March 03, 2010

IMOP Memories: The Sherminator

NOTE: A detailed description of the Ironman of Poker (IMOP) can be found in the pages linked under the blog header.

One of my favorite IMOP moments occurred on my first trip, IMOP-II. I had been invited by college roomie Santa Claus to the inaugural IMOP, but I had declined because I was not yet a full-fledged poker degenerate. After reading Santa's trip report, however, I realized how empty my life would be without some official poker hijinks. And mojitos.

We were based out of the Venetian, which was still a brand new room looking for its niche on the Vegas poker scene. It seemed like their goal was to fill 30+ tables with drunk trust fund d-bags. Looks like they have succeeded. Probably the last successful poker marketing scheme that didn't rely on Tiffany Michele's ta-tas (or ta-tas in general).

Early in the trip, Santa had run into a d-bag who looked just like the nerd from "American Pie". In a moment of inspiration, Santa nicknamed him "The Sherminator". Brilliant.

The Sherminator was an early 20s d-bag who thought he was cooler than he was, better looking than he was, and a better poker player than he was. Which put him in the same category as 75% of the after-Tao poker crowd. The Sherminator loved to chatter non-stop about his poker play and how good he was (in his own world, at least). He loved to say, "I play the player, not the cards," usually after making a trivially standard play. What distinguished The Sherminator from the d-bag horde, however, was his outrageous nerdishness, displayed in his pre-Hevad Khan era celebration of winning a big pot by standing up, putting his hands together over his head, and yelling, "I am the Highlander!" Santa wanted to felt The Sherminator as much as OJ wanted to find his ex-wife's real murderers. Hmmm, well maybe more like as much as Wile E. Coyote wanted to catch the Road Runner--and with about as much luck, given The Sherminator's off the charts SVB skills enabling him to run hotter than Betelgeuse.

Until I stepped in with my uber-SVB skills. Santa and I were playing our last long overnight session at the Venetian, looking for courtesy chips from the bottle service boys fresh off a night of clubbing. I had run up a nice stack but Santa was struggling to get any traction. Suddenly, The Sherminator materializes at our table! Game on.

The Sherminator actually played fairly well, which he was happy to point out for our benefit. He had built up a nice stack when the poker gods decided to teach a little lesson in the perils of hubris.

I was on the button. The game was playing loose-stupid, so there were a couple of limpers to Santa who put in a healthy raise; to those paying attention, he clearly had a premium hand, but the Red Bull-vodka crew at our table were as perceptive as Mr. Magoo. I glance over at Shermy who is clearly excited, either by his cards, or by the fact that the cocktail waitress called him "honey". Since I have bullets in my pocket, I decide it's a good time for an ambush, and silky-smooth call.

Shermy hollywoods a bit, then makes a "please play" raise. Santa decides he wants to join the reindeer games and pushes all-in for ~$250 total. I decide it's time to put my hard-earned image to good use, and I pull out a "Mad Hatter" hat--it was at least a foot high, made of red felt with black stripes and card suits sewn on. I pull on this so-funny-it's-cool monstrosity, look right at Shermy, and say, "Let's make this easy. I'm all-in, too."

Shermy goes nuts! He has over $600 total, but I have him covered. He also knows Santa and I are friends who have been making outrageous plays all night (well, I've been harassing Santa with annoyance plays to win Ironman tilt points, but the table didn't know that part of the dynamics). Shermy stands up and tanks hard. "This can't be happening! There's no way this is happening again!" Shermy is clearly in anguish, obviously holding Kings and dreading Aces.

That's when Santa makes a brilliant play. He looks Shermy dead in the eye and says, "I play the player, not the cards." That taunt must have hit home, as Shermy snap calls. He looks at Santa and says, "You have aces?" Santa shakes his head and rolls over Queens. Shermy looks happy and rolls his Kings. That's when I roll my Aces. Shermy looks like someone kicked his puppy: "Twice in one day! Twice!" Gee bud, sucks when variance catches up to ya, huh?

As Shermy whined on, the dealer put out the board. Shermy starts calling for a King like a wife trying to get her husband to do chores during the Super Bowl. Junky cards hit the flop and turn, but the river was paint: a Queen! Santa steals my pot to get healthy, while I took the side pot for a decent profit myself.

Shermy? He whined some more, then stormed out of the poker room, looking for an ATM. Funny thing--he came back to the room, but found a different table. Apparently the kiddie game was across the room.

Next time we see the Sherminator, I'll lay even money he's either crying while busting out of the WSOP Main Event, or an Internet millionaire looking for love (and to get to third base) on "The Bachelor".

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. Beautiful play by Santa, especially if he (as I suspect) figured out your and Sherman's hands.

    There aren't a lot of times where you are begging for a call by a better hand because it's +EV. This is one of them.