In years past, I’d sit in the underground (literally, underground) bar and drink until I needed the raw wood booths to old me up. I’ve played tournament poker in the back room. I’ve found and lost my favorite bartender. My sbobet exploits are chronicled on the walls in black Sharpie. There was a time (a better time, I should add) when the bar was called “Wings Down Under.” It was managed better back then and the entertainment was always better. Every friend who has ever come in town has been taken for at least one beer at the basement bar.
Last Friday night, after making a frantic run around town at 11pm to make sure one of my guests would be comfortable, I slipped into the bar in the ground and there sat everyonoe, already drinking. They raised their glasses, nodded their heads, and went back to drinking. Because that’s what my friends do. Bless’em for that.
It was a shortlived stay at the Shack. We got there too late to tear it up and the newly passed (and somehow still antiquated) drinking laws downtown precluded a later stay. Still, the crew managed to have some fun.
As I licked one ounce of ranch dress from a plastic cup, I learned that my $5 payday could’ve been $100. And I couldn’t have been happier. Prop bets that pay off big for something little are not nearly as sweet as prop bets that pay little for something big. The ranch dressing was no big deal. I would’ve let the bartendress lick it off my belly for $5.
Th Bradoween Open
Security was in place. My wife, kid, and friend Su sat on the front lawn pretending to be perfect little suburbanites. The kid splashed in his birthday turtle pool. A Merry Christmas banner hung on the front door. From the street, it would’ve appeared that the suburban family–even if a little confused about the holiday–was having a perfect suburban day.
What the casual observer would not have seen was the walkie talkie strapped to my wife’s waist band at the small of her back. What they would not have seen behind the locked doors and drawn shades was a group of people 43 large, all sitting around four poker tables and ready to begin.
Security was a big deal this year, as the G-Vegas poker community had been set back two weeks before by a gun-happy poker raid in a neighboring suburb. Mrs. Otis was not keen on automatic weapon-wielding state agents crashing the party.
Me, I was ready to play some cards. A cursory drive around the perimeter showed no cops staging for a raid, and suddenly I was at ease. The Henry’s BBQ had been consumed, Eva had started her run behind the bar, and the poker tournament (under BadBlood and eventually CJ’s capable hands) was about to get underway.
There was only one problem: Across the red cloth, a “Poker Bitch”‘ shirt stretched across her chest, her eyes boring into me like she had seen my soul and it was perfect for dinner, she sat with a false look of innocence. I had drawn Cigar Girl’s table.
It just so happened that her husband, The Mark, had drawn her table as well, and I hoped that would keep everything in line. It didn’t. After tangling with her on the first hand, I backed down, then tangled with Uncle Ted who played the Hammer as masterfully as I have seen it played in ages.
As I recovered from the Hammer-Tilt, I looked down to find AKo. With the blinds still at 1/2, I made it seven to go. Cigar Girl called. The flop came down K93 rainbow. Finally, I thought, I am going to get the best of this girl. Unless she called with a pair of nines, I’m going to win this hand. I bet out 15. She called.
As the dealer prepared to lay out the turn, I decided she must have KQ or KJ and I was going to play the hand as if she did. So, when a four came on the turn, I put out a bet of 25, thinking to milk the most out of the hand (in retrospect, a bad idea). After some thought, she called.
I sat back and decided that if the river wasn’t a queen or jack, I was going to push all in. And when the river fell as a ten, I didn’t think twice before announcing, “I’m all in.”
Cigar Girl looked up at me, looked down at her cards once, looked back up and with half a smile said, “I call.” As the room started getting loud, my eyes darted to her cards. She was flipping them over. She was smiling. How could she be smiling? See, there is the queen. I knew she had KQ. Why is the room so loud? How is it that they are screaming? I won this hand. It couldn’t be…that she had the stone cold nuts. In fact, she had QJ for a rivered gutshot.
I flipped my cards over and the room got louder. I looked up and Cigar Girl was looking at me. I couldn’t help but think of a moment about eight years ago.
I was living in Missouri and basically living at the future Mrs. Otis’ house. She had a roommate, a blonde chanteusse who looked a lot like the future 2005 American Idol winner. Her voice was angelic and dirty at the same time.
One morning, my girl had left me sleeping. When I finally dragged myself out of bed and headed for the bathroom, the roommate walked out, buck naked and wet, just out of the shower. Neither of us knew the other was in the house. The only words I could speak at the time were, “I just saw you naked.”
Later, we’d see each other at a bar and she forgave me. But I know she saw the look in my eye. It was the same look Cigar Girl was giving me.
The look said: “I’m really sorry for that, but I really, really enjoyed it.”