Friday, September 5, 2008

Texas Hold-em International Style

Let me tell you a little story about Texas hold-em and a girl they call Reb.

When the Brit started inviting people over to his place to play cards he asked if I wanted to come. I said I'd like to come by. He asked if I knew how to play poker and I hesitated ... I knew the general idea, but had only actually played once. He pressed on... "Do you really know how to play?" and I replied tentatively "When I played at bible camp (TUP) I won all the crayons." and mentioned that I'd be up for playing a hand or two. To this he gave a very short "NO! This is serious cards." And I said I'd still like to go to the party if possible, maybe just have a drink then leave early so the guys could just be guys.

The subject came up a few more times over the week as details were sorted out. The guys decided they wanted to play competition style poker (not that I even knew what that was), buy in 1000 Baht, top two players split the pot. It was made clear that I wouldn't just be able to play a hand or two, it was all in or all out, and most of the guys assumed I'd be all out. Eventually though, the guys decided that if I really wanted to play I could have a discounted buy in - only 500 Baht. But I was having none of that. I may not be able to play like the big boys... but I wasn't going to pansy out of it either. One of the guys tried to make sure I knew what I was getting into "This is serious... some people say they're playing for fun, but then they lose all their money and it sucks." I stood firm; it would be worth the price of the buy in just for the experience.

Before the party, I was able to locate some good German beer at the store... and also Kettle Chips!!! You know, Kettle Chips from good ol' Salem, OR! I figured if I was going to suck at cards, I could at least bring something to the party. Oh, and I picked up some vodka & cranberry juice for myself. I needed a girl drink. ;)

At the party I was again offered the discounted buy in, but refused joking - "But how would you guys felt if I ended up winning the whole thing?" To which they laughed... especially after I reminded them that at Bible camp I'd won *all* the crayons, and that was the sum total of my poker playing experience. I bought in and we played. The Brit, the Canadian, Short Aussie & I. They were far kinder than I thought they would be to me, playing a first hand as a demo so I could see how it went, and in the earlier hands prompting me as to what I needed to do. It took a few hands, I bet conservatively, but I caught on. And to my complete surprise, I was the only one who could properly shuffle the cards! So I had the tiniest shred of street-cred at the table. Half way through the game, though, I was the one telling the guys to put down the big & little blind before I would deal, checking & raising, burning & turning.

The guys were drinking gin & tonic (Tanqueray- J!); I'd had a few vodka cranberries... but I didn't really feel drunk. Until something funny happened (I don't have a clue what) and in some bizarre drunken slow motion fall I ended up on the floor laughing my ass off. Things were going well. I mostly played conservatively, winning a couple of hands on good cards alone. And then I remembered that there was a good chance everyone else was bluffing - at least some of the time- so I decided to give it a try. I bluffed against the Short Aussie and lost. He didn't have much, just an Ace high, but I had nothing at all. It wasn't a huge pot, just all part of the game.

Then... then the other American showed up. He walked in, saw the cards said "Texas Hold-em? Y'all know I'm from Texas don't you?" Yeah... we knew. He was right at home. He bought in and started playing hard core right off the bat. I chickened out and folded fast for a couple of hands. Tex picked up a couple pots and was looking pretty good. But I started thinking he might just be all hat & no cattle ... so I decided to go all the way on the next hand... regardless of what cards were dealt. Big blind & little blind were on the table, the Brit folded before the flop. The Canadian & the Short Aussie folded after the flop. I can't remember the exact cards on the table, but I know there were a few face cards and an 8. Tex raised the bet 20, I matched him. One more card - another 8. Tex raised again 40, I stared him down, I had a hunch he was bluffing, but I had no idea.

My heart was really pounding... I had absolutely nothing in my hand, a 9 & a 7, so basically just the pair of 8s showing. I'd managed to rack up quite a few chips early on (totally lucked into a straight) , so I figured it was time to go big or go home. I had enough chips to make him go all in. But I didn't have the heart. I matched his 40 and raised him 40 - that would be painful enough - for whoever lost. It was time to show the cards. I put down my 9 & 7. He put down a 9 & a 5! I'd won the entire pot on the basis of my 7 beating his 5!

My chips: black is 20, red 10, blue 4, white 2 - note the Canadian's pile across from me, and Tex's little stack of blue chips to my left.

The rest of the table just watched me raking in all the chips laughing in disbelief. "What the HELL just happened there????" from the Brit. "That is m*th*rf*ck*n' poker!" from the Short Aussie. Let me tell you - that felt good. It could have gone either way, I know. But it didn't. After that they started teasing me about winning all the crayons at Bible camp, saying that it wasn't fair - I had Jesus on my side. I'm fairly sure that wasn't the case. But I did just fine. Tex had blown through his chips in just a few hands and had to buy in another 500B worth of chips from me. I didn't really want to let him... I was kinda getting tired of playing and was concerned that the longer we kept playing the greater the chance was that I'd lose. I know I said it was worth the experience... but there's also something to be said for winning. But ultimately I didn't want to be a poor sport, so I let him buy back in.

There were several more hands. The Short Aussie was nearly out, but went all in on a good hand and won his way back into third place, taking the Brit for all his chips. But soon enough the Aussie was out too, and even Tex was down to just a few blue chips. The Canadian, surprisingly, held his own. He'd nearly gone out on an early hand but in what may have been an act of guy-love one of the other guys folded to him, letting him stay in the game.

Eventually though, Tex & the Canadian conceded defeat... and little Reb went home with AAAAALLLL the crayons - 6,0000B. I could not believe it. I just couldn't help laughing. I'd never expected to win, never expected to play more than a couple of hands. So yeah, the whole experience was well worth the buy in and then some. I almost felt bad for winning so I offered to buy a round of drinks next time we all go out. I just don't quite have the heart for poker.

If you haven't figured it out yet... that gives today a T.A.G of Mango. Life is good... life is spectacular.


IrishgirlieKnits said...

Definitely a mango day!! How awesome is that!! Congrat!! Go treat yourself to something nice now :)

Bezdecny Family said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bezzie said...

Sorry--wrong log in I was saying! Ha ha! I love it!!!!

Trillian42 said...

Hee! That's the whole box of 64 colors all right! You go, Reb!

Karin said...

Rock on, Reb!

It's such a pleasure to hear how much you're enjoying your life.

Exuberant Color said...

You go girl! So many times they are bluffing and you just have to be brave and go for it. I think you probably just earned a little respect from the boys too.

gl. said...

fantastic bluffing skills! i'm sure that will serve you well. :) with a pot like that it looks like all your meals & songthaew rides will be covered while in thailand.

Michael5000 said...

Maybe she has some guile after all....