Saturday, October 14, 2006

Gonna Take You Down to Chinatown

So it's official - I withdrew the balance of my Party Poker account. I don't even really like online poker, but I will miss the option to play it nonetheless, and I feel for my friends who make their livings playing poker online. I think what a lot of people don't realize is that it won't matter that PokerStars hasn't closed its doors to U.S. domiciled players yet (as Party Poker has) - the government's goal is to cut off the funding for the accounts - which I think they will be successfull in doing. Neteller will yield, and Firepay has already ceased transfers to gaming sites for U.S. players. More imitation "Netellers" will pop up, and get shut down, and it will be a game of financial Russian roulette for those who wish to play it: hope you don't get caught with your money in a fly-by-night site when it disappears. The problem is, without the legal and easy methods, the pipeline of fish will dry up.

Thus, feeling depressed, I jumped at the chance to play in the Friday night Chinatown game which Bones has infiltrated. He tells me trumped up stories of this game, which takes place on the third floor of some check cashing operation in Chinatown - where he's the only Gaijin.

"Imagine the shop in Gremlins," he taunted me. "And don't forget to bring your own pillow - that floor is hard." I checked in with Dirty Dave, trying to find out what the proper etiquette was for yelling "PaiGOW" as I dropped a big bluff or spiked a two outer on the river. Bones assured me, "It's encouraged" - I think he wanted to see a Jack-Bauer-esque international incident.

I took the subway down to Grand Street, and stepped out into another world. Chinatown is incredible - I felt like a foreigner in my own city - I was quite literally the only white guy in site. hundreds of Chinese bustled by me, grabbing freshly minced squid from a stand at the top of the subway station, like I might grab the NY Post. Across the street were several fish markets, with live softshell crabs scampering about, as vendors plucked them out of boxes into bags for eager deal makers.

Bones tapped me on the soldier, "Welcome to Chinatown," he told me. "This is why I don't travel," I explained, "I can get it all right here." He teased me further, "You know, it's customary for guests to bring an assortment of garden vegetables for the host."

"How about a bag of crabs?" I inquired, imagining the scene: "I raise," as I dump a bag of live dungeness crabs on the table.

We walked into a Vietnamese restaurant, where I was completely ignored as I tried to ask for water with my 1/2 gallon bowl of top notch chicken soup. "If I scream "DONG" how many guys in here will turn their head?" I asked, as Bones eagerly encouraged me to try it.

We finished dinner, and headed around the corner to the game. Bones' active imagination and thirst to prey on my depraved mind resulted in me having a picture of a darkly lit room like an opium den. I expected a thick cloud of smoke, coming from unfiltered cigarettes, and massage girls who knew not to make eye contact. There would obviously be some thick velvet curtains leading to rooms in which unknown illicit activities were taking place, and hopefully at least one crazy old wizard in the corner sipping onion juice from a mason jar.

In reality, the office was clean and smoke free, with comfortable leather chairs and a well lit conference table. I missed the felt, adjusting to the hardtop table, and was clearly thrown off my game by the paper cards. What? Paper cards? Do you know who the fuck I am? Aiyahh! There was a nice bunch of guys, who welcomed me, as they chatted about putting in lowball bids on properties in Brooklyn and Queens.

The game was loose and passive, and I was totally card dead. TILT accelerated when I found QQ in the BB (1-2 NL, 100 buy in), and everyone folded to me, for the first and only time all night. "PaiGOW" I shouted in mock frustration, showing my hand and hoping they'd laugh, which they did, as they plotted to lock me in the dungeon of a cargo ship bound for Mongolia.

I later flopped a set of 5's on a 9-9-5 board in a 6 way pot. When everyone checked to me on the button, I bet $5. Everyone folded and I showed my hand. "You bet?" was the reply. "I was hoping someone had a nine..." I wasn't giving lessons or anything. "Slowplaying is the RULE." Bones explained.

Unfortunately, the Vietnamese chicken soup had not halted my oncoming cold, nor the frigid run of cards, and I left after 3 hours, down two buy-ins in "the game in which you cannot lose."

until next time,

No comments: