Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Excuses, excuses…

Way back when I first played poker regularly (like a hundred years ago), my high-school friends and I played a game called 7-stud, hi-lo split. Now THIS was real poker, full of complexity and deception. None of this crap about “cards speak” or any computer-generated pablum like that. At the end of the hand, you had to “declare” whether you were trying for the high pot, the low pot, or the scoop. We’d take three chips in our hands, bury our hands under the table, shift one chip into our right hand for low, two for high, three for scoop, and put our fist up onto the table. It was a very elaborate ceremony, punctuated by slamming chips onto the kitchen table, and frequent swearing.

It usually required table reading skills and deception to pull down your fair share of the pot. If your board cards were 743A, others might think that you were playing for the low pot, and be positioning themselves for the high pot. If you had rolled up aces or a low straight/flush, you could scoop a pretty sizable pot, if you had the cojones to try. You see, you had to WIN both ways outright to scoop a pot. So if two schmucks had matching wheels and both declared with three chips (scoop try), they both LOST, and you could win a full pot with complete garbage. When the “cards speak”, you don’t have that option.

This was real poker. Someone with KK/A456/Q might raise every round and declare for the low pot and probably take it down uncontested, despite having Q-high. Someone might stick around through multiple raises because he assumed the rest of the players were all going low, and that he could slip in for the high pot. Of course, we had played together almost every weekend for three or four years, so I had some pretty clear tendencies on the rest of the table.

Steve was prone to overbet just about everything, loved to bluff, classic profile of a loose-aggressive “maniac”. Note: now General Manager of a printing company and born-again Christian

Craig was shrewd, tight with his chips, and had the best card sense I’ve ever seen. Knew your cards before you did, almost played poker hands double dummy. Note: now runs his own marketing firm, always looking for new entrepreneurial opportunities

James was tight, weak, and bluffable. Would only raise with the mortal nuts, would fold if there was any doubt. If he was in, he was probably solid for one of the pots. Note: now Director of Finance for discovery.com.

Mike was unpredictable, liked to splash chips into the pot in inventive ways, would call bets down with little or nothing, laughed the whole time. Impossible to put on a hand. Note; now a successful dentist in Washington and born-again Christian

Todd was tight, passive, analytical. Watched faces, behaviors, and gestures as much as cards. Wouldn’t bet on draws, would bet the hell out of made hands if he thought you were on a draw. Note: now Training Specialist for a large biotech firm, part-time blogger, full-time dad, and online poker mediocrity.

Of course, none of that helps when you’re playing HORSE online with a bunch of professional and semi-professional poker players. And the rules are different. And the “cards speak”. And you’re too stupid/pigheaded to know the difference.

There, that’s my story. And I’m sticking with it.


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