Monday, July 4, 2011

Bad Beat Stories

Getting a bad beat in Texas Hold’em poker is not a pleasant experience. The sensation is exactly like the phrase implies, except that the beating isn’t physical, since this is a card game. That doesn’t make it any easier to take though- it still feels like a punch in the gut. A bad beat happens when you have the winning hand almost all the way to the end, with “almost” being the operative word. This calamity can happen at any time, which is scary enough, but somehow it seems to be most common once you have pushed all your chips into the pot and have no chance of backing out even though you can see the disaster about to hit you. At first you feel good because once you go all-in and reveal your cards, which handily beat the other person’s cards, you figure you are in good shape. Then as the rest of the cards are dealt out, you start to get excited about winning and the adrenalin surges through you. You are already counting those chips and figuring out your next move in the next hand. Then that card shows up. One of only two or three cards in a deck of 52 that can hurt you. Badly. When that card hits the table and you realize what it means, all that adrenalin just stops flowing, like a speeding car suddenly putting on the brakes. You are thrown forward, psychologically, and a brick wall is looming in front of you but you are powerless to prevent the impact. You can’t take your bet back, you can’t cover your head and hide, you can’t click your heels three times and say “There’s no place like fold.” Nope. You hit that metaphoric wall hard. The crash is only mental but your shortness of breath and shaking limbs makes it seem like it happened for real. And that’s the easy part to get over.

After you get a bad beat, doubt and self-recrimination crop up and start tearing chunks from your psyche. You question how you played, the technique you favor and what you could have done differently. If you can’t shake it quickly and chalk it up to coincidence, you might go on tilt and start playing wildly, which just compounds the problem. This is just like the fear and skittishness you experience after getting a physical beating. If you are mentally tough, you can generally take the blow and move on, muttering to yourself that is just the way it goes sometimes, that “That’s poker.” Hopefully you have enough chips to keep playing and you will be more cautious next time. Or at least you will promise yourself not to get caught in that same situation again. It didn’t feel good to lose like that but sometimes you just get unlucky. At least it is over and things can’t be any worse, right? True, unless you happened to have suffered the defeat at the hands of a bad player.

As much as a bad beat hurts, it’s even worse when you suffer a bad beat at the hands of a bad player. Many times, they don’t even realize that a bad beat just occurred. They just think they won a nice pot. They are oblivious to the fact that they should not have won that hand. They definitely don’t know that they are a bad player. Mostly likely they will turn to their friend to celebrate the success and the friend congratulates them on winning. That’s because the friend is just as clueless as the bad player, which is why he will compliment them on how well they are doing. You are forced to sit there and stew over bad luck and admonish them in your head. Or you can do it out loud, if you are a really poor sport, or you have poor impulse control, or it happened to be a monumentally bad beat. I’ve done all of those and nothing helps. You don’t feel any better by pointing out someone shouldn’t have won. They might retort, “But who’s stacking the chips, though?” They might sit there silently while you chastise them and then you feel like a dick, like smacking a clueless puppy for chewing on your shoe. It doesn’t change anything. You still lost.

Even though you try to get past it, the knife goes a bit deeper when it’s a bad beat by a bad player. You start questioning the same things that you question when beat by a normal player but then you are forced to go deeper, because against a bad player you can’t convince yourself that you were outplayed. You start to wonder about other things, like luck and fate and justice in the universe. You start to notice how often the bad players get that exact card that they need to beat you, despite the fact that the percentages are massively in your favor. You doubt your own skills and feel that maybe it is all luck and you are on the wrong end of the luck scale. Your burst of doubt becomes a full-fledged identity crisis. Why are you not blessed with good luck when this idiot across from you has luck dripping from his fingertips? Yes, they might be a good person but that doesn’t make you feel any better. If you can be bad at something and still succeed, what does that say about the people who apply themselves and try to do well? Where is the fairness in that? What is the point of anything if it is all about luck, coincidence or whatever you want to call it? Why can’t I be the lucky one for once? Why doesn’t skill and practice and focus trump blind luck and obliviousness to the odds?

As you have probably guessed, I was put on this train of thought by a bad beat at the hands of a bad player. The most ironic thing about it was the fact that about 15 minutes before it happened, I was discussing the very topic of luck with another player. We were lamenting our lack of luck. He was bemoaning how he is always drawn out on by other people and it rarely works the other way, in his favor. He said he only gets luck, sucks out, on the other person about one in ten times. Then he commented on me and said, “You have only slightly better luck than me.” I agreed since when I’m behind in a hand, I only get lucky about once every seven or eight times. That might also be an “optimistic” estimation by me.

Here’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. I got pocket kings so I raised it to 1200 chips, six times the blinds. Most people I play against these days know my style so they know this raise means I have a good hand and they either fold or decide that they want to take the chance to crack my hand. Bad players though don’t take a raise as a hint that they should fold their hands. They simply think it means they hand to pay more to play a hand they should have thrown away even without a raise in front of them. They think they are supposed to play every hand until they win the tournament. Or they run out of chips. It always seems to surprise them when this happens- “I can’t play anymore? Just because my chips are gone? Can you give me some more chips?”

So the flop in this hand was 8, 4, 3 rainbow, a very safe flop for me considering that I always expect to see an ace on the flop when I get pocket kings. So I put another big bet out there- 1600 chips. She, the bad player, called and the next card was also harmless so I throw in the rest of my chips- 2500. She calls that as well and I get ecstatic because I figure I have just doubled up. I turn over my kings and she shows her 7-8. Yes, she played a 7 and an 8, unsuited to boot, before the flop for a big raise and continued to call me even though she had nothing more than a pair of 8s. A pair of eights with a crappy kicker. It probably never occurred to her that someone might have a bigger pair than what was showing on the board. She was just looking at her top pair and thought she would be the winner.

It will feel really good to take away this donkey’s chips. She only has five outs on the river- a 10% chance of winning. Then of course, the bottom drops out of my euphoria. The final river card is a 7 and she makes two pair, which beats me. She emphasizes this by saying “I have two pair.” If she had said “Wow, I got lucky” I would felt a bit better about it. Even something as simple as “Too bad” or “That’s poker.” No, what she did was state the obvious statistical fluke that we all observed in dumbfounded amazement and then she turned to her friend and said “I won!” To which her friend responded “Yeah, you are doing well.” Neither of them seemed to recognize her luck at the low probability of her winning. What else could I have done? She shouldn’t have played those cards in the first place so what’s to say she wouldn’t have called me if I went all-in pre-flop and then still beat me? How could she have gotten one of only five cards that could have helped her while any of the other 52 cards would have made me the winner? I watched her next hand where she raised to 1500 before the flop. She won the hand, with an 8-4. I couldn’t watch anymore after that. I paid for my food and left.

Being gone from the premises didn’t make me stop thinking about what happened though. I kept going over it in my head, trying to figure out what I could have done differently and it all came back to the question of luck. Percentage wise, I should have won but I didn’t. Why not? I know I did poorly in math at school but I did absorb enough to know that when I have the higher percent chance of winning, I should win more often than the other person. It doesn’t happen that way though. If I haven’t locked up the hand on the flop I don’t seem to win. If the turn improves my hand, it seems to improve my opponents’ hands even more. My set of queens will give someone else a straight draw. My two pair gives someone else a flush draw and once someone has a draw against me, they never seem to back away. It really gets to me, like they are deliberately trying to crush me in particular.

My anguish can reach Shakespearean levels. I mean that literally too, in that I tend to think of the first part of Shakespeare’s 24th sonnet:

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;

I always wonder why other people are better off than me. Is it through my own doing that I’m failing or are they just luckier than me, better than me? What will it take for me to succeed? Do I even have a chance or should I just give up now? Much as I hate to lose money playing poker, I feel worse about the battering my psyche takes. At some point I start thinking it is me. I’m hapless, hopeless and unworthy. In the second half of the sonnet, the narrator finds his redemption:

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

That doesn’t help me though. I have nothing to redeem me, nothing to bring me back from despair. I‘m still left to wonder why that guy gets to have it all and I have nothing. Why does he get to have more hair and better luck? Why is his job cooler and better paying? Why does he have a hot girlfriend and I have television?

Worst of all, the lucky bastards don’t learn anything from their improbable success either. The following week, I again had pocket kings and again made a big raise before the flop. The same lady called me! She called my big bet after the flop too and then my smaller bet on the turn. I made it a smaller bet on the turn on purpose because the third card for a flush was out there. I wanted to control the action by determining the bet size and luckily she didn’t think to re-raise me. Of course she called my even smaller bet on the final card because she had already made her flush, which I saw when she turned over her seven and ten of clubs. Yes, again she beat my kings with a hand she shouldn’t have even been playing. So the lesson being reinforced to her is not “Wow, you got lucky. You should be more careful next time.” Instead, it is “Keep calling with a bad hand. It’s going to turn into a winner.”

Ironically, this lesson was cemented an hour later when the last two players remaining were her and I. Things went back and forth until finally I had worn her down to the point that she didn’t want to play any more. When I went all in with my ace-ten, she called me with her ten-two. In poker, my hand is considered to dominate hers. Not just beats hers but dominates it. So naturally I’m expecting to see a deuce pop out on the table. Believe it or not though, she did not get a two and win the tournament. Nope, not even close. Instead, she got the even more unlikely flush and I was done. That’s why you see poker players leave the room apparently talking to themselves. They aren’t crazy, they are just asking fate when it will be their turn. When will fortune cast its’ eye on them? There is no answer of course. Just a rueful shrug from the other players in the know, as they say “That’s poker.” If the loser is a jerk and it was a really big pot, they’ll say “Fuck you!” and stomp off though. They haven’t yet learned that saying “That’s poker” is the polite way to say “Fuck you, you fucking lucky donkey! I hate you, I hate this fucking game. I’m never playing again.” Both phrases mean the same thing. It’s just a matter of using the more polite words instead. Your tone of voice gets the point across anyway.

Normally I would end this post right now, because what else can you say after “That’s poker.”? It is what it is- you can’t undo things. Unless it is a cash game, then you can re-buy and hope you aren’t snakebit that night and throwing away even more money. Poker players don’t stop when they ought to though. They’ve seen luck change. They’ve had their fifth buy-in bring them back to life and recoup everything they lost previously. Last week, someone I play with bought in for $200, for the fifth time. They turned that into $1200 by the end of the night, giving them a winning night. They had to survive several bad beats to get there though and it was not pretty to watch them claw their way back. They were talking to themselves a whole lot that night.

Another reason I’m not ending this post now? Because the only thing poker players enjoy as much as winning is telling stories and the only kind of stories that seem to get told are “bad beat” stories. No one tells plain stories like, “I was last to act so I raised the pot three times the blind and everyone folded and I scooped the chips.” No, that is never a story you will hear, not unless it is a preamble to the real story. Even if you tell one about pulling off a great big win instead of a horrendous loss, it probably means you still end up giving someone else a bad beat and now that opponent will be sharing his tale of woe. All poker stories have this trait in common. So here are a couple of my favorite bad beat stories.

That same night that the guy I discussed earlier came back from $1100 down, I played in the bi-weekly tournament prior to the ensuing cash game and I had one of the worst bad beats I've ever experienced. Here’s how it went down. I managed to hang on until the final table and had a modest amount of chips. I was not quite the short stack at the table but I didn’t have enough to scare off the really big stacks if they had a good hand and certainly not enough to risk an inopportune bluff at a pot. There were five players in the hand and I’m the big blind with a 9-10 off-suit so I’m inclined to check when it gets back to me. Especially since Tyrone is the dealer and says “Please don’t raise it on me, Rich. No, you won’t. I call.” The flop comes 8-J-Q, rainbow suit. In other words, I have the absolute nuts, the best possible hand so I lead out with a bet of 600 chips which is just one times the blind. I’m trying to juice up the pot since I’ve got a monster hand.

Everyone folds around to Tyrone who pushes the raise to 3500. Since I have the nuts, I have no problem going all-in for another 4300. Tyrone talks through his actions, trying to figure out what to do. He says, “I think you have two pair already. I have top pair though. I think I should call.” Two of the other people who folded to my over-the-top all-in said “You’ve got a straight already,” when they were folding. Well, at least Ivan and Brandon could read me right. Tyrone couldn’t. In fact, he couldn’t even make the right call- he put me on two pair to his one pair and still decided to call my all-in. He flipped over J-7 and sees that he is crushed. I mentally counted my chips to see what kind of shape I’ll be in after this hand is over. Then the turn card comes and it is another jack, giving him trip-jacks and the river is a seven which gives him a full house and puts me out of the tournament in ninth place. He put me on a hand that already had him crushed and he still called me? It was a horrible read and a horrible call on his part. The odds of him going runner-runner to win were miniscule and he still pulled it out. Unfortunately, that is vintage Tyrone- he makes calls he knows are stupid and somehow gets lucky. That happens to me so rarely I don’t even factor it into my game plan.

I was still on tilt from busting in the tournament that during the first part of the ensuing cash game I made a couple huge mistakes. I played a bit loose and called with a K5 of hearts because I figured I might get a flush and pull a Tyrone but when the flush hit on the river, I checked because I was still distracted and didn’t realize it even though a flush draw was my reason for playing a weak king. A few hands later I had pocket queens and was so concerned about protecting them that I made a big raise when I hit a third queen on the turn. I got a call from a really loose player so now I was worried and then when a possible flush card hit and he bet big, I flashed back to my recent bad beat and just called. Once I flipped over my cards, everyone said “Richard has a full house.” Crap! That river card paired the board so I had a full-house (the 2nd nuts in fact) against a loose aggressive player. I could have gotten a lot of chips from him if I had come over the top but I didn’t see my hand properly. See what a bad beat can lead to? Not only do you lose the hand you played but the loss ripples down the line and affects what you do in subsequent hands and games. I think I ended the night on the positive side of the balance sheet, at least for the cash game, but mentally I was still reeling. It kick-started a losing streak that I’m still riding out. I’m starting to assume people will suck out on me and I tend to fold decent hands to a big bet even though they might have been the winner. I’m waiting for the nuts.

It sometimes works out the other way though. A couple years ago when I first started playing at that same home game, I had pocket kings and flopped K-10-10 so I slow-played the heck out of that flop and got a lot of chips in the pot by the time the river hit. Of course, the only player left in the hand flipped over pocket tens so his flopped quads beat my flopped full-house and I was out of the tournament. Later on while playing cash, he got a full-house and pushed all-in but that time, I had quad tens. Sweet turnabout! The very first time I recall getting lucky in a hand was back during the free poker days at Neighbor’s Bar. I had pocket queens and called an all-in when the flop was all under cards. Turns out my opponent had pocket eights and flopped a set. I was getting ready to go when I hit a queen and doubled up. I actually apologized to him for sucking out because I know how I felt when it happened to me. That’s when I first consciously realized that “Hey, this luck crap can go both ways. I’m not the one who always loses. I can suck out too!” I still feel slightly guilty when it happens but I make myself ignore that feeling because no one else feels any remorse when they take my chips away from me. Not the slightest bit of it. Heck, sometimes they laugh after a “donk-out.”

In fact, this week I did it a couple times to win a free poker tournament (although I didn’t laugh afterwards. I was polite and simply admitted my luck.) I called a small pre-flop raise with an A-7 of spades and hit the top pair on the flop so I raised three times the blind. The original raiser pushed all in for all my remaining stack. Another player called so I decided to be reckless and call all-in since I had already bet half my stack on the flop, it was a big pot now and I had the top pair and an ace. The raiser flipped over a pair of tens- an over pair to the board- and the other caller flipped over pocket aces. Ouch. I got trapped but good. I had figured the raiser for big over cards, not a pair or set. The other caller I had disregarded since he flat-called. In fact, if he had come over the top of the raiser, I probably would have folded since I’d have figured I was beat by one of them. Instead I have the worst hand of the three and most of my outs were gone. The turn was a spade and so was the river so I ended up with the nut flush on a hand I was almost certain to lose. That got me back on track because I hadn’t played, much less won, many hands that evening up until then.

Later that session, I called a minimum raise to my big blind, which explains why I played a J2 of diamonds, and flopped a flush. I checked and let the raiser bet all the way through until then river when I led out big and they folded. That wasn’t really a bad beat though. The raise wasn’t big enough and the flush was obvious so anyone betting knew what they might be trying to dodge. That was just a simple loss which is nothing like a bad beat. One bruises your pride while the other demolishes your psyche. When it got to heads up, I got lucky a third time and delivered a second bad beat. I had an A-8 and the big blind said “I have to go all-in with this.” I had been playing fairly tight to no avail so I called her bet at which point she turned over A9. Ouch. That would be enough to take me out.

Unless…. I got lucky on the flop and hit my eight and doubled up to become chip leader, like I did. From there I whittled her down until I won. (On the final flop, she pushed with a 7-4 straight draw and I called with a K-2 of hearts four-to-the-flush draw and hit the flush though I’d have won with king high.) The $20 was mine but the mental victory was a more important prize. Every time I think I’m a terrible player, or at least an unlucky player, something nice like that happens to encourage me. Maybe I am crappy but I can get lucky sometimes too. Or maybe I am good after all and it is just bad luck that takes me out. More bad luck than the average bear, to be sure, but I can live with being good but unlucky. Or even bad but occasionally lucky. I just don’t want to be bad and unlucky. If that’s the case, then I definitely want to be oblivious to it so don’t tell me if this happens to be the case.

Here are two more of my favorite bad beat stories. In the first one, it is at Pepi’s for a free poker game. In this one hand, it’s just me- the small blind- against the big blind. We both call/check and the flop comes out with three hearts, 3-4-5. I know I have a Q2 of hearts and flopped a flush so I check. The big blind is about to check too when he realizes he might have something worthwhile and peeks at his cards again. After consulting them, he bets, I raise him, he goes all in and I call immediately. He has a 10-7 of hearts, so his flush is dominated by mine. The turn is a black card and I’m already sorting out the chips when another heart hits- the six of hearts. Amazing! I have a straight flush… which loses to his higher straight flush. I had him crushed the entire way and he hits a one-outer to beat me. One out. I can’t even win with a straight flush. I flopped the best flush, got all the money in the pot, rivered a straight flush and I still lost. That one definitely got me muttering to myself.

The second story doesn’t involve me but it’s a story that still gets told around the poker table. Wesley and “Action Dan” were in a hand together and it became heads up when everyone else folded to Dan’s big bet. Dan didn’t see that Wesley still had cards, assumed the pot was his and he showed his pocket kings. Wesley said “Don’t show me your cards. I haven’t folded yet,” so Dan apologized and said that he was still welcome to call his bet, although it was enough to put Wes all-in. Wesley looks at his cards again and takes a minute or two to think. Finally he says “I call,” and flips over a 2-3 off-suit. Dan just stares at him and then says, “Why would you call? I showed you kings,” and Wesley says, “I didn’t believe you.” Um, Dan held them up. We all saw them. Did Wesley not notice a pair of kings staring him in the face? Well, it will be over with in a minute. The dealer puts out the flop. It’s A-4-5 so the hand is over, but not the way anyone expected. Wesley flopped a straight and ended all the conversation. We just sat there staring in disbelief. That was a bad beat for the ages. A player sees kings, has crappy, unsuited small cards and still calls. It’s not even like he was playing the odds because the pot was so big. A year later, we still aren’t sure why he called. Did he really not see the kings? Did he just think “WTF”? Did he have a gut instinct? Is he an idiot? We’ll never know.

One more story and I’ll finish this post. Because every bad beat story gives someone else a great suck-out story, I’ll let you guess whether I was the winner or the loser in this last scenario. Justin is a pretty good player but he is also aggressive and occasionally gets reckless when he has been drinking too much. The real problem though is that he is aware of this and plays it to his advantage when he has a monster hand and tries to get people to call him. And also when he runs a monster bluff and doesn’t want people to call him. You pay him off on his monster hands with monster pots because you’ve seen him make massive bluffs to scoop a big pot. At any given moment, you aren’t sure whether he is bluffing or if he has a great hand. So when Justin raised, I wasn’t sure what to do with my small blind. I had a 3-5 of spades. Not a very powerful hand but with the right flop, it could be a money maker.

I made a “what the hell” call and two other players were in the pot too. The flop was 2s-4s-6d. I flopped a straight and had a flush draw too! Not a bad flop. When Justin made it $30, I had to call. I had the nuts right now. I didn’t check-raise because I didn’t want to reveal the strength of my hand especially since the other two players dropped out and it was just Justin and I. So am I going to be the winner in this scenario? Right now I would think so but of course the river was a queen of spades. Crap. Yes, I had a flush but it was a five high flush. I preferred it previously when I had the absolute nuts with my straight. Justin bet $20 and I wasn’t sure what to do. Did he have a flush too? He will often bet into a flush draw, especially if it is the nut flush draw, so the bet on the flop would make perfect sense as would the follow-up bet when he hit the flush. If this is the case right now, I’m in big trouble. If it is a bluff or a draw, I’m still good but if he hits his draw or he has a made hand, I’m throwing away a bunch of money. What would you do in this situation?

I called, reluctantly. I would have preferred it if we both checked because what if the river is….another spade. It is, just like I feared. My baby flush won’t hold up against another spade. Except that this one is the six of spades. That means I have a straight flush! Unlike the last time at Pepi’s, I have the nut straight flush. I can’t be beat! So there is one answer- I won the pot. Now there are two more questions- did I suck-out and how can I possibly get Justin to pay me off? If he was bluffing, he can’t call with flush out there. If he has a queen, he still wouldn’t call a big bet. I’m not going to get any more money out of this, am I? I decide to go with an option that sometimes works for me- make it look like I’m bluffing. People know I will make a value bet on the river when I want to get paid but they rarely see me bluff on the river. If I look like I’m trying to steal this $100 pot, maybe I’ll get a call. Since no point did I raise, a bet now will look like a steal because all I did was call someone else’s bet all the way through.

I lead out with a $30 bet, pretty small considering the pot so it seems more like a bluff than a value bet, especially since I’m first to act. Justin comes over the top and makes it $90. He raised me! That’s awesome. Wait, what does he have? Can he beat me? Did I get sucked-out on? Hold it- I have a straight flush. I have THE nut flush. I can’t lose. What was concerned about? And what could Justin possibly have? Maybe I can use this initial hesitation to my advantage. I put on my “Damn it, you bastard, you got lucky on me!” face and look at my cards again. Then I go all in for about $125 total. Justin calls immediately and says “I have a full-house,” and shows a 6-4 in his hand. Ah! He wanted me to have a flush! I say “I have a straight flush.” Justin just looks at me, at my cards, at the board, at my cards again. Then he says “That really sucks. I didn’t even consider that hand. Damn it,” before getting up to go outside for a smoke. I had a big smile on my face when I scooped up the chips.

I rarely scoop big pots against Justin. He either wins them with a lucky hit or he folds to my aggression because he knows he is beat. This was a perfect storm of a hand though. He got fancy pre-flop and raised with a 6-4, and I was stupid and called a raise with a 3-5, totally out of my usual range. Justin would never consider me to be playing it so when the possible straight came on the flop, he would not expect me to have it. He might have thought I had an ace for a straight draw but not a 3-5 so he felt good with his two pair of sixes and fours. When the flush card hit, he got worried and bet conservatively, for him, but the river six gave him a full house so he felt a lot better. He put me on something like an ace high flush and felt good about pushing me all-in. I was happy to call.

I was ahead the whole way, even though I didn’t realize it so I still felt like I got lucky. Justin thought he was ahead the whole time even though he wasn’t so he felt like he got a bad beat. Neither situation was quite true but poker is about feelings as much as it is about facts. You can know, for a fact, that you have a 90-95% chance of winning but I’ve learned to stop stacking the chips in the pot or even mentally counting them until I know, for certain, that I have won. Every time I ignore that rule, I seem to lose. Kenny Rogers had it right- “There’ll be time enough for counting when the dealings done.” That’s why bad beats hurt so much- they defy the odds and cast doubt on your whole mental perspective. It’s not really about the money or the game- it’s about how bad beats make mathematical likelihoods moot so your brain freaks out. If math is wrong, what else is wrong? If assholes get lucky and win with small probabilities, what does that say about karma?

If I can’t count on karma, or statistics, what else is left? The kindness of strangers? Yeah, right. Have you watched the news lately? Everyone is out for themselves. My only weapons are knowledge, skill and luck. If those desert me, I’m toast. If I’m a poker loser, am I also a life loser? How far do the reverberations go? It feels like a scene from “The Matrix”. Maybe I should have taken the red pill. I hate poker. If you’ll excuse me though, I have another game to get to soon. Surely things will work out my way this time because I’ve learned so much lately. Please? Let’s get the cards dealt and see how things go. Anything can happen. That’s why it’s poker. That’s why I love it.