Last week, in Tallinn.
I arrive happily to Tallinn’s Hilton Hotel Casino, partly because we have agreed to play some bigger drunken poker, and partly because of the few beers I had on the ferry ride from Helsinki to Tallinn. We open a new EUR 25/50 (/100) table and immediately order some shots.
After a couple of hours – and shots, I’ve managed to grow my initial 5k to around 25k. I’m feeling brilliant– there’s very few things better in this world than a rising blood alcohol level and winning in live poker.
“I bet 800”, I say and throw 800 worth of chips into the pot of 1200€.
“Pot!”, Pampo declares.
The board is Q749 with hearts and we’re holding KQQJ8 – the best possible hand at this point. From a force of habit I don’t immediately move all in because Mr.K is behind me. After 10 seconds or so I realize that Mr.K has made his fortune from somewhere else than poker and probably doesn’t really care about my time tells – in fact he most likely just wants everyone to play as fast as possible. So, I grab a chunk of chips, throw them in the middle and shout:
I get called by Mr. K before some of my chips have fallen.
Cards are opened: Mr. K has 94Axx for a nutflushdraw and two pair,and Pampo KKJT9 with hearts. River: Jack of clubs. I win the 10k side-pot and Pampo scoops the 15k main.
“I guess it’s not too bad to be the King” I say and fist pump Pampo who’s sitting right next to me.
“Yeah still down like 20 though”, Pampo sighs.
Couple of hands later I get dealt AhAxJxTx7h on the big blind. Mr.K opens from the UTG, MP calls and Pampo calls from the SB. I re-pot to 800 and everybody calls. Flop comes Ad6s4s. Pampo checks and I bet 2,6k to 3,2k pot (MP is sitting with 5,2k and if he moves all in, I want it to open the pot). Mr. K and MP folds – Pampo calls. Turn: 2 of diamonds.
That’s a nice turn
Given the earlier action Pampo has a draw here very often. He shouldn’t have 53 because it’s such weak combination that it should fold preflop or flop and even if he happens to have it sometimes, I still have outs to the full house. There’s around 9k in the pot and I have 17k behind.
I grab chips and say:
He has moved me all in before I could finish the word “pot”. I look at Pampo – he’s looking away, ashamed.
I’m pot committed anyway.
“I really didn’t want to do this to you” Pampo says to me and opens his hand Kx6s5s3s3x.
To those who don’t play that much poker; It’s much more tilting to lose a pot where your opponent makes mistakes – especially when the opponent you’re playing against should know better. I’ve just gotten `Pampoed´ and I didn’t like it. Luckily, I’m a seasoned pro and I rarely show any emotion on the table:
“What the fuck are you doing Pampo?!” I shout in disbelief.
“Yeah, I mean… Yeah. Sorry.”
The pot is 43k but given that it’s very early and people usually load 10k or max 20k to these tables it’s actually worth a much more. This is because the larger stack gives you kind of a buffer against a couple of smaller bad beats and a lot more room to play with other deep stacks. This kind of stack can be used like a weapon in the right hands – and I’m sure that I would yield it like a Machiavellian king, causing fear and oppression to others.
We ran the river twice: Blanc and blanc.
Pampo scoops the 43k and my dreams of becoming the oppressing tyrant of the table.
I load 5k from my pocket and take a glance at Pampo, he’s looking apologetic and tries to speak:
Tilted, I stop him mid-sentence:
“Look, I’ll be your best man and we’ll be friends tomorrow but for now just shut the fuck up”
I say it partly because I feel like it and partly because I want him to feel bad. Pampo looks at me, nods, says that he’s going to order me a peace-making-beer.
I’m being a dick right now
A bit later, when the beer arrives, I feel guilty for being a dick. I also realize that as a professional player I shouldn’t be mad if a player makes mistakes against me – I should be happy. No matter if the player in question happens to be a very good friend and another pro in a big pot – there’s no friendliness in a game of poker and the only thing that keeps us in our bread and butter are the mistakes of others.
With all this going through my head Pampo hands me the beer:
“So?” he asks.
“Yeah”, I reply and pat him on the back as we clink our glasses.
And after that very Finnish conversation – all is good again.
My memories start to fade a bit since that, but I do remember the last hand. I’ve managed to grow my last 5k to around 13k so I’m down 7k total for the night. The clock is around 07:30 in the morning. There’s a huge action preflop with three and four-betting and I call 3,3k out of my 13k stack with A9765ds. Flop comes T99 with clubs, I have the nutclubs. The squeezer is already all in, Pampo checks, I check, Mr.K bets for 6k, Pampo calls, I go all in and they both call.
Cards are opened:
Squeezer: KKJJx with king high clubs
Us: A9765 with ace high clubs
Mr.K: QJ43x with Queen high clubs.
Now to see that I’m around 70% favorite to the whole 43k pot and 80% to the 30k side-pot, at 07:30 in the morning – I lose my mind a bit. I hop on to my seat and yell:
The pro holding KKJJxc looks at me in a way that normal people look at a madman. And whilst there, standing on the top of my chair – drunk and shouting – I don’t blame him.
Maybe there is a god
River: King of hearts.
The professional with KKJJx gets the nut full house, Mr.K gets a straight and I? Well, I get royally fucked.
I don’t recall much what happened next. I didn’t feel too much anger, it was more like all the emotion was drawn out from me and I was empty, numb to everything. I guess I shook somebody’s hand, or I hope I said “GG” at least – but again: I can’t tell for sure.
The next thing I know for sure is that I woke up from my trance at Virukeskus train station. I didn’t know where our AirBnB was and was eating a hamburger when a hobo with very yellow teeth came to ask for a change. “I don’t have any” I replied on an autopilot, got up and really started to try and find our apartment (and eventually did).
Now, a bit later, I think I should’ve given that man some change – he did bring me back to my consciousness after all. I’m not sure what my consciousness is worth but I’m sure it’s more than some change.
Woke up the next day hungover and not sure where I was or what had happened. Opened my phone and there was a message from another pro-player “Fuck man, that was rough to see. Never before have I rooted for the pro-player against a recreational player”
The message brought everything back from last night. I let out a small sigh, opened my WhatsApp and sent a message to my backers explaining what had happened. On the bottom of the message it red:
“P.S Plz wire 100k to my bank account. <3 – Jds”
We played the second night as well but the wire never reached my bank account in time and in all honesty didn’t feel too much like playing after quite heavy “lunch” with Mr.K, Pampo and Mr.A. Did better than rest of my lunch party because 30min in the game Pampo went for a “power nap” which eventually lasted for 9-hours, Mr.K lost quite a lot more than me and Mr.A was carried away from the table after about an hour. I heard that he did triumph eventually and nailed “I like it that way” by Backstreet Boys in the local karaoke club.
Oh, Tallinn. Hope you never change.
P.S. Whilst chatting with friends to make sure that I got the A9765ds hand right they revealed a rather unfortunate video where one very tilted Judas stands on top of a chair and is not happy with the river. It does seem that I felt anger even though I later remember it otherwise. I looked like a moron. Remember kids: you can’t control how the cards fall – but you can control how you react to it.