I hate cigarettes. I mean I love cigarettes, but I hate coughing. And smelling bad, and paying for them, and lung cancer – I hate lung cancer. I really hate cigarettes. Delicious delicious cigarettes…
I stopped two days ago. People keep asking me why. I hate questions but I hate everything right now.
“There was a thing on HBO about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and I felt like a douchebag smoking smokes while the black people fought to save whatever they could. This lady, powder blue mumu, balding, teeth like a jack-o-lantern, maybe 150 years old, watched from her roof as the toy chest she kept for her grandson floated down the road… Now, it’s been two years and she still believes that he’s still alive. Plus they’re bad, cigarettes. And they really were all black too, Kanye had a point.”
I’m noticing things now. Obvious things – black and white things. It’s like I’m too pissed off to see any middle ground. I used to see the socio-economic prophecy (I hate the word prophecy) fulfilled by Hurricane Katrina and the pragmatic reason that a country shouldn’t needlessly deploy the military (because when real catastrophe strikes, you need them around.) Now I see a bunch of drowning black people – God I want a cigarette.
I go to Party Poker. I need something, anything – my face itches. I’m hot or cold or I don’t know, and just when will this damned window load? I want to spew lava onto everything around me. My wife should be happy that I haven’t met her yet. I pay attention to things in bursts and my head still hurts.
Party Poker loads. I feel better – a patch of sunlight in a Seattle sky. I recognize that I am not in my right mind so I shouldn’t play for much money. $50? No, I’ll really kill myself if I have to play at the $1/$2. $100? $2/$5 sucks too. $200? Ah no, I’ll do a $40+$4 sit-n-go. A sit-n-go, just kill some time, just kill some time, play some poker, a sit-n-go. This too, shall pass.
I buy in, I’m the seventh to sit so I’ll have to wait. My teeth grate loudly – the eighth person sits. I want to peel the skin from my forearms and salt my muscles – the ninth person sits. I WANT TO SLICE MY TONGUE OPEN AND … full table… I gotta relax.
God bless Internet poker, I can freak out and no one knows. I need to be pants-less so I take off my pants. That makes me feel better. I hate pants. First hand, I’m the small blind and I have 5-7 off suit. The guy under the gun raises, Ignorepeter, screen names are stupid. I fold, spitefully. He shows down a 7-2 on the river after he spiked a set of sevens on the turn. I hate poker; I want a cigarette.
Ignorepeter, huh? I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too. He raises again. I pick up 10-8 of Hearts, normally I would play around with a hand like that but I hate it right now. I stab the F1 key thirty times, “Fold, fold, fold, fold! FOLD!!!!!” My finger hurts, poker was a bad idea, I should just leave.
But I hate Ignorepeter too much to leave. If it kills me, if I wake up tomorrow and smoke a carton of unfiltered Pall Malls, I will make sure that Ignorepeter does not win this sit-n-go. This is my line in the sand! I will not stand for the US government’s mismanagement of Katrina relief, I will not stand for the slow but wonderful death by cigarettes and above all else I will not stand for Ignorepeter!
I forget about my headache, I leave behind my urge for self-mutilation, I see only seat 3 – I see only Ignorepeter. I feel weirdly wired like a scientist on the brink of discovery. It’s hand 12 and I haven’t seen a flop yet – there’s been no need to because he stopped getting involved. 3 players have already gone out because they are idiots. Another 2 are going to be blinded to death because they are idiots.
I’m the big blind and I have Kings. The action folds around to Ignorepeter and I want him to raise so badly that I stare into the computer and try to electrically manipulate him like a Jedi. He takes his time. I plot against him without blinking – I’ll smooth call pre-flop then check-raise him post-flop – and then I will kill his first born. I chortle like a pig or an evil genius. Then, with all of the tragic weight of an Arthur Miller play, Ignorepeter folds. I blink.
I could fold I’m so dejected. Instead I just go all-in. Fold, all-in, what’s the difference? Blinds are at 5/10 and I bet 470 into an un-raised pot – I don’t care about an overbet, I just want to smash something. Go Godzilla and terrorize. I throw up my hands and cluck in disbelief. This reminds me that my head hurts, so I close my eyes and rub them for a second. When I open them again, I see that two halfwits have actually called me. The flop has already hit K Q 4 leaving me with top set. The other two are holding QJ and pocket fives – ridiculous stupidity, they deserve to die.
We’re down to four players now because I’ve just destroyed two. My brain is throbbing again. I pick up J-10 under the gun but I’m looking at Ignorepeter’s smug inanimate avatar and I am sure that he is going to raise. He has something, I can feel him. So I fold. He raises and I laugh maniacally. The other two go all-in behind him, he calls and has Aces. The board brings nothing but blanks and it’s down to me and him, good and evil. Then something dawns on me.
I’m playing pretty good poker right now! I didn’t even realize it because the entirety of my being is focused on obliterating Ignorepeter, but that’s good. I’m really focused on the other players at the table, I’m folding mediocre hands and I’m playing strong when I do have something. Party Poker + nicotine withdrawal = Stu Ungar.
In those few moments that I spent congratulating myself, Ignorepeter performed surgery on my chip stack – chiposuction. I lost my focus and lost the game. But I made about $150 for finishing in second. And even though my mortal enemy defeated me, I feel pretty good for feeling bad. And as my brain cleaves down the middle, I smile. Withdrawal lasts about a week they say, I’ve got some serious poker to play.

This site is registered on wpml.org as a development site.