking in the bathroom. Amir asked what the penalty was, the officer said it was a $300 Fine. "It would be well worth it" Amir said. "OK" said the cop, "Please stand and turn around". Amir did so and the cop slapped his cuffs on him. "What are you doing?" asked Amir, "That guy assaulted me!" "Yes" said the cop, "But I told you it was a $300 fine, we're going to the station and after you pay the fine, you can press charges against Mr. Dias-Porter." Amir began to protest, but the cop wasn't having it. "I told you what was going to happen" he said several times. As they passed the open cell door, the cop turned to me and said "Mr. Dias-Porter you're free to go. If charges are filed you'll have to appear in court to answer them or a Warrant will be filed for your arrest. You are hereby banned from this property, if you are found on the Borgata premises you can be arrested for Trespassing. Do you have any questions?" I nodded no and they left. I asked the Security Supervisor how long I was banned for, he said "That guy was a complete asshat and deserved what he got. There's no time limit, just write a letter asking for reinstatement and I'll put in a good word with my boss." I thanked him and headed up the escalator to the casino floor, with the words "To Whom it May Concern . . ." already lining up in my mind.

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Friday, August 03, 2012

Hiatus (Updated)

The Bad Beat Jackpot in the Harrah's casinos in Atlantic City is currently over $718k. I've been playing 12-15 hours a day trying to be there when it hits and thus collect a Room Share (which could be worth $700-3500). Because of this I've been too tired and/or busy to post regularly. As soon as it hits I'll be back on schedule.

So, it finally hit on Monday Aug. 13th. The total Jackpot was 787k, the room share was $958. I love playing poker, but the long days days grinding were starting to wear me down, especially since I wasn't taking time to do much writing. There are three things I need in my life to be truly happy; time to read and write, poker, and the love of a good woman. And two out of three aint bad, but lately I had been down to one. It's good to have more of a balance. I wasn't having the best day pokerwise, I had lost $200 earlier that day playing 1/2 at the Borgata in a session where I basically never won a hand. This after losing the night before in a bad session where I let my blood sugar get too low by not eating and then tried to rectify the situation by drinking iced tea after iced tea, instead of quitting and going to eat. I didn't play well and after losing a small amount decided to quit after about 6 hours. So Monday wasn't looking so hot, when I got to the Showboat around 3pm. I was losing about half my $200 starting stack after getting two outed by a moron who wouldn't fold an underpair, when the BBJ announcement was made. I didn't actually hear the announcement because I was having a really interesting discussion with a very pretty French woman who was sitting next to me (after all if there's anything I'm good at it's having interesting discussions with pretty women). We were discussing Haitian Kreyol poetry, (because what else would two poker players be discussing while waiting for the BBJ to hit?) reading it online actually, a subject which came up because the dealer was Haitian and Lou-Lou (the French woman) made the remark that Haitian Creole was a beautiful spoken language and it was a shame that it had no literature. I of course corrected her and she made that haughty face that beautiful women tend to make when they think they're dealing with a fool. But she was smarter than the average bear and when I suggested that she google 'pwezi kreyol' she did. She also was smart enough to figure out that 'pwezi' was a phonetic spelling of the French word 'poesie' (poetry). When she pulled up an actual poem in Kreyol, I was the one who got the shock when I read the first line of the poem. The first part of the line was "Si'm ta mande'w . . . " And even though I can't read Kreyol I immediately recognized the grammatical structure of the sentence; 'Si'm' means "If I' and "mande'w" means "ask you." But what really got me  was the use of "ta", because the same phoneme is used in Kriolu (Portuguese Creole) in exactly the same way. But even more importantly, the way the pronouns are added to the words before them is also a feature of Kriolu. It shouldn't be that big of a stretch to think that these two languages share some grammatical similarities, but seeing it that way was startling, especially given that I haven't read anything that has pointed this out previously. It was a pretty cool discovery and something I plan on researching more. But then the BBJ hit at Caesars and voila! life is back to normal, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)