This Thanksgiving weekend, however, provided me the chance to combine a Huskers football game with a couple of nights of poker at Riverside Casino & Nit Retirement Village. First, I stopped off in Marion for a wonderful traditional Thanksgiving dinner whipped up by the wife and mother of uber-wingman Santa Claus. Santa has some great women in his life. Then I headed out for some poker.
Thursday evening, Riverside only had one cash game running, so I had to kill some time in the bar watching the late football games, sipping a beer. Not an entirely horrible turn of events. After an hour or so, I finally got a seat in the $1/$2 cash game. It was filled with a bunch of players straight from poker central casting. Grumpy Granny was there, on my left, whining about the temperature being too low and her cards being lousy. Poker Professor was in the three seat, whining about his students and how others were playing. We had two Young Dudes With Bored Girlfriends Watching Them, both of whom were predictably arrogant, terrible, and (eventually) busted. There were two Retired Almond Brokers, playing one hand every two orbits. The other three players were Interchangeable ABC Players. I was left to play the role of Jester, a role which I thankfully have plenty of experience with.
Yes, I had landed in a Generic Poker Game, where I had never played with any of the other players, yet knew precisely how they played. To say the table played ABC poker was an insult to literate poker players. This was more like Dick and Jane Poker:
See Jane check. Check Jane, check!
See Dick bet. Bet Dick, bet!
See Jane raise. Jane likes to check-raise.
See Dick fold. Dick is sad.
Given the Riverside buy-in of $60-$200, the nitty players, and the fact the standard preflop raise was $5-$8, the game played as tight as my testicles in the nasty polar wind chill of the Husker-Hawkeyes game the next day. I raised preflop with pocket pairs five times, and three times flopped sets. I managed to get paid off on one of those hands. I quickly settled into a basic strategy of only playing Top Ten hands, and not making any moves. It was more profitable to simply drink Captain and Diets, watch football, and wait for a big hand versus big hand showdown than to try to run over a table of players who wouldn't put a dollar in the pot without at least top pair.
I managed to get up $150 or so. The late NFL game ended, and I decided to play no more than another hour, knowing I had to be up early in the morning to tailgate for the Huskers-Hawkeyes game. That's when I was in early position and looked down to see the Holy Grail of poker hands.
Yes, it was the Duck Pho. Offsuit, even, to give me two flush and straight flush draws instead of merely one. Easily one of the super-elite premium hands.
I limped in, as did six other players.
Flop was Ad-3c-5c. Wheee .... llll!
I checked, as did the other players, to the button. The button bet $15. I min-raised, expecting at least a couple of callers. Nope, everyone folded to the button, who sighed, then flashed pocket Tens and folded. I tabled my hand, and the rest of the table glared at me; clearly I had breached some sort of protocol by playing "just" deuce-four. I tried to explain that the deuce-four was a special hand made famous by one of my poker friends, but they all acted like I had tried to share a recipe for bacon-wrapped shrimp with a minyan of Orthodox Jewish rabbis. Oh well, guess they'll never know how tasty bacon-wrapped shrimp or duck pho can be.
I raked the pot, tipped the dealer, and racked up. Generic poker may be cheap, but it ain't profitable.
At least the Huskers walked away with a small profit the next day.