Monday, April 24, 2006

The most exciting game of Challenge ever

On Saturday night I experienced a Cinderella story end to one of the most exciting games of Challenge......ever. I know I'd tell you how much I hate Challenge, but first let's start back on Friday. In case I haven't brought it about clearly enough before, Uncle Paul holds our monthly home game tournaments in Simi, and he usually will have crazy quarter dealer's choice games in between the tournament weekends on randomly chosen weekends. Although we only buy in for $20 at first, with 6-8 people we usually end the night with around $300 on the table at the end of the night. He and his wife Dena are two of the coolest people in the world. They have a great family with their 2 kids, a nice house with a beautiful back yard and great pool, and of course the family dog. They have a pretty nice life and it couldn't happen to a better 2 people.

So I get a call on Friday from Dena asking what I was doing, as they were going out to dinner for her birthday that night. I have to work Saturdays from 9-1, so there was no way I was going to go out to Simi that night and come back at night, cuz I would've been tired at work in the morning and I hate that. I was, however, going out to Simi on Sunday already. So, of course, I had to ask if Paul was having anything going on Saturday. Dena hands the phone over to Paul and immediately he told me that if I wanted him to then he'd get the guys and we'd have ourselves a crazy quarter dealer's choice game. I laughed and told him if HE wanted to, since it was his house, then I would come out and play. Again he told me that if I wanted to have HIM hold a game, then he would do it. Basically he was trying to coerce me into being the backbone of the game so that we wouldn't have to feel bad about having the guys over on what was supposed to be a quiet Saturday night around the house. Knowing that either way Dena wouldn't care, I took the initiative of telling him to gather the troops. Game on!

I had planned on staying around Santa Barbara a little bit after work on Saturday, but had decided that instead I would head out to Simi Valley right afterwards and hang out with Paul and Dena and the kids for a bit. I love their kids, they're just awesome little kids. Their son is just learning how to use his motor skills at the ripe old age of 1 and a half, it's great fun. Also The Hat is in Simi. The Hat, in my opinion, is one of the greatest establishments to ever come to Simi Valley. The food is to die for. Love it. Anyways I decided to grab The Hat and head over early to hang out with the family. So off I went and everything went as planned.

Paul and Dena and I played darts for a little bit leading up to 7 o'clock and then it was time. Everyone bought in we played a range of games: 3 Card Guts, 4 Card Guts, Kings and Littles, Beat the Dummy, Do You Want It, Baseball, Anaconda, Chowaha (a new one I brought this time), and a couple others. Of course the one game that was played, which I HATE so very, very dearly, was Challenge.

Now usually we will play with a 5 dollar cap, since everyone only buys in for $20 at a time and it's a friendly game. Therefore, this game will usually last a while. Now the previous time we had played, Paul decided that he wanted to play a challenge with no max, and a 7 mark win. Since there was no max, by the 10th round it was costing everyone $10 to make a challenge. That was half of the buy-in, so the five of us left at the game were very hesitant to jump in, since it IS possible for someone to sleep their hand and wait for someone with a weaker hand to declare. With that aspect of the game at hand, when it gets to the later rounds of a no cap game there is very seldom anyone declaring in because they don't want to get snagged by a sleeper unless they have the nuts. This REALLY irritated me, since we were endlessly putting money into the pot building our stack of markers, but no one was willing to go in for the marks to win. I was very visibly frustrated, as Darksy will surely tell you, since there seemed to be no end in sight, making the game utterly pointless. The others disagreed, as the majority of them there have been playing this game since they were kids, and they loved it. I didn't usually have a problem with this game, but with everyone just waiting to get the nuts, and the challenges getting more and more expensive, it takes the poker aspect out of it.

Well I made my thoughts on this particular game well-known, and coming to this weekend's quarter game I knew that those who were there last time (or within the city's block) would remember my distaste. So everything had gone well throughout the night, and although we had played Challenge once, we played it with a cap and a small enough mark-quota that it was not irritating in the least bit. That was fine. Then when Dena came out at around 1 AM, we knew it was time to wrap it up. We decided to play 1 more round, and it would end on Paul's deal. We made it through the next 2 deals and with 2 deals left I was up $50 on my $20 buy-in. So with $70 in front of me, Joel decided he wanted to play 4-Card Guts, with a wild card. 4-Card Guts is a variation of 3-Card Guts.

3-Card Guts

Guts is a match pot game, where everyone antes at the start of the game, and after that the winner takes what's in the pot, and anyone else who has stayed in the hand must replace the pot with the same amount of chips. Every loser must pay the pot, which means if there is 3 players in, and the pot is $4, then the winner takes the $4 pot and the losers repay the pot with $4 each, making the pot for the next hand $8.

Everyone gets three cards, 2 face down, and 1 face up. The players are all aiming to shoot for the best 3-card poker hand, the hands ranking as in 3-Card Poker, where straights beat flushes. The twist to this game is that the highest up card is always in automatically, and must face off against any stayers regardless of the other 2 face down cards.
3-Card Guts
Here we see that the highest card is up is the As, therefore that person is automatically in. The other players look at their cards. After everyone has seen their cards they all hold their cards up in the air just off the table's surface, and someone counts to 3. At 3 whoever doesn't want to play their hand will instantaneously drop their cards. Whoever wants to play against the high card AND any other callers, will hold on to their cards. Everyone drops or hold their cards simultaneously, so you never know who will be in or out (besides the high card, of course). Once anyone or everyone has called, the cards are turned over.
3-Card Guts
In this shot here we see that the 4 up-card has paired and the hand is now a pair of 44. The As has turned over a 4 and a 7, and has a hand of A high. The pair of 44 would collect the $3 pot and the A high would repost the $3 pot. The deck is shuffled and redealt for another hand. The game continues until no one calls the high card. However if there are multiple callers in a pot, the next hand will be large and will usually, in turn, make more callers come in the next hand. So as you can see, there is always lots of action in this game.

So there's the explanation. It's a pretty easy game to understand and to play, and is always fun. However instead of 3-Card Guts, Joel wanted to play 4-Card Guts with a wild card. In 4-Card Guts only three cards still play, however with an extra card things really change. In 3-Card Guts pairs are good most of the time for a win, whereas in 4-Card Guts flushes might not win even half of the time, so it changes the game drastically. Now 4-Card with a wild card is even crazier. Usually I love this game, except for the fact that I was high card almost every single time!! And not only that, but I don't think I even had as much as a pair on any of my high cards. So I went from having $70 in front of me in that game to having $35. Still up $15 on the night, but that still sucked, as it is just one of those dumb-luck games.

So that finally finishes and now it's Paul's turn. No doubt Paul had remembered my hatred of Challenge the last time we had played, so he turns to me with a big smile and says the last game of the night will be Challenge. We were to play with no cap and we were playing to 10 marks. Another deadly boring game was about to arise, but this time Paul said that the markers were playing for face value. We play for quarters, so instead of each marker representing $1 payoff, they only represented .25 payoff. That would make the game much easier (looser) to play, but still guaranteeing that a good game would come out of it in the later stages.

Well we played and played and played. There was four of us there: Paul, Joel, Manny, and myself. We played this one game from 1:20 AM to about 2:30 AM before we had even come close to ending it. I had taken an early lead to 4, while Joel had 2, and Paul and Manny both had 1. But Joel had been getting A-2-3 or A-2-4 every hand. Usually this is what you're looking for in a full game, and in a 4-handed game if you land these you're golden for both the 3-low and 5-low. The problem with Joel getting these hands, was that I was getting A-2-4 when he had A-2-3, and I was getting A-3-4 when he was getting A-2-4, so my chips were sliding to Joel on numberous occasions. With him on fire and constantly declaring for the 3-low and 5-low, Joel had built his marks to 9 while mine were still at 4 and Paul and Manny's were still at 1 each. Enter anger here. I started out pretty strong, and in a matter of 15 minutes Joel was one mark away from winning the game.

At that point I had told myself that I was going to win this game just to win it. I started calling Joel's hands no matter what I had, just so that he couldn't catch the last leg. Paul had made a couple of calls to save the rest of us too, which was much appreciated by me since I dearly wanted this game. Eventually I ended making it up to 7, 8, and finally to 9. With Joel and I tied at 9 Paul and Manny started working their marks up also. I didn't want to call Manny or Paul, as their marks were inconsequent and I only needed one mark to win. However, with Joel constantly putting in for the lows, I had to keep paying him off to prevent his winning the whole game. At one point he had declared 3-low and was called by Paul and Paul lost, meaning Joel probably was going to go for 5-low and not get challenged. Sure enough he put in for 5-low. I looked at my hand: K-Q-J-10-10-8-5. My low hand was 5-8-10-J-Q..........but I couldn't let him win. So I payed him off and kept myself alive.

After a few more rounds around the four of us, Paul and Manny had been working and eventually, they both hit 8 marks!! In one hand Joel went 3-low that I called off and payed him, Manny went 5-high and marked it, and Paul went 5-low and marked it. Now since I had payed off Joel I had no more chips in front of me, except for the ONE CHIP that I had to add to the the mark stack, which was now at 32 chips, or $8 total. Everyone was at 9 marks and only needed one mark to win the game!! For a game of Challenge this is insane. Usually two people will be battling it out for the win, and everyone else will be trying to catch up, but usually there's two people out ahead in front and one of the two will win. The hand that I now had my last chip in went like this.

Joel was directly to my left and would be first to act. He passed, Manny passed, and Paul passed. I looked at my cards and found A-4-5. Usually this is a pretty weak hand, however with everyone only needing 1 mark, there is usually just straight forward play. There's no reason to sleep any hands, since if you get called you get $8, and if you don't then you collect the whole pot and win the game. So with everyone passing I put in for 3-low. With no chips left it meant I'd have to reach into my pocket and pull out more cash if I lost, which I haven't had to do at Paul's quarter games..............................ever. Well with everyone only 1 mark away, it really was go time. Joel stared at his hand for what seemed like forever. He finally passed and Manny re-evaluated his hand and passed it on to Paul. One person away from winning the $35 pot. Paul oohed and awed at his hand, shifting cards from front to back and back to front. The suspense was building as he had started to pull his 5 cards out of his hand a couple times, only to put them back in. Finally he folded and I won! I won the damn game! I won Challenge!! They shipped the $35 in quarter chips over to me and I finally won the game.

I payed Joel off numerous times, especially in the later part of the game, which cost me a lot of money. I think I got payed once, but had to give it to Manny on the hand afterwards, so all told I ended up even on the game, even though I payed Joel $35 throughout. It felt good to win, but only because I told myself I would do it. I still hate that game though.....With no cap I hate it.

In other news I finally made it back down to Chumash for a small session for the first time in forever. I'll blog it next time, but until then...

Bankroll: $This is irrelevant now, I'll bring it back after my trip to Vegas in December. Yes that's right, I'll have to wait until December.

1 comment:

Darsky said...

I like your gamble, sir. That's the way to play in a crazy-quarters-dealer's-choice game.

BTW, I think you may have coined a new term with that. I suggest taking it one step further using an acronym: CQDC game.