Friday, January 28, 2005

"I can't come up with one post. I don't know how you do it."
Dann, from my home game

The surgery went well. I now have two metal screws inserted into my right shoulder which makes me wonder how I'm going to get thru airport metal detectors. Am I given some kind of special note from my doctor? Are the screws too small to set off the alarm?

Anyway, I'm gobbling Vicoden like candy and mastering the art of typing one-handed.

Worst of all, so as to not re-injure anything, I'm forced to 'sleep' in a recliner with this giant immobilizer thingy strapped onto my shoulder and arm. Last night was the first time I managed to sleep for more than two hours at a stretch.

A cocktail of Guinness & Vicoden will knock your ass out, trust me.

There's a ton to blog about, but alas, it shall have to wait. I'm still officially on the disabled list. I'll still likely be looking for a blogger table tonight, though.

So for now, Guest Post #2, by my old friend, Rick the FilmGeek. Hope you enjoy.

Unedited from email:


Unlike just about everyone who reads, writes for, links to or from or joins Party Poker using Bonus Code Iggy through this blog, I’m not a poker fanatic. I suppose that makes me a heretic to most of Iggy’s readers. I’m more of a dabbler. I’ve played online poker, but I don't spend five hours a day grinding it out on Party, Empire or Pacific. Sklansky and Malmuth, Carson, Warren and McManus are the authors of the only poker books in my library. I’ve played in exactly four no-limit tournaments, and won one — a $20 entry-fee tourney held in the palatial Cincinnati estate of a rich college kid with a bunch of rich college kid friends who didn’t know when to fold.

Oh the humanity.

What I am, however, is a veteran of the Home Game, to which Iggy has alluded on many a post. The Home Game is nearing its five-year anniversary. Its humble origins hearken back to a modest six-player dealer’s choice game hosted by Huggy Bear, another veteran of the Vegas years, when Iggy, Huggy, G-Money, Drew and I ignited huge, irreplaceable chunks of our lives in a holocaust of gambling, dope, psychedelics, Jack Daniels, beer and other drugs too life-damaging to recount here. When we started the game, we were gathered together as friends mostly to celebrate the remarkable fact that we were all still alive. We had all lived lives of wretched excess and moral turpitude, and a couple of us had actually stared into the Abyss. But so far, at least, none of us had shuffled off this mortal coil.

We played draw, seven-card, Night Baseball, Chase the Bitch— you name it. One night— it was, I think, our second or third session — we had what seemed to us a particularly crazy night of poker. Every man-jack at the table was betting and raising. If you raised with rockets, you got reraised. It seemed like every pot scooped was won with a boat beating two high pair. There was much cheering, trash talking and swilling of beer.

Finally, after about two hours of wild swings, it was my deal. I called Jacks or better. I looked down at my cards and saw that I had dealt myself a boat — jacks over aces. Jesus. Even then, as a rank novice, I knew that you didn’t see too many full houses in draw poker. I could feel my face turning red. Iggy bet. Two other players called. I raised. Iggy reraised. The callers bailed. Now it was just Iggy and me. I hadn’t yet learned to fear him, so I capped.

"How many?" I asked.

"I’m good," said Iggy.

Hrrmm. I had dealt myself a fucking boat, and he was good?

"I’m good too," I said.

"Really?" Iggy regarded me from behind his fortress of empty Budweiser cans and butt-filled ashtrays. He’s a little person (he actually prefers to be called a dwarf; "I am what I am," he says), so it was hard to read him. But I knew he had a hand. He knew I had one, too.

He bet. I raised, he reraised, and I capped it again. Iggy called me.

"Whaddya got?" Iggy said.

"A boat," I said, flopping my cards over as if it mattered. "Jacks over aces."

Behind a choking cloud of smoke from his Vantage Ultra-Lite, Iggy smiled. "Aces over jacks!" he said, flopping over his own hand. Sure enough, he showed the boat. The table burst into an uproar of "No ways!" and "Holy shits!" and drunken laughter. Iggy laughed as he started to scoop the pot. "Good hand," he said to me.

And then something dawned on me. It was as if millions of long dormant synapses in my brain suddenly thrummed with electricity, and I could think again.

"Hold on a minute," I said. "Look at the cards."

"What about ‘em?" said Iggy.

"There’s five aces on the table. And five jacks."

"What? Are you shitting me?"

"Look at the fucking cards, dude."

We all looked at the cards. There was a moment of stunned silence. Then Huggy Bear picked up the opened Bicycle box that the deck had come from. He held it aloft for all of us to see. The room exploded into chaos. Beer cans went flying, spit takes were performed, poker players writhed on the floor like epileptics and rent their garments like repentant monks.

It’s true. We had been playing poker for two hours with a Pinochle deck.

Now, the moral of this story is not, “Don’t smoke and drink so much so quickly that you don’t even realize you’re playing poker with a motherfucking Pinochle deck.” The moral of this story is that, even though we were playing with a Pinochle deck, and even though I had dealt myself a jacks-over-aces full house, Iggy still had the better hand.

That was my first lesson in playing Iggy at poker. If you’re going up against him, you better have the fucking nuts.


Five years later, our home game is still going strong. We now play strictly no limit Two-Card Chicken. New regs have joined the fun, regs like T-Dub, Dann, Fuzz and The Sheriff, to name a few. We listen to good music, drink and smoke ourselves into comas and spend the evening taking each other to the cleaners. All of the Founding Fathers are still there — Iggy, who discovered his calling; Huggy, who has never lost his reputation as the poker Rock of Gibraltar; G-Money, who plays on permanent tilt but has become arguably the craftiest player at the table; and me. My style of play hasn’t changed much since the early days. I’m not as weak-tight as I used to be, but I can still be pushed off a hand with a scare-card bet. I fold when I should come over the top, and my calls are looser than a minister’s daughter. But man, do I have a good time. I wouldn’t trade the Home Game for all the dreams of avarice.

The best poker advice I ever got actually came from Drew, a friend who is a very infrequent player and will play any two cards to win. One night he came over but was broke; I bought his way in and he proceeded to clean up. Afterwards I asked him how he had done it.

"I stopped thinking of the chips as money," he said, "and started thinking of them as ammunition."

There’s the rub, isn’t it? If you want to succeed at the poker table, then don’t hoard your ammunition. Put your helmet on, grab your cock, leap out of the trench and start firing. It’s death or glory. If poker teaches us anything, it’s that.

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