Monday, July 23, 2007

Mr. Saturday Night Special

I had every intention of having a really memorable Saturday. I was going to wake up before 10, trek out to Flushing, shoot indoor Archery at a range there, eat authentic Vietnamese food, and maybe even catch the Mets game (if they were playing at Shea, that is). But, of course, none of that happened. Since I had been at the Good Look club until 2:30a the night before, and I hadn't gone to sleep until 4:30, my body decided that Saturday morning would be a great time to catch up on all that sleep I had been missing all week! What great timing! So, yes, I got up at 1:30p. You wanna make something of it?!?

So I puttered around the house for a bit until I started to feel hungry. Famished actually. And I thought that some soup dumplings from Chinatown would go down really nicely. I called all the usual suspects to round up a dinner crew, but alas, everyone was doing something else. Either they were in another city, or they had already eaten, or they didn't pick up their phones! So I tucked my Saturday New York Times under my arm, walked to Water Street and hailed a cab. The cab dropped me off at the corner of Bowery and Pell street, where lives a curious little shop called Joe's Shanghai. Normally, in Chinatown, I go to a great little place called Shanghai Cafe, which is bright and has neon and some of the best soup dumplings I've ever eaten. But Joe's Shanghai was written up in Zagat's as being 'phenomenal' so I decided to give it a shot. When I walked to the storefront, I got a quick lesson in the power of Zagat's. Shanghai Cafe, which is not listed in Zagat's, never has a wait for a table. Joe's Shanghai, on the other hand, had a mob of people waiting outside for their number to be called. What's more, they looked to be in two camps. One group were local asian families. Another was midwestern looking tourists, complete with maps, cameras and a fresh copy of Zagat. What else? I put my name on the list for a table for one and she told me it would be 10 minutes for a table. I was confused. 10 minutes? That's it? Joe's is a small place, perhaps 14 tables, so how could they give me a table for 2 in only 10 minutes. Especially when she told the couple behind me that it would be 30 minutes?!? I got my answer when she called me AND a family of 7, to be seated at a table for 8! AHA! Chinese efficiency at it's finest. My particular dinner mates were a very pleasant, but somewhat uncultured, family from Maryland. I say uncultured because I find it shocking that you would go to Chinatown to find authentic Shanghai food and then order Sesame Chicken. Nevetheless, I had a ball instructing them how to eat their soup dumpling and which sites to see during their stay here. I told them to go to Ferara's Cafe for desert after dinner, to catch Midsummer's Night Swing at Lincoln Center and to make sure they took a stroll through Central Park on Sunday Morning for brunch at the Boathouse. I was probably aiming a little high. Still, my dinner was great. I had an order of soup dumplings and the Salt and Pepper pork chops. Both were great, but given that I couldn't sit alone quietly and read my paper (my original plan), I don't know if I would go back to Joe's alone again. The food was great, and the service was snappy, but I like solitude if I'm going to be eating alone. Not that I didn't enjoy my Maryland family. By the way, they wolfed down their food like they had a train to catch and they were done eating before I was. In fact, they paid there check and left me sitting there only halfway through my meal. In the meantime, ANOTHER family of 7 was seated at my table. They looked throughly confused at my presence but I quickly caught them up to Joe's ingenous seating scheme. They were still confused, though to be fair they were from Florida and this is how most Floridians look.

I was going to stroll a bit in Little Italy after dinner, but it was crowded so I cabbed it home. I was home about an hour or so when I got the call from Darko. "You up for Salami tonight"? Sure, why not? So we met up at 10p and flagged down a taxi for some vicious 2/5 NL action, Manhattan style. But when we got there, Ricardo was nowhere to be found (he's on 'vacation') and there was only one table going, with a waitlist. We got up to 4 on the waitlist and we only needed 2 more for me to feel comfortable opening up a new table, but then one guy got impatient and left. John and I looked at each other and were thinking the same thing. Good Look. So we made our apologies and caught another cab uptown.

When we arrived, the club was strangley empty, for Good Look standards. There were about 60 players there with 4 1-2 tables, a 10/20 limit table and a 2/5 table going. We got seated right away and it was rough going for me. I saw crap cards for hours at a stretch, and when I did raise pre-flop with AQ suited and the like, the flop would invariably come out with absolutely nothing. John, on the other hand, was getting paid off left and right. In 3 hours, he built up his 160 buyin to about 700. I was treading water all night, never able to pull in a profit. Finally, I lost $80 when my AT hit top pair against a large stack's flopped two pair. He boated up on the turn and the board four flushed on the river. He coyly checked the turn and river and was peeved when I didn't call. Uh, Duh! I only had one pair and no heart on a paired and flushed board. Sorry to bother you. So I was down to $45 at one point when I made a valiant comeback. I double up when my AQ caught a Queen on the flop. A guy with a flush draw called me down (he had to for such little money) and he didn't catch. Then I got into another AQ situation when I went all in preflop against one heavy raise. I got two callers. The flop was garbage and one guy bet about a pot bet. The other guy flashed AQ and folded. I figured I must be beat and turned over my own AQ. The raiser, turned over his AQ and we chopped two ways! 3 AQ's in the same hand, it was nuts. So I was still alive when I got Ac-Ks. I raised preflop to $15 and got 5 callers. The flop was As Ts 4s. I had top pair, top kicker and the top flush draw. I bet it out, about $25. The player to my left raised and I went all in. He called with Ah Qs. He called out for a spade when I pointed out that I had the better spade and he saw how crushed he was. The Kc came on the turn to lock it up for me. At this point, I was up by $13 and Darko was up about $550. I asked if we should leave since I had gotten back to even and he was up quite a bit and it was 4:30 in the morning. But no, he wanted to crack this table. To his point, it was a very crackable table. There were a few players, including a guy with a cigarette in his mouth (Sammy Farha style) who we took to calling Cancer Man, who were bound to get stacked soon. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the cards to make it happen. I gave up $100 soon afterwards when I made runner runner King flush and paid off a value bet from a guy who made runner runner Ace flush. John went on a long slide, paying off folks with the second or third nuts until he was down to only $100 in profit. Still good, but a long way from where he was. It was closing in on 7:00a and we were both tired. Finally, we called for our courtesy hands, which turned out to be 3 hands actually. On my very last hand, with $120 in my stack, I picked up JJ one off from the cutoff. I raised to $15 when it got to me and the flop was 378 rainbow. There was about $75 in the pot and I had about $100 behind me. one guy led out the betting with $25 and it folded to me. I moved all in and he called with 56 for the OESD. It didn't hit and I built up my stack to $272, which was only $13 down from where I started. We left with me feeling fortunate to have gotten away so cheaply after being dealt shit all night.

We walked down to the Hollywood Diner and had a very very late night breakfast and called it a night. I was in bed at 9 and woke up at 1 to spend the day with my friend Lisl. We went walking through the West Village, checking out some of the local architecture and generally catching up. On West 10th Street, we ran into the cutest little bookstore specializing in out of print and antique cookbooks. It was called Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks and the proprietor, Bonnie, has a show on NPR where she talks about cooking. Highly recommended as a slice of Old New York, if you're into that sort of thing. I picked up an old cookbook about coffee as a gift for my sister-in-law. We ate dinner at a dreadful Thai place on 7th Avenue and ended up at Barnes and Noble at 68th street, browsing the wares. I picked up a copy of the first (not the latest) Harry Potter book. Yes, I've broken down. The peer pressure has become too much for me.

I'm looking forward to playing tonight and tomorrow at the Wall Street game and for my sojourn to Florida. It should be fun. Abbie and Wendy wil be along, so expect some good blogging about it in the future!

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