"Cedars Steak House was a great choice," I said lovingly to Stephanie from across the small wooden table at the Foxwood's restaurant, "my lucky charm picked another winner." She really had though, my Angus-burger was actually cooked to medium and her Salmon salad was large and fresh. All of this after winning $98 on the 'Lucky-Seven' slot she had picked. Hitting the 'Red-White-Blue' combo after only seven or eight pulls was just the thing I needed after spending six hours in the Bingo Hall and not winning a single dollar. We had to play the bingo though; everyone did it for my mom's birthday. It was the reason we were came here for after all.
"So what games are we going to try next? I still need to try the dice game," said Steph, taking that adorable tone and performing her pre-roll ritual of blowing twice into her closed hand and tossing the dice, "and I need to do something exciting after sitting in that room forever!"
"We can play what ever you want Lefty," I said playfully with a smile, "and it's called Craps baby. You love craps remember!" The joke was getting old, but ever since her trip to Canada where she owned the table and declared 'I love craps!' I haven't been able to let it go.
"Ewww. You know I hate craps," she joined in, showing how perfect we are for each other, "and you also know damn well that I don't know anything about this place or how to get around it, that's why I keep you around." She really is a dream come true.
"OK. Why don't we meet back up with the family then and we can pick something around there to get into." I didn't really care what we played; I was just excited to still have money in my wallet. "No more slots though!" I really wanted to get into some table games; I had yet to play Blackjack in any of my two previous trips to the Casino. "I'll call Adam and see what he's up to."
"Oi, Oi, " I shouted into my cell phone, "What up bro? Whatcha playing?"
"Oi, Oi," replied my middle brother Adam, "just thinkin' about hittin' the Hold-em room. What about you? Let's go get in on some $1-2." Adam was 22 and a considerably better poker player than me, but that was all the more reason to go to the World Poker Tour room and play some Texas Hold-Em with him. I had told myself to wait for Day Two to play poker though. I had a plan.
"Adam wants to play some Hold-Em," I said in the way that husbands do, asking with out doing just that, "what do you want to do baby? I can call my mom and find out what her Sharon and Paula are doing. We can call Erin and Brendan?" I really wanted her to be entertained and she had told me she didn't want to play poker.
"What? Mom, and Auntie Paula and Auntie Sharon are playing video poker in the Rainmaker. I don't know where Erin is, do you wanna play cards or what?!?" He yelled back, confused and clearly annoyed as usual.
"I'm not talking to you, hold on a second," I yelled back to him. It really was hard to hear with the constant activity of the slots and video games. "What do you want to do baby!?" I yelled again, unnecessarily considering Steph was standing right next to me.
"You said you didn't want to play Hold-Em today didn't you?" she said, as if she could read my mind, visibly against this choice of gambling activity, "but we can play what ever you want darling, I am staying with you where ever you go though."
"I wouldn't want it any other way baby!" I squeezed her close to me and kissed the top of her head, "you are my good luck charm." I knew she would get bored quick at that table, but hold-em was the game I was most looking forward to. The Cadillac of Poker.
"Me and Steph are going to come and play some poker," I yelled again, as I put the phone back up to my ear, "we'll meet you down there." I hung up the phone, kissed my girl again, and gripped her hand as we headed off to the poker room.
Adam and me put our names on the list at the same time, but we ended up being seated at different tables. Deep down I was glad for this, if I wanted to play against my brother I could have stayed back in Mass. Me and Steph we led over to a table set in the corner, there were already 6 other players seated when we walked up.
"Here's an extra seat for your wife sir," said the Poker Manager politely, "thank you for playing with us and good luck," she added as she walked away. She had obviously made these accommodations for players before.
The minimum buy-in on the $1-2 No-Limit Texas Hold-Em tables is $60; I looked into my wallet and counted $160. I looked at Steph and looked back at my wallet. "I'll take eighty," I said to the dealer. I could already see my future wife getting tense; it's amazing how nervous she gets at these games. "Don't worry baby, I’m only going to play good hands," I spoke softly to her, to be honest these tables always made me anxious too, “Grind it out baby! You'll see." I could tell by the look in her eyes she didn't believe me, but she loved me no matter what.
"Would like to play now or wait for the big blind?" the dealer asked, the same way fast-food servers used to ask if 'You'd like fries with that...' I opted to wait, it was only two hands.
"No need to pay the extra, right baby?" I kissed her softly, I had to make sure I kept her involved if I was going to sit here that long.
"Right darling," she responded quietly, not quite sure what had just taken place.
"I'm not going to pay twice the blind to play right away," I added, "I can just pay the regular blind in two hands." I finished, realizing that I was probably just confusing her more.
"Right darling, we're waiting for the blind," she repeated, pretending that she was on the same page. I really did love having her at the table; I need to do it more for my home games.
After waiting two fairly quick hands go to the quiet guy with the headphones seated two seats to my left, I was finally dealt my first hand, after posting my $2 Blind. 7-3 unsuited. Possibly the worst hand I could imagine, but the table checked to me.
"Check," I said firmly, trying to show strength with my low cards. I didn't think it was working, but I had to try something. 7-3-K unsuited on the flop. Can't get much better than that right? The table checked to me again, was this going to be a regular occurrence? "$20," I said as I tossed my chips in front of me. Time to take control of this hand I thought.
"Baby?" said Steph cautiously, "are you sure? What about slow?"
"Don't worry baby," I answered softly, trying not to give anything away.
"Call," said the quiet guy with the headphones. "Fold," said everyone else at the table.
3 on the turn. Jackpot! I had to be good now right! I just turned my rags into riches with a full house on the turn!
"$20," I bet again trying to keep up my act of strength, but now trying to keep him into this hand to pay me out.
"Call," he said quietly, after taking some time to stare me down through his sunglasses. I really should tell this guy that we are inside and it's the middle of the night. Everyone has his or her thing though. 8 on the river. This card was perfect, I had my boat and I was going to take him to the house.
"Check," he said again, obviously wanting to see what I was going to do first.
"I'm All-In," I said confidently, pushing my remaining $38 into the pot, I was sure that I had this locked up and I wanted to make sure I got the most out of it. Full Houses aren't that common. At least that's what I thought.
"Call," he said quickly as he turned over his hole cards. 8-8.
"You have to be kidding me!" was all I could manage. "Wow!" I added for dramatic effect.
"What happened baby?" asked Steph, aware that something had just gone wrong.
"Player has Full House, Eights over Threes," said the dealer, "there's nothing you can do about that," she said to me as she pushed my chips over to the quiet guy with the headphones and the sunglasses to my left. "Would you like to buy more chips before this next hand?" she added, clearly unaffected by my loss. I looked at the $80 remaining my wallet and looked at Steph again. My heart was beating so hard I thought it was going to leap right out of my chest. My hands were sweating and hand taken on a slight shake.
"Why don't we go see what your mom is up to baby?" said Steph soothingly, she could tell that I was hitting Tilt fast and hard. "Let's go walk this one off and save the rest for tomorrow, we have another whole day darling." She was right, as always. I definitely needed to walk away from that table.
"Well that was fun," I said sarcastically, "let's go tell Adam what happened before we head out." I really couldn't believe that just happened. I was trying to remember what Ticht Nhat Han taught. 'Breathe in. Breathe out. Be Calm.'
"Just meditate on it baby," said Steph; once again my soul mate was reading my mind. I reminded myself how lucky I am to have her with me; otherwise I would piss the rest of my money away at that table right now.
"I will do that baby," I said lovingly, holding her close to me and breathing in-and-out in the Zen-Buddhist teachings. "Thanks for being here for me," I added, she really is my lucky charm I thought, "I love you". Maybe it'll be better luck next time.
For the record, I went back into that poker room the next day and turned my remaining $80 into $680 over a three-hour session. Just goes to show you that anything can happen at the poker table, as long as you have a little luck by your side.