Friday, March 17, 2006

Live Games

The Criminologist: Crawling, on the planet's face. Some insects, called the Human Race. Lost in Time, and Lost in space... and meaning.
"Rocky Horror Picture Show"

Wow, it just seems like the past 2 weeks have flown by, and I can't remember much that has happened at all to be honest – and not in a good way. Much like the quote above, I have been a little insect of late just crawling on this earth, going from work to home and back again. I haven't played poker in weeks, but that is all about to change hopefully.

Just to go over a few things from the past few weeks that have occurred:

I had an ex-girlfriend from highschool call me the other day. I haven't heard or seen her in nine years, and then I get a phone call out of the blue. She had heard along the grape vine that I had got married, and just one week after she too had taken the plunge. Wow, nine years and no contact and then she decided to make a phone call (after going through 2-3 other people to get a hold of my number). And then what? She had absolutely nothing to say. And I was pretty much the same. It was one of the weirdest phone calls of my life I think. "Hi, haven't seen you in 9 years…catch you later!".

I'm still running the tournaments at a few pubs in Sydney. The gig is in it's 5th week now, and I'm happy to say I have finally been paid for my work. Things were getting a bit scary there for a minute, but the money has come through so everything is all good.

I was even charged with the task of finding other people to help out with the tournament director duties. I'd deal with all the technical stuff while they could basically stack chips and colour change people as needed. I was telling this to my lovely Distraction ant 11.30pm after one of the tournaments, when she asked "So who do you think you will get to help you?"

I looked at her intently…"Well…"

Her instant reply "No fucking way."

"I calmed her down and said I actually had one of our mates in mind, and I didn't think she would like to do it (she doesn't like staying up late unlike myself), but I thought it would be best to keep myself out of trouble if I at least ran the idea past her first.

Then the next morning, just as I am asking one of my friends if they would be interested in a bit of extra cash, she calls me on my mobile and says "Don't ask anyone else, I'll do it."

Wow, that was a quick turnaround. From not a chance in hell to you better have not asked anyone else in a matter of hours. This would be working together, admittedly for only a few hours a week, but there was a vital little fact that had to be observed and would no doubt cause tension.

You see, I'd be her boss. She would have to do as I say.

She isn't going to like this.

Now I've run poker games, home games and tournaments for a number of years. I know how they run and consider myself pretty well up on all the technicalities of dealing and how to solve disputes. I know how to run a tournament, to put it short. I've run a few of these particular ones before and I have all the answers to the basic questions you get asked 100 times a night. The distraction does not, but that didn't stop her from letting me know how things should be done. Yeah, this looks like it is going to be fun. Truth be told, it wasn't all that bad, but we are looking to move to a pub closer to home to make things easier on the both of us.

These are free tournaments where you accumulate points, and the highest point scorers compete in a final to win a main event ticket for the WSOP this year. Considering these are free rolls, you have to take that into account when you are judging the skills of the field. We have between 40-50 runners a night at the pub I'm running, which is a nice number really and the blinds are structured so that it isn't push or fold after 10 minutes. It's amazing some of the things I still hear at the tables though, and it is surprising what people consider to be mad poker skillz. Having said that, there are one or two regulars at the game who I wouldn't like sitting across the table from. When you hear them talk and explain their actions, you can really tell that they understand the fundamentals and even a few of the basic percentages and so on.

Then there are the others. I recall this girl, probably 20 or 21, doing pretty well when her big hands got paid off and what not. Anyway, she got knocked out at about 12 th I think, and she asked me where she finished. I looked it up on the laptop and told her "12th out of 48", which I thought was alright. Nothing to brag about, but it is ok. She wasn't impressed though, saying "That's all? My boyfriend beat 330 people in an online tournament!". Um, ok. I don't know if all tournaments can be compared just like that – otherwise he would have finished -290 in this tournament. He didn't finish -290, he finished 42 nd. His best finish so far is 35th. I must admit he has been unlucky, he hasn't won once while trying to draw to his jack high flush…

Speaking of the women at the games, there are probably only 3 or 4 regulars, but I don't think any of them have finished in the bottom half of the tournament yet. None have won either, but there have been a few final table appearances and some good showings, just none of them busting early. Small sample size, but interesting. No ego involved in their decisions – and probably less alcohol too.

It is amazing how serious some people take the free tournaments. We had one guy storm out because he said the game was too slow (this was just after he busted, mind you). I suppose he expects the greens to be watered and mown daily at the local putt-putt course too. But those that take the games in the right spirit are back each week, and I'd say 90% of them are eager to learn how to play better which is great. Besides the one guy, I've had no trouble what so ever. That might have something to do with the big Maori security at the pub too. Seriously, these guys seem to be bread to be rugby players and bouncers, and their scary as hell at both. If you are unfamiliar with these New Zealand natives, hire the movie "Once We're Warriors". I've never met a Maori guy that wasn't a top bloke, not that I'd admit that to any of them.

To run these games, I basically go straight from work one night a week to the pub, get changed there and then set everything up, run the thing and get home around midnight to upload the results to the main web page. Suffice to say there is not much time for anything else on these days, but one must sacrifice in order to leave well enough above their means, and it isn't a real big sacrifice in the end anyway.

Going to the tournament last week was a little bit difficult. In the morning, I had neglected to make myself some lunch for work. Usually this isn't a big issue, but today it was because I would not have a chance to go home afterwards to grab tea as I was off to the pub for the tournament of course. Another problem was that it was the day before pay day, so of course the bank balance was running a little dry – something it has become accustomed to of late. I still hadn't been paid for running these tournaments for four weeks, despite filling out about 8 different forms and doing everything I had been asked of (twice). I was resigned to the fact that I would have to go grab something after work and use the Mastercard to pay for it. There was one fast food restaurant on the way to the pub that I can use, which was fortunate because I didn't have enough time to go too far out of my way.

I pulled up and felt slightly embarrassed about the prospect of putting a sandwich on credit card, when I got to the front counter and saw a little A4 sign saying their machine was out of order. Damn it, and boy was I hungry at this stage.

So I continued driving to the pub knowing that I would be starving by the time the game was finished, and more than likely there would be nothing in the house that I could cook up in less than 45 minutes when I got home.

I stop at some traffic lights and see a Caltex service station across on the other side of the intersection. I peek down at my tank reading, which is just below the full marker. Damn, if it was empty I could have filled up and then chucked some stuff on with the petrol. For some reason, I couldn't bring myself to go to the petrol station to put a sandwich on credit card.

But then I remembered – I don't pay for petrol. I use a Caltex card that we got when we bought our new couches. With the beautiful leather lounges (which are damaged at the moment by the way) came a special offer of $1,000 free fuel. I have one of the $500 cards in my wallet that I use to fill up with, but I could also use it to grab some of the fantastic microwavable food that you find at these 24 hours service stations. I have never been so happy to get a chicken sandwich and coke in my life.

It may seem rather insignificant, but usually my life goes along the lines of Murphy's Law. But at that time, something went right for a change. This is a turning point people, a turning point damn it!

Slightly off track there, but anyways now that I have finally been paid I have an official B&M poker bankroll. Sure, I probably won't use it for a few weeks, but it is burning a hole in my pocket as we speak. It won't be long before I am hollowing out a copy of Doyle's super system to keep all my rubber-band-wrapped bills for safe keeping.

Last night we finally got our "Munchkin" game direct from the USA. I did this on the recommendation of Will and so far I am 1-0 against the distraction. Not sure if we are playing it right, and I'm not sure if there is a right way to play it. I'm already pretty fond of it and I could see it being awesome when there are more players in it. We got the original version plus the add-on, so we are stocked up to the hilt with the cards. The sad thing is they don't come with an appropriate container for the cards, so rubber bands will have to do. Tis a shame.

Otherwise, I'm looking forward to getting more friends involved in Munchkin, and increasing our board game collection in the coming years. Sadly, the Xbox was sold on eBay last week. That was the forth game console I've bought and sold since I was 15. I'll be waiting a while I think before the 360 takes pride of place in our lounge room.

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