18-1 never felt so bad.

I have been a lifelong Patriots fan. I suffered through so many years when we were terrible that I can hardly tell you about them. You know, when their logo looked like this:

The only real joy you got in those days was when Jim Plunkett would somehow manage to heave the ball a million yards and actually hit someone. Steve Grogan, Sam the Bam Cunningham, these were my boyhood football idols. Not that long ago we were just like the Giants of this year, capping an improbable season by getting hot at the right time and taking a wildcard berth all the way to the Super Bowl against the mighty Bears. However, our story ended much, much differently. We scored one touchdown and then got absolutely waxed by the Bears. It took me nearly a decade to stop feeling bad about that game. Now the shoe is on the other foot and we are the dominant team, but somehow we can’t seal the deal with the Giants. A team with a legitimate claim to be the best football team ever is just a footnote one game later. I honestly felt sick (although a hangover may well be part of that). I don’t know how sports teams get into our collective psyche in this way. It doesn’t seem like it could actually affect my life in any way, but yet I feel gutted. That insane play where David Tyree caught the ball on his head after Eli fricken Manning somehow escaped a certain sack was the real crippling blow to my dreams. How that scrub is the SuperBowl MVP is a mystery to me. It is a rip-off anyhow, because anyone with a clue about football knows that the defensive line won that game. They held the mighty Pats offense to 14 points and simply dominated the line of scrimmage completely and totally. The one small source of comfort was knowing that there was one person in the world who completely understood. I knew my brother Tim was certain to be even more morose and angry than I am. Somehow, that makes me feel just a little bit better.

It was quite a weekend in sharkville. We hosted a poker night to end all poker nights. My good friend Paul (of Pauli and the Mexicans fame) arrived Friday night from Jolly Old England and was the vanguard of ITH friends from far and wide. Taz and Tara arrived from the frozen tundra of Edmonton, with Tyler sporting his “Sunday Million Champion” jacket. Mark the “Nutjob” flew in from Florida, Becky and her husband Kim flew up from Austin, Bill drove up from Atlanta, Albert made the long trip from Georgia and Matthew Hilger himself arrived to join the festivities. I think it is safe to say that it was the strongest field in a three table home game you could ever imagine. Fortunately, most of us began drinking at 2:00 in the afternoon and didn’t stop until 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning, so that tended to level the field pretty dramatically.

Part of the celebration revolved around the occasion of my 20,000th post to ITH, which is a truly absurd amount of posts. Everyone made such a fuss over it that I actually feel a bit of a drama queen. They created a hidden section of the forum where they staged a series of ego-stroking posts and I’ve been deluged with people saying the most flattering things about me and my contributions to the forum. I’m somewhat embarrassed by the extraordinary amount of love passed around the mutual admiration society, but I really do find that many of these folks have become my best friends anywhere. Matthew arrived with a most generous gift. They had a set of commemorative poker chips with a printed “Sharkapalooza” logo complete with cartoon shark created to honor the occasion. They even decided the stock poker chip case was inadequate and replaced it with an awesome leather one.

It was a drunken blowout on a staggering scale. Literal mountains of empty bottles litter my trash area. There may be a poker player under there somewhere. We considered making some special shots for the occasion, but decided that would just lead to passed out people and didn’t even break out the shot glasses. That plan lasted exactly 12 minutes. Jaegerbombs hit the table right off the bat. Torch was surprised that Tanya Peck was not ready for her dial-a-shot at 11:00 AM Vegas time. I initially laughed at Torch and his expectation that she would up for shots at was it is essentially dawn in poker player terms. Later I agreed with him that Tanya wimped out on us, just because she was actually driving was a pretty poor excuse, in my opinion.

We played only tourneys instead of the usual cash game/tourney mix. I don’t remember a whole lot of poker events, except busting Matthew from one of the events when I called his pre-flop raise with AT and floated his c-bet on a raggy flop. The turn was a ten, he shoved, I snap called and his AQ was no good. He expressed astonishment that I flatted the flop, saying he expected me to raise and he was going to shove the flop. On one level, I think I really believed he would raise about 70% of his hands there and that he would c-bet about half of them, so I was willing to flat call a lot of hands hoping to either catch or bully on the turn. On the other level, I was just kind of pleasantly drunk and probably would have called with two undercards. Soon thereafter I was bad-beated by Nutjob who had ten different pre-flop speeches, all of which ended with him shoving any two cards. He was delivering brutal suckout after brutal suckout on everyone and I was no exception. His 100/100 hyper-maniacal style finally caught up to him and he lost the massive stack he took into the event at the final table. He cashed in 4th place for $22, but somehow managed to rebuy twice for $60 in a freezeout, so he actually lost money. I think I dropped about $50 in buy-ins without a single cash, but I won the big ticket event of the night when Nutjob challenged me to a $100 heads-up event. I convinced him to go all-in dark on the second hand and of course I had 99 and he had no chance. The entire night was a freeroll on Nut’s money. Here is the usual winner posing with the cash victory photo:

Yeah, he was a bit drunk. Maybe a lot drunk. He was not alone. Torch’s long suffering wife (Victim) had to win a tourney while Torch’s body rejected some of the alcohol he had forced on it. Soon later, he was back to belting out musical numbers, so I think he was OK. Becky is the best drunk ever, whose main routine involves hugs, declarations of love and invitations to her house. There may be 10 or 12 of us there next weekend.

I think I have another epic Pauli story, but I have to figure out how to tell it. Tara crushed Tyler with a great story about him offending her by giggling about an ITH thread during a love making session. I’m pretty sure he has a new nickname coming. The only possible downer of the evening was the friends who could not make it for some reason or another, but we had the most amazing time.

As a result of all the hoopla surrounding the Sharkapalooza (both the planning and the aftermath), I really haven’t been able to make much progress on my SuperNova quest this month. Tonight was the first night I got any real amount of hands in and really didn’t have a whole lot of tables running tonight. The 30/60 game was good, at least, so I got to play in that for a few hours. I ended up +$1,500 over 600 hands or so (there was some 10/20 and 5/10 mixed in there) and I’m at about 750 VPPs for February. I should be at 1,700 to be on pace to maintain Platinum status, so I’ll have to get some longer sessions in later in the month. I usually get the most points on the weekend, so the party put me in a small hole. On the plus side, at the end of tonight’s session I was four tabling for a while and I felt more comfortable than ever before.

By Nsidestrate

I'm a hard-core limit ring game poker player who is becoming a degenerate sports bettor. I'm sure it will all make more sense if you read on.