Sunday, June 03, 2007

The eggman, the walrus, and the lizard king

Saturday night was the best night I've had in a brick-and-mortar casino, almost making up for the $237 loss I had a few weeks ago. First, let's back up to Friday night.

I arrive at Palace around 10:15 p.m., and get on the long list for $3/$6. I play PaiGow for about 30 minutes, breaking even, until a seat becomes available. The table is quiet, slow, and tight. Three of the people at the table are buddies, ribbing each other a bit, but from their talk, they know a bit about pot odds and basic poker strategy. I could tell this would be a tough night.

In spite of that, after almost three hours of play, I ended up down only $15. At a looser table, I'm sure I'd have been ahead. I had the chance to prove this on Saturday.

I arrived at about 10:30, and got a seat immediately. The 60ish woman to my left immediately introduced herself and several others at the table, including Eric, who talked a mile a minute, frequently making sure we all knew, "I am the walrus, I am the eggman," and that whoever had just scooped a big pot was "the Lizard King. You can do anything (koo koo ka choo)." He frequently raised UTG without looking at his cards, and nicknamed me "Talky McTalk Talk" for my relative silence at the table.

An hour later, with my stack $120 larger, he went into his wallet for another $100. He ordered a drink, but when the waitress came back, with the poker room manager, they'd cut him off. Too bad, but he still lost his next hundred over the next hour.

The lady to my left didn't do badly at all -- she seemed to be getting all the money I wasn't. Although she saw almost every flop, she folded quickly if she hadn't hit it, and if she did hit it, the table was always willing to call her raise.

I was up about $190 when the normal murmur of the poker room was interrupted by a loud clattering of falling chips, then very loud and angry female screams. At the $8/$16 table, a petite young far-eastern looking lady was being put in a half nelson by security, while she tightly gripped the collar of a 40ish short stout Filipino guy, cutting off his breathing, hauling him over the dealer, and not letting him go, screaming at him in Korean or Vietnamese or some other Asian language. Security finally broke her hold on him, and carried her out.

Later in the night, after Eric the Walrus shared urinal talk with someone at the table, and the dealer from that table rotated to ours, we got the story. It was a domestic squabble. She'd called him five times on his cell, and he didn't answer. When she came to the casino and saw that he was gambling, again, she went batty. The sound of falling chips was her reaching onto the table and mixing players' stacks. What a mess for security to sort out. I'm really surprised that they didn't call the police -- maybe they want to keep things like this off the public record.

Unfortunately, PsychoWoman's tirade and The Walrus' trip to the ATM really slowed down the table's talk and speed, and my final hour was full of hands won on the flop instead of three players showing down on the river.

Over the night, few hands stick out as memorable, just a general impression that mediocre cards raised on the button to build the pot paid off several times. For example, Q 8 rivered a flush. J 3 hit top pair on the flop and held up through the river, forcing the other player to fold.

The most unusual hand was my busted flush draw on a board of something like 2 5 4 8 6 when I held K 8. I'm on the button, and the guy two seats to my right, who has been a pretty tight player all night, and who's been checking and calling me on this hand, bets $6. I go for a semi-bluff -- he might be trying to buy it for cheap, and my top pair may be good enough. I say "raise" and make it $6 more. He tosses his a pair of threes face up into the middle of the table (a 6-hi straight), and says "Do you have the seven?" (for the 8-hi straight). I hold my cards, face down, just above the table, over the line. The dealer takes his threes, mucks them, and pushes me the pot. I then drop my (losing!) cards face down on the table and start stacking up the chips. "What?" questions the tight player, "I had a straight!"

"He raised you," pointed out the dealer. "I should have asked if you were folding. Sorry."

I toss the dealer a slightly larger than usual tip.

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