Friday, July 11, 2008

A nice vice

I enjoy a home poker game. Although slower than playing online, a home game has unique amenities: clinking chips, beer buckets, food, music, banter and friendly competition.

I failed to find or host a regular game in Charlotte. Poor etiquette deterred one-time players. Nobody wants to play if one person thinks the game is a joke. It's not about money. Poker is pride. Buckle down, cowboy.

The game in question is freeze-out, no-limit Texas hold’em. It is a game of skill that tests intuition and recognition of betting patterns. The cards matter a little but not a lot. I predict the participation of a few poker stars in this old town.

Melissa is a slow player who beats me consistently. She rarely bluffs and plays her cards mostly straight in tight and loose games. A friend said he liked to see me wriggle when Melissa moved her chips. I don't think I wriggle, but I feel hungry and thirsty when she bets.

Daniel aggresses and tends to lose everything or build up a good stack early. Don’t expect him to wait out the tournament. He thrusts his chips into the pot with an aim to frighten anyone who does not know the Daniel rule: he probably holds nothing but thinks he’s tough. He was the most valuable lineman at South Davidson High School in 2001.

Ryan is a rookie who has one thing in common with Coach K; he likes to see the flop. Ryan plays a lot of hands when the blinds are low and will make conservative attempts at early pots, hoping that his early stack will last him through the bigger blinds. However, his basketball prowess forces him to appease friends with soft play when the margin becomes too much. Ryan is most vulnerable with a commanding lead.

Will is a veteran player with a brief history of bad beats. He is not afraid to bet the blacks before the turn when he knows he has the edge. The opponent sometimes draws alive, but Will gets back on the horse right quick.

Emily is a talker who might ask to see your cards or, in a blunt effort, your chips. She is a fierce competitor who attends Duke University for grad school, but her heart has always been where ours are.

Victor is the Hevad Khan of Chapel Hill. He started playing poker after watching Casino Royale, a movie in which the players draw nothing worse than a flush. If Victor puts a couple hands together, he will make a New York show of it. He knows he can beat anyone except Reyshawn Terry.

Tom is the sleeping giant of the local poker scene. He is smart, patient and observant. He has every trait necessary to blow a table away. He does not know this.

Kathryn boasts a poker history with girlfriends and cigars, but she is not sure if she played stud or hold'em. The story seems unlikely. She bluffs.

Dani is probably too sweet for cards. I never saw her take advantage of anyone's weakness. However, Dani recently got an Australian shepherd that forces her to clear her throat with disapproval. It's not the scariest sound, but it will give anyone who knows her an earnest double take.

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