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How Not To Play Poker

It’s 10.15 pm, and I’m praying I don’t draw to the flush cos then I’ll have to bet

You might think that’s a good thing. But I’ve drunk a shit ton of red wine and smoked two strong reefers. And it’s been almost three years since I played any live poker.

The guy to my right is wearing a covid mask that looks like he is sniffing his mum’s g-string. He is wearing sunglasses and is dressed all in black like some member of Antifa. He has eaten a brownie, drunk some mushroom tea, and can barely comprehend what is happening.

A man and his wife sit opposite me. They are dressed like hippies and seem quite sober until you realise that the guy says his cards out loud every time he looks at them. His wife keeps telling him off for it while the others tell HER to be quiet.

The guy to my left is controlling the music. He made a playlist for the occasion, and we’ve been listening to metal all night despite his claims that the playlist is diverse. Whilst I like metal, four hours of it is too much. It’s like reggae. It’s fun for a few songs. Then you have to move on.

When I request something different, various grunge songs start playing instead. Nirvana, Sonic Youth etc.

Apparently, this is different. It’s not metal. It’s grunge. That’s his idea of musical diversity.

It’s not metal. It’s post-metal. It sounds like two horny broken televisions fucking in a motel.

It’s not metal. It’s doom metal. It sounds like a dishwasher sucking another dishwasher’s colossal metal cock.

For fucks sake, let’s listen to the Beatles or The Stones or fucking Jive Bunny or Ugly Kid Joe. Actually, no, not Ugly Kid Joe. They’re metal.

I can’t remember what the chips are worth

Whenever I ask, I forget again within a few seconds. This makes any kind of betting impossible. I think the black ones are a thousand and the blue ones are a hundred, but it could be the other way around. What about these pink ones? Wait, they aren’t chips.

They are my nipples.

Two hands earlier, I was on the dealer button. I dealt everyone hole cards, and everyone bet. Then, instead of dealing the flop, I dealt everyone another two hole cards. Since everyone else at the table had eaten potent cannabis brownies, it took them all a while for them to work out what went wrong.

The last four hands have taken the best of an hour to complete

People keep wandering off in the middle of a hand and having conversations in the kitchen about quantum physics or communism or Nietzsche or Nicki Minaj’s knockers. During one particular hand, three people were all in when the dealer decided to go to the toilet, and then the players casually took a break to eat cheese and kabana.

I’ve been playing tight for the whole game, picking up a couple of pots here and there with strange moves. But now the dreaded diamond comes down, and I make my flush.

Now I have to bet. I’m out of god damn position too. That means I’m the first to act. My flush is weak, just like in real life. There could easily be a higher flush, given the betting pattern of my opponent to this point.

I look at the chips and consider asking their value again, but it’s embarrassing since I do it every time. Also, it would take five seconds to forget, so what’s the point? There is another card to come. And if another diamond comes down, it would increase the chance of another flush massively. So there is only one option.

“I’m ALL IN,” I say confidently.

There are a few subaudible mumbles of “that’s a huge bet.”

I look at the pot. There are at least a couple of green chips in there, and I know they are worth a few good buttery crumbs.

So fuck it.

But the more I look, the more I realise how excessive the bet is. This isn’t a tournament. It’s a deep stack cash game. This bet is like sending Captain America to clean the shitstains off yer bog — or, having Gordon Ramsay peel your onions.

I suddenly realise a higher flush isn’t the biggest problem

The board is paired, and in Texas Hold ’em, that means there is the potential for a full house or even quads, which both beat a flush. I try to remember my opponent’s betting pattern. Would it make sense? My ego tells me to tell everyone I didn’t notice the paired board, so I don’t look like an idiot for being all in with my weak-ass flush.

But I need to shut the fuck up now and hope she doesn’t call.

She calls immediately, and I know I’m up Badger’s Creek without a condom.

She reveals a Queen high flush, and after several hours of hanging in there, I’m busted like Hugh Grant on Hollywood Boulevard.

It’s the bad beats that rile you up in poker.

It is when you are miles ahead, and some bastard sucks out on you by drawing an ace on the river. Sometimes I laugh about cowboys who used to shoot each other during poker games. I can understand that. If you are emotional about it, poker can stir you to violence.

But if I had a gun, I wouldn’t shoot anyone today. Cos, this isn’t one of those times. You have to blame too much weed and wine —just a dumb move and not one I would have done with a clear head. This is a cash game, not a tournament.

Technically, making money from cash poker is easy if you are a poker genius. If a move has a positive expected value (+EV), you play; if it doesn’t, you don’t. You make money over weeks, months and years rather than in single games. Then those kinds of hands bother you even less. They are meaningless. At online poker casinos, people use software to work out EV. Some people even use software to play. Many players online are bots.

In the real world, you would need to be very good at maths and statistics, something I do not excel at. I’m not a poker genius but I’ve had my runs at it over the years. Most of the time, I’ve gone broke, made a small profit, or quit and decided to turn over a new leaf and get into pilates and eating chia pudding instead.

The online poker ban in Australia didn’t help.

That’s how corrupt our government is. You can’t play poker online, but you can gamble on any sports game. Sports gambling is heavily advertised and encouraged. And those bastard slot machines are fucking everywhere.

I suppose it’s like how nicotine vaping is banned because it is supposedly a gateway drug to smoking cigarettes which is perfectly legal.

It’s not a surprise. Governments like this don’t act for the people unless there is some voting event where they need support. Decisions are all corporate decisions because lobbying is an integral part of parliament.

Anyway, this isn’t politics. It’s poker

I pour myself another fancy red wine, and the other guests chide me for adding water to it.

“It’s what the fucking French do,” I tell them. “I think it’s meant to chill the tannins or some bollocks.” Nobody believes me as usual.

Next month I’ll be coming into poker night straight — maybe. Then I’ll show them all who is the best — maybe.

Image: Wiki

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