Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Blue Parrot Farewell
"I'm about as far downtown as you can get... Beaver Street." - Coach
The Blue Parrot will always be mentioned as an integral part of New York City poker lore. For the last two years, I've been fortunate to call the Blue Parrot "my home game." It's been the location of some of the wildest games I've ever played in. The seats at the Blue Parrot featured some of the best Ivy League legal minds in the city along with a rotating cast of characters that often reminded me of a bad Saturday Night Live skit on LSD.

The players came from all walks of life. Teachers. Sports writers. Corporate litigators. Mortgate brokers. Slam poets. Fashion photographers. Scienticists. Law clerks. Even a comedian, a screenwriter, and a few Columbia students. Swish was a Blue Parrot legend who was willing to see any two cards to the river. He was a famous sportswriter at prestigious NYC newspaper and has since moved down to Washington DC. Swish and I were involved in a lot of tough hands during late night sessions at the Blue Parrot. Things also got weirder after Midnight in some of the games that went until sunrise. When Rick Blaine and his wife moved out to San Francisco, he was certainly missed. However, in the same week that Rick left the Blue Parrot, it was the same time as F Train arrived from LA.

Over the years the Blue Parrot had welcomed bloggers such as my brother, Toby, Lady Falcon, Joaquin the Rooster, Diane, Spaceman, and Dawn & Karol from I Had Outs. We even had the first ever NYC Poker Bloggers tournament last year called The Blue Parrot Invitational. Lady Falcon and Julie ended up chopping while Derek took third place. In fact Julie represented NYC and the Blue Parrot at the first ever live WPBT tournament at the Holiday Classic in 2004 at Sam's Town. She came in 3rd place and lost to Max Pescatori and Felicia Lee. She also busted me on the bubble.

And now the final chapter is about to be written about the infamous Blue Parrot. Located on the 19th floor of a Pre-World War II building, it might be the locale of the highest poker action in the city. Luckily, it was never raided by NYPD or shut down by Bloomberg's thugs. The owner and proprietor Signor Ferrari is leaving on excellent terms. He's simply selling the Blue Parrot. But don't worry because in due time, he'll be opening up the Blue Parrot II after he buys a new place.

I first played at the Blue Parrot a little more than two years ago. Back then I was broke, unemployed, and dating a neurotic actress. Ugarte stumbled upon my blog and he played in a home game with a group of lawyers. A few of them wrote about a series of issues such as politics, movies, and poker on a blog called Rick's Cafe, headed by Rick Blaine. Ugarte invited me to one of their games and the rest was history. The first few times I played at the Blue Parrot, the games were super wild with a healthy mix of loose players with deep pockets and extremely skilled players. Within a few weeks, I had everyone dropping the Hammer while I got everyone hooked on the blog.

The last game came together on a rare Thursday night. Traditionally we played home games on Mondays. I always thought that Mondays and poker were an excellent combination especially during football season. Years from now when I look back on various homegames that I've played in, I'll always conjure up halcyon feelings of the football game on in the background with someone at the table sweating out a bet or two on the game. Anyway, we usually played poker at the Blue Parrot on March Madness Championship night. But since I was going to be away for 6 weeks in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, a game would not be possible. At the last minute Ferrari rescheduled for Thursday.

Yes, last Thursday would be the last time I played at the Blue Parrot. The photo below is one of the last I'd ever take at the Bue Parrot. It's the late night view of the city from the window next to the poker table.

The Players:

Seat 1: F Train... In the past few years he's made his living as a writer, a poker player, and as an attorney. He's had the balls and courage to write about various underground card rooms on his blog. F Train is a true NYC rounder. Whether he's playing in Atlantic City or risking his life in the various clubs in the city, he's consistently one of the best players at the Blue Parrot. He also won the Lewey Award for Public Intoxication at Bash at the Boathouse in September.

Seat 2: Pauly... Your hero has a weakness for donuts and blondes. The former bond trader, bartender, and ice cream man kept one eye on his cards and the other eye on the TV because he had action on a couple of the night games. Pauly has paid his dues in various homegames scattered throughout America including logging hours with jazz musicians at the Trout House in Seattle, playing with his Jim Beam guzzling and mushroom chomping fraternity brothers in the Phi Delt house in Atlanta, crashing Iggy's homegame in a hotel suite in Cincy, cashing in a tournament at the nefarious Murderer's Row homegame in West LA, chopping the Brad-o-Ween Open in the sweltering humidity of G-Vegas, and surviving a night of cards and whiskey with shotgun wielding rednecks in Hilljack, Indiana.

Seat 3: Ferrari... The owner of the Blue Parrot has been known to let his two cats run amuck and also dazzles his guests with homemade guacamole. Due to his hectic schedule the games at the Blue Parrot were less and less frequent. Both Ferrari and the Blue Parrot need to be enshrined into the NYC Poker Hall of Fame.

Seat 4: Coach... Also known as the Dan Harrington of the Blue Parrot, whenever Coach plays a pot, he almost always holds the nuts. He's a contributor to the Tao of Poker and writes Coach's Corner. He's an attorney, author, and trivia wizard by day and at some point down the road, he might become the next Judge Smails. And yes, he really works on Beaver Street and has appeared in Law & Order.

Seat 5: Marie... Whenever Marie plays at the Blue Parrot, she adds a tinge of grace and class to the games. The entrepreneur and savvy business woman from England always surprises the table when she drops a F-bomb or even the dreaded C-bomb on occasion. Oh, and the tight sweaters she wears are always a nice way to get the rest of the guys on mega-tilt.

Seat 6: Joel... Also known as Joel the Banker, he's one of the older regulars at the Blue Parrot. In one of those weird Six Degrees of Dr. Pauly, Joel's son and Pauly attended the same southern university together. They figured that coincidence out after his fourth or fifth game after Joel's son sent Pauly an email, "Dude, you play poker every week with my Dad? Make sure he doesn't lose all of my inheritance."

Seat 7: Ugarte... The former attorney turned stand-up comic was coming off of the best show of his career at Mo Pinkton's. He's a stickler for the rules and if you splash the pot when Ugarte's in the hand, you're gonna get hell to pay. He desperately needs a haircut as his "jewfro" resembles Samuel L. Jackson's locks in Pulp Fiction.
The game started a little late as we were more focused on setting up the laptop to get the games and making sure the TV was at the proper volume for optimal March Madness viewing. Poker with friends and college basketball on in the background? Does life get any better?

7:31... The games are dealer's choice at the Blue Parrot with entire rounds of limit Hold'em, Omaha 8, or Stud called. We started out short-handed and played Hold'em, just Coach, Ferrari, F Train and myself. We played Hold'em for a few rounds. F Train made fun of my tightness as we sipped on Coronas. "You're folding your button in a 4 way game?"

7:37pm... Ferrari cracked Coach's A-A with 7-5. In Ferrari's defense, they were "sooted" and it was in the big blind.

7:43pm... Ugarte and his jewfro arrived. Joel arrived a few minutes after. F Train and I had a bet on who the next player to show up was going to be. The doorman calls up to the apartment when a guest arrives downstairs. Ferrari picked up the phone to find out who it was and F Train and I began our prop bet. He picked "Julie or Marie." I went with Ugarte or Joel. I picked correctly and won the first prop of the night.

7:47pm... -23. My A-J lost to F Train's K-K. I flopped a Jack and I walked right into his pocket Hellmuths.

7:57pm... I had to fold A-10s on a board of A-J-x. F Train and Joel got into a raising war an I was caught in the middle. I bailed after the flop.

8:00pm... -20. I was in the hole and saved face after I scooped a pot with a junk hand. I flopped an open-ended straight draw with 10-7 on a board of K-9-8. The turn was the Jack and no one saw it coming.

8:03pm... The lovely Marie arrived to make the game full.

8:10pm... -33. I lost a big pot to Marie who rivered trips on me. She's going to call me down to the river no matter what after I bluffed her out of too many pots in the past. I flopped top pair and she flopped second pair, which tripped up on the river. When she popped me for a raise on the river, I knew I was doomed.

8:25pm... -68. I lost a huge pot in Stud 8. I had two pair and missed a flush. With no low draw, I mucked because Ferrari and Coach were in the middle of a raising war on the river. I put one of them on a straight or a higher two pair. Ferrari had the low and Coach won the high with... Ace high. Ouch. They chopped the pot.

8:26pm... -89. I lost another hand in Stud 8. My two pair lost to Marie's two pair. I actually missed a flush and low draw and backdoored two pair on Seventh street. I figured I might have the best hand and was shocked to see Marie had two-pair since Fourth Street. She also had the low and scooped another monster pot. She claimed in her intelligent, yet sexy Enlish accent that she didn't know how to play Stud 8. We all fell for it.

8:40pm... -60. I won a 4 way pot with trip Queens in Stud 8. With no qualifying lows, I scooped the pot.

8:50pm... -13. Anaconda got called for the first time. I hate Anaconda because I lose so much money on it. Sure I've won my fair share, but I've also lost enough since January 2004 to feed thirteen African villages for six years. I won a big hand from Marie. My Kings full of Nines were good enough as Marie called me all the way to the end with a smaller boat. It was a $120 pot for a 50 cent ante game. Yikes.

9:15pm... -69. I won a big hand with a full house Queens over 10s, then lost a pot to Ugarte who had Quad 9s.

9:20pm... Julie stopped by to watch her alma mater Syracuse play because she doesn't have a TV. I had money on them too.

9:35pm.. -21. Ferrari had a King high straight flush. Gonzaga was down most of the game and started a massive comeback. I needed them to win by 6 to save face after an ugly day of sports betting on the first day of March Madness.

9:40pm... I lost the Gonzaga bet in a horrible way. My testicles still hurt. I needed my poker winnings to cover my sports betting loses and decided to focus more on my game.

9:55pm... -13. I chopped a pot in Omaha 8 which is notable because I hate O8 and it was the only pot I won.

10:10pm... +2. Ugarte won a big pot against F Train when his 5s full of 3s beat out F rain's 3s full of Kings.

10:50pm... Daddy called for a dial-a-shot. He was with Gracie and Pablo at Sea World but got kicked out. I heard Daddy molested Shamu and was asked by Sea World officials never to come back. They found Daddy pissed drunk with several sea lions, a barrel of mackerel, a pocket knife, a can of WD-40 and his pants around his ankles. "Sir, please do not sodomize our marine mammals!" would become the mantra for the remainder of the night. I'm awaiting the follow up to his infamous post How to Fuck a Donkey, which is supposedly titled... How to Fuck A Dolphin.

10:51pm... -3. "I hate Omaha!" I shouted as Marie left. She was down a small amount.

11:00pm... -20. My J-5 lost to Ferrari's A-Q. He flopped a Queen and I flopped a Jack.

11:07pm... +25. I won a crazy hand where I cracked Joel's A-A with Q5s. I limped in from EP. Joel raised preflop and F Train three-bet from the BB. I knew it was gonna get 4 bet and decided I needed serious help. I called and like clockwork Joel capped the pot. F Train had the Hammer of course. I flopped a flush draw and it came on the turn. With three clubs on the board, F Train chased to the river with the 7c. He thought he still had outs. Joel knew I caught my flush yet called me on the river when I bet out. He dejectedly tossed his Aces into the muck as F Train yelled, "Fuckin' Hammer!" Yeah, my Q-5s won a monster pot.

11:23pm... +24 Anaconda. I folded Quad 9s to Ugarte's Quad Kings and Coach's Quad Jacks. Coach lost his buy-in on that hand and left soon after.

11:46pm... April called from Austin for a Dial-a-shot featuring Heather and EvaCanHang.

1:50pm... Julie left after Syracuse lost. I ended the day in the hole betting on March Madness.

12:01am... -24. I poorly played a low hand in Anaconda and lost a big pot to Ugarte.

12:09am... +5. Still playing Anaconda, I won a low hand against Joel with A-3-4-5-7.

12:20am... +40. I had a flush and Ferrari had the Wheel. He was trying to win both the high and low and missed. He put me on a bluff.

12:30am... F Train called Vegas Hold'em.

12:48am... +51. I hit a big straight in Vegas Hold'em with 10-7. My new favorite hand.
The Final Tally:
Ugarte +141
F Train +57
Pauly +51
Ferrari +27
Marie -35
Joel -99
Coach -140
I wish I could say something witty or funny about the Blue Parrot, but nothing comes to mind. I will admit this... I loved those late night games. Sometimes poker is not about making money or fulfilling a competitive edge or feeding an addiction. Sometimes, poker is all about being social and it becomes an activity that's 100% pure enjoyment. If anyone experienced those late night hijinks at 2:43am with Swish slow rolling a Royal Flush or Om cracking Aces with Q-2o, or Ferrari's cats almost jumping out the window, then you know what I mean. The Blue Parrot came along at the perfect time in my life. I was in desperate search of a home game and some of the folks I met across the felt ended up becoming good friends of mine in the process. The final tally doesn't really matter. Win or lose, we're all going to miss the Blue Parrot because it was the centerpiece for a plethora of fun and golden memories. I would not be here today without the influence and camaraderie of the Blue Parrot.

Buckeye's Aces

I'll be eagerly awaiting the opening of the Blue Parrot II.

* * * * *

Make sure you check out F Train's recap called Last Call at the Blue Parrot. If you want to see some more NYC views from th Blue Parrot, I have a day time view of NYC and another day time view.

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