Monday, February 16, 2004

Haleywood Home Game

Haley invited some of her friends over for a night of poker. I should have realized it was going to be a different night when Haley passed a sushi menu around when her guests arrived. That was a first of many firsts over the night. I never ate sushi at a poker game before. The players varied from two beginners to two regular casinos players. And here's the line-up:

Seat 1: Pauly
Seat 2: Haley (our hostess)
Seat 3: Josh (Investment Banker, Jenna's brother)
Seat 4: Jenna (assistant editor)
Seat 5: Briana (the "Elevator Button" heiress)
Seat 6: Sandy (computer programmer by day, drag-queen by night)
Seat 7: Skye (actress/waitress)

My brother had to work, so I asked Josh to sit in. I wanted at least one other person who knows how to play to be there to help out the lesser-experienced players. Josh is a solid player and has played in Vegas and Reno before, but he's a definite calling station! Jenna is Haley's old roomie at Columbia. She's is a very quiet person in general and takes her time before she makes any decisions. Briana is a riot. Her grandfather started his own business when he was twenty years old. He started making buttons for elevators and after WWII, there was an 80% chance that any button you pressed in an elevator on the East Coast was made by his company. Briana is the heiress of said fortune. (Can you say dead money?) Sandy is a drag queen that Haley knows from her acting class. He looks like a young Sidney Poitier and was a good poker player. Skye is an chain-smoking actress from California. Enough said.

The first two hours were slow. Haley made Margaritas and everyone got sloshed very quickly. It was supposed to be a tutorial on poker, instead everyone was fooling around too much and joking around. I eventually settled everyone down and told the newbies what hands beats what. I made cheat sheets for everyone and dealt out play chips. We played dealer's choice. And five-card draw with multiple wild cards seemed to be the most popular game. They crew liked Baseball (3 & 9 wild, buy a card with a 4) and Follow the Queen. I got them to play rounds of Hold'em which they all picked up quickly. After the sushi came, it was time to play for real money.

Everyone bought in for $20 and we played twenty-five cent antes, with $1 max bet per round. Haley dealt first and she called Seven-card stud with threes wild. Of course she dealt herself two threes and took the first pot. Within the hour, Briana had to do a re-buy. She won a huge pot of Hold'em when she flopped two queens and an ace when she held A-Q. But it was all downhill from there.

By midnight, the tally looked like this:
Pauly +20
Josh +10
Haley +10
Sandy +10
Skye -5
Jenna -5
Briana -40
At one point, Briana asked, "So when the hell do I get to go all-in?"

I laughed. She had been watching too much Celebrity Poker Letdown. I told her that we're playing Limit poker. If she wanted to play No Limit, well that's a different story. I quickly convinced everyone to put up $20 for a mini No Limit tournament. Can you say quick cash? $140 winner takes all. Everyone agreed. Blinds were $1-$2 and would go up every twenty minutes.

Jenna was the first to get knocked out. I felt bad. I had K-J suited. She had A-3. I caught a flush on the flop. She quietly bowed out. When the blinds went up to $2-$4, Sandy made a pre-flop raise. Everyone called. I had 9-8 on the button. The flop: A-A-9. Haley folded. Josh went all-in. Briana called. So did Skye! Sandy called and I folded! Everyone turned over their cards. Sandy had 9-9! His fullhouse was leading. I was glad I folded. Josh and Skye both had aces with face card kickers. And Briana? She had the Hammer!! Beware of a Prada wearing, hammer wielding elevator button heiress! OK, so on the turn: 2 and on the river: 8. Sandy took down a huge pot and knocked out three people! He was the chip leader by a huge lead, with me and Haley left.

Haley's Big Bluff

I'm on the button, I got J-J. I was going to raise, but at the last moment, I decided to smooth call. Haley is the little blind and she raises! Sandy called and I had to make a decision. I carefully studied Haley. She was very quiet and avoiding eye contact. She played fairly tight all night. I had to presume she had a pocket pair, maybe Queens? I had to re-raise to find out. If she called, I had her. If she raised, I would be in trouble. I raised. Haley quickly re-raised! Sandy folded and I had to make a tough decision. I didn't have too many chips left, and neither did Haley. Maybe she was trying to steal the blinds? But would she know about that level of strategy involving short-handed play? She couldn't know. She must have a hand. Even if she didn't have a pair, a king or an ace would be death if one of them hit a flop. I just called. I had to see a flop.
D'oh! I made her for Queens. But what if she has an ace? As soon as I dealt the flop, I saw her eyes glance at her chips when the Ace fell. Haley goes all-in. She's got at least one ace, possibly pocket aces. I would be drawing dead. I peeked at my cards. I was about to fold when Briana yelled out, "She's obviously bluffing you!"

I stopped and looked at Haley again. Was she bluffing me? She's an actress after all. Could she pretending to be bluffing, and actually have a real hand, and wants me to call? I started thinking too much and over analyzed the situation. Haley's played Stella in A Street Car Named Desire. She's been Ophelia in Shakespeare's Hamlet. She's got acting in her blood. She has to be bluffing. But then I recalled how she was really quiet when she first got her cards. I thought of the old adage... "if a fish acts weak, he's got a hand." I turned over my Jacks and pushed the pot towards Haley. Everyone was shocked. Even Haley.

"You have a saying, 'No free cards!' And you told me never to show my cards, but I'm dying to show you what I have," she said almost falling out of her chair.

At that point, I knew she didn't have pocket aces. Haley flipped over: 3-8 off suit. Ouch. That hurt. I was so embarrassed! Haley won't stop talking about it. Three long days later, she still won't shut up!

"I bluffed Mr. Tao of Poker!"

Two hands later, I knocked her out when I went all-in with J-10 suited and flopped a straight. I was heads-up with a drag queen! At some point I asked Sandy how he/she learned how to play poker. Sandy replied, "The Army!" I was shocked. Don't ask, don't tell, right?

I didn't have enough chips and lost when my Q-Q lost to a 6-7 suited when Sandy caught a flush on the river. Sandy walked away with $140 ($150 total). I broke even.
Haleywood Home Game Final Tally:
Sandy +150
Pauly 0
Josh -10
Haley -10
Skye -25
Jenna -25
Briana -60

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