Recently I’ve been asked by a few different people to do a blog with some poker stories. I love poker and I love telling stories (spinning a good yarn, as they say), but the only problem is that I haven’t had time to write this week.
So I’m resurrecting an old blog I wrote several years ago about a guy named Captain. I actually saw him in the poker room about a month ago, but he wasn’t at my table and I didn’t get a chance to say hi to him. He looked the same though. I hope Captain is doing well, and I hope you enjoy a couple of old poker stories.
Captain is an African-American in his early 50s. He exclusively wears Fubu velvet sweatshirts with matching sweatpants. His favorite colors are — in order — gold, white, and black. Kangol hats. Sunglasses with no tint. A fair amount of bling. Salt and pepper goattee, always freshly trimmed. He’s about 5-foot-8, 275 pounds. Enough muscle to keep you from going nose-to-nose with him but enough fat to know you can win a race to the door if you have to. And don’t worry, he’ll give you plenty of chances to fight him. He says lots of inappropriate and offensive things, and he talks a good fight. But mainly he just likes to drink and gamble.
I don’t know Captain’s real name. He always signed up for the poker games as Captain, and he liked to drink 7 or 8 Captains while he was playing, so it seemed like a good name.
You want to play poker with Captain. The later into the evening the better. And if you write a blog, he is an absolute goldmine.
I have played a lot of poker with Captain. It seemed like he would magically appear wherever I happened to be playing, which was great. He had some ties to Lawton and played there frequently when I lived there, but he also played at Riverwind and Newcastle a lot. These are my two favorite Captain stories.
Captain’s poker winrate hovered right around 5 percent. But when he won, he won BIG. One night at Riverwind, Captain was winning every hand. He was ordering double shots every time he busted someone, which was quite frequently.
As Captain drank more and more, he was being more and more inappropriate with the waitresses, and his distraction with the waitresses was slowing the game to a halt and driving off the players. But I wasn’t about to leave. For one thing, Captain had already won a big pot off of me, so I wanted to get my chips back. Besides that, his luck was bound to change, and this was a rare opportunity to win some serious money from a terrible poker player. Usually, Captain would just run $1000 straight into the ground, and one entertaining hour later he would be gone for the night. This time he had over $3,000 in front of him, a very big stack for a $2/$5 no limit hold em game.
Of course, on this night it was impossible to tell exactly how much money Captain had in front of him, because he was too drunk to stack up his chips. They just lay in a multi-colored mound in an area generally in front of him. He was taking up enough space for two or three players but we were playing short-handed so it didn’t matter. When he wanted to bet, he just slammed his forearm on the table and shoved out a random number of chips, usually about $500 worth, whether the pot had $20 or $2000 in it. After winning one pot, he tried to scoop his chips onto his pile, but his pile was too big and some of them went over the rail and onto the floor. One of the poker room managers went over and picked up about $30 worth of chips that had fallen to the ground. For some reason, Captain was convinced there was one more dollar on the ground.
He got so worked up about this single $1 chip that he got on all fours under the table looking for it. That’s when I discovered Captain’s drunk superpower.
You know how some people have superpowers that only come out when they are absolutely wasted? Well, the guy sitting next to me in the game had gone to the restroom, and he returned to see Captain on the ground looking for this chip. We are on the opposite end of the table from Captain’s scavenger hunt. The guy next to me leans over and says, “What is he doing?”
I whispered, “I think he left a drink under there.”
Turns out, Captain’s drunk superpower is supernatural hearing. He shot up from under the table, stared right at me and said, “You mother******, what did you just say to me?”
I may have crapped my pants a little bit.
I don’t remember what I said, but I backtracked and apologized well enough to avoid getting shot.
On another night in the old poker room at Newcastle, Captain was in an especially abusive mood. He was mad about losing and was three or four drinks over his average consumption level.
The Asian man on Captain’s immediate right was also drinking heavily, so much so that he was almost passed out. This man was probably 45 years old, weighed 110 pounds and could not speak a word of English. He muttered Chinese under his breath and took a long time to make any decision. Captain was not a fan of any of these things.
I’ll save all of the racist vitriol Captain spewed that night. Luckily, the other guy couldn’t understand a word of it anyway.
I’ve heard that burping is an accepted thing in some Asian communities. Nevertheless, I was pretty surprised when this middle-aged Asian dude let one rip without the slightest attempt to cover his mouth. He was just sitting there, staring straight ahead, and let it fly. I remember being seriously afraid that Captain was going to hurt this guy. Captain leaned over, looked right at the guy, stared him down for a good 30 seconds, and even lowered his sunglasses to look him dead in the eye. But Captain never said a word, and after an awkward 30 seconds, play resumed as usual. I was utterly shocked that he didn’t say anything. Captain doesn’t go 30 seconds without saying something under any circumstances.
A good 30 minutes passed, and Captain was on his best behavior. The Asian man’s wife was now sitting behind him. I figured maybe Captain was going easy on him because of her.
Then, out of nowhere, breaking the dead silence, Captain attacked.
He turned, got right in the guy’s face, and let out a burp three times as big as the first one. He shrugged his shoulders with his palms up, the ultimate “What you gonna do now?” pose. But the Asian guy was so drunk/tired that his wife was literally having to wake him up to look at his cards every hand. He probably didn’t care about Captain’s burp and definitely had no interest in fighting him, so he just went back to sleep. Captain stared at him for a good minute or two.
I tried to keep it together but I couldn’t. As soon as I realized that no physical harm was going to be done, I burst out laughing. Captain turned to me and said, “You think that’s funny?”
This made me laugh even louder and I said, “Yeah, actually I think it’s really funny.” I couldn’t stop laughing for at least five minutes. I have no idea how the rest of the table kept from laughing, but I was the only one.
This incident came after the first one, and after I had played with Captain many times. Because he knew I lived in Lawton, he always thought I was in the military. I probably told him 10 times that I had never been in the military, but eventually I realized that my military experience was the only thing he liked about me. This allowed me to get away with an ill-timed bout of the giggles.
“I like you cause you’re in the Army,” he said, “but I’m still gonna bust your m************ a** on the poker table.”