Thursday, July 28, 2011

Time Warp

Instantly, I was teleported into a future
where this moment was but an insignificant incident,
lost in the miasma of memory.
After running bad to start a recent two week Biloxi vacation, I was down about $550 and only had one more, measly $100 buy-in. So, I decided to take a few days off, enjoy myself, meditate a little on what I needed to do, and look for a soft Friday night table at Beau Rivage. When I wandered into the poker room and took a seat at a ½ No Limit Hold’em game, I discovered an anomaly of time and space that I had never experienced before.

I immediately noticed an elderly woman on my right whose shock of white hair rose up like the Bride of Frankenstein. She sat like a flesh-colored statue, draped with a jet-black, fur shawl, reminiscent of someone hunting Dalmatians for a new coat. Only a single, claw-like hand, adorned in golden rings and nail polish of the same color, protruded from its shadows to handle her chips and cards. In half an hour of play, she spoke not a word and didn’t play a hand. Like a lot of weak players, she was timid and even broadcast intended folds by the way she held her cards. I instantly knew I was better than her, wished I was sitting on her other side, and began to salivate over her stack. Easy pickings.

After a couple of limpers, I was sitting in the big blind and looked down to see A-7 suited in spades. The flop was exactly what I had been waiting for: J-9-5…all spades! I had the best possible hand and watched as Bride of Frankenstein bet out a single $5 chip. “Weird,” I thought to myself, but just called, setting the trap and got another player to call as well.

The next card was a beautiful 6 of hearts. I still held the nuts. B. of F. pushed out $10. I flat called, as did the other player. The river card was the 8 of spades, not the best card, but, still holding a monster possible hand, I began to think about how to make the most money. B. of F. dropped another $5 chip in front of her. “Super weird,” I thought. Rarely do you ever see someone reduce the size of their bet as the size of the pot grows or such a tiny river bet, not even one tenth the size of the pot…total amateur hour.

I made my move and raised to a modest $25. The other player, I was hoping had the K of spades, folded. I watched closely as B. of F. picked up some chips with a quivering hand and added them to her original bet. It seemed like she was just trying to call and the kindly dealer helped her by moving out the chips. To my surprise, she min-raised me to $45. WTF!?!

After the other weird moves she made during the hand, this didn’t faze me all that much. I was thinking of money, her money specifically, and how nice it was going to look sitting in front of me. I looked down at the roughly $60 remaining in my short stack, paused, and then said, “all in.”

As B. of F. studied the cards on the table, I cautioned myself to be nice and give the dead money time to pay me off. “Come on old lady,” my soul arrogantly mused, “I need those chips.” Instantly, I was teleported into a future where this moment was but an insignificant incident, lost in the miasma of memory. I had robbed this helplessly enfeebled senior citizen, used her money as a tool to extract hundreds more from the table, and had a fantastically leisurely conclusion to my vacation. There were days on the beach, racing jet skis, succulent steak dinners, and all the booze I could dump down my bloated gullet. It was probably only about 20 seconds or so in real time, but, in my mind, I lived out an entire week.

When she finally called, I turned up my nut flush and heard an impressed whisper from across the table. And then it happened…

she rolled over pocket 5s
and the final card on the board magically
 metamorphosed from an 8 into a 6,
giving her the winning full house!

In an instant, I was sucked out of the time vortex of my reverie, all the fantasies built on the presumed domination of the weak and ignorant, and I was back in the present again, sitting beside an elderly woman with horror-show hair. I had made the most basic of poker mistakes, usually reserved for first-time players; I misread the board!

“Nice hand,” I said and stood up. She said nothing, but simply began stacking my chips.