August 22, 2010
NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise. Surprise and fear. Fear and surprise. Our two weapons are fear and surprise. And ruthless efficiency. Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency. And an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope. Our four ... no. Amongst our weapons ... amongst our weaponry are such elements as fear, surprise .... I'll come in again.
—Cardinal Ximinez (Michael Palin) in "Monty Python's Flying Circus"
This week, I played a wild session at the Meadows ATM. At one point, a young kid sits down to my right. He's a regular at the Meadows, decent player, generally has a tight and moderately aggressive style of play. He had built up a stack of nearly $300 from a $100 buy-in after a couple of hours, mostly by raising preflop and taking it down with a flop c-bet.
The fateful hand started innocuously, but don't they always? There were several limpers to the Kid, who raised to $17. Fair enough. Then, I look down and see 6-3 offsuit. Now, this hand may seem like trashy rags to many poker players, but as the Ironmen of Poker know, this hand is actually the incredibly powerful "Spanish Inquisition". It acquired its name during IMOP-IV when Ironman Barbie drew 6-3 as his "signature hand" and used it to great effect, felting at least a dozen players and nearly causing two international incidents (though that might be more directly attributable to his taunting ... er, "witty banter"). While stacking his victims' chips, Barbie would cackle, "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" It's a wonder Barbie hasn't been beaten about the head and neck with blunt objects.
Anyway, back to the crAAKKer hand. So, I have the Spanish Inquisition. Clearly, I must call. Everyone else folds, perhaps sensing the hidden strength of my hand. It can be tough to hide the excitement of seeing the Spanish Inquisition, so I may have given off a tell or three. Anyway, the flop comes down 9-3-3. Donkey Kong! Seriously, were you expecting anything less? This is the Inquisition, man! Kid bets $25, I make the Hollywood smoooooooth call. Turn is a 7. Kid bets $45, I again "ponder" my play and smoooooth call. River is a duck. Kid checks; about time he showed some respect! I quick-bet $75, representing the busted flush draw, and Kid snap-calls. I say, "I just have a three" and smile as the Kid's head snaps back in shock! Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! The kid flashes Kings, keeps shaking his head, starts muttering, then looks directly at me:
Kid: "How could you make that call?"
Me: "I flopped trips."
Kid: "No. Preflop. I don't understand how you make that call."
Me: [grinning while silently stacking chips]
Kid: "Seriously, I don't get how you make that call ... I raised!"
Me: "I know."
[cue monkey tilt table change]
Spain produces more than Inquisitions, including some great summertime wines from the Rías Baixas wine country in the Galicia region. These wines are based on the Albariño grape, and typically result in crisp, light, fruity wines, perfect for pairing with seafood, salads, tapas, and light pasta dishes. A personal favorite is the Bodegas Martín Códax Albariño 2009 (always get the newest vintage as Albariño is generally made to be drunk young when it is at its freshest). This wine is like biting into a crisp green apple with undertones of citrus and honeydew melon. Perfect for sipping on a hot day, when most Chardonnays would be too heavy and alcoholic. The next time you reach for yet another thin, insipid Pinot Grigio, think Albariño instead for a crisper, more flavorful wine at half the price (most Albariños are in the $8-$15 per bottle range, with the Martín Códax coming in around $12).
Here's the classic Monty Python "Spanish Inquisition" skit: