I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person. I did fairly well at college and have solved my Rubik's Cube a few times. I also do better with gambling when I have a say in the overall strategy of games, which led me to a stunning reality recently: I suck at Texas Hold 'Em.
Apparently I suck really, really bad at it.
My story begins with me entering a charity tournament in a nearby city. It was a reasonable buy in at $40 and I figured it would make a good story for my blog, so I decided to sign up. I have a fair amount of knowledge in Player/Dealer Casino Poker and can tell you which hands beat what, but I had no idea the amount of strategy involved that is needed to do well in Hold 'Em. When I showed up to the tournament room inside of an upscale bar, I was surprised by what I saw. It was a hodgepodge of people, some well dressed, some looking like they belong living underneath the sewer in a vintage episode of Futurama. No problem I thought, I will be able to handle myself against these people. Most were sure to be as novice as me, right?
The first hands were dealt, and I did not see anything I really wanted to put a matching bet on. It was going to be my strategy to play conservatively. I did this until about my 10th hand when I came up with pocket 9s. I matched the Ante bet and was off to the races. Unfortunately in my conservative state I had apparently tipped people off to the fact that I had a decent hand. Everyone else folded their hands except for this guy with two goofy looking eyes. I swear to God this man was the living breathing version of Sesame Street's Cookie Monster. His eyes googled that badly in both directions and he was a hairy son of a bitch. This guy had to have no idea what he was doing here, right? It looked like he belonged working the Tilt A Whirl at the church carnival instead of playing Poker in a tournament at a bar with sharks swimming in a giant aquarium (it really was freaking cool at this poker room, inside of a niiice bar).
This hand was going to go my way; I was sure of it.
Cookie Monster raised my match bet, and I promptly matched his. The first three cards were shown: 4, 10, and King. I conservatively checked, and Cookie Monster raised. I matched. Now I was being foolish, refusing to raise, but allowing myself to match. We got the next card revealed: a 5 (I don't recall the suits and I would be lying if I said I did). Now I am feeling the pressure and want to upstage Cookie. I decide I am going bold. "All in." I say nonchalantly to the dealer and slide my small stack of chips out a bit. Cookie Monster looks at me with his goofy eyes really not pointing in any direction and pulls off my worst nightmare: He matches my bet.
The last card that came up was a King. Our cards were flipped over in advance and I felt like an ass as he got his chips. I just lost my $40 buy in to a freaking muppet. I did this with dignity though and got up and left the table to have a seat at the bar and ponder my stupidity over a drink.
That will probably be the last time I ever play Hold 'Em. Rawr, I am frustrated thinking about my short lived tournament experience!