As I speak, the Legends of Poker Ladies Night tournament is in progress down at the Bicycle Casino. I am on my couch writing this blog and getting high. That can mean only one of two things, gentle reader. Either I didn't play, or I'm writing a bustout post.
Not that hard a guess, is it?
I got down there nice and early to buy in, unlike last year, when I was zigging and zagging down the 710 on freeway on tilt only fifteen minutes before the start time. There was a huge crowd as I approached the registration line and I prepared for a lengthy wait, only to discover that the herd of ladies jammed into one of the Bike's narrow hallways were crowded around various vendors and booths set up along the wall. It was the WSOP all over again. There was a booth for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (the very worthy recipient of 10% of the prize pool) where people could make donations, bid on items in a silent auction, and purchase T-shirts and pins. Poker-themed purses, jewelry, and tank tops were all available for purchase, as well as card cappers, sunglasses, and WPT-themed pastel drawings (aiyah). Absolute Poker's abominable ladies-only poker site was represented by their own Lacey Jones as well as perhaps half a dozen blonde model-types who wore purple "AP Lady" shirts.
After buying in, I went outside to escape the crowd, taking a seat on a bench in the valet parking area. I thumbed through L.A. Weekly and saw David Williams' mother, Shirley walking toward the casino entrance, struggling to read what appeared to be a blind structure sheet.
"I should know better than to try this without my damn glasses!" she remarked as she squinted at the page. Shirley cashed the Seniors Event at this year's WSOP and outlasted her bracelet-winning, young black ass-worshipping son David in the Main Event.
I was turning back to my magazine when I noticed the thin, pale fellow with the biker vibe sitting next to me. He was reading a script and looked familiar. The redhead girl sitting to his left had just struck up a conversation with him.
"What's that you're reading?"
"It's a script I'm supposed to direct."
"Yeah, I fly up to Toronto in the morning."
"Is it a movie?"
"No, it's TV."
"What's it about?"
"I don't even know. I just got it today."
"They don't give you a lot of time."
"Yeah, there's not a lot of choice. You book an episode and you know when it's going to start shooting because it's episode 9 or 10 or 20 or whatever but you never know what the script is going to be until right before."
I glanced down at the cover page. It had the name of the TV series, the episode title, the writer's name and the director's name. He was who I thought he was. I had heard a pitch from this guy maybe 3 1/2-4 years ago.
I went back inside and hit the restroom at five minutes to start. Lacey and the AP Ladies commandeered over half the mirror space. I listened as Lacey tried to explain the concept of a ladies-only internet poker room to a woman around my mom's age, who didn't understand why online poker needed to be segregated since no one knows who anyone really is on the internet.
I don't get it either.
As I washed my hands, I heard someone call my name. My jaw dropped when I looked up and saw Andie's reflection in the mirror. Andie was a longtime senior executive at the film company I used to work for. She had left the Big Man's fiefdom for a shitload more money at an animation giant about 4-5 months before my ass was booted off Wilshire Boulevard.
Andie and I caught up quickly in the couple of minutes we had before "shuffle up and deal." Though we didn't have a lot of projects together back at the Big Man's, we'd always bonded over poker. Back then, she had just started playing on Poker Stars and we'd always gab about the WPT on Thursday mornings after it aired. She gave me her number and a "let's do lunch."
Of all places to run into Hollywood people, I manage to do it twice in five minutes at the Bicycle Casino. And I'd only been home for less than 24 hours.
As I made my way to my seat, I spotted Barbara Enright, Camryn Manheim, and Debra Lalor, who was the third-highest finishing woman in this year's WSOP Main Event. She qualified on Poker Stars and finished 117th of 8773. I was in the 10 seat, which I don't love because it's always hard to see the players in the 1 and 2 seats from there. Here's my table lineup:
Seat 1: A young, put-together Beverly Hills girl in $200 jeans and a $500 hoodie. Gold filigree drop earrings hung from her lobes. She reminded me of Jules Leyser, aka the luckiest woman in poker. (Her husband Crispin had half of Jamie Gold's action in the WSOP ME).
Seat 2: An older woman who could have been Linda Johnson's less sassy sister.
Seat 3: A tiny, aggressive Asian woman in a black and gold tank top.
Seat 4: A potentially lesbian bottle redhead in her 40's who twice re-raised my late position raises. I mucked KT suited and pocket fives and it's a good thing I did. I heard her telling a friend at the break that she had aces both times.
Seat 5: Dame Edna in white cat-eye glasses with silver sequins.
Seat 6: Butch lesbian in Annie Duke-inspired military chic. I'd played with her before in ladies' tournaments and knew her to be a tight, reasonable player.
Seat 7: The butch lady's hot blonde lover. She wore a tight pink baby tee designed by Cyndy Violette that read "Peace, Love, Poker." I'm not making that up.
Seat 8: A very nervous blonde woman who had never played a tournament before.
Seat 9: A very nervous young brunette with wide hazel eyes who ended up playing on the weak-tight side.
Within 10 minutes I knew that the dead money was on my right. It was not going to be here for long, so I needed to focus on getting that instead of trying to outplay the more reasonable people at the table. In one of many early five or six-way limped pots, I joined the party on the button with the 7c-9c. The flop came 2-4-5 all clubs. The redhead bet 100, Dame Edna called, Weak Tight on my right called, and I raised to 400. Redhead and Dame Edna folded, but Weak Tight called. I put her on a strong flush draw and really didn't want to see another club on the turn. Thankfully, it was the 2h. She checked and I bet 800. She went into the tank for about a minute before folding.
"I know I was going to see that king of clubs if I called you" she said, as I stacked her chips. I had 2300 and was off to a good start.
Early into the second level (25-50), Butch Lady's Hot Blonde Lover raises to 200 from middle position. I have 9h-9d in the cutoff and decide to call and see a flop. It comes 4-4-4. Hot Blonde Lover bets 200 into the 475 chip pot. I need to find out exactly where I am so I raise to 600. She pauses and fiddles with her chips for just a little too long before pushing all-in just a little too reluctantly. Aiyah. I watch her for a little bit while counting out the 875 more I'd have to call. The raise is sending a message. She hasn't made any wild moves so far. And she looks pretty comfortable with her hand. I fold and have 1475 left.
There was a lot of limping going on at the table, and some of the more aggressive players responded to it by trying to make a "punishment" raises from position to try and take down the pot right there. Only they were usually getting called, mostly by the dead money to my right. After less than an hour, two players were already gone. I busted the 3 seat when my AQ took out her KJ. She was replaced by a quiet, more conservative-looking Asian girl who looked like she'd already doubled up. The rookie in the 8 seat was gone shortly thereafter and a pretty Filipino girl took her spot. She and the conservative Asian girl had played together at a Hawaiian Gardens tournament the previous night.
"How'd you end up?" conservative girl asked.
"We got to the final table and chopped 7 ways. I got like $3000."
It takes a lot of aggression to final table those SoCal daily tournaments with their notoriously fast structures. So I'd be watching out for her.
I won a couple more small pots before the first break. I called a 500 chip stack's all-in with JJ and it held against her AK. Then, with 50-100 blinds I raised to 300 on the button with As-Jc and was called by Linda Johnson's less sassy sister in the big blind. The flop was K-J-8 all spades. LJLSS checked, I bet half the pot, and she folded. I went to break with 2375.
Much to the ladies' delight, the mens' room in the adjacent hallway had been converted into a second ladies' room for the night. I folded my 26 of hearts and booked it out of the ballroom before lines could form. One already snaked out of the ladies, so I hit the mens. As I sat down to pee, I noticed there was some suspicious white powder on top of the stainless steel toilet paper holder. Sure enough, it was about a quarter-line worth of cocaine crumbs. So of course I took a picture.
I grabbed a Red Bull in the gift shop and headed back to my table, checking in with Andie on the way. Her table was two away from mine and was just being broken. So I didn't have too much longer with this lineup. She had about 2500 and had just doubled up with A-A on the last hand before the break.
On my first hand back, I was dealt 9-9 and raised to 700 from the hijack with 100-200 blinds. LJLSS moved in for 875 from the button and I called. She turned up QJ. I liked the A-A-7 flop. The T on the turn gave me slight pause and I prayed for no king on the river. It was another T. It took a few seconds before any of us realized who won.
"Ohhhh nooooo. You counterfeit!" said the dealer, as she pushed the pot to LJLSS. I hung my head in utter bewilderment. Any suckout stings, but having her crappy Q kicker play was just a totally unnecessary kick in the tits.
On the very next hand, I'm dealt As-Js in middle position and raise to 700. Dame Edna calls and the blinds fold. Dame Edna has been relatively tight preflop, having shown down KJ and a couple of pocket pairs, but she's played very poorly after the flop. I put her on a low to medium pair.
The flop is nice for me, Ts-8s-4h. If she has what I think she has, I have up to 15 outs. That, and this flop missed a ton of hands she was likely to play. With 1700 in the pot, I move in for 875 and she calls. I'm pretty shocked to see her turn over QQ, but I still have 12 outs to win. Brick, brick, on the turn and river and after a chip count, I have two $100 chips and a chair.
"No reraise with the QQ? Do I scare you?" I quipped in her general direction.
I toss in my last 200 with the As-Ts on the very next hand and get three callers. They check down the Ks-Js-8c-5s-7s board and I quadruple to 800 with the nut flush. On my big blind, there's an all-in and call and I get out of the way with the 3d-9d, and on my small blind, I fold 5T offsuit to a raise and two calls.
Then our table breaks. If I'd only taken a minute longer to find my new seat, I might still have one.
I sit down with the 500 I have left and guess what. It's my 200 big blind. Just great.
"Shoulda taken a longer walk!" chirped the dealer. I smiled tightly, seething with tilt.
So I know I'm all in with whatever I have. Someone in middle position makes it 600 and I chuck in my last 300 with the Q9 of hearts. She has KJ. Neither of us improve and I'm bounced out with over half the field remaining. A disappointing finish to say the least.
It's only been a couple of hours, but I've thought a lot about the way I played and there isn't much I'd do differently. These $100 buyin SoCal tournaments have a fast, steep structure (doubling blinds and 30-minute levels) that dictates aggressive play and I think I adjusted accordingly. Had I won either of those last two big hands (the 9-9 and the AJs) I would have had close to 4000 going into that new table. Who knows where I could have gone from there. I did the best I could. And I think I was reading people well.
I called Pauly on my way home and told him the bad news.
"At least you get to go home and get high."
"I suppose. Oh, you know what, I saw a quarter-line of coke on the toilet paper dispenser in the men's room."
"What were you doing in the men's room?"
"They made it a ladies' room for the tournament."
"Oh. So did you snort it?"
"Dude, I like drugs but I don't snort random bathroom coke crumbs."
"Awwwww BOOOOOOO!! Now THAT would be a blog!"
A few photos from Ladies' Night:
Leftover party favors