Saturday, January 01, 2005

Poker Night with the Barans

Happy New Year! Blah, blah, blah. I really don't care. Now onto the important business to report.

The night began on a high note with being introduced to Booker's Bourbon. I learned about Booker's from Eric's Dad, who learned about it from a Kentucky family member. Booker is a 6th generation distiller and grandson of the famed Jim Beam. It was a little too strong for me. I think it was over 130 proof. Everytime I took a sip, I could feel my nose starting to feel funny. Had I drank more of it, the sensation would have gone away after a while. At $60 for a 0.75 L bottle, I won't be having much Booker's in the future. I'm just happy with Old Number 7.

Thursday night, I played poker with an old family friend (the Barans). Their posse consisted of father Frank and brothers Jon and Matthew. I knew the Barans very about eight years ago, but we'd grown apart over that time. Frank was different in that he's shaven his trademark moustache. I barely recognized Jon and Matthew. It had been so long since we'd seen one another.

I could tell from the start that Matthew was the strongest of the three Barans. That's ironic, since he actually was the first player to depart the table. Frank and Jon didn't appear to have many poker skills. It took an act of God to get Frank Baran to fold a hand. He played so many hands that it made it difficult to bluff him. However, one good thing is that players such as he usually go down quickly when the cards go bad.

Frank was 2nd out. Since he wanted to watch the Heat/Pistons NBA game, he allowed Matthew to take his spot. Normally, that would have been strictly forbidden. In fact, I need to make that addendum to my poker rules sheet. I decided not to enforce the rules that I had prepared before the game. I realized that they were probably occasional poker players, so I didn't want to make them stick to the letter of the law. It was more of a friendly poker game.

My luck completely ran out after the first couple of hands. The cards were terrible. On the couple of occasions I got incredible cards, I was beaten by an even more amazing hand. I was able to stick around for 3 hours, but succumbed and finished 4th. Jon went out shortly thereafter, taking 3rd place.

The winner was decided about halfway through when Eric took a commanding lead. After accumulating such a plurality of the pot, he could take it easy and not risk much. It would have been difficult for anyone to overtake his chip lead. John (Eric's Dad) grinded his way to 2nd place. It didn't take long for Eric to formally win the game. Since we all paid in $10, Eric won a nice purse of $50. A $10 refund went to the 2nd place contestant.

From a personal standpoint, here is my assessment of my effort:

1) Two bad hands were all that separated me from a possible victory. In two head to head hands with Eric, I was beaten and lost a lot of chips. I can't remember the specifics, but I think I lost with a straight and two pair. I got beaten by the full house and flush, I think. That's the way poker goes sometimes.

2) I was hampered by my inability to bluff. It seems like it takes a lot to get John and Frank to fold. Subsuqently, the better cards usually do win hands. It's a well-known fact that it's easier to bluff inexperienced players than ones of lesser poker acumen. I could have bluffed higher, but I didn't want to risk too many chips.

3) I waited too long on going all-in. By the time I went all-in, I had only 20 chips. I kept on hoping for an amazing hand, but it never came. I should have settled for all-in on K8, Q9, or the like. When you're down to 20 chips, one all-in victory hardly means anything.

4) I should have played more conservatively. Instead of playing a bunch of mediocre hands, I should have waited for great cards and invested my whole fortune in that hand. I couldn't catch any breaks.

5) I've seen a lot of improvements in the play of Eric and John. I think they've gotten a better grasp of strategy and are playing at an above average level. I feel that Eric, John, and I were superior to Team FSU.

That's likely the end of my poker playing for a while. I might be able to get one more game before school begins, but it's not the same without Zach. I'm sure I'll get to play some more during my frequent visits to Orlando.

I'm thinking of getting a poker club together at FAU. It wouldn't take many more than five people to have a good time. I'll have to ask the university how I go about starting the club.

If that falls through, I'm planning to seek membership with the Moose Lodge club. Each Friday night, they have a poker match. While the crowd is less than prefferable, I'd enjoy getting practice against grizzled veterans. I'm really hoping it doesn't come to this.

In the meantime, I'll take one last swing at the Jim Feist $1000 prize. If I could get one more gem stone, it might be possible to earn a spot in next week's Stage 6 Final.

The Barans are a group that deserve further elaborating on, but I doubt I'll get to it anytime soon.


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