Wednesday, February 07, 2007

St. Grubby's Day

Today is February 7, the day when we honor St. Grubby, the patron saint of degenerate gamblers. When good Catholics are stuck at the craps tables, losing at the racetrack, getting slammed online at PokerStars, or stuck at their day trading desk, they look deep into their souls and whisper a prayer to St. Grubby, hoping that their words will penetrate the heavens and a symphony of archangels will pass along the message while St. Grubby is dining on Alaskan King Crab and Kobe Beef in God's special buffet designated for holy rollers such as the Twelve Apostles, every anointed saint, members of the Opus Dei, former popes, selected Jesuits, and Marie Osmond.

There is no doom switch because online poker is not rigged on a human level. Spiritually speaking, all of the games are fixed. The outcomes of your coinflips and the frequency of bad beats are all controlled by rouge element of fallen angels who like to mess with gambler's minds. Ever wonder why a hall of famer field goal kicker misses a chip shot to miss the spread? Wonder why one outers spike on the river?

Only St. Grubby can help you from the depths of hell and enteral damnation. He gave us a valuable weapon to ward off the infidels a.k.a. The Hammer. 7-2 is not just a hand to use to tilt your opponents, it's been known throughout history to give the common man an edge over his superior opponents. In the ancient Chinese text Circle of the Dead, 72 was often written on the chests of their warriors before they went into battle while carrying a spear and a hammer. Any evil spirits were warded off during attacks. And to ensure that the ghosts of fallen enemy combatants would not haunt them in the afterlife, the warriors bashed in the skulls of their dead opponents using their hammers in order to free the spirits from this world.

* * * * *

I made up the first three paragraphs of the historical and religious significance of St. Grubby's Day. But we're not too far off. Many numerologists will tell you that the combination of 7 and 2 is an interesting and potent mix. 2 often represents balance or the "yin" in the yin yang. 7 refers to thought and/or consciousness.

Since the inception of poker blogs, the Hammer had become an initial part of everyday vernacular after being introduced by Grubby. I don't think too many new bloggers or readers know the origins of the Hammer. So we'll take this time to have a quick review.
The Hammer

Definition: 7-2o
Creator/Credit: Grubby

The specific definition of the Hammer is 7-2o played out of the blinds for a preflop raise. 72s is the "Suited Hammer" although I've often referred to 72s as the "Swedish Hammer."

The Hammer came from one of Grubby's home games back in DC before he moved to Las Vegas. One regular played 7-2o a lot and the other players decided to call that hand the Hammer because it happened to be that guy's last name.

When I first started reading poker blogs in late 2002, there were less than a dozen. Grubby's The Poker Grub was one that I read everyday because his sense of humor and excellent writing skills made him an instant favorite read of mine. I couldn't wait to read about how many SNGs in a row Grubby played before going to bed or what he ate at Wendy's that day.

Grubby also held cool contests on his blog like the Hammer Challenge. If you got 7-2o online and played it in any ring game, won it at showdown, and typed "Hammer!" into the chat, you would won the jackpot if you emailed Grubby the hand history. The progressive jackpot started at $5 and increased $5 everyday until it was hit, capping at $250. Grubby also threw in a wallet and a T-shirt to the winner. He only held few of them, and every possible poker blogger did their best to drop the Hammer during the ring games. Intrepid Card Player, Stick & Move, and The Poker Penguin each won Grubby's Hammer Challenge. The longest it went was almost 2 weeks when the Poker Penguin won $65. It was usually cracked in 3 or 4 days.

"I knew The Hammer officially made it when I saw it mentioned on Wikipedia," Grubby said in a recent interview with the NPR.

The Hammer is also a philosophy and a reminder that especially in No Limit, you do not need playable cards to win. Playing the Hammer and showing it is also a great way to mix up your playing style and getting other players on tilt in the process.

The Hammer has become a mantra for some bloggers, a part of the logo for the unofficial logo for the WPBT, and an original contribution to the world of poker. I will get wicked goosebumps the day I hear it announced during a televised poker tournament.
* * * * *

Today is as much a holiday to commemorate The Hammer, but we also take time out to pay homage to The Poker Grub and of course his lovely sister Grubbette. He's been a friend and colleague of mine for a few years ever since I met him for the first time at The Borgata in Atlantic City when he felted me at a NL table, then bought me dinner. That was the same night AlCantHang made some kid cry.

I've had the rare opportunity to live with Grubby in Las Vegas. It was some of the best fun I had in the last few years, but it's also been one of the hardest things to endure having to watch your friends fall hard and fast. I've witnessed his three-day long gambling benders topped off with a few trips to the buffet in between. I've seen the dark side of Las Vegas turn a jovial playwright into a walking zombie while he emptied his savings account chasing the gambler's rush.

When young poker players write me and ask me for advice on moving to Las Vegas, I often tell them Grubby's brutally honest story and point them to his blog. Unlike some players I know, he's not afraid to talk about the losses and publicly state them on his site. And yes, we all know that if Grubby stayed out of the pits and away from blackjack and slots that he'd still have a decent bankroll. And I guess that's his charm and what really makes Grubby... Grubby, is that he knows it's a problem. He knows it's wrong. Yet, he does it anyway.

Sure, I miss our apartment in Henderson but getting out of Las Vegas was the best thing for Grubby. Now, he lives in Chicago and has a dream job getting to create slot machines. He's also getting paid big bucks to write for the Poker Works junta while he also conributes to I'm hoping that someday he returns to his original passion of writing screenplays. For the last year or so, I've been planting the seed in Grubby's head that we should move to Hollyweird together and become script writing partners. We made a half-baked pact that if his job in Chicago doesn't work out, then he'd have no other option than to move to California.

My favorite part about living at the Redneck Riviera in the summer of 2005 was the two weeks after the WSOP ended. It would be so friggin' hot during the days that I'd stay in and write from noon to five or so, while the $20 crack whores were coming off a 36-hour high and the pot-bellied mulleted kids were infesting the pool with Rickets. Grubby would pick me up and we'd hit up the buffet du jour. Either he had a coupon or a comp, or we'd find someplace cheap to eat like Ellis Island or at Terribles.

We'd then head to a poker room and fleece the soused tourists or tilt the locals in the 1-2 NL games by playing junk hands and raising a lot with The Hammer. If we had a good night, we'd head over to a strip club and hand over our winnings to the magnificent smelling odalisque strippers at Crazy Horse or The Rhino after a couple of hours of groping, grinding, and lap dances. If we lost at the tables, then we'd go to a strip club anyway to ease the pain. Alas, we'd have to settle upon cheaper and sleazier joints where the strippers had awful boob jobs, C-section scars, and were doped up after chasing the dragon in the parking lot.

When I moved to Henderson last year, we spent less time at the strip clubs and more time playing online poker. Grubby did not have a TV, so we'd sit in the living room and play poker. He'd be playing three or four SNGs while I was grinding out at the cash game tables. To see each other play different situations helped us become better players. And of course I got to witness some horrible beats that Grubby would take. I'm shocked he never threw his mouse through the wall.

One of my favorite past times involved Saturday afternoons in Las Vegas. Saturdays were when local's casinos gave away free gifts to their frequent players. Grubby would drive around to five or six different places. Sometimes I waited in the car and smoked weed, while other times I went along with him to make sure he didn't stop at the blackjack tables or play through $100 at Mr. Cashman. That's how Grubby accumulated odd gifts like salsa dishes, jumper cables, fanny packs, scales, and wind breakers. He'd store all of his gifts into his closet, which was wall to wall with various items from the Station casinos.

* * * * *

Of course there are some of my favorite posts on the Tao of Poker that talk about the Hammer. This one in particular involved the first gathering of the bloggers in December of 2004. Here's the excerpt from Sunday Night in Vegas:
While I waited for my new table, BG and Grubby came up from behind me as I was dealt the Hammer. I showed them my hole cards and smiled. Nothing was cooler than getting the Hammer in Vegas with a fellow poker blogger watching. I raised preflop and got two callers, including one of the Israeli guys. The flop: A-10-x. I bet and the Israeli guy called (the Swedish guy folded). The turn was a rag and I bet out again. He called. On the river another ace fell. I bet and he thought about it for a while, then folded. He was on a straight draw (Grubby told me afterwards that he saw the guy peek at his hole cards... he had K-Jo) and missed.

I promptly flipped over 2-7 and yelled "Hammer time!" as I scooped up my pot.

The local woman in seat 6 scolded me. "You raised with that hand? 2-7o? That's the worst hand in poker!"

I sarcastically quipped back with an elegant riposte and a big smile, "Really? It is?"

She wasn't digging my humor and folded her arms in disgust and said something under her breath. I heard her call me an "asshole" and a "faggot". I dropped the smile in protest of her uncouth vituperations and quickly fell into my confrontational New Yorker mode, "Excuse me, what did you just say?"

She didn't say anything and avoided eye contact as everyone at the table was watching me stand up to her.

"That's what I thought," I said a little louder as I slowed down in stacking up my chips.

"I am going to call you next time," the Israeli guy whispered to me in English.

"I hope you do," I whispered back.

Two hands later I found KK. I raised preflop and got 5 callers!! I had two callers all the way to the river (the Israeli guy and the local woman) and luckily no aces were on the board and I won with pocket cowboys. I could tell she was even more pissed when I glared at her while I slowly stacked up my chips.

"You still think I'm an asshole?" I muttered across the table in her direction. "Or how about a faggot?"

And then there's this gem post by Grubby about the same weekend:
I'll leave you this morning with my Hammer story. Monday night I'm sitting at the Excalibur 2/6 impending lawsuit fight table (and Pauly, she wasn't a hooker or am I just refusing to believe a hooker would reject me?) with Pauly and his brother. Pauly was to my right, and we were chatting often enough that I felt other people were suspicious of collusion. I made sure not to talk if we were both in the hand.

I get 72o in the BB, which excites me as much as pocket Aces. Everyone in the world limps for $2 including Pauly, and I raise to $8. All fold except the person in the cutoff. Sigh. This is my first hand raising at the table, and here I have a caller.

The flop is A3x (rainbow). My Hammer is looking good. CO bets out.

Little did he know the monster I held.

I raise.

I bring up the cards to Pauly and ask, "Wanna see?"

He shakes his head, "No."

CO calls. The turn is 5.

CO bets.

I ask Pauly, "Wanna see?"

He says, "I know what you have."

I now have a gutshot straight and no odds to call. Such is the glory of The Hammer and will make my eventual win all the sweeter.

I consider raising but decide to slowplay this one and pop him on the river.

River is nothing and he bets. I let him off easy this time and fold, though I did consider raising so I could show the hand.

Pauly said he also had The Hammer. Had he raised, I would've reraised, and we would've driven everyone out and then split the pot with The Hammer.

But he said his was suited, so not technically a real Hammer.

I forgave him.
* * * * *

I can't leave without posting one of my favorite You Tube videos featuring Grubby's infamous secret soap drawer!

Click here to view the Grubby video.

* * * * *

And AlCantHang is hosting a Hammer Day tournament tonight. Here are the details:

See you there and Happy St. Grubby's Day.

No comments:

Post a Comment