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Raw Deals, Part 3


Larry concludes his guest post series today.

It was at this time I rediscovered poker however, and my love for it. It started as a Thanksgiving holiday trip with the Filipinos to a small casino town called Wendover (pop. 6k) where Utahans go to gamble. I watched one of my friends turn $50 into $2k in the span of about thirty minutes on the blackjack table and decided I couldn’t do that. I took a walk around. Never played slots, never wanted to. Craps was too intimidating, and I was bored with roulette, so I ended up in the poker room. 

I made all the classic mistakes. I sat down in someone’s vacant seat, thinking that you buy the chips at the table. Finally, I get a seat and start flashing my cards to my buddies, telling them what I’m going to do with them. Can’t imagine what the table was thinking. I lost $500 pretty quickly and don’t remember how. I went back to blackjack where my friend was on a godlike sun-run. I colluded with him for a few hands, turned $100 into $600, and ran back to the poker room. 

This time I performed pretty well. I distinctly remember a 400bb pot where I rivered a nut flush with A6s after calling a 3b and two polar streets out of position and donk jamming for pot, getting a reluctant call. I also remember looking at the sports scoreboard flash by, seeing my favorite number 22 next to my favorite team and taking that as some sort of sign from God.  I open 93cc for like $20 in a 1/2, get 3b and call, flop a flush and scoop a 500bb pot. I became hooked.

Throughout my season as a team lead I would take every weekend off to go play poker. I somehow knew I should be tracking my progress, so I used a poker bankroll management app to log my play. I amassed a respectable 200 hours of play and lost $400 overall.

After I quit, I started working in all sorts of blue-collar industries the locale offered: construction, warehousing, automotive repair, logging, CNC, machine operation. The list goes on. I had about $10k I was dancing around with, and ended up losing a lot of it on Ignition. I couldn’t believe how quickly money could be lost at micros, and I couldn’t believe how I was losing. I realized that poker was above everything in my interests, and also began realizing I wasn’t that good at it. So, I started with Red Chip Poker’s CORE and began learning all the basics; things I never thought about when playing. 

I had a solid intuitive understanding. When I learned of SPR, I realized that’s how I always thought of the game but in a simpler sense. I would just Rain-Man it. I’d look at the pot and I’d say to myself “Ok I have like four pots in my stack I should go for this”, or–”Dude I have like twenty pots in my stack–fuck this pot.” Things like range, blockers, and pot odds were absolutely foreign to me. I lost too much of my roll before I had even a remote understanding of the game, and my life SPR had been a low number for so many years at this point pretty much every depo or trip to the casino became a really big risk. I consequently lost money I should’ve put into education, be it poker or academics, but at least I discovered the OOP game.

One quick message and I was in. I met Chris and Porter through an app game they hosted weekly, a deepstack micro game. My game began improving tremendously, mostly through copycatting but also by poring over the wealth of resources I had just gained access to by joining the private forum. I also met the man Mannes, and started playing in his 40nl game that ran fairly regularly. This was at the onset of the pandemic and app games were flourishing. I was making a couple hundred bucks a night in a matter of an hour or two while risking very little; most of the time just $40. My previous motivation to work had channeled itself into poker and I ended up quitting a good job hastily, which was probably a mistake. But I didn’t care. I was in a new world, one filled with brightness and opportunity.

I managed to run some rolls up, but didn’t shot-take higher like I should’ve and ended up going back to square one; a recurring theme in my life. So, it just felt normal and I wasn’t bothered when I inevitably bled my rolls to life expenses. I found another opportunity however,  and ended up supporting myself with gig apps. Enough to leave Utah and move to Vegas to my father, who recently lost his wife. I began getting closer to him, a decision I’m still unsure of whether I regret or not. 

At least in Utah I had a social life and roommates who cared for me and I cared for them. My father said he needed help and wanted to get closer but I think what he really wants is more money. I also have my sister in town who has her own family, but everyone is so goddamned reserved it’s impossible to tell if they even really like you or not. It sure as hell feels like I’m imposing everytime I come around regardless of what they say. So, I truly just feel more lost around family which is sad but probably just the result of being estranged from them for so long.

Either way, I have to make something of this life. I’m 29, pushing 30 soon, and I still have gas in the tank. I decided my love for cards is so great I don’t even have to play. I could just be at the table and ultimately satisfy the bloodthirst. I signed up for Dealer School. There’s a few choices in the area, each with their own connections to various casinos on and off-strip. I chose a school with a Filipino teacher because I know how highly successful Filipino immigrants set the bar. I am not disappointed. My teacher, who although is easily frustrated, has a sharp eye and understands what the auditioners are looking for. Her goal is to prepare students to pass the WSOP regulation audition, which creates a dealing style that is professional, precise, and elegant.

I write this as the ball drops, and we enter 2023 with scientific predictions of doomsday in various forms. Maybe none of this matters. Maybe we’ll all die together in my lifetime. Maybe I’ll get to pitch some cards while scientists fail to sway public opinion, and we figuratively eat ourselves. The future is grim, but I’m ever optimistic. I just wanna have a bit of fun now. If I can’t make it to 2/5 then retaining game integrity in my black and whites seems like a generous punishment. I’m not thinking about 401ks, retirement, or 10 year plans anymore. I hope the scientists can save us and regret only being able to hope. In the meantime, let’s play some fucking cards. This is Larry, your future dealer, signing out.

Thanks to Larry for writing about his life. Do have a poker-related story to share? Do you have ideas and opinions about poker and poker culture? Contact Chris about posting at

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