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Best of Ryan McLane

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Diary of a female poker player

30 March 2007

A typical Sunday for me and missus involves her trying to get me to do something productive and me sleeping until 2 p.m.

It's a lame little existence, but it's mine.

Not this Sunday.

The hairdryer was blaring at 6:45 a.m. with Chrissy primed to play in the $300 ladies-only event at Foxwoods. She's a relative newbie who's never played in a major event, so the prospect of competing for $40,000 in the world's largest poker room ensured that my snooze button would miss me until next weekend.

Honestly, I haven't had as much fun on a Sunday since the Patriots snagged the Lombardi three years ago.

6:45 a.m. – I'm going to kill that hairdryer. The bane of my morning existence has reached another octave of annoying this morning. I vow to shave her pretty little head.

7:05 a.m. – My promise to be up by seven induces me to get in the shower. I take solace in my five minute victory.

7:16 a.m. – In the car. I forgot the XM radio and the camera. She mutters, "Just keep going, I don't want to be late." I've created a monster.

7:19 a.m. – I stop for some gas and a coma-ridding Rockstar. I savor each sip of my morning ritual. She stares at the can, envious of my not so secret love. "Yes honey, I love you more than a silly energy drink," I meekly offer. I've only been up for 30 minutes and have already pulled off a massive bluff.

8:10 a.m. – I'm not a good person. I promised a car-ride-long lecture (almost two hours to the Woods from Boston) on poker, but I'm still steaming about the hairdryer so I go on this long discourse about my love for her and planting good seeds for the future of our relationships. She glares at me, seeing through my misdirection and demands talk about something important - like poker. I refuse. She promises to withhold dessert for the rest of the week. The lesson begins.

8:10 – 9:15 a.m. – An intense discussion about position ensues.

9:15 a.m. – We arrive at Foxwoods. It's time to get serious so I won't write anything witty in this sentence.

9:28 a.m. – Chrissy will play in three $60 sit-n-gos on Friday and have no problem doing the same on a Saturday ($360 total). But shelling out three $100 bills for one stack of 5,000 chips? The answer: a leaf. The question: What are Chrissy's hands shaking like?

9:34 a.m. – I tell her to size up her competition. She tells me the girl that just signed up has nice hair.

9:39 a.m. – We visit her seat assignment. She's in the "skylight area." Despite having more than 50 tables the tournament, her area has only seven, allowing her to play in surrounding that have a smaller tournament feel. I rejoice at the assignment because it gives her a better chance to win. She's pissed because the bathroom is so far away.

9:50 a.m. – She decides to head to her table to survey her competition up close. I tell her to get me water when the waitress comes to her table. She leaves and I start up a conversation with another boyfriend doomed to spend hours on the rail. The conversation is amicable, but I'm ready for a "my girl friend is better than your girlfriend" fight to break out at any moment. He refrains so I holster my verbal weapons. The waitress comes by me so I grab some water.

9:55 a.m. – Chrissy waves the water she got for me. I tell her no thanks, already got one.

10:02 a.m. – The tournament begins. There are 461 women in the tournament. I wink at Chrissy and mouth, "good luck."

10:03 a.m. – I'm so bored. I start thinking about the Caribbean Stud jackpot.

Random thought – I'm not that nervous when I sit down at a table. I've probably played more than a million hands of poker, so once the tournament starts it's all the same to me. There's a varying degree of nervousness based on the buy-in size, but that goes away after a couple of hands. And that's more excitement than fear. When Chrissy was playing, every hand was torture. I had dreams of her winning, but I really just wanted her to have a good experience. I trust her skills, but even pocket aces are not certain. I was more worried she'd bust early on a bad beat and resent traveling to the casino than I was that she would play bad. Thus, every hand was like life or death. Seriously, I can't even remember breathing all that much.

10:15 a.m. – Chrissy wins her first pot. She looks at me and uses facial expressions to ask if she did the right thing. I nod enthusiastically, despite not seeing any of the action. Add glasses to the list of things I forgot.

10:31 a.m. – She is folding everything. She shrugs at me as if to say no hands. Our primitive hand gesture communication is slowly becoming a second language.

10:33 a.m. – Our communication continues. She plays a hand and is re-raised off her continuation bet. I give her the thumbs up for support. She flips me off.

10:38 a.m. – The second Sarah McLaughlin song plays over the casino speakers. It's bad enough that Foxwoods is sexist enough to exclude men from a tournament - do they need to torture my gender with continual women's lib music as well?

10:52 a.m. – She makes it to level 2. Chip count – right around 5,000 chips.

11:01 a.m. – A tournament director prints out the payout schedule for me. Forty spots pay a range of $405 to $39,000. I tell the director that I should have followed through with my plan to dress up like a woman and compete. She tells me I would have to shave first. I survey the field then lean in a little closer to whisper "would I?"

11:25 a.m. – I return from the bathroom to find Chrissy involved in a decent pot. She raised from the button and a limper calls. The flop produced 10-high with two diamonds. The limper bets and Chrissy calls. The turn is a diamond. Both players check. The river hits the felt and Chrissy bets the pot after the limper checked. She takes down close to $1,000 in chips. I let go a ridiculous fist pump and immediately regret it.

11:27 a.m. – My excitement draws a little attention from the table. Chrissy points at me and the lady next to her smiles and they both start gossiping about something I did. Women are weird. This is poker damn it!

Break in the action – I can't take it anymore so I go downstairs and play a little $120 sit-n-go. This was a big mistake. Let's just say I ended up berating some guy who had a feeling about his 6-3. Hey, they were soooooooooootted.

12:38 p.m. – I come upstairs and Chrissy shoots me a glare. I start looking for an escape route, but she's pretty nimble so I decided to just stay put and take her admonishments like a man. Turns out she was upset because she'd lost a mess of chips with an overplayed 6-6. Calm down sweetie, you just need to double up. She shoots the glare again, but thankfully goes and sits down without kicking my ass in public.

12:49 p.m. – Determined to double up, Chrissy makes a big raise from early position. I can smell the Kings and start to get excited. She gets one caller and an Ace comes on the flop. I didn't start this piece with "oh my God Chrissy made me rich," so you do the math. Stupid three-outers.

12:55 p.m. – As we walk towards the car, I try and hold her hand and tell her I'm proud. She keeps slapping my hand away (which strangely makes me do it more). She'll be ok, but poker players never like to lose. Like I said, I've created a monster.

"How do you think you did," I ask.

"Pretty well. Didn't get many cards and that was a bad call with those Kings."

"You had to try and double up. Pocket Kings is a pretty good hand to lose with," I offer.

"I guess…"

"Want to head up to NH and play at Rockingham?"

"Yup."

Atta girl.

**** Chrissy has been playing poker for six-months now and held her own, finishing in the middle of the field in a $300 Foxwoods Poker Classic tournament against some of the best women players in New England. It was her third multi-table tournament – ever. She's the best student a degenerate poker could ask for and I can't wait to see how she does in the Foxwoods Fall Classic. *****


Mucking McLane
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Best of Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane

Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.
Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.