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Jan. 9, 2005

Anybody who wants to work out the mathematics can be a limit player and chisel out an existence. You just have to condition yourself to sit there and wait ...

Limit poker is a science, but no-limit is an art. In limit, you are shooting at a target. In no-limit, the target comes alive and shoots back at you.

Jack Strauss, as quoted in A. Alvarez' "The Biggest Game in Town"

We usually play dealer's choice, which means all sorts of froufrou variations like Anaconda, Follow the Queen and anything more dignified than placing cards to our foreheads, but tonight we played no-limit Texas hold 'em. Serious poker, serious stakes. The buy-in was $20. Blinds started at .25/.50 and escalated every 45 minutes.

I did OK for myself. I've been playing some limit online with play money but I figured the edge it gave me would be modest at best. Limit may teach you how to play, but it doesn't teach you how to bet.

Fortunately for me, my opponent in the showdown assumed I knew what I was doing. Ben figured a weak pre-flop raise meant I had less than the pocket kings that I did. I won the hand, momentum shifted, and when he went all-in on the flop with a pair of pocket jacks, my set of 7's stood up.

I don't know how Stephen Elliott does it. He must take notes. His Poker Reports for McSweeney's are full of the personality, mood and nuance that make poker worthwhile. He somehow recounts all the minute details that I usually have forgotten by the next morning, forming them into a whole that transcend the parts' sum. That's what writers do, I guess. I don't even remember that many hands. Sandy remembers that I knocked him out with two pair -- 10's and 6's -- but my mind was too distracted by my heart's palpitations to remember anything of consequence.

Photo taken: Jan. 8, 2005