August 2009
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Day 32: Not a poker story

I always thought I’d write more about poker than I do.

Specifically right now, relative to how much I’ve been  playing in Las Vegas the past month, the volume of poker content in this trip report is really very low.

The thing is, unless I play a hand or a session that’s particularly out of the ordinary, or something eventful happens in or around the game, or someone says something clever or interesting, I probably won’t remember much and probably won’t bother to write anything down.

Today I played a hand and at the time I thought "that was quite interesting" so I typed some notes into my phone. Then when I came to write it up and wanted to slit my wrists out of boredom, I realised just how lame the story was.

In a nutshell, I made another player fold a better hand than mine.

Wow, stop the press.  That almost never happens in a poker game.

Now, I know I’m probably underestimating the wider appeal of a dry re-telling of a hand that made it all the way to a showdown.

There’s enough of it about that somebody has to actually enjoy reading "So I had two cards… and the flop brought three cards… I decided to [fold/call/raise]… of course he had [pick some garbage] for the [pick some suckout]".

Poker is not chess – there are only a few possible ways any given hand can play out.  You might make four or five decisions on a hand (but it’s usually less) and although the next card to be dealt could be one of forty-something left in the deck, those cards can be grouped together into just a few logical outcomes.  Completed a draw; paired the board; it’s a complete brick… 

Nothing is ever that surprising.

What makes poker exciting is having to make decisions based on the limited information that you have as a player at any given point in time.  Once it becomes a story, the very fact that somebody thinks it’s worth telling gives you more information than the player ever had at the time.

You can be fairly certain that it’s not going to end up with the hero making a pot-sized bet on the turn to take it down.

But you never know… perhaps, if I spin it the right way to make it sound like I had an awesome read and knew the other guy’s exact cards (including suits of course) and pretend that I did actually think I was beaten but also knew that I could get him to lay it down with a precisely sized bet, my story could single-handedly change the way the game is played.

At the very least, it would probably be enough to get a sponsorship deal from Ultimate Bet. 

Anyway, instead of today’s scheduled installment of poker snooze, here’s a picture of my new favourite street sign in Las Vegas, which just happens to be named after a poker hand.