The Poker Player

The Truth About My Florida Poker Trip | Ways to Lose

Chapter 27 | Florida Trip | The Poker Player.

Silks. F*cking Silks!

The instant I walked into Silks, I visited the restroom to urinate at one of the urinals (best place to urinate). An older fellow a few urinals down said, “These urinals smell terrible!”

“They never smell good.” I was stating the obvious, but I wanted him to know that this should be obvious. I also wanted to see how he’d reply, but he didn’t reply, he just kept peeing.

After losing a quick $200 in a cash game, I decided to drive to Derby Lane, where there are more tourists and it’s simply more fun. I was waiting at the elevator at Silks when a guy announced over the speaker: “Tyler for One -Three.”

So much for Derby Lane. I was trapped at Silks.

This was a fun table, but I was in the Big Blind with Q7o and it checked around to me. With five opponents, logically, I checked.

Flop: 7Q7

I bet half the pot.

Unmarried Married Man called from UTG (he left his wife, got a girlfriend, and was now about to head back to his wife).

Turn: A

He seemed interested, and this was likely a good card for me. I bet the pot.

Unmarried Married Man called.

River: 4

I open-shoved. Fuck it! Why not? If he folds, he folds.

But he didn’t fold. He called with A7.

Yes, he limped with A7 pre-flop from UTG. That’s really bad poker, but my poker was worse because I didn’t evaluate the hand to see if I was potentially beat. I was so excited about the flop that I assumed I was the winner. Hate when that happens!

Could the motherfucking guy standing in that damn cage-room-thing NOT have called my name? Do you know what my record is at Silks? I have played there 12 times. I’ll give you one hint. I have played at almost every poker room on the East Coast, almost every poker room in the south, as well as almost every poker room in Las Vegas, and this is my worst win/loss record for a poker room. If you guessed 1-11, you are correct. I mean … how the hell does anyone go 1-11 in a low-stakes cash game?

NOTE: I just played here this past weekend. I jammed with a full house on the turn, got a call, and lost to a bigger full house on the river. Raised 6x the BB twice with KK (raised that much based on the way the table was playing) and got a caller both times.

I also jammed on the turn both times because I sensed my first opponent had top pair (jacks) and my second opponent had a nut flush draw. Was correct on both accounts, but the first guy hit trips on the river and the second guy hit his flush on the river. I also raised pre from early position with 65s to disguise my hand, bet a gutshot on the flop, hit the gutshot on the turn, and got two opponents to call.

As it turned out, they both called with gutshots to a bigger straight. And, yes, they both hit it on the river. Everything seemed legit, but you really have to start wondering. Through the years, there have been A LOT of coincidences that favor the regs. But it’s just speculation.

I hate Silks. At the same time, I love it because it presents a challenge (and because it’s comfortable). I also met some interesting folks in this establishment, including:

A guy who served three years in prison for drug trafficking (very cool dude though)
A baseball movie guy
Unmarried Married Man
Grilled Cheese Man

I’ll explain the last one. When Grilled Cheese Man was playing poker, he was nonchalant about everything. His facial expressions were always relaxed. But, as it turns out, he hadn’t ordered his grilled cheese sandwich in time the night before because the kitchen had closed. So, when the kitchen was about to close and the waitress came over, he focused intently on that waitress and said with laser focus, “Grilled Cheese Sandwich with bacon, butter, and a little mayo.” He paused. “And toast it good!”

So, instead of leaving – $200 and hitting Derby Lane for a new adventure, Silks dragged me back in so I could lose with a flopped full house and watch a guy order the most serious grilled cheese sandwich ever in the state of Florida.

To vent, I went straight to Anytime Fitness, which is open 24 hours. For those of you who don’t know, if you’re a member, you can use any of the 4,000+ locations in the United States (and Canada). When I arrived at the gym, my body told me to do cardio instead of weights. I went straight to the treadmill. Since it was 1:13 a.m., I could get on any treadmill I wanted. I chose the middle one.

Less than five minutes later, an older guy (not the urinal guy from Silks) entered the gym and got on the treadmill right next to me. One of those guys. After a few seconds, he started shouting:

“What the fuck?!”

Umm …

“What the fuck?!” he shouted louder this time.

I suddenly missed Grilled Cheese Man.

“What the FUCK IS THAT?!” he screamed.

I immediately thought: What the hell is he talking about? A bug on the treadmill? A cross-dresser doing cartwheels outside the gym window? A bad memory of a grilled cheese sandwich because it was too well done?

I shifted my eyes to peek at what was going on. He was staring at a cuticle on his left hand and trying to rip it off.

Is it just me or Florida people strange? Are they strange before or after they get to Florida?

I went to sleep and recouped by chilling out the next day. That’s because I would be playing in the Super 7 at the Tampa Hard Rock the following day (Flight B). That was a $777 buy-in. When I looked at the Flight A results, only three people who bagged (of 11) had over 300k in chips; the rest were pretty spread out. This was a good sign.

Super 7 Tournament:

Started: 30,000 chips
Peaked: 31,000 chips

I was patient for hours. I had to be since I was short-stacked the entire time. My stack dwindled down to 10k before I ran it back up to 25k, but then it quickly moved down to 12k. This is not normal for me. My stack usually moves slowly one way or the other. This told me I wasn’t playing well.

I got knocked out with 8k all-in when I shoved with middle pair and a gut-shot. Top-pair with King kicker called and held. Even that play is out of character for me. It’s not right or wrong; it’s just not me.

I went to the ATM to rebuy and took out $700 (I had $140 in my wallet). I almost never use the ATM machine at a casino. Can’t because I purposely leave it at home, but I forgot to do that on this day.

When I went to rebuy, the cashier told me that rebuys had closed ten minutes earlier. So … I went to see what was going on with the cash games.

To me, a tournament is like a chess match. There is so much in-game and out-of-game strategy going on that I also view a tournament like a story with all kinds of characters. I need to figure out those characters—Who are they? What’s their background? How do they value money? What are their betting tendencies?

In a tournament, you need to figure out the correct buy-in time based on how many chips you get (how many BBs), the length of the blind levels, and how many bullets you’re willing to fire.

To me, a cash game is more like checkers. Yes, you need to figure out your opponents, but those opponents change much more often, and it’s usually a hand-by-hand situation. There is no real depth, and it’s not an even playing field. No matter how good you are, an equal player with deeper pockets is going to have an edge. That is not the case in a tournament (unless it’s unlimited rebuys).

With all these factors considered, I had been leaning toward only playing 1/2 after a tournament to unwind. Not to win, but simply to unwind and socialize. Tournaments can be grueling, and I’d rather unwind by playing 1/2 than drinking or doing drugs.

I put myself on the 1/2 and 2/5 lists at the Tampa Hard Rock and was immediately called for 2/5. At that point, I figured: Well, I’ll buy-in for $500 and if I lose, it’s still not as much as a tourney rebuy.

Do you see the problem with what I was thinking? I was thinking: If I lose. Therefore, I already lost. I NEVER think that way going into a tournament, always think I’m going to win.

I was up $40 early (not much), but I was quickly down $100, $200, $300, $400. Doubled-up with 77 vs. AK to get back to $225. And that’s when it happened.

I was in the BB with KK.

UTG raised to $15.

Literally, every single person at the table called until it got to the Button, who had earlier said he was waiting for a 5/10 game. I knew he would squeeze and he did by raising to $115.

Do you detect my dilemma?

I only had one move, but he was priced-in because I didn’t have enough to get him to fold. That said, I wanted a call when I shoved.

SB folded.

I shoved.

Everyone except the Button folded.

Button called.

Simple Version: I hit a set of Kings on the river, which gave him a straight with AQo. I left.

Does everything happen for a reason? I don’t know, but it was 9:01 p.m., just early enough to call Bob. I will drop a fun hint about Bob: He goes by another name in one of my other stories, but if you ever ask me, I will simply say, “I don’t know.”

Bob is a 67-year-old guy I met at the gym. I had seen him there for a couple of months before I said anything to him, which was, “Nice shot” when he shot a crumpled-up paper towel into a garbage can that was attached to the back wall. That’s when our friendship began.

I didn’t know why we were clicking and having such good conversations until months later. I remembered him saying that his son hadn’t talked to him since he was 14. It wouldn’t be fair to me to share Bob’s story, so I’ll leave it at that.

At the same time, I hadn’t (and still haven’t) spoken to my father in a long time. I can’t go into details there either. I’ll just say that we don’t get along that well and have extremely different viewpoints on what’s important in life.

Additionally, while I have no gripes with my biological father and get along with him well, we only communicate about once every six months. The interesting thing about him is that he was involved in military intelligence. He never shares how, but I figured out that’s where my long-game strategic thinking comes from. He’s in his early 60s, but when he was in his mid-50s and still physically training guys in their 20s, they couldn’t keep up with him. So I now know where that comes from. He’s still in excellent shape.

Getting back to Bob, he will always take my call—any time day or night—and he will never exit the conversation until I do. He also always tells me he’ll be there with whatever I need. And every single thing he has predicted has come true (except for one).

The most important thing Bob said to me that day was the following: “I know you. Even if you fell flat on your face, played terrible poker the rest of the year, the movie flopped, and you went broke, you would pick yourself back up and be even stronger than before.”

I had never left a poker room after a loss feeling good until that night. After speaking to Bob, I went to the Noodle Bar, which was enjoyable, but nothing compared to the Noodle Bar at Cherokee.

While on my way back to my accommodations at 1:45 a.m., I said to myself, I have $300 in my pocket and Silks is open until 4 a.m.

I ended up in a six-player 1-3 NL game. I only won one hand in one hour. Eventually, I went out on an all-in bluff on the river. I have probably shove-bluffed the river a total of five times in my life (three of them worked). My bluffs are smaller and on the flop and turn. If I bluff on the river, it will look like a value bet.

The weird thing about that bluff is that I knew it wouldn’t get through, but that’s what I wanted. I knew I needed to really feel the pain with these cash games so I would plug the leak.

I had to stand in front of that fucking elevator once again. If there is one elevator in the world that would be called That Fucking Elevator, it’s that one. So, if you ever play at Silks and lose, just know that you’re not the only one thinking: It’s … That Fucking Elevator! Trust me, it will make you feel better. Shit, you might as well just say it now for practice.

I know why I keep losing at Silks. Many people call 6x BB raises with hands like 87-off and 54-suited. This happens consistently. If it was just one person at the table, great. That’s what you want. When it’s 3-4 players at the table, you’re screwed. Solution: Tighten the hell up! And I’m saying that to myself, not you, but you can use that advice as well.

This trip was a complete miss.


I head to Choctaw for the WSOP Main Event in 12 days. Within those 12 days, I need to drive 10 hours back home, review The Burning Felt for a final edit, format and publish PokerBook 2019, and find a new narrator. Like an idiot, I put two books on pre-order with similar deadlines, but I love intensity and pressure, which is probably another reason why I love tournaments and fell out of love with cash games.

I’m a little concerned about Choctaw because I have never been there and I wasn’t even supposed to go. I’m only going because someone hooked me up with a travel package (I can’t say who or what). Choctaw familiarity or not, I want to pursue my quest for the Global Poker Championship.

Result (overall): – $2,077
Profit/Loss: + $28,710

♠ pokerjournal.org / Tyler Nals

Chapter 28 | Choctaw – An Unexpected Journey | The Poker Player