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Freerolling at slot hoki The Mark

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“Sir, you should know, the heads have to be cleaned every six months.”
Who is this guy?
That’s what I was thinking. Who is this 22 year-old guy trying to sell me an extended warranty on a video camera? I didn’t buy an extended warranty on my car.
Who is this guy?
“You’ll be replacing this battery every year, and the slot hoki warranty covers battery replacement.” The sales pitch was sad in its relentlessness.
“You can stop,” I said. “Just give me what I want.”
The Best Buy kid walked away, dejected, collecting the firewire, digital video camera, and tapes. I felt the slightest taste of victory in watching him work.
And then it hit me like a drunk’s suckerpunch.
Just look at yourself, Otis. Look what you’ve become.
It was like I was watching myself through one of the store’s security cameras. Or better yet, one of those films they used to show in high school. This one was titled, “The Anthropology of the Man Nearing Fatherhood.”
However, to me, I saw it as a Animal Plant show, like the “Alligator Hunter.”
Painfully Austrailian voice track: “Crikee, mates, we’ve found one. Look down there in the video cameras. That’s his natural habitat. See, that round woman beside him. She’s carrying his young . Crikee! Looks like it could come out any day, doesn’t it? Now, watch as he spends way too much money on a piece of electronic equipment that he’ll only use use to shoot video of a baby that only the grandparents will want to see! If you keep a close eye on him, you’ll see him asking another more experienced man to help him put in a thing called a “child safety seat.” That SUV doesn’t look so manly now, does it, mates?”
And that was the first half of my day.
I was on my way to get a haircut, hopefully the result of which would be two-fold. First, after a day of looking like the American prototype for the “Almost Dad”, I needed a fresh look. Maybe all those people who saw me wouldn’t recognize me as the guy that just dropped $700 on a piece of video equipment. Secondly, while the last two weeks have been very kind to me online, the last couple of days had not and Mene Gene has some interesting ideas about the success of poker players relative to their haircut. It was worth a try.
However, much like Mean Gene’s plight, the girl who guts my hair was busy and I was left with a free afternoon.
That’s when the voice in my head started again.
“Hey, Otis, check your voicemail, man.”
Sure enough, there it was. An invitation to a $100 buy-in tourney at the State Park Game, now known simply as The Mark.
***
We should begin with an admission here.
I am not a wealthy man.
I should not be spending hundreds of dollars on a video camera. What’s more, I shouldn’t be buying into $100 tournaments at The Mark right now. My online bankroll is up several thousand dollars, but my home bankroll had sunk below $800.
But Mrs. Otis, on the edge of labor, had some things to do and I had some time to kill.
Of course, you know what I did…
***
When I arrived at The Mark, only a few others had shown up. This was not like the Friday night games I’ve written about in the past, where the booze fuels all-in bets and you can never be sure if your opponent has low pair or a royal.
Saturday, the boys were drinking iced tea (one and half cups of sugar per pitcher, according to the host’s wife). The cars in the drive were Hummers and Corvettes. This was not a night of drinking, crapshoot cards. This was going to be an afternoon of serious poker.
Flush Eddie was jonesing to play. “How about some $4/$8 until everybody gets here?”
It was a five-handed game. We each bought in for $40. My AQ helded up for a boat against Mark’s trip Queens. AK paired an ace on the board to snuff Flush Eddie’s pocket jacks. Within 40 minutes I had won my buy-in to the tourney, plus enough to buy dinner later that night.
It was then I decided the title to this post: Freerolling at The Mark.
***
Since I was playing for free, I relaxed a little. The double-shot of Absolut I had poured into my limeade soothed the nerves a little more. I felt my game coming on.
Mark surprised me by setting up the tourney the way I like them. Unlike Friday night games where each chip is valued the same, players pick their own seats, and the blinds are run off an egg-timer, Mark had gone the extra yard and set up the tourney as follows:
A $100 buy in gets you $3000 in tournament chips. Levels begain at $10/$20 and increase every 20 minutes as monitored by his freshly downloaded Poker Clock (incidentally, I was introduced to Poker Clock by the Greenwood Crew, and if you have’t used it for your home tourneys yet, you are really missing out). Rebuys are $100 and will get you $2500T if you bust out in the first four levels. Payout: 80% to first place, 20% to second (again, a little top-heavy for my taste, but that’s the way the majority ruled).
We had nine players around Mark’s nice new table. $900 sat in the pot. I looked around the table to my left.
1) Flush Eddie, the red-Hummer driving niceguy who suggested the $4/$8 game
2) The Captain, the Captain Morgan fan who I’d never seen before.
3) Mark, the black-Hummer driving host of the game.
4) Brian, an easily-respected visor-wearing player who plays at almost every game at The Mark, big or small.
5) I’ll call this guy Not-Gary, becuase he reminded me a lot of one of my best friends from Missouri, but that wasn’t his name
6) Chuck Sneer. I dubbed him, at first, The Sneer, because he can look downright menacing behind a set of shades. Later, I learned his name was Chuck and decided he was too nice of a guy to only call him The Sneer.
7) Juan Corona, the Corona-sharing stickler for detail
8) Nick, the tanning business operator
9) Otis
***
My first four hands should’ve indicated to me that I should run to my car, grab a notebook, and start taking notes. In four hands, I was dealt 66, 77, and TT, all of which made sets on the flop. I don’t think anyone called any of these to the river, but I raked a healthy amount of chips nonetheless.

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