Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Belated update

Guess I had better at least get some sort of update out there.

Friday at Duke was fun, but I didn't do particularly well in the games. Friend and coworker J.P. came by after he finished up his shift to check it out. He grew up playing a lot of 5 card draw with his family, he said, and was curious about newer games but not sure how to play them yet. I've been pushing him towards giving holdem a try for no other reason than to have someone around to talk poker with. Reading blogs and doing internet chat with a couple friends in the states who play is fine, but it only goes so far.

When JP showed up around 8pm, it wasn't much of a sight - about 20 people in the bar, but everyone crowded in the corner around the three poker tables, and the rest of the place empty. No one on billiards or darts, so it wasn't very lively. Later on, folks showed up, darts were thrown, cues were hefted, and it got a lot more cheery.

Unfortunately, last Friday was "mixed games" so we were doing the HORSE games. JP had a slight grasp of holdem but didn't want to get into trying the other games -- I was explaining the hi-lo and his eyes glazed over. "I'll just watch."

I'm getting better at these games but still fairly weak. I hung in there quite a while this time, and even won a few big pots, but got scooped twice for big pots by a young lady player named Kuri-chan, who acted like she wasn't too clear on what she was doing, but she knew enough to smack me around with some good hands to grab both the high and low in a hand of omaha and a hand of 7-stud. At least my head doesn't feel as dazed after a few rounds of the mixed games as it did.

I had been talking with one of the other players before the games started, a guy about my age called Marume-san. He mentioned that he got into poker a while back but had been playing various games for a long time. But his favorite game, he confided, was backgammon. "Backgammon is really the game," he stated flatly.

JP is also a backgammon player, and teaches me the game about once a year to try to get me to play. He thrashes me soundly, and I promptly forget the rules again just to spite him. So when Marume-san busted out of the games fairly early, I introduced him to JP and suggested they give backgammon a try. The bar has a cupboard of various board and parlor games, so they dug out a set and gave it a go.

Marume-san's english is pretty spotty, as is JP's Japanese, but their backgammon battle raged as I held the line at the poker table, hoping desparately for the marines, but they must have been searching for some lost white girl in Aruba, because they never showed. Busted (飛んだ), I watched their seventh game, and saw sweat on JP's brow at the backgammon board for the first time in history. "He's good... he's too damn good..." he muttered as he surveyed the board. "I keep laying traps and he keeps not falling into them. He doesn't even seem to notice." Marume-san stoically put JP out of his misery. JP grinned determinedly, already planning the rematch in his head, I think.

The remaining players in the weekly game had condensed down to two of the three tables, so we took the empty one and played some holdem so that JP could give it a try. We weren't playing all that seriously, so there was a lot of limping just to see what the flop would bring. We got a long string of straights and flushes taking the pots, I thinking giving JP the wrong idea of how often those really come up. JP started a long string of bluffs, just to see how far he could take it, but Marume-san clued in pretty quickly and I followed up, calling him to the river several times and watching him turn over crap.

He had a pretty good time, so I think he'll be coming back for more the next time I can make it. Next time maybe he'll get involved in some real holdem, but he had a pretty good introduction.

For my own game, the only notable instance was a quick loss of mine. I had just been moved to J.O.'s table, seated directly to his right as he handled the dealing for that table and a very sizable stack of his own chips. I bet out aggressively with a 5-6 of diamonds, got called by one player with AQo, who caught his A to relieve me of most of my already depleted stack. J.O. looked at me askance, and said, "So you're the kind who'll bet out with that? Okay, I understand you now," and turned back to the cards with a smirk.

Which is what I wanted. The Vegas Cup is coming up on the 17th, and J.O. will be the big stack, and he knows how to use it to play the bully. If I can get caught making plays I don't normally play, in the games for the next few weeks, hopefully he won't have as clear a bead on my play as he thinks he does. I'll throw all of the weekly games until then if it gives me a better shot at the trip to Vegas.

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