Poker is Life

Self Awareness and Self Improvement through the game of Texas Hold'em

  1. 2009-01-09 09:40:26

    Poker is for the Macho!

    This will be my second blog entry ever. Having enjoyed the experience of posting my first one, I???ve decided to pull my favorite poker story from my archives. This true account was first written to email to my close friends back in May of 2007. And now it will enter cyberspace forever!!!!! ??2009 Philip Travisano.

    Enjoy! ...

    A serious little battle went on last night at the poker table. To set it up, I?ll have to tell you a bit about last week?s game.

    At a home game down in Sunnyvale, CA, last Thursday night, I was involved in a two-table tournament which worked its way down to one. At that table was a mix of people including myself and this new guy, Aaron, a physically mature high school senior. Aaron is tall, a little beefy, and has a bit of a C. Everett Koop beard, only dark. Aaron is talkative, impatient, and a bit obnoxious.

    At one point the table was down to about 6 players when I half-jokingly said, ?You wanna chop the pot? Who?s up for chopping???? There was some discussion, but no one seemed seriously into it.

    As time went on, and we were only down to about 5 players, a few of us began commenting on how long the game was taking. Normally a game would end at about 10:30 or so, and it was now about 11:15 with no sign of it ending soon. Well, I?d had a few lucky breaks and my stack had built. But Aaron and another player began serious talk of chopping again, and they agreed that yes, they wanted to chop. They high-fived each other, happy that it would finally be over and we?d all get some cash. But I broke in and said, ?Hold on! Hold on! I haven?t agreed to this. I?m not so sure I want to chop now.? The cash prize was substantial, and I hadn?t won a tournament in a while! Aaron was visibly and vocally upset. He threw his arms up in the air: ???Oh, it?s always the ones with the short stacks who want to chop, and the ones with the big stacks who don?t!? ?Well naturally!? I said.

    So the game continued, and Aaron slipped in his occasional groans and comments of disapproval. Despite this, I was having a good game and enjoying myself, when at one point Aaron took occasion to mimic my laugh. ... He mimicked my laugh! That, in my mind, was crossing the line. It was no longer a friendly game.

    The tournament dragged on, and the chips got pushed around for another 20 minutes, and there was still no clear sign of a conclusion. Plus my chip stack had begun to dwindle. So again I put the offer on the table to chop the pot. And it was taken. We were all relieved to end the tournament and take our cut of the cash. I walked over and shook Aaron?s hand telling him he was a good sport (even though he wasn?t); and the night was done.

    Flash forward five days to last night?s game. This one took place at Trish?s house, my favorite place to play. She?s got a big, spacious house on a hillside in Hillsborough, CA. This was to be the biggest tournament I?d ever played. There were 30 people signed up! It was a $40 buy-in, so first prize would pay over $500! I was psyched. I felt at the top of my game, so I thought I had a very good chance of ending up in the money.

    Throughout the day I?d been checking on the players as they added their names to the roster on, the website that our organization uses to plan all its games. Throughout most of the day, to my relief, Aaron had not signed up. I just thought I?d have been more comfortable without him there. But then, near the end of the day, his name showed up on the list: Aaron + guest. Oh well, poker is supposed to be a battle after all.

    So I showed up just before the game began, and they assigned me my seat at one of the three starting tables. This was bigtime! At least as bigtime as I?d ever seen. Before I sat down I noticed Aaron at the next table, and he noticed me. Immediately he stood up, walked over to my table and leaned over to whisper into the ear of one of the players ? a player I?d never seen before. As Aaron whispered, the new player shot me a quick glance, then looked away. Was I being paranoid? I didn?t think so. The words I imagined Aaron speaking were, ?That?s him. That?s the guy you?ve gotta knock out.? And the tension washed over me. The nervousness set in. I?m not a person who likes conflict. (Strange game I?ve chosen as a main hobby then, isn?t it?)

    So the game began. I played tight as usual, being very selective about the hands I?d stay in with. And when I finally did have a playable starting hand, I made my standard 3x the big blind raise. Wouldn?t you know it? Everyone folded around the table except for the new guy. Aaron?s friend re-raised me a massive amount. Instinct urged me to call it, or to go all-in, but my logic was in charge. I repressed my impulse and tried to relax. My cards weren?t that great, so I folded.

    The game went on, and I remained patient, though constantly aware that this behavior might continue. This clown just might massively re-raise any raise I made for as long as we were at the table. I didn???t like it.

    Let me just take a moment to tell you what this guy looked like. He may have been a high school senior, like Aaron, although he too was physically mature. Very stoic ? very serious. Bushy, furled eyebrows. Not the kind of guy who you?d like to test. I resented the intimidation I felt in his presence.

    In time I received a few more decent starting hands, raised them, and fortunately did not get re-raised by Aaron?s henchman. And I won a few pots. Feeling okay-confident, I even made my standard raise in early position with only pocket 8?s ? not a move I automatically make. But I did it, and the henchman only called. The flop came down something like 8, 5, Jack, giving me a coveted three-of-a-kind. I was sure I had the best hand. I made my standard half-the-pot bet. Thee henchman re-raised, about 3x what I?d raised, leaving him with a modest stack of chips! Everyone else folded, so it was just me and him. Still confident, I re-raised him back putting him all-in. There was stillness... silence, as he thought about whether or not to call. For some reason I had the urge to shake my head ?No? to warn him not to do it. I?m not sure why. Maybe I had pity on him. Maybe I just wanted to take down this monster pot as it was, fearing the coming cards might make him a winner, however remote that chance was. Or maybe it was just a power thing ? the feeling of a lion with its prey taking the opportunity to release this one little mouse. Whatever the case, the longer he thought, the more I was compelled to warn him.

    At this point I was standing at my end of the table. I was hyper and tired of sitting. I stood while all the others sat. At one point, even Aaron noticed the stand-off from the other table. He walked over for a second and said to his friend, ?You all-in against this guy?? I didn???t pay much attention. I was too into the situation.

    The guy thought for so long that I could no longer contain myself. ?Don?t do it,? I said. He looked at me for just a second. He continued to think. ???You don?t want to go out of the tournament yet,? I said. ???You?re not gonna win.??? I was absolutely sure of it now. And I was pretty sure that he was becoming sure of it too. He was really laboring over this decision. I was definitely in control here.

    Having not yet actually met this guy, I thought this might be an interesting opportunity to introduce myself. I said, ?What?s your name?? He hesitated. ???Mark? he said. I extended my hand across the table. ?Phil.? He reluctantly shook it. I let him think a little longer, then said, ?I don?t want you to go out your first tournament. Have you played with us before?? Someone else at the table volunteered, ???Yeah, he?s played before.? Mark was still thinking, and I said, ???I don?t lie.? I looked toward the rest of the table and said, ???I feel like Jamie Gold at the end of the World Series of Poker.? Anyone who?s seen the video tape is familiar with the talkative style Jamie Gold was using at the end of the days-long-mega-tournament ? his tendency to be completely open about his hands as his opponents struggled with a decision ? overconfident due to his massive chip lead and exhaustion-induced breakdown of inhibitions. Cocky, and not shy about letting his opponents know that he was ???the man? and they were his victims. ... Yeah, that???s how I felt.

    ?If you fold, I?ll even show you my hand,? I offered. That was an oldie but a goody. It encourages folding, because you know they want to know what you have badly; but they?re reluctant to pay to see it. But if you offer to show them for free if only they fold their cards, what a deal! Mark thought for just a few seconds more, then finally tossed his cards into the muck. I flipped over my pocket 8???s revealing my set. He did not look surprised.

    Mark was crippled after that hand. I?d broken him down and allowed my fellow players to gobble him up, like a pack of hungry jackals. And Aaron was soon knocked out of the tournament at his table. The two left shortly thereafter, and life was good again. I went on to take 2nd place that night! Sweet victory, and a $255 profit for the evening ? the most I???d ever won at a poker tournament, by far. After 4.5 hours of play, I was exhausted yet exhilarated.

    I love the game.

    (By the way, the player who came in first that night was none other than Jason M. Some day, Jason... Some day I???ll be back!)

    Posted by Phil at 2009-01-09 09:40:26

Comments on “Poker is for the Macho!”

    • avatar for Ethan
    • Awesome story. Way to take it down!

    • anonymous
    • hey

    • avatar for Tony Gags
    • oh yeah the guy from the world record attempt lol, aq very good hand, strong like bull

    • avatar for FREMONTkyle
    • yeah last i heard he got burnt out
      LOL you berated for calling someones shove with AQ hum that sounds familiar doesnt it

    • avatar for Tony Gags
    • Hes done with poker? What a shock

    • avatar for FREMONTkyle
    • lol hes at the local kids party making bikes out of balloons

      LOL no but seriously he was a great guy he came by the huggins game 6months ago gordo but hes done with poker

      what a shame

    • avatar for Gordo
    • Aaron... aka Abraham where are you?

    • avatar for FREMONTkyle
    • lol yeah i remember aaron also he used to play at our game here in fremont with a friend named Kabir he went on a lil rush for a while but like most youngsters he went over board and FLAMED OUT.

    • avatar for Jason M
    • lol @ "since he was a prodigy". very good :)

    • avatar for Tony Gags
    • Lol I have ran into Aaron on occasion. The first thing I ever heard out of his mouth was that his friends called him a poker prodigy. I also remember that this poker prodigy is very good at making balloon animals. He once semi berated me for calling his short stack all in shove when I had aq. I told him I figured since he was a prodigy he could be shoving with a wide range of hands on the button there lol. Oh he had a9 weeeeeee

    • avatar for Jason M
    • Great story. The funniest thing is I don't even remember Aaron, but I do remember our battle :) I miss the games at Trish's... ah, the good ol' days.

      BTW, I think you should have just let that guy call you! Hahahahahh