That Bastard!

He really got me good on this one. I was all-in without a paddle. I was up shit creek and drawing dead. However you put it, it wasn’t pretty.

I was playing $40-80 limit hold’em at Lucky Chances. This was around 2002. Alex was at the next table, playing no-limit. He spoke to me with a hand gesture and said, “Do you want to take a break on your next big blind?” I signaled back “yes.” A few hands later, he was standing behind me, ready to go. I was under-the-gun. I looked at my cards and raised. I don’t recall how the hand went after that except for the only thing that is pertinent to the story: at some point, I folded. Then I hopped up, and outside we went.

Walking away from the table, Alex asked, “What’d you have?”

“Ace-queen,” I said.

He looked at me kind of funny. “Really?”

“Yes,” I said. And then I did some splaining. I don’t know what I said, but I can do a reenactment of the basic tone and content. I said something like, “I knew when the small blind called preflop that he had at least bla-bla-bla, and that when he checkraised the flop he either had bla-bla or bla-bla, so when the bla-of-bla came on the turn, it was a no-brainer to fold.”

I can assure you that whatever it was I said, it was all very sensible and rational. It was a perfect explanation for playing ace-queen exactly the way I did. Except for one thing… I didn’t. I mean, I didn’t have ace-queen. What I actually had was king-queen. I had lied. But not just any lie. When it comes to lying about what I had, I’m as good as they get. I can always come up with exactly the right two cards to send exactly whatever message I am trying to send, and that doesn’t matter if it’s at the end of a hand and I’m trying to get my opponents to either think I played better than I did or worse than I did, and it doesn’t matter if I’m just trying to save face, or maintain a solid image, and it doesn’t matter if I’m walking outside with my best friend. All lies are created equal as far as I’m concerned, and by that I mean equally well.

After my explanation, a couple minutes went by, and I remember it catching me off-guard when Alex asked, “So, what did you have on the last hand again?”

“Ace-queen!” I said. “If you think I played it bad, just tell me!”

“You really had ace-queen?”

This is the point in our conversations where neither one of us can hold our shit together. Anytime I am getting over on him, I always give it away before it gets too deep, with a smile, or an out of context comment. And that’s what Alex did here. He has a smirk on his face, and the question was definitely totally weird at this point. I look deeply into his vicious, conniving, dastardly face, and I figured it out.

“You bastard!” I said. “You saw my hand!”

He was doing nothing but laughing now. And then me too.

I went on. “You bent down and looked at my cards when I looked at them, and then, you asked me what I had, knowing full well that I might not come clean with having king-queen in that spot. You totally set me up! And then you forced me to tell the lie again! I guess I would feel bad right now about lying to you, except that you’re a fucking asshole you piece of shit!!”