Conversations with gamblers

I sat down at the President Casino’s $4/$8 game with only a little trepidation.  I more or less broke even in this game the last time I was here, with no awful swings.  I was avoiding the tourney this time since I fared so poorly in it last time.  As I took my seat, I noticed a young kid (who plays like a maniac) on my left who couldn’t stop talking to me.  I wished I’d brought an iPod.

Kid: “Hey, do you ever play any hands?”

Me: “I play good ones.  I’m not really getting playable cards in any position.”

At that moment I get a pair of queens and raise.  The Maniac Kid calls.

Kid: “You play good starting hands, but you don’t really play beyond the flop.  You’ve got to do more than just pick good starting hands to make money at poker.”

The flop comes K92 rainbow.  I check, the Maniac bets, and I raise him.  He calls and we see the turn, a 6.  I bet out immediately and he folds just as fast.

Me: “So you make a living at poker?”

Kid: “Oh yeah, I was pre-med and honours mathematics, but I make more at this than I ever would anything else.”

I am dealt Ace-Jack suited.  The table is in a calling mood for about an hour, with 7 or 8 people seeing every flop.  I figure if my flush comes, I want to get paid.  I raise and get 6 callers.  The flop comes with an ace and two of my flush.  The betting is checked to me and I bet out and get 4 callers.  At least one other person is drawing to a flush, and another has a straight.  I think I smell a set (Ten-Ten-Ten) being slow-played as well.  They’re convinced I’m playing Ace-King, and I bet out again on the turn when I make my flush so I don’t disavow them of that.

The final card comes and fails to pair the board, making my flush the best possible hand, a fact confirmed by a few oohs when I show it.  I scoop an enormous pot while another player across the table says, “You bet a flush draw?”

Me: “Not usually.”

A skinny girl sits down across from me and starts to talk to the Maniac Kid.  She knows the dealers and the Maniac on my left.  They apparently play in a home game together run by one of the dealers.

Girl: “I just got off shift.  What’s up?”

Kid: “Nothing, I worked a shift at the Spaghetti Factory [a cheesy local tourist restaurant on the Mississippi waterfront] and I’ve been here since 4pm.”

Poker career.  Uh huh.  Yeah.