Monday, January 31, 2005

Highs And Lows

So, it's Friday night. I'm sitting on a Pacific Poker $1/2 ring game, watching some maniac take down every second pot with cards I'd be picking my teeth with. Q2o sir? No problem, have two 2s on the flop; J8o? QT9, etc...

The guy is murdering the table and trebles his starting money, with the other players happily calling him down with crap. It's a virtuoso display of dumb luck. Meanwhile I haven't seen any decent cards in what feels like an eternity, and observe the massacre with disdain.

The cool, calculating, reasonable half of me says 'Calm down Div. Bide your time and he will be handing that stack to you.'

As the red wine flows, the bitter, twisted, vindictive half of me creeps towards the surface, and I want to climb into the cable modem and transport myself at light-speed, direct to his bedroom, where I'll chop off his hands to ensure he will never again wield a mouse button so cruelly against me.

He is driving me mental, when along comes KdQd in mid position. Unraised. Now, I KNOW Sklansky, et al. say I should raise here. But I'm in a bad mood, the cards are torturing me, and given the amount of 'Any Acers' at the table, I KNOW there will be an Ace on the flop.

And I'm right. It's the Ad.......and the Td......and a rag.

Interesting! Gotta be worth a bet. Shit. Everyone's folding. Noooooo, stay!!!!

Fortunately I get two callers. I say fortunately, because on the turn, there he is - a beautiful, moustached, Jack of diamonds. I uncheck the 'muck hands' option.

Wooowhooo. My first ever Royal Flush. Two betting rounds, two callers, and my cards are revealed to the world.

Cue lots of 'vvvnh' comments, and virtual back slapping. I graciously accept the compliments, resisting the urge to gripe about how come Mr Idiot gets better pay-offs with Q2o than I get with a royal flush. Maybe I already know why. What animal is better suited to spotting rocks than a fish?

Anyway, I don't really care about the money. Because I have a screenshot, and a bunch of friends coming around on Saturday to play poker. Which we duly do, but not before I've made sure everyone sees my screenshot.

We play two SnGs over about five hours. I love it. Even though I don't play particularly well and bubble out of game 1 on a poorly executed bluff, when I have plenty chips left. Game 2, I perform better. I'm still a distant second to my pal Steph, who is clearly up for the night. Very focused and confidently trash talking over the rest of the table, but backing up words with good play.

The beer flows, the banter is great fun, and huge roars go up when all in bets are lost on the river. No-one is a poker veteran, but everyone knows enough to recognise a bad beat when they see it.

A few of the guys have only ever played online, and their reactions are interesting. Personally, I enjoy the slower, richer experience of face-to-face play. Watching people's reactions. Seeing how they handle their chips. Trying to read their play. Especially when the game is No Limit.

Some of the guys though are inveterate gamblers. They need action. They get frustrated waiting for chip counts. They want to see 60 hands an hour. It occurs to me they are ideal online opponents. You can imagine them playing any two cards in the hope of flopping trips or some unlikely straight. They get even more impatient as we pick them off and make them beer bitches. Which is fun.

I've enjoyed my weekend. Enjoyed it so much, I'm actually looking forward to buying a new bathroom suite on Sunday. The current suite is a peach, seventies-style monstrosity with a corner bath so big I could swim laps in it. Hardly practical for a new baby.

It's a sunny afternoon and it'll be nice to get out of the house. Even an unusual delay on the motorway, due to some roadworks, doesn't bother me. Then it happens.

I'm edging along in a queue of traffic, which is just starting to pick up pace, when I'm passed in the outside lane by a taxi. At this point the outside lane isn't actually part of the motorway proper, as it's an exit slip road leading into the town centre. About eight cars ahead of me, the taxi suddenly veers left trying to cut into lane I'm in. Instantaneously he swerves back onto the exit road. I can't see what has happened but presumably he has tried to get into a gap that didn't exist.

He brakes almost to a standstill on the slip road, which is about to part company with the motorway and its accelerating traffic queue. Then as we draw closer he veers in again. And suddenly the car in front is awfully close. Swearing, screeching tyres, an awful feeling of inevitability, and CRUNCH.

I check Mrs Div is ok. She says she is. The other driver points over to the hard shoulder and I wave in agreement. We edge through the traffic and pull over. I'm shaking, pensive, and embarrassed, yet furious, as I get out of the car. I know it's partly my fault since I must have been too close to the car in front, and I feel I should have anticipated the taxi driver's actions, but I still want to hunt him down and beat him to a bloody pulp.

Things get worse when I discover the occupants of the other car are a young-ish couple with a tiny baby in a carry seat in the back. My first ever crash in 16 years of driving and I manage to include a 4-months pregnant wife and a months old baby in the action.

Amazingly the baby is still sleeping. The actual impact was at very slow speed. My airbag didn't go off, and the other car - much bigger than mine - has nothing more than a scratch on the bumper. My car, on the other hand, is a mess. My bumper has gone underneath his and the bodywork on my car has taken the impact. Six inches of fresh air separate the radiator grill from the bumper. The bonnet looks like a ski ramp.

Both driver and passenger are much friendlier than they have any need to be. I apologise for hitting him. He apologises for braking so sharply. Apparently the taxi veered in across the car in front of him. Rather than slowing, the Sunday driver in the other car pulled an emergency stop, forcing him to do likewise, and I hit him. Of course both taxi and other car drive off in blissful, or willful, ignorance.

We swap insurance and contact details and I return to the car. Mrs Div is in tears, as the shock sets in. We cuddle for a few moments on the hard shoulder, and I rage at the injustice of it. Six lives threatened, the hassle of car repairs, the extra insurance costs. All because some idiot taxi driver wanted to save 60 seconds on the motorway.

I console myself with the knowledge most Glasgow taxi firms, along with sunbed salons, are owned by gangsters. Cash businesses of difficult to verifiable turnover make ideal vehicles for laundering drug money. As such, a lot of their employees tend to hail from similar backgrounds to their owners, and perform dual roles. What goes around, comes around. I imagine all the fates that could befall him. Maybe I'll get really lucky and he will catch both barrels of a sawn-off shotgun in one of the city turf wars that erupt every 18 months or so.

More likely, if he keeps driving like that, he will end up licenceless, or he will cut up an 18 wheeler that doesn't have the same braking instincts as our Sunday driving friend. If I read about a silver Octavia taxi being crushed in some crazy accident, I'll know who was driving, and I won't shed a tear.

Harsh? Yes. Justified? I think so. The sooner the better, I say. To hell with him.


doubleas said...

Beer bitches...haha

Our home game consists of a couple $10 tournaments. The motivation to win isn't to win the small prize pool, it is to avoid being a beer bitch.

Anyway, good stuff.

Div said...

Hi doubleas. Thanks for the comment. Keep up the good work on your site. Is your pal Curzdog offering lessons yet? I could do with some.