You ever been in a sorta-hostile situation where someone was throwing shade in a public setting but not quite crossing the line, so you couldn’t quite escalate it? Maybe you just had to play along with it and parry away with words to stand your ground. But you couldn’t make it too serious otherwise you look like the asshole or you risk getting your ass kicked.
Well, I was playing poker on a cruise last week. $1/2 No-Limit $200 max at one of those electronic tables. Rake was ridiculously high (15% capped at $25) but the game was soft as a pillow factory to compensate.
Four Chicago guys sat at the table. They had Bears hats and shirts on, one was even wearing a Khalil Mack #52 road jersey. The Bears were playing the Eagles in the playoffs that evening. One guy was a newlywed and this family cruise get together was either the wedding or post-wedding celebration.
Immediately they just started firing chips away without ration or reason. We’re talking…
Open-shoving 50+ BB’s preflop with trash hands
Call these open-shoves with as little as any Ace
Over-betting the flop with a 5x pot bet with weak hands like middle pair and pot committing themselves to showdown
Donating to each other simply because another family member was in the hand. “Okay, you’re in the hand so whatever, I’ll call it!”
Just all kinds of donk behavior–you name it, it happened. I think Newlywed Guy had to reload at least 9 times. Newlywed Guyruns a dessert chain in the Midwest so maybe he’s loaded. He didn’t seem to care about money. So my mouth is just watering at this action. I don’t even want to take smaller edges like calling an all-in with an AJ pre-flop. The throttle is firmly on fit-or-fold ABC mode. I’m not in the mood to lose any money trying to outmaneuver anyone. I’ll let these guys blow up a pot with garbage while I got the goods.
So these guys are having a good time. I don’t really care. If others want to gamble, I don’t look down on that. Some people win by losing. It’s not my job to tell them that they are losers. You won’t catch me being *that guy* at the table–the tight nit telling everyone how they’re playing bad. I am happy to watch the football game, sip on my free cocktails, sneak under the radar and play on auto-pilot.
Eventually I get to shove Ace-Queen against Ace-Ten on an ace-flop against Fourth Guy. I call him Fourth Guy because he is the most non-descript guy in this story and I don’t think he’s close family like the other three but conversation leads me to believe he’s somehow connected to their party. Fourth Guy might be the worst player of the four, along with Newlywed Guy. He’s the guy over betting on every flop. But he has been on a heater from the reckless all-in action and he’s up nearly $800 (400 BB’s).
So Fourth Guy picks up a straight draw on the turn and he needs one of my Queens on the river to win. There’s a Jack and a King on the board. I say “low card please”.The river is a Ten to improve him to two pair but to also improve me to straight, so I scoop it.
“Wow look at that, he didn’t want a ten but didn’t realize it would help him.” — remarked the bozo in the Khalil Mack jersey. Let’s call him Khalil Quack.
I just had to make the mistake of correcting him.
“Nah man, I said low card. I didn’t say anything about a ten.”
“Don’t tell me what you said. I heard what you said.”
Woah, okay guy. This is the first sign of tension all night. The comment raised my eyebrow a bit but I chose not to respond to it. I’m still barely ahead of my first buy-in at this point. He’s been drinking, drunk people say drunk things–so I figured.
I take a few more large pots against Newlywed Guy and Fourth Guy. My night is starting to go on a roll. Fit or fold poker is working just fine, hands are playing themselves, no thinking required.
And then things get more tense.
“I want a piece of this guy.” — Khalil Quack, giving me some side-eye after I scoop another pot.
“Look at him, he is so serious. If he bets it he has it. That’s all he does” — this is Daddy’s Boy. He’s a skinny 20-something with a peach fuzz, son of Newlywed Guy from a prior marriage. He could very well be straight out of college. He’s a little ahead of breakeven and the only reason is because his dad calls his shoves with trash because “it’s all my money anyway, so I’ll gamble!” Khalil Quack is a slightly older, slightly bulkier cousin. They sit next to each other and seem tight.
Okay, I’m starting to feel uncomfortable. Let me add this: I make a deliberate effort not to have a serious table image. I grew up playing poker (and video games, sports, etc) with everyone knowing that I was the intense, competitive type. Later on, I understood that this wasn’t a good thing in terms of keeping the table playing loose and fast. So when I play poker, I try to do the following things:
Watch whatever game is on and try to make it look like I care about more about that. “What a dime that was! Terrible call! How is that a penalty?! Let’s see what the replay shows. How can you not use your timeout there?!” I’ll be verbal about it. I think I paid more attention to the game than they did, despite them being such “huge fans”
I try to Ooh and Awe over bad beats, big pots, and crazy river cards–even though I’ve seen it all at this point and am largely unmoved by it.
Chat with people
And I think I was doing all that. There wasn’t any need to go into the tank and stare anyone down–every hand plays itself when your opponents are that level of bad. So why are these guys talking about me?
“I’m just playing poker. My lucky night I guess.” — as I guffaw and try to diffuse this nonsense. It didn’t work.
The next hour would unfold like this:
“Cmon man, show your hand, let’s see what you got for once! Don’t be scared!” anytime I had a chance to show vs. muck.
More accusing looks and proclamations that I’m “such a serious guy”
I bet $5 on the flop with a middle pair, ace kicker. “Oh man, is he trying to bluff?” says Daddy’s Boy, who then raises $30 against a $15 pot. I fold and Khalil Quack says “You’re too cute to bluff.” Wow.
I tell them my team plays next week (the LA Rams, though I didn’t specify), to which Daddy’s Boy replies “I don’t give a shit about soccer.” (IMO, it says a lot about someone’s beliefs when they go out of their way to bash soccer)
“Look at him take another sip of Shirley Temple.” (in reference to a pink “unmanly” cocktail I was drinking). Said maybe four or five times.
I get out of my seat and Daddy’s Boy asks where I’m going. Then he sneers “He’s so nervous, he has to get up and stand.” I can’t even stand up and stretch without disrespect.
I try to act unaffected and I say “Hate away guys, I have all the money at the table.” Khalil Quack repeats what I said in a more feminine voice and Daddy’s Boy, with his douchey shit-eating grin, says “Oh my god, you got his voice down, so funny.”
At this point I’m fuming. It’s just constant disrespect over and over. Little barbs all over, and now starting to get personal. Happening to no one else but me. They’re trying to emasculate me, bully me, goad me. Completely uncalled for and for no real tangible reason. We haven’t even played that many pots together, as I have mostly taken my money from the other two guys (who, to their credit, weren’t really participating in this nonsense).
My heart starts to beating a little faster. I’m ready for them to cross the line and am rehearsing what to say in my head. Should I be witty? Should I try to look like a bad-ass? Should I be icy-calm and poised or just let it all out? Deep down I want to throw down the gauntlet and just shout:
WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM?
But I don’t because then I’ll look like the asshole, because I know they’ll just laugh and say I’m taking things too seriously. Or maybe they’ll get physical. So I can’t quite go there. It’s such bullshit.
So we play on. They stare me down, I stare right back at them. They say something, I say something back. They challenge me, I tell them I’ll take them on all night. We go back and forth and they keep making it seem like harmless locker room talk. I know what it is and it’s not that. Such bullshit.
There’s a game going on and it’s a good one. The Bears are up 15-10 on the Eagles in the fourth quarter with a minute to go. It’s 4th and Goal, Eagles Ball on the Chicago 2 yard line.
“Big Dick” Nick Foles conjures up his Playoff Black Magic and hits Golden Tate for a touchdown.
Khalil Quack and Daddy’s Boy are in shambles.
SO GOOD, BABY. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you a billion times.
But then Tarik Cohen has a great kick return and the Bears are already in striking position. They get a couple first downs to lock down field goal range. Cody Parkey comes out and lines it up. The two idiots at the table watch in great anticipation.
“Timeout”I say, and then Parkey kicks it through the uprights. Coaches always try to freeze the kicker in these situations. C’mon dude, every real fan knows this.
Khalil Quack, who can barely pay attention even though it’s his team in a must-win playoff game, fist pumps and shouts thinking they’ve won it. Nope.
“Oh fuck they called a timeout?” Yes they did, moron.
No timeouts left for Philly and here comes the real kick.
I’m begging the football Gods. Telepathically speaking to the television. I want PAIN. I want THEIR PAIN on a PLATTER. Fucking do it. Crush their hearts RIGHT FUCKING NOW.
Satisfaction at last.
Danilo L and Anthony L–the pain on both of your faces… PRICELESS. You two are complete trash.