It was Friday and I had finished with my shift. Lindsay and I had planned on hitting a tournament at a Casino and trying our luck and skill against the weekend warrior crowd at the Red Wind in Shelton, but we received a phone call from our friend Kenny at the last minute that abruptly changed our plans.
“There’s a game in North Seattle tonight. You guys should come up.”
“Why?” I asked. “There’s always a game. What makes this one so special?”
“Because I know these people. They’re degenerate yuppie fools that work for Microsoft and have money to burn. It’s easy pickins.”
We didn’t need more incentive. We drove at top speed to meet him at his apartment where we met up with his girlfriend Meela and him, switched cars, and were escorted to the Northern Suburbs of Seattle somewhere near Lynwood. We spent fifteen minutes driving around in a maze of identical track houses before we reached our final destination. Inside were 5 people in their mid-twenties behaving like 45-year-old golfers. We made our introductions, exchanged some small talk, and got down to business. We were all there for the same reason. There was poker to be played.
We were escorted to a small room in the back of the house with a proper poker table, some chairs, and little else. We sat down and started counting out chips when we heard the sound of the doorbell.
“That’s Steve.” said our host. The room chuckled.
“Who’s Steve, and why is he so funny?” I asked.
“You’re gonna love this guy. He’s a youth pastor for some church down the street. The last time he was here he was wearing six armbands with cheap slogans representing various causes and a Bluetooth that he never used. He dropped $80, then went to the ATM for more. After he lost that he tried to use church money.”
“Church money? Like fake Jesus dollars?”
“No, no, no. It was a charity fund that he was in charge of. He was supposed to donate it. It was low.”
“Who cares?” I said. “Money’s money. As long as it looks real it’s good enough for me.”
Steve walked in. He was a young pudgy fellow wearing Abercrombie and Fitch. He had the armbands, but no Bluetooth. No one mentioned it.
We began playing poker. The game started slow. Play was tight until Steve thought he had a hand. He bet furiously and took down the pot. He showed us all his hand. He had a pair of Aces with a lousy kicker which he seemed very proud of. He was a fool.
The pace picked up after that. Chips started flying around and Steve somehow managed to fall into a large chipstack. People were starting to tilt. It was obvious that Steve didn’t really know what he was doing, or what he was talking about. Table talk drifted into music websites like Pandora and Itunes and some other web-radio site that was initiated by Duff McKagan from Guns ‘N Roses. Steve went on and on in the face of ridicule about how much he loved Dashboard Confessional and Savage Garden. He kept betting largely on bad hands, but somehow kept catching cards.
The table was getting frustrated and angry and the talk turned more aggressive. Insults were flying at Steve from every direction but he just batted them away with a grin that was missing teeth and the look in his eye of a pedophile.
The game was winding down around 2 in the morning. My chip stack was low and I made a heavy bet on the flop with top pair and a good straight draw. Steve immediately called me. The turn came. My straight didn’t but I still had top pair and the flush was all but ruled out. I checked. So did Steve. The river didn’t help me. I now had second button and there were a lot of straight possibilities that I had missed. I felt like a sucker for checking. Steve was first to act. He took his time. He stared at the flop for three minutes with a look of confusion on his face. Every sign pointed to the fact that he had missed. It was obvious to me that he was chasing a straight and had missed it completely. I did too, but I had a reasonably strong pair. There was a look of weakness in his eyes and on his face, but the pot was large and he was committed. There was no getting away from this one. He was afraid to bet, but afraid to check. He knew he was beat and was trying to figure out how to bluff me out of this hand.
He meekly pushed $15 dollars into the pot. It was an overbet. He was trying to push me out. I immediately called and flipped my cards over. I had a pair of tens.
“Shit, you got me. I got nothing.” he said as he flipped over his cards.
I reached for the pot but was interrupted.
“Wait a minute.” Kenny said, “You’ve got the nut straight, Steve.”
I looked more closely at his cards. He did indeed. He just didn’t know it.
I graciously congratulated him on his hand as he took the chips that should have been mine. I read him absolutely correctly and I still lost. Steve won a huge pot by mistake. It is the kind of poker playing that frustrates most reasonably good players, but not me. After all, poker is gambling and sometimes even the pros go broke.
Steve won that hand, but by the end of the night he had bled his chips all over the table on poor calls and foolish bluffs. Steve was truly a fish and I understood why he was welcome at the table.
We left at 2:30am. Lindsay broke even, but Kenny and I were down our buy-in. On the way back to their apartment Meela made an astute observation.
“Steve was missing more teeth than last time.”
No one else said anything the rest of the way home.