“AWISHALLINAPUSHINDA!” Giant Head exclaimed. Since nobody at the table speaks Giant Head as well as I do, I did let loose a short laugh over his brief mistake. He was trying to say Awishallinafoinda, meaning he wanted to go all in or fold, but instead suggested that he wanted to shove or push. Oh poker humor. Giant Head, you wild and wacky cut up!
There’s not much use describing how this player, whose actual name I have disappointingly learned, received his august nickname. Indeed, you might assume with all that grey matter in his stadium lamp bulb of a skull, he could be quite the thinker. A secret ponderer, maybe, this aging north Asian, perhaps with a colorful lifetime of joys, hardships, and the irreducible wisdom that may have graced him with just the right feelzies for the game. After all, the way his family enthusiastically shows up at the casino, oblivious or above the degenerate atmosphere, eager to be near this bounding, smiling, almost charismatic fellow, seems to hint at a touch, a spark of wily genius.
Well, you’d be wrong.
“Aweeskibbyachopchopda?” That’s good, don’t play your small blind, Big Nog. He was counting his chips, though, with a plastic rack ominously on the vinyl arm rest. I haven’t seen him this deep, maybe ever, and I wanted a piece of that pie. He kept getting involved, limp calling 8x isoes. But he held on to his chips, rewarded by the runout. A tenuous win, it seemed, for this Pacific Rim sea creature.
I had a shot.
Then, session tragedy. On some sort of one liner, three flush, paired board runout he bombed the river and got snap called by the flush. “FUSH?” It was almost a scream. Giant Head tossed his middle pocket pair, red twin into the muck and black twin into the dealer’s rack and onto the floor. Anger and bewilderment. Then, with the dexterity of a man thirty years younger, Giant Head grabbed his remaining chips, somehow melded them back into the rack with one meaty rubber chicken hand, and bounced to the cage. Amazing how he did it, as if those chips were a dying patient and he was an ambulance, skidding and weaving through traffic. Gone from the poker room before some of us could even laugh, uneasily, in confusion and amusement. (Ah yes, because that’s what one finds odd about Giant Head.)
Well, damn. Awiimtostae. What am I supposed to do now? I will in fact see no spots for myself, until the very last hand.
Not the session of my dreams, and one where I did a lot of ghetto poker tourism. Earlier I had witnessed, among an admittedly strong field, possibly one of the worst played pair of pocket aces I have ever seen shamelessly mangled, in what is now a career of watching afterbirths and mutations emerge from the deranged bodies of fellow pokeristas.
Giant Head limps in from UTG2 (yeah), and it somehow folds all the way around to the small blind, an unknown with a big stack who quickly completes. I see that he likes his hand but I did not predict his holding at all correctly. I just check 72 in the big blind. We're not even in the same universe as ever raising these sticky fingered clowns.
We see 956, and the small checks. I don’t think he’s much of a check/raise guy, but it doesn’t matter. I’m never going to try to bluff out Giant Head without a little more information. He’s easier to read than a sixty foot billboard (with the right proportions), and I just don’t have to do anything a priori here. He does check, which means he’s weak… so we’ll see where this goes.
The turn is a seven, a funny card, really. I’ve made a pair, which could be the best hand. However, any eight is a straight. Would these guys check a hand with an eight? I’m not convinced, but when the small blind leads out two-thirds pot lightly, I realize he thinks he has the best hand. Can I rep anything? I don’t know, with Giant Head behind me, I decide to surrender.
Super Noggin makes the call, which is odd in itself. Who calls liberally on a one liner to a blind’s bet? We are getting into some strange territory, all for a $30 pot in Nowhere, USA.
The river is a flushless jack. The small blind leads out small. Giant Head faux counts out a Giant Bet. (How he loves advertising!) However, he keeps the act short, and calls.
The small blind shows aces. Giant head flips up J7 for the win.
While GH collects the small pot, the small blind covers his tracks brazenly. “I was going to get cracked anyway, I saved money!” He looks at me for confirmation.
Ok. Just f--- all of you. I can’t take this stuff. I don’t even have a job but my life is Office Space. It’s not fair.
In fact, once Giant Head is gone, I am yawning. I have to go. I don’t advise playing tired without reason to do so. The games are forever and sleep is sweet. When I get to my final hand, under the gun. I see one nine, then another.
One more opportunity.
I open to 5x, and a very tight Korean snap calls from middle position. I did not assign much preflop handreading energy to calculating the meaning of this; as I said, I was beat. I had taken a full buy in in just a couple hours, maybe eighty hands, and was already booking a solid result.
Everyone else folds. Our flop is 834hh. I am out of position, heads up versus a tight player. I have a bit of trouble here. It is most optimal to bet, even though the check/raise is right there on the menu. The reason his, against his 80 bb stack size, I will always go broke with a check raise versus a player who may not be loose enough to bet draws. I love a check raise against a normal range, but here that would not be playing the player.
So what do I do? I check.
That’s the fatigue who checked. The ace five of hearts flashed in my mind, like a fever dream. I started imagining all kinds of draws, forgetting how large I opened to and just how nitty he is.
I pulled back the bet.
So it goes down like this instead: He bets, I raise, he snap moves all in. He's got a bunch of one dollar chips, and when I make the unhappy call, it’s for a lot more than I guessed.
He slams down the set, aggressively and toward me, I guess in some sort of pride at hitting his hand. If we were outside, it would be the equivalent of ramming his shoulder into me, or taking a key across the door of my car. We'd tussle. However, these impolitesses are part of poker, and it’s not worth getting angry at anyone but myself. He’s an idiot but so am I, for breaking my best strategy and allowing myself to get too tired to play right.
I don’t stay to get it back. I head to the cage in order to hand my paycheck back to my employer. I say goodnight.
I don't get angry at bad beats much any more, but when it's my own fault...
The midnight air is damp and freezing and gross. I peel out of the parking lot and rip through both stop signs before the freeway. I'm still pissed at myself, even much later, when I slam the car door in my apartment's basement garage, concrete and cold and empty and ready to echo in the cardsharp's hours.