Poker | Hippodrome London | Dominic Wells | New Year | part 2Cardspiel

Chinese New Year at The Hippodrome (part 2)

by Dominic Wells

It’s 3am. I’m £150 up. I consider leaving… but this is a great table. Dangerous, but super-fun, with a lot of friendly banter. The problem is Mr Random. He has position on me – sitting to my left. When I raise, he re-raises, and I usually fold. Sometimes he shows a bluff. Sometimes he shows Kings. It’s hard to tell which, and I’d rather not risk my stack. I do stand up to him with KQ on a King-high flop, and he hits his Ace on the turn. That’s £200 gone in one hand.Somehow I need to get to his right. The Chinese guy in that seat says he should leave now, to see a girlfriend. I encourage him to go: “Women are more important than poker,” I remind him sagely. He doesn’t seem to agree. The others buy him more drinks. Darn. He’s staying.

And that’s where the evening gets really weird. Pretty drunk by now, he and Mr Random have, basically, a dick-measuring contest: who can bet the most without fear, regardless of their hand. They’ll end up in £400 pots with Q7, or 53. One will fluke a straight on the river; another time one of them will win with King high. The rest of us pretty much leave them to it. We hunker down and wait for the unbeatable hand that so seldom comes.

Around 5am, I strike lucky. The Chinese guy moves seats! I immediately move into his. Now I have position. Now I can call the shots.

Half an hour later, I get the hands to do so.

Key hand 1: I have J10. Random makes it £20. I insta-call. (Yes, I insta-called a raise of 10x BB pre-flop with J10. This is not a normal game.) A really good, tight pro player to my left makes it £70. He has a monster: pocket Kings, or AK. Another tight player calls. So does Mr Random. I nearly fold… but there’s £230 in the pot. That’s worth a £50 call in case I hit a lucky two pair or straight.

The flop comes 10 high. Promising. Mr Random checks, which is weird. I consider raising for a second, but what if the guy to my left has Kings? I check… and so does he. Phew. A cheap round.

And then… whoot! A second 10 on the turn for trips! Mr Random checks. I’m betting. Don’t want any cheap flush draws. I stick in £150. The two tight players fold (the guy to my left did have AK, he says after). Mr Random, of course, calls. Fine.The river is a blank: no flush. Mr Random asks how much I have behind, as though considering a bet, or rather bluff. I say £200. Guess he figures I’m priced in, because he checks. I go all-in, and he folds. I show my 10.

Key hand 2: I have AK! I limp-call the blind in early position to disguise my strength. When you’re on a table where it’s inconceivable that no one else will raise, this is often a good strategy. The Chinese guy, who’s tilting by now – and I mean that literally, not figuratively; he’s drunk so much he’s leaning over to one side – makes it £15. A new guy to his left re-raises to £65. Wow. Do I raise? Or call? If I raise and new guy shoves all-in over the top, I’m screwed; he may have Kings or Aces. So I call.

The flop is A high. Whoop! Even pocket Kings are no good now. New guy checks. I bet £100. Chinese guy calls. Good. The turn is a blank, I raise, he folds. Easy way to make £230.

Soon after, Mr Random loses the dick-measuring contest: the drunk Chinese guy, whose poker autopilot seems to be working fine, cleans him out, and he’s already rebought twice for a handful of crisp red fifties. I’d already decided to leave, too. It’s 6am, the Tube’s running again, I’m £300 up, I’ve had the good hands I’ve been waiting for, and I’m absolutely wiped out from too much drink and too little sleep.

It’s the most fun I’ve had in ages.

Image ‘Edmonton Chinese New Year’ by IQRemix

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