Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Gristle and Glop

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I worked a myriad of dead-end jobs during my vagabond 20s which was bookended by two stints in Brooks Brothers' suits on Wall Street. One of the dozens of transient forms of employment that I humped during the Clinton administration was as a bartender. A mixologist. I poured many a beers and concocted a plethora of cocktails. Liquor is a social lubricant and it was no shocker that people also drank to escape from their harsh and bitter reality. Everyone was seeking to achieve the end results... insobriety.

However, a daring few wanted to do it in style. They wanted to get shitfaced and appeal to their palates at the same time that didn't involving pouring a bottle of overpriced scotch or wine. They sought out a tasty cocktail. Those customers were few and far between since the majority of requests included a "twist" or "extra olives." Occasionally, I tried to impress a female patron with my deft mixing skills and whip up a blue kamikaze to switch things up or something sweet and bitter (like me) such as an Amaretto Sour.

When I was a freshman in college I was lathered in blowjobs courtesy of a drink that I first made out of desperation. Southern Comfort and Lemonade. Those where the only two items I had in my dorm room. Nothing got freshmen chicks and sorority girls wetter than that magical combination. Jesus, I miss 1991.

People change. Tastes evolve and become refined. My favorite poison is constantly changing. And because I travel so much, I have to adapt my tastes to the local fare. I got my first lesson in blending in with the regulars during a trip to Iceland in 2001. I had been demolishing pints of Carlsberg until a new bartender began his shift. He refused to serve me unless I drank Viking, which was a traditional Icelandic beer, instead of the Danish import that I so enjoyed.

Drink of choice. Game of choice. Like booze, my poker tastes have been constantly shifting and changing. Cash games. SNGs. MTTs. Limit. Pot-limit. NL. Omaha. Stud. Hold'em. HORSE. Shorthanded. Full ring. Man, there's so much to choose from these days. That's why game selection is even more important today as it has ever been.

The first time I ever played poker in a casino, it was spread-limit seven card stud on a Mississippi riverboat casino. It was only months after Mississippi allowed gambling and casinos popped up all over Biloxi and Gulfport. I occasionally made roadtrips to Biloxi from Atlanta with my fraternity brothers. Heck, if there was online poker in 1993, that's all I would be doing, but back in the early 1990s no such thing existed. I had a vague concept of the interwebs, didn't even have cable TV, and wouldn't get my first email address until early 1996. Aside from competitive games of spades and nickel ante poker game in my fraternity house, the roadtrips to Biloxi would be the only real gambling action that I'd see until I moved to New York after college and started playing blackjack and poker in Atlantic City and eventually migrated to Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods.

My poker origins were Stud. I never even heard of Texas Hold'em existed until I moved to Seattle in 1997 and my friends took me to a casino where they had poker tournaments. We nickednamed that joint "The Nut Sack" and my buddy Singer actually won the tournament a couple of times.

And after Rounders came out in the summer of 1998, we quickly added hold'em to our rotation of games which we played at our home game on Monday nights at the Trout House in Fremont. A group of eight to ten guys and girls (mostly musicians and artsy types who got paid in cash tips as a bartender, barista, or wait staff) were packed into a kitchen and drank cases Labbat's and passed around spliffs of BC commercial nugs. Hold'em was the least popular game compared to wild cards games or a variation of no-peek baseball that I dubbed "Seventy-Five Cent Mexican." That was high stakes for us back then considering most games were 25 cent ante.

Of course, as I sat in the kitchen home game in Seattle in 1998, little did I know that in a decade I would be making my living as a scribe in poker media.

* * * * *

I cannot explain my actions. They just happened. Call it divine intervention. Or pure instincts. But the other morning I woke up in Los Angeles and decided to hop online and check out the Stud cash games. Since then, I have been playing 3/6 and 5/10 Stud on Full Tilt because the players are worse than the ones over at Poker Stars. That 10/20 Stud game on Stars is tough. I have been watching it but not quite ready to jump into that mix. Perhaps in a couple of weeks after playing a bit more and scouting out those players. The 5/10 Stud game on Stars is rather difficult. Although I held my own, I felt that there were times where I was one of the weaker players in that game.

My goal is to gain experience playing as much Stud cash games as possible, so I have been adding a Stud table or two to my daily feeding schedule. The Stud tables count as a "limit" game for Limit Happy Hour on Full Tilt, so I have been gobbling up double points. I have enough points for two Full Tilt bar stools now.

Over at Full Tilt, there is at least one 3/6 Stud table running and most of the time two. The 5/10 game doesn't run as often as I'd like. I played one session of 8/16 Stud and didn't do so hot. I lost 90% of the money on one hand. Flush over flush. Oh well.

On Saturday night, I spotted Sweet Svetlana at the 5/10 Stud table. Full Tilt made the 2008 WSOP Ladies Champion a red pro. Jesus. Who isn't a red pro these days? Well, me and the rest of the unwashed masses.

I won my biggest pot of the weekend in a 5/10 Stud game with rolled up Jacks. I started out with (Jd-Js)-Jh and was jamming all the way to the river. I got three-bet on fifth street with my opponent showing 7d-5s-9c. I had to put him on a straight. I'd find out later via the hand history that he was raising with a pair and a gutshot and made his straight on seventh street. Lucky for me, I boated up when I caught running Aces on sixth and seventh to drag the monsterpotten.

I also played 5/10 Stud with a red pro that I never heard of before... and I cover poker for a living. Seriously, is Full Tilt putting out Craigslist Ads for red pros or something?

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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