There was a small demand, after my last post on the good ol' days, for some more anecdotes on the heart break and wallet ache of playing poker in the pre-Internet era.
I was going to make the main focus the amusing story of when a player drove across country to confront a well known poker contributor, occasional funny man, and often hard nut. This confrontation was principally around a pick axe handle, brought just for the occasion. On seeing his interlocutor, stepping out of a car with the said debating tool poised for questioning, our comedian said, quietly, coolly "Is that all you've got?" Which if it had been me, would have provoked a fast rewind of existence so far, back into the car, reverse out of the street, Keystone Cops-style, and getting the fuck out of Dodge.
This did not happen.
The next day I saw our jovial friend, still jovial, and as unblemished as he ever could be. Our misguided friend, however, was bundled up like a decade early audition for The Mummy.
Within two weeks, they were both playing at the same table again.
However, I didn't want to make the prime focus of my reminisces *quite* so negative, so instead I have the triumverate of terror.
Blackpool, in the North of England, was very much an acquired taste, and a poor one at that. However back in the 90s, it was often home to some of the worst cash players in human existence, and that alone made the trip worthwhile. These were the types that thought 10 card Omaha the epitome of skill, and a 8th nut low a solid investment.
However, at my table was a more fearsome bunch. A guy who would later end up European champion. Another, the youngest player to win $1 million at the WSOP. In the hand in question there was some considerable preflop action and on the flop a tight, fearless, aggressive, well known Oriental player went all-in. I put him on a flush draw and called him with top pair and some kind of American wrap - this was some time ago, please! As we were friends and there was no more betting we shared our hands. He had an overpair and a flush draw, which made matters worse as he hit his pair on the turn. I was now in a world of hurt. A seemingly irrelevant river arrived and I desperately shuffled my cards, trying to find something that would win me this monster pot.
"You have the straight," he gently nudged me.
Only he had seen my hand.
Ever since, in the same circumstances, I have repaid the favour for those unfortunates who haven't realised that they have thumped me with their exposed hand.
And as a sad addendum, the player in question got effectively broke and never recovered.
Let's Quantum Leap forward half a decade. We are now in a very pleasant cash game playing my game of choice, PLO8b. The main donator in this game was a young, loose student guy, from a very rich family. He was waaay to aggressive and had a waaay to high opinion of his own game. By the river of this particular hand, I had him all-in and declared my hand "Nut full, and a low" and exposed my hand to the table. My low wasn't great, hence the "and a low" phrase.
Well the youngster shook his hand and thought and shook his head some more. "You win" he said, and started to muck his hand.
"No wait!" shouted The Rock, who had not spoke a word for the last two hours and had saw his hand inadvertently as he was sat next to him. This is the key point. At no point was his hand exposed to the table. Rather, The Rock had seen it because the student was taking one last wistful look at it before conceding defeat.
"You have a better low, look" and the Rock showed him.
To say I was fucking livid was an understatement. We both knew why The Rock had done this. He hadn't wanted to let the loose money get into my stack. He wanted a chance to get it himself.
"If he puts his fucking hand down, *I* will show him he's beat me", I said softly, truthfully.
The Rock looked guilty, went quiet again, busted the rich kid and promptly left almost the next hand.
OK time trippers, we are back to the start of my career again. The soon to be WSOP millionaire kid was busting up games all over England. He was good and he was on fire. At the time he was ferried around the country by some old friends, one a small time tourney hustler, the other, well just a hustler at best, at worst a rumoured cheat, although that was to come later.
Having duly bust the cash table again, the young tyro needed a hand carrying his chips to the cash desk and the hustler duly obliged.
Some time later our friend realised that he was £50 short.
Yes, his friend, long established from his recent teenage years, and an older figure by far, many hours spent following the white line with, and whom he would often give money to, well, just because he could, had stolen from him.
Yes, his friendship was only worth £50.