Friday, July 25, 2008

Poker in L.A.: The Chevoit Hills Home Game

By Pauly
Hollywerid, CA

There's someone in my head and it's not me. The poetry of Roger Waters has invaded me.

Before I moved out of Scheckytown, he invited me to play in his home game in Los Angeles. There we were. Both standing in Las Vegas. Less than five minutes from the closest poker room (at Red Rock). Yet we were both excited to be playing poker... in another city.

I wrote about this on Tao of Pauly how a couple of weeks ago, Schecky asked me when I was going to move out of Scheckytown. I guessed that it would be the end of July. I had scheduled a quick trip to Colorado for a music festival right after the WSOP ended, but that vacation was a mere four days. I had to determine how long I would stick around Vegas once I got back from Colorado. Originally, it was a week to ten days. But over the last week, that number shrank dramatically.

On Tuesday morning, I sat in the Denver airport with Change100. We decided that we'd moved out on Wednesday morning. Once we landed at McCarran airport, she changed her mind. We altered our plans and decided to leave Vegas. Immediately. And drive back to the plastic hills of Hollyweird.

I showed up in Las Vegas two months ago traveling light with my backpack, laptop bag, a printer, and a portable putting green. I left with a lot more shit. I always accumulate things. Poker stuff. Schwag. Hats. T-shirts. Bags. Books. Magazines. DVDs. Hats. Cardcappers. Not to mention hundreds of business cards. I have small boxes sitting somewhere in New York City that are labeled 2005, 2006, and 2007. Inside are hundreds of business cards that I collected during that summer at the WSOP.

I grabbed an extra Poker News duffel bag and I shoveled in all of the goods that I accumulated in two months time. Within six hours of landing in Las Vegas, we were ready to bail Sin City. Like refugees fleeing a war torn region, we grabbed what we could and hit the road towards salvation. The City of Angels.

How fucked up is my life when I'm seeking shelter from the darkness of Las Vegas in sunny smog-ridden Los Angeles? The scary thing is... I couldn't wait to see the palm trees that lined Change100's block in the slums of Beverly Hills. The lunatic is in my head.

I cannot explain it, but when I'm in Las Vegas, I have very little desire to play poker. But as soon as I leave, I get the jones. The itch. I want the action. Many moons ago, I'd jump right out of bed because I knew that I'd get to play poker that day. Sure I had to wait 10-12 hours after I woke up to play, but the excitement, anticipation, and adrenaline were all there. That subsided over the years. I lost the enthusiasm. The flame was nevermore.

However, when I woke up on Wednesday. I got some of that old feeling back. The spark. I was excited to play. And it wasn't for the stakes, money, or competition. It was a home game. A social function. I was there to have fun and joke around and get drunk and hang out. I forgot about that pleasant aspect of poker. That's what originally drew me in. The community. Gathering. People sitting next to people. Talking. Having fun. That's social progress compared to the isolation of online poker or the anti-social and ultra-competitiveness of live poker tournaments.

I started out playing poker as a social activity. The evolution of online poker transformed my journey into an isolated experience. I'm sort of trapped in an extremely solitary and lonely existence as a writer. And since I write about online poker, it seems as though I'm a prisoner in a cell. Screaming into the void. Lock the door and throw away the key.

Schecky's home game rotates between the houses of different friends in the LA area that he's had for two decades. Since both he and Jen Leo were away for two months, they were excited to play. Change100 and I were fortunate enough to get the invite. She had played in the game a couple of times. I only played once before... about a year ago. That night it was a combination weekly home game/puppy birthday party where I stepped in dog piss, busted a ninety-year old woman, and got my aces cracked by a girl who was still in high school.

And you know what? I had a fun time.

That's why I looked forward to the home game. It was a Hollywood cliche... hosted at a multi-million dollar house, with not one but three Lexuses (or is it Lexi?) out front, and a catered dinner with organic pizza and hipster food stuffs from trendy Ketchup like kobe sloppyjoes and kobe beef hotdogs.

The best part of the home game is that it is inside someone's home. That week it was Mark's crib. Good music and a random dog darting underneath the poker table. That's what I missed about the Blue Parrot back in NYC...Ferrari's two cats running around and one of them constantly sitting on the ledge of an open window and we'd be taking action to see if the cat actually leaped to its death from 17 stories up.

We had eleven players. Freezeout. Everyone crammed on one table. A bottle of Peroni left a sweat ring next to my chips. I couldn't even tell you how many we had to start out. I never bothered to ask, nor count my stack when I sat down.

The cast of characters was worth the price of admission. An infomercial guru. Former NBA player. A ninety-year old woman. A pregnant travel writer. Former child actor. A foul-mouthed rabbi knocking back Kettle One and cranberry juice in a pint glass. And some dude with a goatee who used to chase after a faded Scott Weiland as he ran naked down 3rd Street.

I won two big pots in the first hour and jumped out to the chip lead. I biggest pot I dragged was with Ac-Qc when my top pair and a busted flush draw was good. And then I squeezed another pot with 10s-5s.

Then it got ugly. I misplayed my Big Slick and limped UTG. Change100 raised and I called along with one other player. Before the flop was fanned out, I reached for ammo. The big blind checked and I fired out the pot despite missing it completely. Change100 moved all in for only a little bit more. I had her way covered and called. She out flopped me with 6d-3d. Ouch. I couldn't improve and coughed up the chiplead.

The next level, my big slick lost to Q-J. I busted out in 11th place. Gigli. Me. It didn't matter. I had fun. I also got to deal a bit. I gave out some nice hands. Like Kings and Aces. Jen Leo got a couple.

Change100 cashed, but took third place wen the rabbi busted her. The drunker he got, the filthier his mouth got. He said some classic lines, such as...

"May the fleas of a hundred camels infest your armpits."

"Fuckin' bitch ass bitch ass BITCH!"

The drunken-foul-mouthed rabbi beat Jen Leo heads up to win. Although I busted out first and played the least amount of poker, I might have had the most fun. I left invigorated to rediscover the parts of poker that I once cherished so dearly.

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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