Monday, August 15, 2005

Madden Heads-Up Poker '06

Saturday morning, I crawled out of bed to less of a hangover than I deserved and found my way into the shower. After about 20 minutes of cobweb shaking, I put my contacts on for the first time in three days, threw on my Peyton Manning jersey, and headed back to the Whammer's for my first Madden tournament. I was pretty excited about the tournament, though I am a Madden novice and surely would be out very quickly. But, I love a good competition, and no previous night bender was going to slow me down.

I arrived at the Wilshire Royale at 12:45 (15 minutes early, of course) with a bag of Carl Jr.'s and a smile on my face. The Whammer was up and practicing, but the only other people there were Dave and Dave (of the band, The Dave), and they were still assed out on the couches. Skinny Dave woke up when I rolled in, smelled my CJ's, and soon he and the Whammer were off for greasy plunder of their own. This was a great opportunity for me to get some much needed Madden practice in before the tournament, but instead I was drawn to Heavier Dave's guitar. Music was in my soul that morning. I played a few tunes for a half-hour or so, and Joel arrived. Not me. Another Joel. Tim's roommate. He was out looking at apartments.

Fastforward to the tourney. I played in the second game after the Whammer easily dispatched another novice. My Colts were pitted against the vaunted 49ers played by a PA on my show who is affectionately called the Rookie. We had a battle to remember. He came out strong, but I fought back. You've got to take advantage of Peyton Manning in this game, so I was using audibles, hot routes, and play action. Finally, I tied the game at the end of regulation and had all the momentum. I lost the coinflip in overtime, but destroyed the Rookie with some amazing defense (nothing but Dime Cover 2), and he went 3 and out. All I had to do was return his punt and get back into my indefensible offense. Well, he flattened my punt returner. Demolished him, and of course I coughed up the ball, and the Rookie takes it to the house. I was not happy with this result. I felt cheated by the game for it to end that way. At least, let me try a drive! Oh well. I was happy with my overall performance, even though I got bounced in the first round.

However, my competitive juices were flowing, and I decided to goad Joel into a heads up poker game by telling him that he could start with 1000 chips and I'd start with 750. Joel said that he wanted to play me with even starting amounts. Joel thinks he's good at poker. In his words, "I'm almost as good as (me). I am at least as good as (me)." I told him there is no way he is as good as me. Just to really push him over the edge, I added, "There is no single part of the game that I'm not better than you in." In all fairness...I'm telling the truth. How could he be better? I play all the time. I study the game. I post in forums. I've won a bunch of money playing poker. In the last 10 live games I've played, I've placed no lower than 3rd! So, we started to play. Heads up. $5. Each of us starts with 500 chips.

The first game went to me. I made one of my best calls to date to take control of the match. I had Ace/9 with the final board having and 9, King, Queen, and crap. Joel bet into me on the river, and it felt like a bluff. He knows that to beat me, he'll have to bluff a lot. I'll fold hands if I think it's too much of a gamble. However, he's gone to this well too many times. I called him with my middle pair and took out his lower pair.

Time for a rematch. Game two went to Joel, and I don't feel bad about it one bit. He had two hands that nailed me. The first one took most of my stack when he flopped a straight. I told him that he'll definitely beat me if he keeps flopping straights. So, of course, he quickly flops another straight and takes down my two pair.

The third game was a three-way between me, Joel, and the Whammer. Joel went out first, and I handled the Whammer for the win.

Joel and I played a third heads-up match that I won when I flopped a straight flush and let him go all in. That was awesome...and fair after he flopped those two straights on me. In this game, Joel had no more cash, but I owed him $10 for fantasy football, so now I only owed him $5. "One more?" Joel asked. "Sure," I replied, "I'd love to play fantasy football for free!"

Heads-up game 4 went to me. I can't remember what happened, except that I grinded out the victory. So that put my total poker record for the day at 4-1. Satisfying. Joel got lucky once. I got lucky once. And my superior poker ability took the rest.

The poker ended just in time for Madden Tournament Part Deux. My Colts were pitted against Joel's Eagles, and he got his (free) revenge. However, I played pretty good. I was double-teaming Terrell Owens and frustrating him pretty good. Pretty good pretty good.

I ordered some Thai food. It was delicious. At 9pm, I went back home, showered, shaved, and went to a girl's apartment. We talked, drank some wine, and then I got seriously tired. I couldn't hang and had to go home. Too much Friday night/Saturday day partying for me, so the lovely lady was spared my dapper charm.

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