Shhh...It's a secret.
On Monday night, I headed out to an undisclosed location. I checked into a clean cheap hotel near the airport, did a little work, and tried to get some sleep before the game. The game was going to start at 9:00am, as one of the pros had to fly out of town that afternoon. While most of the people I would be playing with were high stakes players, the stakes of the game were going to be kept low, in deference to me I supposed. While little details of the structure of the game were determined, the game itself was going to be Pot Limit Omaha. The buy-in was going to be in the range of $500. It was implied that it might run like a freezout, but that wasnít set in stone.
At 8:00am I meet another player in the lobby of the hotel for coffee. He had gotten into town around 2:00am that morning, and looked it. Together, we head over to our hostís lovely home. We walk into the family room to find an exceptional poker table, another high stakes player, and a dealer already in the box. Beers were iced. A pitcher of frozen margaritas and a pitcher of Bloody Marys were at the ready. I love what I see so far.
We play a few hands four-handed for no money waiting for the others arrive. I take a huge pot when my flopped set of aces finds a boat on the turn, outdrawing my opponentís flopped flush. Iím hoping that my luck wasnít wasted on the freebie part of the day.
When the two other players show up, we decide to start off at $1/$2 PLO, with a $300 buy-in. At 9:20am the cards are in the air and the first beers are poured. I take one small pot with a non-nut flush which I decide to flat call on the river. At about 10:00am, one of the pros takes a big loss when they hit top boat with TT on a 99T flop, only to run into quad nines. Omaha has a cruel sense of humor. They ask if they can rebuy. It is decided, at this point, to toss out the freezeout idea, and play it as a cash game. This is good news, bad news for me. Itís good news because my odds of winning a freezeout in this crowd are slim to none. Itís bad news because people start floating markers to juice their stacks. Being the short stack in a pot limit game is just an accident waiting to happen. But I stay pat with my $300 buy-in, opt for a Bloody Mary, and hope for the best.
But Iím still in heaven. Iím playing with some of my favorite players. And when it comes to PLO, my play has been mostly online. Itís hard to find live PLO games at the stakes I play. And I love it: the sound of the chips, the feel of the cards, and player interaction. I love the tactile aspects of this game.
By the time the margaritas are flowing, the game is no longer playing like a $1/$2 game. The minimum to see a flop is $7 and more often $25. But we are definitely having fun. This is more like a frat game than a game you might imagine with hardened pros. There is singing, joking, teasing, and story telling. At this point I realize my only edge is sobriety. I quietly, and reluctantly, shut down my booze intake. And for people that know me, they know this is a huge sacrifice on my part.
So much of the poker I watch is tournament poker. Tournament poker is grueling; demanding a tough life on the road and resulting in high variance returns. You can look across a tournament room and not catch a glimpse of a smile. But at these stakes and in this environment, this was poker played for sheer love of the game. It was like a marathon celebration of poker.
At about 3:00pm I call two pot size pre-flop raises with double suited kings. I wonder how Iím going to get action with a K rag rag on the flop. I donít need to worry. Itís bet and raised before the action ever gets to me. I get all my money in on the flop and take down a huge one when Iím not outdrawn.
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