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“It’s not hard to play this game. The hard part is getting up and leaving.”

I never got the guy’s name. It’s funny, you know? If you sit down to dinner with someone, you’ll likely know their name before you finish your salad. At a sbobet poker table, you can spend hours and hours talking with someone. You might learn some of the most intimate details of their life. And yet, when it’s all over, you couldn’t even look up their name in the phonebook.

I sat with the dude who said the above line for more than 12 hours at various tables and I have no idea who he is. All I know is that G-Rob, during a late-night hit-and-run session, cracked the dude’s aces with 6-9. A day later, without mention of the hand, the dude said it:

“It’s not hard to play this game. The hard part is getting up and leaving.”

Eight hours later, the guy had won $8000 in the nightly second chance tourney and I was still stuck.

I was the first of the G-Vegas team to arrive in Tunica. With a cheap flight and a rented Chrysler 300, I made my way though the dirty streets of Memphis, down Highway 61, and across the border into Mississippi. Just crossing the state line made me feel sick to my stomach. The state holds a lot of ugly memories for me, and despite being made an honorary Mississippian by former Governor Kirk Fordice (the only Governor I’ve ever known who has threatened–on television–to whip a TV reporter’s ass), very few things would move me to willingly travel to the Magnolia State.

Within an hour of getting my car, I was walking into the Grand. Again, I had stuff a roll of money in my pocket. It was bigger this time. In the past year, I’d seen stacks and stacks of Franklins at tables. My goals were twofold. First, after successful 2005 online but less than stellar live play, I vowed to become a better brick and mortar player. Second, after being hesitant to sit big live, but play way over my head online, I planned to play bigger than I had ever played in a live card room.

Inside the Grand, I followed the familiar dark green WSOP signs through the banks of slots machines and up the escalator to the poker room. My hope was to find a good $30/$60 game. It was still smaller than I had played online, but I figured it would offer me a certain comfort zone I needed to begin. In lieu of that, I thought I might try a $5/$10 NL game. Again, it was smaller than I’d been playing online, but my no-limit game is not the best in the world and I didn’t want to drop too much money early in the trip because I was uncomfortable.

I heard Johnny Grooms’ voice over the mic. It was familiar from weeks of listening to him announce the final tables at the WSOP. I stepped across the invisible line marking the entrance to the room. I was ready.

But where the hell was everybody?

I was like I’d walked into the end of the poker boom. The tournament area was winding its way through the day’s WSOPC event and a couple of single table satellites were running in the corner. It was not what I was looking for. Just a couple of week’s earlier, I had been to a major tournament in which the cash games were rocking all day long. Here, the cash game area was in the small 14-table poker room. I headed for the board and asked what games were available.

“We’ve got two tables playing $4/$8. There’s a list for the $2/$5 game.” The dude said it as if it were the most reasonable thing in the world.

This was January’s poker Mecca? I felt immediately let down, and yet, I had a visceral need to get in action.

And so, this Otis, so full of himself, sat down and played $4/$8 limit hold’em.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with $4/$8. My first live casino poker action was $4/$8. It’s a great place to play and, due to the number of donks who play it, can be quite profitable if you can avoid the suckouts. Still, I had built up the trip to be a test of myself, a test of my bankroll, a test to see if I was really the poker player I thought I was. A game of $4/$8 wasn’t going to accomplish that. An hour later, my name was called for the $2/$5 game. I played four-handed for half an hour before the game broke. Everybody in the game, including me, was headed to the $200 second chance tourney at 5pm.


Yesterday’s post was a prelude to this prelude. To review: I needed to learn to play better live. I needed to play bigger live. I needed to test myself. Finally, I needed to avoid what has become a common pitfall for me when playing live. I needed to stay off the bottle. When playing for fun, I still see nothing wrong with having some drinks and a good time. Somehow, however, the good time poker seemed to be slipping into my serious live play. A drink to relax myself would turned into a drink to break up the monotony. Another drink would follow and eight hours later, I’d end up playing bad poker.

With the goals in place and the early Thursday afternoon behind me, I set into Thursday evening, a 19-hour session, and the game in which I heard the following converation:

“Good read, sir.”

“No, it wasn’t a good read. It was a triumph of goddamned ignorance.”