Here it is, the long awaited poker tale. It's not that exciting, so try not to get too, well, excited.
So I play cards at a coworkers house on a semi-regular (roughly every month) basis. I am by no means a good card player and I consider any night where I make it to the buy back cut off without having to buy back in, a whopping success. I know just enough about cards to know when I'm not making a good move, yet be powerless to stop myself.
The last time I played, it was just myself, my host and another coworker as his other invitees decided to do something else with their time. Usually I'd balk at the idea of playing with just two other people, but I had taken the time to drive to his house, so why not do it? Plus, it's only ten bucks to buy in, so it's not like I stood to lose copious amounts of cash.
Now, here's the thing about me and cards. I have a tendency to only bet when I have good cards, because I'm afraid of losing my chips. I know that this is a bad thing, because anyone who plays with me knows that if I'm betting, I probably have something good. I decided this night to change things up and to spend a little in the hopes that a) I'd catch something on the board and b) not making myself so predictable. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of hands where I'd lay down without making a bet because I had utter shit, but it was a lot less than I usually do.
So the night progresses and I'm doing ok. I had caught some good cards, won some stacks, lost some stacks, the usual. All in all, I was doing about even. My looser style of play seemed to be doing well as I was having more fun because I was in more hands, and I hadn't lost in a big way that might scare me off, or cause me to be real conservative out of betting necessity. Still though, I didn't feel like I was in a position to win. I was playing to not lose, and eventually, I thought that wouldn't work.
As I was thinking about this, the next hand is dealt and I look at my cards, and staring back in my face is pocket twos. A pair of deuces. The worst hand you can have and still technically have a working combination of cards. I don't know why, but for some reason, I said to myself, "We are staying in this hand. No, fuck that. We are winning this hand with pocket twos." Not sure why I chose to listen to myself, but I did.
So the pre-flop betting commences, and there's nothing all that big being thrown about and I match whatever is out there. The flop comes and it's something like 7-J-9. After the flop, there was a little betting movement, but nothing substantial.
The turn comes and it's another 9. Now at this point, even with pocket twos, I could still be beaten very easily as every other card showing would beat my two pair, which said nothing if my opponents were holding on to one of the other 9's. I don't remember when my one co-worker folded, but I believe at this point it was just me and the host and he starts putting stacks into the pot. He's a big bluffer, so I wasn't sure if he was bluffing or not, but given the earlier conversation with myself, I knew that folding was not an option.
So I call, and the next card comes and son of a bitch, ain't it another two. At this point, I could have crapped myself. My opponent starts throwing more money into the pot, and I start calling him, despite his objection. He had this mind game thing he was doing where he'd say shit like "are you sure you want to do that" when you called him. Very annoying. So he's feeling all smug and shit when I dump my chip into the pot and he turns over his cards, revealing a pair of Jacks. Not bad, especially given what was on the board. I took one look at him, turned over my cards and exclaimed "Pocket two's bitches!" As exultations go, it was lame, I know, but I was pretty freaking happy.
I went on to win the entire match on pocket 8's, but that's another story for another time. After I won, my other co-workers said that the pocket two's was the turning point in the game for me, and I had to agree with him. At the end of the evening, I was 40 bucks richer and had drank two shots of my host's Patron, so all in all, not a bad night.
As I drove home, I started thinking about how stupid a play it was, but at the same time, sometimes you have to go with the stupid plays and just hope that you catch that last card. At the risk of turning this into a stupid "how life imitates cards" bullshit story, at the same time, I was thinking about how Linda and I started off together.
About three or four months before we got married, we decided to move to Seattle, WA. I had visited there on business and absolutely loved the place. Neither one of us were doing anything that was region specific and because of my business trip and the university I was working for, I had some contacts at Boeing that I could try and leverage for a job.
Now you have to remember that this was back in 1996. The internet wasn't as freely available as it is now, so planning something like this was a pretty big task, especially with no jobs and no idea of how to get a job. Nevertheless, we flew out to Seattle, found an apartment and I interviewed with Boeing. They told me at the interview that they'd like to offer me a job right there and that was that. Now, we had planned on moving anyway, and just assuming we could find a job, and truth be told, being told that someone would like to offer you a job, and actually getting a job offer are two entirely different things, so for us to quit our current jobs and move 3000 miles across the country on something not much more than a whim, was kind of silly.
There are about a hundred things that could have gone wrong there, the biggest being that we would be moving about two months after being married and that neither one of us had lived very far from our parents before. Oh sure, we didn't live at home during college, but when your mom is 15 minutes away, or you can stop at your parents' house on the weekend and grab dinner, it's a very different situation from living across the country from them.
In the end, everything worked out great and making the move, and having the first few years of our marriage being about nothing other than just being together, and learning about a new place as just the two of us, was probably the best thing we could have done. We bet the house on pocket twos, and came up big.
Now that we're older with kids and much better jobs and just a larger set of responsibilities in general, doing something like that again would be much, much harder. Not impossible, but a hell of a lot more effort than I'd be willing to spend at the moment. Thankfully, I don't have to, as I'm very happy where we are, as is Linda, but at the same time, it was such an exciting, exhilarating time that I do miss it. Not the moving, or the starting from scratch, but the ability to do so, the freedom that comes with you just being responsible for yourself and one other person. That being said, I wouldn't give up what I have now for anything, but I am glad that we were stupid enough to bet our hand so highly, confident in the fact that we'd catch just what we needed to win.
For now though, I'll stick to cards, and ten dollar card nights at that. As I've gotten older, winning 40 bucks in one night is probably all the excitement I can handle.