Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Dispatches from Uruguay: Big Deuce and the Olympics

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The locals eat late in Uruguay. It's the European influence. Plus, rich people don't have to get up early and go to work, so they can stay up late and eat and drink fine wines until the wee hours. It is not uncommon to sit down to eat dinner at Midnight in Punta del Este, which meant that we didn't start playing cards until rather late. And that's the routine that we did every single night while covering the PokerStars LAPT Punta del Este.

Our post-dinner activities included copious consumption of the local beer (we drank the entire supply of Patricia at one restaurant and were forced fed 40 oz. bottles of Budweiser) and watching the Olympics broadcast with Spanish commentators on ESPN+. The play by play for the ice hockey games were particularly amusing. I caught some of the Canada/Slovakia game, but missed the blowout in US/Finlandia game because of work. I could only sweat the outcome via ESPN and Twitter. I had a bet with Schaubs on the women's ice hockey medal game. He had his hometown Canada, and I went with the USA even though I knew were were not the favorite. Canada's women prevailed and I had hoped that meant the US men's squad would win the gold over Canada.

Without any Danish women's curling to keep me aroused, I had to settle for whatever was on Uruguayan TV. A bunch of us watched ice skating one late evening. The result? Four of us were shitfaced and and hurling obscenities at the TV screen. Figure skating is more palatable with Spanish commentators instead of listening to Scott Hamilton shriek like a little girl every time someone completes a triple axle. My buddy Rey from Costa Rica wanted to place bets on whether or not a skater would fall... and how many times per performance. Degens.

Rey also taught us how to play Big Deuce. A lot of the Argentinian pros have been playing it for $10/point and the game has become quite popular in different circles on the LAPT. Big Deuce, also known as Big Two, is a variation of a Chinese card game. The original name in Mandarin is also slang for penis. I've played a variation of Big Deuce in college, except that we called it Asshole.

In Big Deuce, you are dealt 13 cards and can play with 2, 3, or 4 opponents. You have to make 2, 3, or 5 card hands and the goal is to be the person to get rid of their cards first. The three of diamonds opens and that starts the hand. Suits matter just like in Bridge; spades are the highest followed by hearts, clubs, diamonds). And all deuces are higher than Aces making treys the lowest card. Deuces are the highest card, but Broadway is the best possible straight. A flush with a deuce is better than an Ace-high flush.You earn points by tallying up all the total number of cards in your opponents' hands. If they have nine or less cards, that's 2 points per card. 10 cards are more equal 3 points.

I have played similar versions of Big Deuce in the past. We regularly played Asshole in my fraternity house and that activity accompanied mainlining grain alcohol. We never played Asshole for money, rather to induce 19-year old women to get drunker than skunks and give us hand jobs.

However, Big Deuce is highly addictive and detrimental to your health if you play for cash. We all caught on the rules very quick. A rotating group of five us played nightly and by the time we left the country, we sucked two more people to the Big Deuce cult. We even played inside Montevideo airport all the way up until it was time to board our flight.

I always crave side action. Eric and I played a stupid coin flip game using Jokers from the deck of cards that we used to play Big Deuce. The deck contained a red joker and a black joker. The goal was shuffle the two cards and pick the red joker for $100 Uruguayan a pop. Easy as flipping coins. Of course, I went on a terrible streak and found myself -700 in a short period of time. I discovered a mark in the cards and ran off three straight correct picks to lower my debt to 400 U-bucks.

We had to take a taxi to the airport. Eric sat in the front and Change100 and I sat in the back for the ninety minute ride. The driver discovered that we were in town for the poker tournament. We didn't even reach the outskirts of Punta del Este when he proceeded to tell Eric a bad beat story, in Spanish, about his Kings getting cracked by J-7.

Eric didn't have the heart to charge him $20 Uruguayan dollars for listening to the beat beat.

We had a layover in Beunos Aires and hung out in the Admiral's Club, where I watched the exhilarating end of the gold medal hockey game on ESPN+. When I boarded my flight in Montevideo, the score was 2-0 with the Canucks dominating the Americans. By the time I landed, only twenty-five minutes later, the Americans tied the score at 2-2. We rushed into the lounge so I could watch overtime. I sat with random business travelers; two Americans and a Canadian, and we were all on the edge of our seats, as we chomped on stale crackers and cheese and drank Argentinian beers.

And if you blinked, you missed the goal.

Sidney Crosby scored the sudden death goal and I let out a hearty, "Awww fuck!" I guess that I'll never forget that fateful moment when Canada won a gold medal on their own soil. US goalie Ryan Miller was unbeatable for the entire tournament --- until that moment. He's the reason why the US did as well as they did, and Crosby proved why Alexander Ovechkin will always be his bitch.

I left the Admiral's Club in a sullen daze. I won a couple of bets overall during the Olympics, but I was pulling for a US gold medal in hockey. That soured any elation that I derived from winning wagers. Alas, my sad mood was quickly turned around courtesy of Change100's frequent flier status. We both got upgraded from coach to business class on a flight from Buenos Aires to Dallas. The upgrade came at one of the last possible moments because the flight was oversold and needed to fill empty business class seats. Change100's Platinum status got us automatically added to the top of the list for coach candidates to get a free upgrade. Talk about a miraculous river suck out. Flying business class on an international flight lasting over ten hours is a godsend, especially since I was hungover and jonesin', and not looking forward to being squished into seats like sardines.

After a half of a decade of mind-numbing travel tilt and vicious bad beats from airlines, I finally caught a wave of luck. It felt like I won the lottery... 4 8 15 16 23 42.

* * * * *

You can read an expanded version of my dispatches from Uruguay over at Tao of Pauly. Check out...
Part 1: lax > mia > mvd > PUNTA > eze > dfw > lax
Part 2: lax > mia > mvd > PUNTA > eze > dfw > lax

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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