Just How We Do!


The scene:

It was late at night on March 29, 2009.  Actually, probably very early in the morning on March 30th.  I had been playing poker all day at the illustrious Foxwoods Resort and Casino in a $1500 No Limit Hold ‘Em event, and the field had whittled itself down to two tables.  Fifteen players remained.  We were playing down to the final table before quitting for the night.  I short-stacked my way all the way there.  I was tired but focused.

Seated two seats to my left was a young fellow pro with a lot of big cashes to his credit.  He’s confident, tricky and dangerous. Seated to his direct left, three seats away from me, was an older amateur.  He is neither tricky nor dangerous, but he certainly was not scared.  He’s what we call a station:  he was playing more pots than anyone else at the table.  These two players both had plenty of chips and had been clashing a lot in the prior hour or so, and also sparring verbally.  Then the following hand developed:

Blinds were 3,000-6,000 with an ante.  Both players had stacks of about 300,000.  Everyone folded to the pro in the small blind and he raised to $18,000.  Old Amateur immediately called.

“Spite calling me now, huh?” snapped the pro as he glared at Old Amateur.  Old Amateur remained steely in his cap and sunglasses.

The flop came K-Q-7 with two clubs.  Pro checked and Old Amateur bet 33,000.  Pro quickly called.

The turn was another seven.  Pro checked and Old Amateur made another healthy bet of 56,000.  Pro considered briefly and called.  Big pot brewing.

The river was the four of clubs, making the final board K-Q-7-7-4 with a flush possibility.  Pro checked and Old Amateur studied for about ten seconds before turning to Pro and asking:

“How much you got left?”  The answer was around 180,000.  Old Amateur studied for a few more seconds then announced that he was all in.  

This news widened the Pro’s eyes.  He stared at Old Amateur with disgust, then got out of his chair and walked behind it.  He leaned forward heavily, using the vacated chair for support.  Then he shot Old Amateur a longer, even more disgusted look.  Then he sat back down and deliberately said “I call,” never taking his eyes off Old Amateur.

Old Amateur’s despondent reaction was to sit there stone faced, refusing to turn over his cards.  It was obvious after a few seconds:  He had zilch.  Nothing.  

Pro, now practically seething with adrenalized bravado, looked straight at Old Amateur with wild eyes and said “c’mon, c’mon!” the same way Rocky Balboa once uttered those same words after absorbing Ivan Drago’s best.  Still, neither player turned over their cards.

Then Old Amateur finally dejectedly muttered “I have nothing,” and flipped his cards face down towards the muck.  I managed to catch a glimpse from my vantage point:  10-5 offsuit.

Now the Pro sprang back to his feet.  In one fluid motion he grabbed his hole cards, flipped them over in his right hand, lifted his arm up over his head, then SLAMMED the cards face up onto the felt:  pocket threes.  Then, with a mixture of bluster and utter contempt, as the pot was shipped in his direction, he screamed:


Wait, what?!  This comment diverted my attention completely from the great call he had just made.  All I could focus on were the most hilarious words I had ever heard at a poker table.

Whaaaaaaat!?!? That’s how you do it on Long Island?  Wait.  No way.  WHAT?!

Where do I start?  Holy crap.

First, is Long Island a hotbed of poker talent?  Wow, I didn’t know that!  News to me.  

Second, Long Island isn’t a bad place, but it’s also not the kind of place you’re allowed to rep like that. Long Island is where your parents moved so that they could have a yard and get you a decent public education. Unless your grandparents were farmers, fishermen or innkeepers, you’re probably a first generation Long Islander; your family hasn’t been there forever.  Your parents lived in Brooklyn or Queens (maybe the Bronx), then one day they found a nice house in Levittown that they could afford. So you had a swing set. You hung out at your local diner a lot.  Then you hopefully went off to college somewhere else, and if you were lucky you never returned.  Jesus Christ, you’re allowed to have deep long island roots, but you don’t brag about it! When you do that, you inadvertently advertise the fact that you were zooming up and down Deer Park Avenue in your retarded Camero while the rest of us were in college. 

Third, you really need to be more specific about this.  Long Island is a big, diverse place.  You can’t say “that’s how we do it on Long Island.” Eight million people live on Long Island.  You need to give me something to work with, like a specific town.  ‘Cause I gotta know:  exactly who on Long Island does it that way?  

Is that how Mrs. Jones does it while she shops for discounted fine china at the Fortunoff’s on Old Country Road?

Is that how all the suits reading the Newsday sports section while they wait for the 6:38 at the Hicksville LIRR station do it?

Is that how an old lady humming Chattenooga Choo Choo at her kitchen table whilst cutting coupons out of the Waldbaum’s weekly circular does it?

Is dat how da boyz do it down at Sal’s Pizza, next to the stationary store ovah in da strip mall?  Or maybe those waitresses at the Ben’s Deli in Wheatley Plaza?

Wait, it’s probably how those slobs do it in the bowling alley on Jericho Turnpike?

Madon a mia, is that how they do it at St. Rocco’s in Glen Cove?

Oy vey, is this how they do it before Friday night shul at Temple Beth-El down in Hewlett?

Or maybe that’s how they do it in the arcade in that big Nathan’s in Oceanside?

It could be how little red-faced Johnny does it while he eats a delicious Marino’s Cherry Italian Ice with a wooden spoon over at Jones Beach?

Is it how we do at the fancy Commack Motor Inn?  Or the White Castle next door?

Is it how those fat nasty ex-jocks playing softball in Eisenhower park do it?

No wait, it must be how they do it at the Artful Dodger in Huntington, or Tavern on the Plaza in Locust Valley, or Partners in Sea Cliff, or Finn Mac Cool’s in Port Washington, or maybe McHebe’s in Hempstead, or Dublin Pub in New Hyde Park or possibly even Mulcahy’s in Wantaugh?

Maybe it’s how we all used to do it when we went rollerskating at Laces and the DJ dropped Shannon–Let The Music Play ?  Or how we used to do it at NY Arrows games at Nassau Coliseum, or how we did it when we bought baseball cards at the Roosevelt Field Flea Market, or when Roosevelt Field was all about Le Petit Mall and Lum’s, or when we went bong shopping at Utopia, or when we chilled at the Oak Beach Inn (“OBI”) in Bay Shore back in the day!?

See, I know from what I’m talking here.  But I also know you can’t shout out Long fucking Island that way. Jesus Christ man, WTF are you smoking!?  How we do it on Long Island, LOL…


Parting thought:


11 thoughts on “Just How We Do!

  1. My friend Dave, I want to say thank you. Thank you writing one of the funniest passages I have ever read in my entire life. Don’t get too gassed, I don’t read much. Just kidding.

    But seriously, I’m alone in Ireland (homesick) reading your blog on a free internet kiosk. I had to do everything in my power from not spitting beer all over the keyboard when I read the Marino’s Ice/wooden spoon/Jones beach reference.

    I grew up in Queens so this post hit home for me big time. As I remember it…Bronx kids gave shit to Brooklyn. Brooklyn kids gave shit to Queens. At least us Queens kids could give shit to Long Isalnd. Manhattan was Manhattan. And Staten Island? That was like another country.

    Thanks again sir.

    For the record, I bought my first hackey sack at Utopia.

  2. Too funny…not hard to figure out who the cool kid from Long Island is either…I’ll have to go back to Cardplayer tonight and revisit who made that FT, so I can laugh inside next time I see that individual on tour. Speaking of Long Island…just had a lovely easter with Aunt Judy who drove up from…Central Islip…too damn funny!

  3. lol, I guess the mystery is solved. I don’t think my blog gets enough traffic for this little story to develop into legit poker drama, but I want to add this addendum:

    That was the first time I’ve ever sat with Tony even though we’ve played at least 30 tourneys together. I had been told by many people that he was super tough, and they were right. The call I described was as big-league as it gets, most players would have passed, “looked for a better spot” and folded their way to the final table. His call in that situation was an amazing all-or-nothing play, the difference between a shitty mincash and a ten-plus thousand dollar score. Pure class.

    We sat next to each other at the final table, and chatted quite a bit. I found Tony to be very engaging, friendly and nice overall. In the unlikely event that he ever reads this blog entry I think he might even laugh. If I somehow had the balls to make such a great call in such a big spot, I also would have been really fired up and probably would have blurted out some crazy shit too. Next time I see Tony I’ll probably let him know that I gave him a little ribbing here. I doubt he’ll have any issue with it. 🙂

  4. hahahhahahaa….yeah son!! that’s how we do it in the parking lot of ralph’s italian ices in syosset!

    f’in hilarious, dave. hahahahha.

  5. The story is pure gold. Saying YEAH SON! THAT’S HOW WE DO IT ON INSERT REGION YOU GREW UP IN/OR CURRENTLY LIVE IN” should not be kept to those with only first hand knowledge.

  6. Funny shit my friend! Although I am from Westchester (the best Chester) I could literally plug in the same exact examples with different names for the establishments. Thanks for a laugh out loud at the office!

  7. YEAHHH sonnn!!! This is how we do it while we’re eating at Sbarro’s in King’s Plaza in Brooklyn!!!!! Then we go up the escalators and rep our peeps at the Radio Shack when we buy the wireless mouse for our laptops!! YEAHHHH…what!!!!! 🙂

  8. Hilarious stuff Dave…I also grew up in Queens and moved to LI in the 3rd grade where I lived till I moved to NYC when I was 18. After 8 years in the concrete jungle, I moved back to Hicksville, and soon realized there was a huge underground poker scene across the island. In fact, once all the NYC clubs went busto in 06 and 07, I was fiending for a place to get my tournament fix. Westbury, Commack, Syosset, Babylon all had different tournaments on a weekly basis. In fact, it was these games in 2007 that allowed me to keep my game pretty sharp in between various casino stops. I have to admit, the players from LI are pretty good and Bagels is obviously no exception. When he brings his absolute A game, he is incredibly tough to beat. The scene on LI is still thriving today, esp given the dearth of underground games in NYC. In fact, I think I might check out the 550 buyin in Hauppauge tonite!!

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