"HIS BEARD IS LONG AND RED, AND HIS HAT STAYS ON HIS HEAD, AND..."
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 Captain in the House

07-June-2010


At a raked home game recently the man of the house fell off the wagon and was dipping enthusiastically into his favorite elixir, Captain Morgan. Of all the nights for me to drop in, that had to be it. Though our host normally went by “The Silver Fox,” in honor of his renewed acquaintance with the jug the other guests had taken to calling him “Captain Morgan.” And, though I came late, it didn’t take me long to realize the gang’s high spirits had more to do with the Captain's resultant losing streak than his winning personality.

But to say the newly dubbed Captain wasn’t much of a poker player would be a bit of an understatement. He was in every pot, raised most of them and continually made massive over-bets—all the while, handling his chips like a ten-thumbed eel. He’d just get done placing the last few chips on one of his sloppy, uneven stacks when he’d knock the whole thing over and have to start again. Then, he’d either shove, or he’d fake-shove and check drunkenly.

It went from bad to worse, with him exposing his hand, acting out of turn, fumbling his chips and bemoaning his luck for each ill stretch of cards. He talked completely out-of-school in multi-way pots, and asked at least six times per hand if there was any more rum in the house. Luckily, some friends helping him run the game had hidden his emergency bottle hours before. But there was little doubt that he’d already imbibed enough to stay hopped-up for the next week.

It was like the old days of home games with the star swimming in the sauce and the game rolling along as smoothly as a square wheel.Still, I couldn’t criticize the action—not by a long shot. One guy, Jaimie U.—a regular who’d been on a heater lately—turned his toothpick buy-in into a lumberyard, starting with a mere $150 and getting it up to around two grand. It seemed that Jaimie’s head was in the bottle too, though, as he suddenly started bluffing it all off in a series of staggeringly ill-advised bets into the Captain, who was compulsively calling in the dark.

If W.C. Fritos had been there he’d have said, “Oh yeah, the good old days. Poker Rule No. 32: Don’t bluff an idiot, especially if he’s pre-calling everyone in the dark.”

For my part, I tried to steer clear of everybody taking a trip on the Captain’s ship, including the Captain himself.Other than a few weakly contested skirmishes, I only got into one serious pot with him, and that was only because I'd had a drink or two to help keep that final bottle away from him. I got in it on the big blind with a 2-5 of diamonds. (Yeah, it was a raised pot; so sue me.) The flop came 4-6-7 with two diamonds, and my ticket was punched.

The next thing I know, I’m leading out into five barracudas and a drunk. (Or, maybe, make that five drunks and a barracuda—at that point it was impossible to tell.) I fired off, and down went one barracuda, two barracudas… all the barracudas ducked, and surprise, surprise, the Captain wound up with all his chips and moved in.

“Let’s do it,” I said, quoting “Tombstone.” (Though, I was hoping things would turn out a little better for me than they do for Johnny Ringo.)

Then a blank came on the turn, and I was sitting there holding a 5-high hand, drawing uphill against a drunk. Could I have waited for a better spot? Probably. In hindsight, I think I must have been proceeding under the “You only live once” theory. I was literally on the edge of my seat as I watch the dealer burn and turn the river, and…

Bingo, the Queen of Diamonds!


I love when the Queen of Diamonds rides to my rescue. Hands-down, it’s my best trick. But this time, second-guessing how haphazardly I’d entered the Captain’s booze-induced fun land, I was more than relieved; I was enraptured.

“Great play, Cinch,” the Captain said eying my flush. “Somebody get me another drink, or you’ll all be looking for work.”

But he really was cut-off. His gentlemanly game was turning to shambles, and as I scraped up his chips, his bouncer took a stand, threatening to throw him out of his own game. Hearing that, the Captain got the message. Disaster was averted just in the nick of time too because one more loss like that and he’d have handed back every cent he’d taken in rakes.

After a boozeless hour or two, the Captain finally regained his composure and was back to being the courtly Southern gentleman his mother had raised; he tightened up his play and minded his manners as he customarily does when he’s not PUI, or “playing under the influence.” Captain Morgan was no longer “in the house”; he was all-out.



By: Dave Cinch
dave.cinch@acehoyle.com



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