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My L.A. Debacle - Part II

A trip to forget

by Todd Brunson |  Published: Dec 12, 2008


I left off in my last column whining about my bad beats in the no-limit deuce-to-seven game at Commerce Casino. Actually, I left off with a cliffhanger about a hand that was such a bad beat that my father told me I need expect it to happen only once, possibly twice, more in my lifetime. So, without further ado, let's get to it.

To recap, the blinds were $200-$400 with a $100 ante. Billy Baxter was not only the best player in the game (in the world, for the matter, as he has five World Series bracelets in deuce!), but was running red-hot. I had had six wheel draws against him so far and had missed all six. If that wasn't bad enough, he had shown me a legitimate hand every time, so I'd have gotten paid off if I'd made any of them.

Finally, this hand came down: Billy raised one off the button and I looked down at, what else? A wheel draw, 2-3-5-7 to be exact. I decided to just call here, not wanting to get reraised out of the pot and also to disguise my hand, hopefully enabling me to win a big pot.

I was happy when the big blind decided to tag along, and even happier when both players drew two cards. My happiness grew to ecstasy when I squeezed out a 6, giving me a 7. This particular 7 is the third-best hand possible.

When both players checked to me, I bet $6,000 into a pot of about $8,500. This can easily look like a bluff, as all players know how hard it is to complete a hand in deuce when drawing two cards. Therefore, players will expect me to bet no matter what when two of my opponents drew two cards and checked it to me.

Knowing all of this, I wasn't overly alarmed when the big blind passed and Billy check-raised me $12,000 more. My only decision was whether to just call or send in my last $8,000. My gut said to just call, but I thought of all the hands he would raise with that I could still beat.

There were a lot of them: possibly a 9 perfect, any 8, or the roughest 7. Mathematically, it was definitely correct to reraise here - especially since I would be all in and he couldn't force me to put any more money into the pot. I figured all of this out in a few seconds, but still took about a minute to announce myself all in. Baxter called, and showed me 7-5-4-3-2 to beat my 7-6-5-3-2.

My intuition wouldn't stop arguing for me to just call. It just goes to show, as I've often said, you gotta listen to that little voice inside your head (or in my case, one of the many voices in there). If I could just learn to do that, I wouldn't have time to be sitting here writing this column, as I'd be too busy counting my money!

Jerry BussThe next day, I got what I thought was a good phone call from my friend Yosh Nakano, who is the high-limit host at The Bicycle Casino. They were going to start a $400-$800 H.O.R.S.E. game with Jerry Buss (the Lakers owner). Now, Jerry is an OK hold'em player, but H.O.R.S.E. is a whole other animal. Inexperience can kill you in this game, so I was there early with bells on.

Well, by the time the game was over, there was only one winner, and guess who that was? That's right, Jerry Buss. He had to leave to go get Kobe Bryant out of something or other, and felt bad about leaving us shorthanded. He told us that his partner Frank Mariani was on the way, and suggested we make it straight hold'em so that he would play with us.

Now, Frank's not the greatest hold'em player in the world, but he's not the worst, either - that is, unless he's drinking. Well, he sat down and proceeded to polish off three bottles of wine in short order. He could barely talk, but had no problem pronouncing the word "raise."

In normal times, this would have been a great game/situation, but as his partner before him had done, he was killing us all. Now, not only was I stuck from the H.O.R.S.E. game, but from the drunken Mariani show, as well. I now had to reach into my bag and pull out an old but proven trick.

If I couldn't outplay Frank, I could sure outdrink him! I countered his wine with vodka to make up for lost time. Within about 90 minutes, I believe, my blood alcohol level had surpassed his, and so had my chips! What a game this had become. I almost felt sorry for the other (sober) players, as Frank and I outdrew, rivered, and runner-runnered them.

Unfortunately, Frank quit at about the time I hit my stride. I had recovered from the horrible initial downswing and won, but I had taken a third of a buddy who never won a pot. It all turned out to be about a wash, which was good, considering the first 90 percent of the day.

I hadn't given up on L.A. after all of this. I returned to the Bike the next day to find a great $400-$800 H.O.R.S.E. game with Jerry and a doctor from Malibu. Wanna guess who the only two winners were that day?

I wanted to get out of L.A. right away, but a good "friend" convinced me to stay and go eat at a Japanese restaurant he had found. We drove about three hours to get there. I thought he was taking me out to the desert to kill me (and I wasn't even going to object at this point), when we finally arrived.

The food was marginal at best. My "friend" Shunjiro talked nonstop in Japanese to the waitress all through dinner. Then, when he offered to pay, I should have known that something was terribly wrong. You see he is the cheapest human on Earth. He and another poker player named Tom actually invented copper wire when they were fighting over a penny!

As I was saying, when the waitress brought the bill, he grabbed it. I then noticed that he left $700. This meal couldn't have cost more than $40. What was going on?

I didn't figure it out till the next morning, when I was glued to the toilet for 20 hours straight. It seems that L.A. had one last parting gift for me.