Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Texas Hold'em in Guangzhou

I got a message yesterday that a friend who owns a bar here in Guangzhou was hosting a little poker night, Texas Hold’em to be precise. Now I am not much of a gambler but I do enjoy a bit of poker and I have heard so much about Texas Hold’em. I have played it before with a few friends at home but have never personally experienced any of the thrill or action I have seen in poker movies like ‘Rounders’. So last night after work I headed over to the bar and bought into the game. Of course we were not playing with real money because that would be illegal; we used monopoly cash, only 100 to buy in. We started the game at about 8.30 and you could buy more banks at 100 a pop until 11.30, Monopoly cash. After that if you got no more chips you are just out.

So I know the basic idea of TH but when I sat down to the table I felt the pressure amount. Even though this was no professional set up and everyone was mellow, these guys wanted a game. And when there are brothers on the table who have brought shades into a dark club just to play cards you know they mean business. I felt like I was in a public restroom taking a crap and just realized there is no TP. There was lingo flowing around the table that made less sense to me then Aramaic! People were talking about flops, burns, and rivers. And all this before we even started to deal. But although I was a bit nervous that I might fuck up on the rules, I knew without that that beginners luck was on my side. I figured out a long time ago that in most situations you might encounter, providence favors the ignorant.

Pretty much everything I know about poker I have watched on TV. They got a channel here called Solar Sports that shows some pretty hot games every now and then. It is wild the way the players’ size each other up and as the cards were being dealt on our concrete slab of a table, I could see the other 7 guys on the table looking around at one another with stiff faces. I did not know what anyone was looking for so I just joined in, narrowing my eyes and not avoiding eye contact. When in doubt, do what everyone else does. It has kept my ass alive this long. I did not want them to think I was intimidated or totally stupid because it was already apparent I had the least experience when I asked all the rules, twice.

Two cards were dealt to each of the players on the table and bets started to unfold. I looked at my cards and scoped a pair of nines. A pair of nines on the first hand was better than good I thought. Now I may not be experienced at Texas Hold’em but I haven’t got a pot of noodles between my ears either. I figured this would be a good time to draw out some bets. We moved around the table twice before upping the ante and laying out the next 4 cards. Believe it or not, 2 of them were 9’s!!! I was sitting on 4 of a kind and I knew that had to be the best on the table. It was at this point I experienced a sensation totally new to me. It was like butterflies in my stomach. My breathing went a bit funny and my hands were clearly shaking. I was so fucking excited about my hand and trying not to show it. All those times in movies when I have seen poker players talk about pressure and looking for tells, none of it more sense to me than at that moment. It was an adrenaline rush, like that feeling you get when you are climbing up a tower to bungee jump. I can totally understand now how people get addicted to gambling. I knew I had to keep my cool though so I can draw more players into the game.

Well some of the blokes must have noticed something because a couple of the guys backed out but a few of them stayed in. We kept betting till the last round and I kept raising the ante slowly but surely until the last hand when I went big. The last guy who was up against me figured right to back down and I took the pot without having to show my hand. And it was a pretty juicy hand. Now at this point I could have shown my hand and the boys would have been like, ‘awesome hand’ but that would totally give away my game. I settled on letting the mystery brew a little. The guys thought I was a shark and that’s a good thing. For the next few hands all eyes were on my game.

I managed to stay in the game for about 2 hours, and I was 3rd or 4th man out from the 8 of us that started so I did manage to pull my own weight. But a lot of it had to do with luck as well; I made some pretty good hands from shitty cards and then lost some hands with very good cards. The other players on the table were by far more talented and if this were a regular group thing I know there is no way I could ever come out an over all winner. There were guys who read tips on how to play better and watch videos to perfect their demeanor, but all being said I am still looking forward to the next round. Last night I played frivolously towards the end because I was just ready to go home. I was not playing to win because that would take too long. But I love the fact that this came must go on till there is just the last man standing with all chips in hand. It’s kind of like ‘The Highlander’. There can be only one! So if you wanna get in on this free game of Texas Hold’em here in Guangzhou, holla at me.


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