"I call" says my opponent, flecks of processed meat spraying out of his mouth and on to the felt. As I discard my failed bluff, he tables his top pair before taking another bite of burnt, fat drenched sausage and stacking his newly won chips.
I remind myself of the old poker maxim that if a guy is in a pot and he's eating, he's usually got a good hand, as otherwise he wants to concentrate on his food. However, this is a difficult rule to follow as there are no less than four people at the table eating big, greasy fried breakfasts. I should probably mention that its 1am on a Thursday morning.
I am at the Circus Casino at Star City in North Birmingham. For those not from the area, Star City is an architectually uninspiring 'entertainment' complex, located in one of the roughest areas of the city. It containins a cinema, a range of below average chain restaurants and a casino. In its defence, I should also mention that it does have a crazy golf course.
I have no idea what compelled me to come to the casino this afternoon (nine long hours ago) - it certainly wasn't for the £1 all day fried breakfasts that many of the casino patrons are eagerly stuffing into their mouths. As a marketing strategy it is an interesting one. Perhaps there is a link between meat and the propensity to play roulette that I'm not yet aware of.
For some reason I decided to come and play the weekly Wednesday afternoon £10 rebuy crapshoot tournament, even though I knew how it would go.
I would play like a maniac for the 90 minute rebuy period, much to the consternation of the middle aged men at the table. Then when the freezeout period of the tournament started, the structure of the tournament would go to shit and I would wait patiently for an ace in my hand, before shoving all in and getting bad beated.
Little did I know that on a Wednesday evening in North Birmingham, there would be two super juicy £1/£2 no limit cash games running, one of which I was able to quickly jump into.
I'm in the number one seat next to the dealer, who is absolutely terrible. He makes all kinds of mistakes, takes about five minutes to work out a sidepot and keeps trying to rake too much. After correcting him each time for about an hour, I give up and only say something when it directly effects me. Nobody else seems to care, apart from the over raking - they are all over that of course. The next dealer is almost as bad and its clear that they probably aren't really used to this much action.
The table is predictably full of absolute droolers and after not picking up a hand for seemlingly hours, I manage to make a guy fold a flush on the river by betting out strongly with my worse flush. The guy makes a shocking laydown as he quickly folds the third nuts face up and his face is a picture when I show him my worse flush and scoop the pot. It's this terrible grasp of hand values combined with the super loose and passive pre flop play that makes the game so good. Sadly as I can't get any semblance of a hand, it's hard to take advantage.
Despite appearences to the contrary, there is one old guy who seems to know what he's doing. In fact, he knows perhaps too well and I swear I see him shorting the pot on two occasions when he calls a bet, by splashing his chips into the middle rather than putting them in front of him - so people can't see he hasn't put enough chips in. I'm not in the hand so I say nothing, as it is not good for the game to be a rules nit and bring the mood down, and the dealers are oblivious. But I'm watching him like a hawk and if he tries any of that shit with me I'm going to be right in his fucking face about it.
The possible cheat has direct position on an old Scottish guy (osg) who is rocking the comical combination of being almost completely deaf and not knowing the rules of poker, so when someone tries to tell him what to do, it is inevitably met with the phrase "I cannae hear ye son" and a confused expression.
A woman next to me sits down with £50 and calls £2 to see almost any flop but folds every single time after that - it's almost embarassing. After an hour she's down to her last few quid without any chance of winning, but she has managed to eat a £1 fried breakfast and perhaps that's the point.
Several times all ten players see the flop and it's the most passive game I've ever played in, but it's P-A-I-N-F-U-L and I get bored, start playing too many hands and spew off my profits.
Yes, I'm a donkey.
At 2am I can't take the misery any more and I leave with £10 profit for the night, which is exactly the price of a taxi home.
The taxi driver is a talker and clearly a fan of the shortcut back route - two qualities that do not enamour me at that moment.
There's a private road in Great Barr that is badly potholed and in terrible condition. For some reason, taxi drivers LOVE driving down this road and when I feel like I'm about to be physically sick, I'm not sure if it's a combination of the potholes and the casino omlette I ate earlier or the realisation that I've just wasted an entire day of my life for no reward, sitting with a group of idiots and surrounded by the stench of gambling and meat.
There are better ways to spend a day. Particularly with a crazy golf course just next door.