A break from Focus ruminations as I realize my competence has been compromised by a big loss to three sharks from Mrs. Marshall’s fourth grade class. They must be watching the WPT instead of doing homework.
The first night I was in New Orleans, I got drunk. Stupid, blind in one eye, deaf in one ear drunk. We were there on the second leg of a trip to see East Carolina play Marshall in the GMAC Bowl (which may have been the best game ever). The first leg had been spent in Vicksburg, MS, touring the battlefield, drinking with the cotillion crowd, and trying to figure exactly how far South we were. A scenic trip down the Natchez Trace, a brief infatuation with our Cajun waitress outside of Baton Rouge (you talk purty), and we pulled in the Big Easy in the late afternoon. Drinking time.
It was me, Dad, and buddy Steve. Steve and I have been friends since right after the Gulf War. I got a job working as a bouncer in the local hard-rock, strip club where he had worked before getting activated by the North Carolina Guard. When he returned, we fell in fast. It was, and remains, a Mutt and Jeff pairing. Steve is a genuine character, able to get into and out of situations in a way that befuddles me. After growing tired of Columbia, Steve wanted to move to Myrtle Beach to try and hook up with a band as a roadie. I drove him the three hours to the coast and dropped him off with a pup tent and twenty dollars. Over the next few months, I received the occasional line from him. He broke his arm riding a bike and did not have any health insurance from his job at K & W. Well, it got fixed and Myrtle Beach Hospital is probably still trying to track down “George Jones” for payment. About six months later, I received a call from California. Steve was calling from Janie Lane’s back yard. He had hooked up with Warrant, worked a leg of their tour, and was staying with Janie until the next leg started.
Buddy Steve and friend
He eventually worked his way back to Columbia and has remained, touring with a number of bands, big and small, and finally working his way into a local stagehand gig that keeps him in rent and beer money. His weasly ways continue. Anybody else ever get a drive-by table dance on a coffee-table? Ever lure a lady back to your place at the end of the night with the promise of frozen pizza and successfully seduce her after tossing the pizza in but not turning the oven on so you could take it out later and cook it the next day for lunch? At a Carolina football game a few years ago, Steve showed up to tailgate without a ticket for the game. “No worries”, he said. “I know a guy who works the gate.” We finished pre-game festivities and made our way to our upper deck seats. Late it the first quarter, while wondering if Steve made it in, I looked down on the sidelines and saw Steve helping run sound for the cheerleaders. In short, he is Kramer.
After a blistering first night in Orleans that lasted until sunup, I begged off on second night festivities about midnight. I knew I was going to be the one driving to Mobile and then back home and figured I could use a little sleep one night. Steve understood and stayed out while I made my way back to the W Hotel (We had a free room for three nights comped by Harrah’s due to a previous trip Steve had made. He had gone into Harrah’s after a week of selling beads at Mardi Gras with about $200 to play blackjack. He worked it up to $1000 and started betting $100 a hand, which got the attention of the floor supervisor. He worked up to a $2000 stack and realizing who was watching, he calmly made a $1000 bet. Of course he hit ten and had to double up, right? Twenty came and the dealer turned over a low number. Three cards later, the math added up to a push and Steve shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well, I tried.” Obviously, that is the way to get comped in New Orleans.) That night, I heard him stumble in about 4:00 a.m. At 10:00 a.m., beer in hand, I asked him about his night. He admitted that he had gotten lost on his way home due to his state, and had been taken under the wing of a local “lady,” the type that like to meet tourists. She must have realized Steve was in no shape to be a client or pose a danger and graciously walked him back to the hotel. I said, “Steve, did she make you pay for the walk?” He replied, “No, and she gave me a free feel when we got here.” Like I said, Kramer.
A hat can be a nice conversation starter
In Vegas, I had a list of Bloggers I wanted to meet. Of course it was chock full of the usual suspects, Iggy, Maudie, Grubby, Hank, Poker Nerd, and many, many others. I had Al on that mental list because, as I have stated before, his was the very first blog I stumbled across and I found it so damn entertaining, I moved on to all the others and eventually started my own. The problem is, I have an Al already. His name is Steve. I felt as though I already knew Al and if I happened to miss him on this trip, no big deal. We’d catch up later. Fortunately, I did get the chance to meet the legend and I came away with no disappointment. He is what he professes to be. Now, I hear he may be at the big party in G-Vegas in August. Cool. I am planning on being there and am trying to get Steve to come up with me. I do not know if the town can handle them both. There has to some zoning restriction prohibiting it.
Steve gives my life the little bit of an edge I need. Left to my own devices, I will drink responsibly, get home at a decent hour every night, and have a nice, little life. Throw buddy Steve into the mix and I see a few more sunrises, crash a couple of parties, meet some sketchy characters, and experience a little more life. On a trip to his little hometown in the North Carolina foothills, he gave me a warning before we headed out to his neighborhood bar. “You are a big boy. Someone might want to make a point. Be careful about looking anybody too hard in the eye. But if you do, I got your back.” We made it though unscathed but it was a nice bit of excitement to have on a trip.
Wait. Poker Content needed.
What the hell does this have to do with poker? Well, you need a bit of the devil in you if you want to be a great player. Focusing on starting hands and post-flop play can make you a money winner, but if you want to step up with the big boys, you have to be willing to mix it up based on the advice of the demon on your shoulder. Even Dan Harrington knows to listen to this little fellow. How else could he go all-in after an early position raise and call with a 62 off at the 2004 WSOP final table? If you are the tightest player at the table, you are going to be found out and your action is going to dry up. Every once in a while, you have to stick some money in on a bluff. If you get away with it, it’s because you set everyone up with your tight play. If you get caught, even better. Now you will make more next time you hit your set. The trick is to not let the devil overtake your other senses. If you do, you might end up begging for stakes in the next big game. Properly executed though, devilish playys will increase your bottom line and add spice to your life. And aren't those the points of poker anyway?