The only time I felt remotely like Miss Hawa Hawai, a role the recently departed Goddess of Indian Cinema played in Mr India, was at the Deltin Poker Tournament a couple of weeks back. Like an imposter but so totally right for the part!
9stacks was promoting women poker players. 9 of us were invited to be the 9 Missketeers to represent them at event in Goa. I was suddenly ticking off a thing on my bucket list except it had never featured there. My love affair with poker was new and passionate. From online poker to a live poker tournament, was too much to imagine. Did I deserve it? I just let all the doubts go and let the good times roll!
It was to be an all expense paid trip to play at the main event of the DPT. The ticket cost to the event was 35k. The last gift I got for that amount was my wedding set from my mother in law which wasn't even pretty.
Soon after landing in Goa, I met the team and we headed for the DPT. I was on my table by 7pm. It was my first trip to an Indian casino. The place was impressive. The tournament room itself had around 35 to 40 tables poker tables set up. The chandeliers shone bright. About 50% of the players on those tables were wearing dark glasses. (literally guarding their expressions) I could hear the sound of the poker chips. It was music to the ears.
After signing up, I was assigned table 16 seat 5. As luck would have It, I was seated on a table of 4 sharks, 3 of whom were legendary. (names withheld to protect their ego.) It took a few hands to get comfortable. There was a newfound respect for the gaming software. It did so many things automatically- it put the small blind, big blind, put in the ante, calculated a minimum raise, warned me if I am folding when I can check -basically prevented me from looking stupid. And I did look pretty stupid that night. I made silly mistakes and that testosterone filled table was most likely thinking- what the hell is SHE doing here? She should be making bhindi at home.
Soon enough, all the poker training of so many 9stacks tourneys came marching out.
Won many hands, folded many more, piled up a nice stack, had the immense pleasure of watching 3 of those sharks busted out before me.
There were times when one of these sharks would take as much time to play his move as Erin Brockovich took to win her class action suit, but apparently that was allowed. It was unnerving the way these men studied your expression all the time.
I think women here have a distinct advantage especially the ones who have spent time in a joint family. We have mastered the art of schooling our expressions. The mother in law ranting about the burnt dal, the father in law screaming about his missing underwear, the brother in law going crazy looking for the gift from his girlfriend - and we learn to look concerned. We learn to look shattered. We learn to treat it like a global crisis. We learn to have an impassive face. Infact, a shark even complimented me with great annoyance “I can’t make out anything from your expression”.
And at that I finally gave my most expressive smile. Yeah boy! I have THE poker face.
Players are shoved from one table to another, as players get busted out, and with the view of keeping the quorum of a table between 7 to 9 players. I was shuffled thrice that night.
I lasted till 2am.
7 hours amidst poker's best.
I was finally busted out when I went all in post flop on a hand of pocket 3’s. The flop was 663. Full House. I almost smiled there. A wee curve at the corner of my mouth. The sharks at Table 7 went all in too. Both had trips with 6K and 6A. Heavy hand All our hands were on the table. The turn is a 7. They both are already mourning the death of their hand. And the river is a 7.
The other two now have it better and I have a bad beat.
I go bust.
And I wince.
But then one thing poker has taught me, is to be present. To not let this affect my game later. Bad beats are a part of the game and there's no point rueing the loss when i can cherish the experience and the feat that i lasted 7 hours in the tournament among poker's top rung! (I cannot reiterate that fact enough)
I have had the time of my life. Every minute of the grind was sheer joy. Im back to the online game on 9stacks with a vengeance, hungry to play more and learn more.
A big thank you to 9stacks for the diva like experience. The thought of that night still thrills the cockles of my heart.
Rittweiler signs off.