Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Monday, July 14, 2008

Backstage Poker redux

It's a 3' diameter round cabaret table with a blanket thrown over it to muffle the sound of chips backstage, but it's the best we could do with limited space. With a cast of dozens and shitloads of costume changes, the lineup is constantly shifting in the game and we're relegated to playing next to the table saw in the scene shop in the fuschia light that issues from the gelled fluorescent that is hard-wired into an emergency circuit and never goes off.

We try to keep as quiet as possible while shuffling, because there's nothing between us and the stage except about 20 feet and a garage door rolled halfway up for crossovers. Between hands we can look over offstage left and make faces at the musicians, at least one of whom is jealous that he never has a break long enough to sit in. Chris, Joe and I are pretty much the corps, since Joe and I have amazingly long stretches of time when we're not on stage. Chris is the director, so his work is done once the show opens. Yeah right - it's guerilla theatre, so his job doesn't end until the box office closes each night, because somebody's gotta take tickets. The Porno Imp sits in for a while in Acts 3&4, and Little Nick plays intermittently through Act 3. He's playing Richmond, so he doesn't have enough downtime in Acts 4&5 to play. We pretty much wrap up for the night when Act 5 kicks off anyway, because all of us have several scenes and a couple of costume changes in the last act.

Saturday night Uncle Phil came to the show and joined us backstage for Act 4, since his love of Shakespeare is well-documented. Or lack thereof. He managed to hold on to half of his initial buyin despite one big hand with me where I picked up two pair on the turn and busted his top pair top kicker.

Since we were playing super-shorthanded (anywhere from heads-up to 5-handed) I'm pretty sure I saw every single flop Saturday night. The night started off poorly, as I went through my first $20 pretty quickly I think I gave most of it to Joe, but I loaned a few chips to Chris in the early rounds as well. I managed a comeback in Act 4 to double up, bringing my total for the weekend to a $224 profit. Not bad for fucking around backstage and just killing time.

By far the biggest pot of the weekend was between me and Joe Friday night. Since we had almost all the chips in play, it was a given that any big pots would come between the two of us. Like I said, I saw every flop, so it wasn't much of a stretch for me to call his 3xBB raise with 9h-4h. Flop was pretty rockin' for me, coming down 9-3-5 rainbow. I fired $5 into a $4 pot, and expected to take it down right there. Joe surprised me by raising me another $10, and I had to pause for a moment. I had top pair, and a really bad backdoor straight draw. I had initially put him on big cards, but now had to reconsider that I might be facing an overpair. I figured getting 2:1 on my money was worth peeling a turn card, so after I thought for a moment about re-raising him all in on the flop, I just called.

The turn brought the 6, giving me an open-ended straight draw, and Joe naturally shoved all in. It was a bit of an overbet, almost $50 into a $30 pot, but he knew that if he bet anything smaller I'd shovel over top of him just to keep the pressure on, so I knew that move was coming. I actually considered my outs for a change, and decided I was good with two nines, three fours, four deuces or four sevens. There was also about a 15% chance that he was making a move with AK or some other big trashy hand, but I thought his most likely holdng was Jacks. So the way I figured it, I had a ton of outs, so I made the call.

Bad read me, when he tabled Ac-9c for top pair, top kicker. That gave me about a 25% chance to win the hand, according to CardPlayer's odds calculator, which is far worse than I thought I had when I made the call in the moment. But this was a 25% night for me, as the 7 rolled off on the river and I broke my own game. So that's the kind of bad poker I'm playing backstage between scenes, but it's working out so far. I actually didn't realize exactly how statistically bad I was until I took a little while to think through it, and I'm pretty glad I didn't. This is why people want to play cards with me - my mad skillz.

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