Monday, December 13, 2004

The Cruise

I need to start writing about the cruise, but you can expect a few posts on the topic. I'll write what I think of, but I can assure you I will think of other things later. I will keep posting them, because so many really hilarious things happened, I'm sure I will not be able to get them all in one post.

The Cruise was really a blast. I'm not sure that much poker in one week is healthy, but when is an opportunity like that going to happen again? We arrived in San Diego on Saturday afternoon and got right on the ship. Mike had warned me that the line for getting on board can be long and boring, but we walked right on. After checking out our room, we met all the PSO folks at a party hosted by CardPlayer Magazine, the folks that sponsor the cruise. On a ship of nearly 1300 people, about 400 were there as part of CardPlayer Cruises' package. I got to meet Mike, Peter, Steve, Travis, John, Tom and Travis. We had a few free drinks and found out that the poker room opened at 7:00 that night.

I started out playing $4/$8 Limit. They spread a lot of different levels, but the only games in town were Hold Em and Omaha. The lowest level that wasn't a beginner game was $2/$4, and the highest I saw was $10/$20. There was an NL $200 buy-in game that I only tried once.

I quickly learned that this was going to be a profitable cruise for me. The play at the $4/$8 game was very tight so there were pots to be had if you had the guts to make a move on them. I played until around midnight on Saturday and wound up ahead almost $200.

Again on Sunday I played $4/$8 most of the day and broke even, until an amazing rush late that night put me ahead more than $100.

But Monday, I made a mistake, and the cruise would never be the same for me after that. I sat down at a table and received my cards. I put out $4 to play, and heard the dealer say "Raise." Uh-oh. I had accidentally sat at a $2/$4 table, thinking it was a $4/$8. I tried the $2/$4 table the day before but quickly gave it up when I got called down to the river by UNIMAGINABLE hands. There was just no way to make a good hand stand up when people were drawing to and hitting any possible outs, no matter how slim. That time I returned to my $4/$8 game where I was comfortable. This time I looked around for an easy escape route from $2/$4 hell. But I saw Tom (Lifesagrind) was at this table, and he was getting pretty chatty with some folks at his end of the table. So I stuck around for a while and things really started to happen. I was really having fun. Tom raised a hand, and I said to the table "I have the hand to crack those aces." I didn't crack them, but sure enough, Tom had aces. Then I got Ace King and the flop had an Ace and a Queen. An absolute ROCK had raised pre-flop so I put him on queens and played cautiously. I announced to the table that I was only calling the flop because I was up against a set of queens. When another queen hit the table on the turn I folded my Aces and Queens with top kicker and said "I can't beat four queens." Another poor soul held on with his Aces, showing aces full of queens to get bad beat by FOUR QUEENS and the table looked my way in amazement.

I soon realized that I knew exactly what everyone at this table was holding at all times. I knew when I was beat, and I knew when I had the best hand. Tom adjusted pretty well, because I was basically telling everyone what they were holding before they showed it, but the rest of the table continued their rocky behavior. I decided that if I was really going to make a difference in this game, I was going to have to get a little crazy. And I went VERY crazy, BLOGGER style. That's right, 7-2 meant raise, EVERY TIME. The HAMMER plays folks, and the hammer WINS.

The first time I raised with 7-2, I got called all the way to the river by AA. And she almost folded it too. I proudly showed my 72 and the whole table laughed. The winner was Jennifer, a Prosecutor from San Diego.

The second time I raised the 7-2, the flop was 7-7-2 and the whole table exploded. "Wow, I bet you wished you had 7-2 this time!!" they all cackled. Everyone folded on my river bet and I showed the 7-2 and I had them rolling on the floor.

After that the table changed completely. No raise got any respect. Nearly every player at the table raised with 7-2 at least once. One player named George didn't seem to be having a good time, but it was difficult to tell. Sometimes he seemed downright grumpy, and I couldn't tell if he was enjoying himself or not. On the second to the last hand of the night, he raised pre-flop with his 7-2 and I knew, he was having a ball.

At one point I had won a pretty big pot and was busy stacking my chips. I pulled one to give to the dealer when I realized there was a dealer change between the hands, and a brand new dealer named Keith had just sat down. I tipped him anyway and announced to the table "This is the trick to getting good hands, toke the dealer before he even does anything." He had a quizzical look on his face until I said that, to which he agreed completely. He dealt me a monster 9-3 offsuit. I considered folding it but told myself "You gotta have faith," and opened for $2. The flop? 8-3-3. Keith smiled when I raked the pot, and Tom sent a toke his way for the next hand. Which Tom won.

That was probably the most fun night of poker I have ever had. I bought in for $50 and rebought for $100, and ended the night with exactly $150. I was dead even, but I felt way ahead because my sides hurt from laughing that much. Maybe it was because I had been playing poker for about 15 hours that day and it was 5:00 AM Central Time when they kicked us all out of the poker room.

My routine became playing $4/$8 early in the day or evening to get ahead, and playing $2/$4 with the same riotous crowd until they forced us to leave every night. The main cast was always the same: Tom, Travis, Ray (An ex NFL football player), Jennifer the Prosecutor, and Me, along with a few innocent bystanders who had no idea what they had gotten into. We laughed and carried on like we were drunk, but I don't think any of us were actually drinking. At least we weren't until we went up to the Crow's Nest bar with all the dealers after the Card Room closed. Those folks are off-the-hook.

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