Horror-scopes (poker blog)
Tuesday, 24 January 2012
In the poker game tonight, there was a visiting Chinese gambler: the sort of player you dream about. He liked pretty much every hand he found. Expressed as a rough percentage, I’d say he folded 10% of hands, called 60% of hands and raised 30% of hands. When he raised, he always slightly over-raised, then massively over-bet the flop. It was a £5-£10 game; he might open for, say, £40 or £50, get three callers and then bet £475 on the flop. Out of position, regardless of field size, whatever came. His base stack size was about £2000, so he was usually happy to call a raise that set him in, then either get lucky or pull up. (That’s why I say “base stack size” - at any point he might have double or triple that in front of him, but that’s what he’d pull up for when he got wiped out.)
Basically: the kind of guy against whom you want to find a hand. I watched the usual suspects lining up to pick him off. I bided my time - while still playing pots and seeing flops, of course. I’m not the kind of player who refuses to give action without the pre-flop nuts, I like to help make a good game. But, you know… I bided my time for getting in a big pot.
Finally it came: Q9 of spades in my hand, J-10-8 the flop (two hearts on board). As it happened, the fellow had a pretty big stack at the time. He over-bet and called a raise, but we didn’t get it all in til the turn. And the river made his flush.
But that’s fine, that’s poker. Good luck to him. I was happy to congratulate him on a nice hand. Here’s my problem. After the pot, I picked up a Daily Mail that was lying on a nearby table. I do that sometimes after losing a big pot in a good game: read a newspaper or a poker magazine that’s lying about, or do a crossword or a sudoku, just to use up some of the energy that might otherwise cause me to tilt into unwise pots. And I turned to my horoscope. (This is from Monday’s paper, if you happened to want to verify; I’m writing this in the small hours of Tuesday morning).
And this is what I read, as I watched the money thrown around the table, as my lucky opponent kept betting and raising and betting and raising, into the apparently effortless jaws of my usual rivals, while I miserably struggled to get out of it.
“Chinese emperors”, it said, “often saw themselves as ‘descendants of the dragon’. They believed that they were born blessed with great power. I mention this because you are in a win-win situation.”
What an astonishingly appropriate horoscope, I thought! And it’s quite right! Anyone can get unlucky, but this is still a good game! Eagerly, I slurped up the encouragement that all must come right.
“But that isn’t to say”, my horoscope continued, “that you can’t lose. Of course you can.”
Oh MARVELLOUS. I was getting the rubdown from a horoscope! Why didn’t they just go ahead and print it on sandpaper?
The amusing thing - and I mean this in the bitterest sense - is that horoscopes are supposed to be written in an incredibly general way, so a twelfth of the population will find that it magically chimes with them. And yet… this one… surely translates only to a situation where you’re doing your money in a brilliant poker game? Otherwise… I mean, just look back at it… it doesn’t actually mean ANYTHING AT ALL.
At this point, I couldn’t swear that my old friend The Chimney Sweep (who is currently owning me at Scrabble, to a humiliating degree) hadn’t come up with a way to get that newspaper printed especially for me, and slipped it onto the table just as that third heart came down.