Did he fire five or did he fire six, to tell you the truth with all the excitement I dont remember myself. But you got to ask your self one question, do I feel lucky? Well do ya punk?
I’d broken ever rule in the book exhausted, emotional, semi intoxicated, running hot with scared money, I’d even violated the cardinal rule of the poker player, never play outside your bankroll. Of course that was easy, I had no bankroll. Surrounded by Chinese millionaires having money fights with each other, the amount on the table in front of me alone could probably have bought a small allotment of land on a palm oil plantation in Indonesia.
My nemesis, the iceman, sat impassive at the opposite end of the table, sitting upright facing straight ahead, if he was looking at me through his round tinted spectacles I couldn’t tell. A stone faced older man with a narrow pointed bread sipping a green tea, he cut a stark contrast with the other younger men at the table whooping it up around me all night. I silently cursed myself for having got involved with the only good player at the table, I could have just sat there with a vacuum cleaner hoovering up all the other fools chips all night, now I was about to bet the farm and kill the golden goose.
I glanced down at the cards again, yep still the 4 and 6 of clubs, what the hell was I thinking. I ran the hand through my head again. One call in mid position, loudmouth guy doesnt know what hes doing, its folded around to me, Ive been sitting waiting for good cards too long, I bet $80, we are deep stacked but I think this is hardly good play. Iceman calls $60 from the big blind.
The flop falls, 8h 6s 4h
A dream flop. Iceman checks, I bet something like $150, he could have put me on anything, it would have looked like a standard continuation bet, no way he could have known that I’d hit the flop so hard given how tight I’d been playing. The board could get scary on the turn, no point messing about. Time to reel him in.
He raises me $350, what? What the hell is this? A set? Two pair? A draw, nothing at all? Ive no idea. If I raise, he’ll probably fold and I get a middling pot, he reraises then what they guy can get tricky, I decide to call, its not worth risking getting too much in just yet.
The turn comes the king of clubs. He checks, I bet something like 3/4 the pot. My hand is vulnerable, I cant let him in cheap, but what if he check raises me? Then its all going in. if he doesnt then I perhaps I can still fold if things get crazy on the river.
The river is the 3 of hearts, he checks, I decide the correct action is clearly to check. But stupidly I get greedy and decided to to extract a little bit of value out of his probably weak hand, I bet one third of the pot. In one fluid motion he reaches back and shoves his entire mountain of chips over the line, I get that funny feeling like when you are rocking back on your chair and then all of a sudden you’re back too far, you know you’ve passed the point of no return, but you dont just accept your fate and tumble dignified towards the earth, no instead you hang there in mid air, pull a funny face and linger just long enough to realize what a fool you are.
I run his range through my head, he may have me beaten, but Im calling, everything about this hand had gone wrong, why stop now. He flips over a pair of tens, bang! and the moneys mine the whole place is in uproar when I flip the two pair.
Still jittery in an adrenaline come down, counting my monster stack quadrupling the table buy in, I realized that in the two years which had passed since Id last played poker Id clearly forgotten how to play the game. You’re not supposed to be happy about winning a hand, you either made the right decision or you did not, emotion shouldnt enter into it win or lose.
A few minutes later some guy makes a royal flush and bizarrely gets a round of applause. Id seen it happen once before at a student tournament, some guy was smugly nodding his head as if to say “Thank you, yes, yes I am the man” with half the room clapping and the other half looking on bemused.
Several hands later I looked down to see the king of spades and the suicidal king of hearts staring up at me. When I first started playing poker in the free rolls in the Fitzwilliam cards clubs many years gone by, flipping over a pair of kings would inevitable cause some preternaturally wizened guy in the corner to mumble “cowboys!” apparently to himself and shake his head a little as if imply he was thinking about all the incredible memories he had with this particular hand. he also probably thought this made him look like a seasoned pro and most probably would also called threes “treys” and pairs of twos “ducks” if he were to be given the opportunity. Of course if you’d played more than several hundred thousand hands of poker the thought of any particular hand or even scenario eliciting any emotional response at all is almost laughable.
“Cowboys” I mumble to myself
Bet I say. throwing some chips in the middle. The action folds around to a guy dressed in a white suit he stole off Jet Lee’s character in Lethal Weapon 4. He jerks forward and shoots me a wild eyed expression, raise he says almost vomiting the chips over the line, reraise I shout back at him, pushing several stacks in, all in he roars the man pushing several thousand dollars into the middle, christ almight! is this the hardest fold in poker, KK preflop? Id never done it before but this was sick, the guy was was out of his seat like his hemorrhoids were going nuclear, leaning across the table at me with his cards in his hand, salivating onto the felt below, dying to flip them. Call and be damned! I say, flipping my kings. All hell breaks loose when sure enough he flips the aces, Ace Ace king king reverberates around the room, the men at the other tables stand up and huddle around, no help on the flop, another ace on the turn and Im drawing dead. Its game over boys and Im all out of quarters. The hooting and hollering continues for what seems like five minutes, white suit basks in the favor that the gods have dealt him shouting what I imagine to be Muhammad Aliesques “I am the greatest”s in Chinese. Eventually he settles down and offers be a muted apology.
I try to remain philosophical on the walk of shame out the door, at least I got to play poker in a casino in Macau, that was pretty cool. As I walk towards the door I notice a woman in a long white coat with silky black hair walking briskly in high heels on a trajectory to just intersect me as I reach the door. Reaching the exit without stopping she looks sideways at me and smiles “Hi” “Hi” I reply, “where you from?” “Ireland, you?” “Malaysia ….. you want a massage? I have a place down by the docks” “Err you’re alright there but thanks” “Ok, you sure? I give good massage, I massage you, I massage you gooooood??” “Nah, your grand” As she walked away briskly it suddenly hit me, wait a minute, that was a man!