Mid-2019 D.C.–area poker anecdotes, conclusion

July 28, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
July 28, 2019

My D.C.–area poker tour concluded with a visit to a popular area venue. Things did not go as hoped.

I don’t think I won a hand during the hour or so that I played in the early game. This set the stage for a pretty unenjoyable remainder of the day.

After getting knocked out, I wandered over to the front of the room and asked the server for a burger and fries. Since she was responsible for covering more than one room, and since I wanted to sit and eat outside, I asked her a question after placing my order: “Can you find me outside?” She pulled a face, as if parsing my request, and then nodded.

With that taken care of, I went outside to unwind. I sat down and looked at my phone; I paced around and looked at my phone; I shook my head in sorrow and anger. Woe is me!

Hunger began to gnaw at my belly. Where was my hamburger? Surely it couldn’t take that long to prepare. And surely the server knew to find me outside — I’d essentially told her that that was where I was going to be.

Half an hour passed since I’d placed my order — maybe more. I got up from my seat and went inside. There were two meals waiting to be claimed by the front of the room, one of which appeared to be my burger and fries. The server was also there; she said something along the lines of, “Where’ve you been? I’ve been screaming for Matt.”

I said, not entirely accurately, “I told you I’d be outside.” (This was, of course, not entirely accurate: I had asked the server if she could find me outside.)

The server turned contrite and mentioned that she was the only person on duty. I thought to myself, Why did you tacitly agree to find me outside if you thought you’d be too busy to follow through? But I said nothing and took my food.

I settled down outside and tucked into my food.

It was fine, except for the presumably human hair that I found in it. I thought about complaining for perhaps a second, but then I set aside the idea.

Usually, when I eat at a bar or restaurant that lacks table service, I bring my plate to the bar or some other spot convenient for the server once I’ve finished. This time around, I left it outside. I considered this to be my protest — or should that be retaliation? — for poor service.

More time passed, and I checked in for the second game. (Most World Tavern Poker venues have back-to-back games.) The tournament director handed me chips and gave me my choice of table. I wandered the room for a moment before arbitrarily settling on one.

At the one I chose, there was a hefty guy sitting with his back to the wall. There appeared to be a vacant spot directly to his left; two spots to his left, two smart phones appeared to be marking someone’s place.

I started to settled down immediately to the man’s left, but then I reminded myself that discretion is the better part of valor. I asked the man if the spot was taken; he said that it wasn’t. I sat down, placed my chips in front of me and began looking at my phone.

Maybe five minutes later, a young woman came up to me. “Excuse me, sir,” she said coldly, “you’ve taken my seat.” She went on to say something about how she always sat next to the man to my right, who was apparently her boyfriend. (It’s worth noting, I suppose, that the seat to his right was already taken.)

I considered ignoring the woman, but I rejected that as being too obnoxious. I turned to the hefty guy and verified that he’d said the seat was open. He admitted that he’d said that but then tried to say that he’d made a mistake. Unlike the woman, who employed the same tone of voice you’d use with a man you’d seen kicking a dog, he seemed rather amiable.

I didn’t really want to move, but I also didn’t want to be a huge jerk, so I agreed to move one spot to the left. The woman began putting chips in front of me before I’d risen.

I asked, rather coolly, “Do you mind moving those items?” I gestured to the two smart phones that were still sitting on the table directly in front of the seat I’d agreed to take. I thought this was a reasonable request because I was accommodating a person who had misled me, however inadvertently, and a person who was inconveniencing me and had treated me like dirt.

Mr. Hefty said, in a friendly tone, that he was used to be considered the asshole at the table but I was giving him an idea of what it was normally like to play with him. I groped for a biting retort but did not promptly find one; I held my tongue.

A few minutes later, the game started. Ms. I-Need-to-Sit-Next-to-My-Boyfriend was first to act. She sat there, eyes closed, not looking at her cards. I believe that more than a minute passed. I did not say anything because I didn’t trust myself to say something in an appropriate turn and I still did not want to be considered a jerk.

Finally, Ms. I-Need-to-Sit-Next-to-My-Boyfriend looked at her cards and picked up chips and began to place them on the table. Almost as soon as I did, I mucked my cards; virtually at the same moment, the man to my left did the same.

Ms. I-Need-to-Sit-Next-to-My-Boyfriend shot dirty looks at the two of us, as if to chastise us for acting out of turn. A man across the table from us pointed out that she had picked up chips, or something to that effect, thereby implying that our folds had been appropriate.

Relations between Ms. I-Need-to-Sit-Next-to-My-Boyfriend and I did not improve from there. On the next hand, she told me to put out the big blind; in fact, I’d already placed those chips on the simulated felt.

On another hand where I was in the blinds, when I already had chips on the felt, she reached directly in front of me and moved the chips in front of the designated area for keeping hole cards. I didn’t say anything, but I instantly moved the chips back to where they’d been — a spot I’d deliberately positioned them to avoid interfering with the deal. This occurred, mind you, as I was sitting at the table, right next to her, and yet she chose to grab my chips without verbally nudging me or making a request.

There was some aggressive play at the table. A lot of it came from Ms. I-Need-to-Sit-Next-to-My-Boyfriend and Mr. Hefty, and some of it was directed against each other. In one betting round, which had already seen some sizable wagering, he three- or four-bet to perhaps 10,500 — an astounding amount given that the blinds were no more than 300 or 600.

Ms. I-Need-to-Sit-Next-to-My-Boyfriend said I call and began to put out chips. But she had apparently missed Mr. Hefty’s wager, which I thought had been quite noticeable. (I suppose I had an unfair advantage from paying attention.) When the discrepancy was noted, Ms. I-Need-to-Sit-Next-to-My-Boyfriend instead chose to fold.

This was a little too much for me, not least because Mr. Hefty’s re-raise had been manifestly apparent. “You said ‘I call,’” I pointed out. Others came to Ms. I-Need-to-Sit-Next-to-My-Boyfriend’s defense, including Mr. Hefty, who accurately pointed out that that World Tavern rules allow for reneging on a verbal announcement if “there is a gross misunderstanding of the previous action.”

I still did not comprehend how the woman had missed the re-raise, but I opted not to protest further. “Fine,” I said. Mr. Hefty reiterated the point, as if I had indicated disbelief, which I had not. “Fine,” I repeated. Play moved on.

In short: My nemesis was rude and inattentive not just once but repeatedly. Everything about our interactions was grinding my gears, especially piled on top of the Hamburger Incident.

My mood was not improved by the fact that, once again, I wasn’t getting a lot of good hands. I did win a nice pot with pocket kings once, and I shoved all-in with pocket kings on a different occasion but was not called.

I think I was eliminated when I shoved with pocket eights and got called by a player with a weaker starting hand who hit. I did what one must do in this situation: I picked up my medallion and walked away from the table.

When I was at least five feet away from my former seat, I thought I heard Ms. I-Need-to-Sit-Next-to-My-Boyfriend shout at my back, “You’re a terrible person.” It’s possible I imagined this; in any case, I did not respond to it.

I made my way to the bar and got my tab from the server. I tipped her $2 on a bill of about $10, which I thought was rather generous of me given the circumstances. I left the venue and ended my D.C.–area poker-playing stint on these sour notes.

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