Gamer’s BAAAD Hangover – 09.28.04

Quasi-Random Thoughts

First of all, Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d like to apologize to all my readers â┚¬Â¦ both of them. Thereâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s been a bit of a reprioritizing of things at Chez Laflin over the last few weeks and the Hangover has suffered because of it. Fortunately, Providence (and I donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t mean Rhode Island) smiled on me while I was on the cusp of simply retiring the Hangover and Widro suggested that columns run bi-weekly now instead of weekly. Not only will this let me focus a little bit more on reviews, but itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll take some pressure off and allow the GH to grow organically (much like a fungus) over the two weeks leading to itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s publication. Yes, this probably just means that thereâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll be twice as many Quasi-Random Thoughts, but progress is progress.

Thank you for sticking through the crap, folks. I donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t have the business acumen of Bryan Berg or the enthusiasm of Alex Williams, but I have deep, bitter cynicism, and I think thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a strength that I can play to.

If you havenâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t heard of Da Vinciâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s Notebook (itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a band), go to your download service of choice and check out â┚¬Å”The Gates.â┚¬Â

Okay, so there are two nationally touring events happening in Wichita on the same night. Tonight, the national touring company of the extraordinarily depressing musical â┚¬Å”Miss Saigonâ┚¬Â is playing at Century II. And at the Kansas Coliseum is the taping of this weekâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s â┚¬Å”WWE Smackdown!â┚¬Â Now, I like to consider myself an educated, intelligent, and cultured person. Not only do I know what â┚¬Å”Miss Saigonâ┚¬Â is, I know who wrote it, the story, and quite a few of the songs. And now that Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve past my late teens / early 20â┚¬â”žÂ¢s period of depression, angst, and self-loathing, I can honestly say that given the choice between the two, I would take Smackdown every time and feel good about it.

The reason being that Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve already had enough real depression and tragic events in my life. I donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t feel the need to go seek out somebody elseâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s tragedy and be depressed for them. Now, donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t get me wrong. When youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re in that late teen / early 20â┚¬â”žÂ¢s period those type of cultural events are crucial to emotional development, especially in people whoâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve been relatively sheltered from that sort of pain. Aside from good music, itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a primer in tragedy. Once youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve had the big break-up and a few relatives die and what have you, that aspect of it isnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t as necessary as it once was. I would be perfectly happy going for the rest of my life without seeing another Sondheim musical. Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m glad I saw the ones that I did when I was in college, but Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m done with that now.

Smackdown itself sates itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s own basic human need, the need of people to go â┚¬Å”OH! OWWW!!â┚¬Â and the like.

And, frankly, I need some of that today. Today was one of those days that take me dangerously close to quitting altogether. I canâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t even go into it, other than to say that the problems have absolutely nothing to do with InsidePulse. Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m simply not in the mood to write. The world sucks and I want to get off. The Chiefs are 0-3 and every sportswriter anywhere near the NFL has been giggling about that fact since about 3:30 yesterday afternoon and Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m ready to commit a little genocide, thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s how pissed off I am. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s so bad that even if I went home and spent the entire evening playing Def Jam: Fight For NY out of one eye and watching RAW with the other I still think Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d need a good half-hour with the olâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ heavy bag before I could get any quality sleep.

And yes, I am taking this all a little too seriously. You obviously havenâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t been reading me very long if this surprises you.

Pimp-licious

Lucard reviews Fable and finds it â┚¬Â¦

Pankonin reviews Tiger Woods 2005 and Tiger-proofs it by forcing him to fire Butch Harmon.

Misha laps me yet again.

Say it ainâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t so, Bryan!

Murphy got me in trouble â┚¬Â¦ again â┚¬Â¦ but hey, what are friends for?

Eric wonâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t be able to make it down for Smackdown, the poor sot.

Poker Tournaments â┚¬Â¦ or â┚¬Â¦ How To Waste An Evening And Piss Off Your Spouse For Free

Murphy is in huge to this Texas Holdâ┚¬â”žÂ¢em tournament phenomenon. He plays several nights a week. He does reasonably well for someone who just picked up the game this summer. Heâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s convinced that itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s the new Golf.

And, of course, he knows exactly how little it takes for me to join him in a little competition, the bastard.

Since the last Hangover, Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve been to two different local Texas Holdâ┚¬â”žÂ¢em tournaments. Both free, and both filled with people who Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d have precious little to say in any other circumstance.

Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m sorry, I donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t mean to sound pretentious, but Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m just not a barfly. I have a big screen TV at home so I can watch sports AT HOME. I prefer A&W to anything with alcohol in it, I donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t smoke, and Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m married to a woman whom I met at church, and she used to be a bartender herself, so even if I want something as complicated as a margarita, I can get it at home. In fact, thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s how the whole poker thing started for me: At home. Roni and I started playing with friends as a way to have fun together on the weekends. She liked it and so did I. Problem is that Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m just a tad more obsessive about such things than she is.

So, right in the middle of one of the most delightful weekends Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d spent with Roni in a good long time, I succumbed to an absolute minimum of pressure from my friends and went to play in my first Texas Holdâ┚¬â”žÂ¢em tournament.

I sit down at a table where, at age 30, I was probably the youngest person, and by quite a margin with most of this crew. â┚¬Å”Sedateâ┚¬Â may describe the atmosphere of the table, although Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d like to lean towards â┚¬Å”comatose.â┚¬Â There was one guy who may have been younger than me, and he seemed to be the only one with some semblance of energy, and thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s only because he tried to push almost every crap hand that he had through, and he won most of them, the punk.

For the one or two of you that havenâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t seen any of the poker shows, you sit around a table (although not nearly as nice as the tables on the TV) and they deal you cards. You bet. People either stay in or fold. If two or more people stay in until the end of the hand, they show their cards to see who wins. Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m not going into the intricacies or even the gross, distinguishing rules of Texas Holdâ┚¬â”žÂ¢em because there are a million places for anybody interested to get that information now. What Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m trying to convey is the level of mental boredom that I subjected myself to for the next two hours.

And yet, I was nervous. As with any new activity, you get nervous, and I was nervous. Never mind that the very nature of Texas Holdâ┚¬â”žÂ¢em makes it a lousy game for actually determining who is the â┚¬Å”bestâ┚¬Â at playing Poker; itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s actually TOO reliant on chance. You can be a completely stupid, rank amateur and win millions of dollars playing it. See also: the last two winners of the so-called World Series Of Poker.

At the end of the night, I made a gross mistake that cost me the rest of my bankroll and I was so jacked that I was ready to go back in and play another round. But after the adrenaline rush wore off, I realized that Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve enjoyed my running chess game with Eric Szulczewski much more than I enjoyed sitting around with a bunch of future cirrhosis/emphysema patients, waiting for probability to come and kick me in the ass. I told Roni that she didnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t have to worry about me spending every weekend playing in a stupid Poker tournament.

Fast forward to Sunday nightâ┚¬Â¦.

Now, in my own defense, I was tricked. I thought Roni and Cris had been actively discussing going to the 10:30 (yes, thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s P.M.) game, so when Roni ultimately balked I thought I was still in the clear to go, even though I was the only one of the three that had to go to work this morning. Turns out she meant the â┚¬Å”Married â┚¬ËœIâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã‚, which any husband will tell you actually means â┚¬Å”we.â┚¬Â

Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m not blaming Cris for getting me in trouble or Roni for â┚¬Å”bossing me around,â┚¬Â which she didnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t. She let me go without problem, but she just knew that 1. Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d be tired and a mess at work today, and 2. That I was effectively giving up sex for poker. In hindsight, if I could wish anything, Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d wish that sheâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d have reminded me of point #2. I would have changed my answer of my own free will.

Anyway â┚¬Â¦ actually, there is no anyway. It was the same deal, different bar. A younger crowd, to be sure, but still with the sitting, and the smoking, and the waiting for the inevitable. And with wanting to play again right after I got booted, and realizing the next day that it really wasnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t all that fun.

I wish I could make clever comments about peopleâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s appearance or mannerisms or attitude on the tables, but I canâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t, because they were wholly unremarkable. They were just some fellow Wichitans, who felt they could go without a little sleep to play a stupid card game and feel like a stud (pardon the pun) for a couple of hours. There was no big wins, or heart-breaking losses, or subtle â┚¬Å”readsâ┚¬Â of people, or bad sports, or anything. It was two hours of mostly bad hands, culminating on getting beat with the last card on the table and going home eight dollars lighter because of the beer Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d bought. I even have beer at home that Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve already paid for. Sheesh.

So, for those of you thinking you can become the next Johnny Chan, ask Johnny Chan how many WSOP championships heâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s won since the 80â┚¬â”žÂ¢s, and heâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s been there every year. Poker, especially Texas Holdâ┚¬â”žÂ¢em, no matter what they say in â┚¬Å”Rounders,â┚¬Â is a game of luck. Thereâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s some skill involved, but unless you can see your opponents cards in the reflection of his mirrored sunglasses it still boils down to who has the cards, Oreos be damned.

Next column (in almost two weeks) â┚¬” the start/continuation of a series on being a Gamer after the big 3-0.

Until then, donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t be like me. Get some sleep.

-Cory