Poker is legal in Oregon. At one point I lived near a pretty “nice” poker club where I had some mixed results in tournaments. I however finished in the top three of a large one, which pretty much led to me bankrolling my poker exploits for a long time. These poker clubs are kind of like the cantina bar in Star Wars, you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. The night where I finished in the top three out of about 150-200 players I took a cab home even though my apartment was five blocks away because I didn’t trust some of the people outside the poker club at 3am.
Since that tournament I have moved away from that neighborhood. I am within driving distance of a few poker clubs but the two closest places that have poker are strip clubs which have games starting at around 10pm at night and lasting until 2am in the morning. Of the two strip clubs one had talent that I would be attracted to and the other place had talent that at best could be called “below grade”. I chose to start playing poker at the “below grade” place.
My reasoning for this was simple. If I went to play poker at a strip club that had women that I wasn’t attracted to, played sober, and played pretty measured I would have the odds in my favor against drunk people distracted by naked women. This strategy paid off in spades as I went on a pretty good two month run. I would probably play once or twice a week and very rarely did I leave down. Over that period of time though a few events happened that made me make some changes.
1) The dancers began to know me by name. It’s an odd type of relationship shift when dancers stop going from an object of affection/attraction to you being a guy they shoot the shit with and drop their troubles on you. This shift is not one that I recommend.
2) I started to know the set list put together by this douchebag. I could tell you what DJ Dick Hennessy (I don’t think that is birth name) was going to play and when. I don’t need to write that much about him, I’ll just show you his “album” cover and it will sum everything up.
3) I got eyeballed one night by a guy that looks like he has spent some serious time in prison, which was slightly uncomfortable. There was one night that I went on a particularly good run and had a stack of chips in front of me. A gentleman that had the ink, the hardened look, and walk of someone that at the very least you wouldn’t want to fuck with and the most someone that has spent some time in the hoosegow commented on my stack saying, “It looks like someone is the big winner here tonight.” He then proceeded to sit down at the bar and stare a hole through me for the next hour. When I cashed out that night I paid the bouncer $50 to walk me to my car. I felt like it was a good investment.
4) I thought I was going to get stabbed. Another night I was on a good run and was playing with a few people I didn’t recognize. After taking my third pot of this giant dude that looked like a combination of Larry the Cable guy and a deranged NFL lineman he pulled a knife out of his boot and began to give himself a pedicure. I kept trying to make eye contact with the bouncer the entire time he had his knife out but that didn’t happen. Needless to say I decided not to poke the bear and for rest of the game I stayed out of hands with him.
5) Everybody be cool, this is a robbery. The final event that really sealed the deal for me to stay away was that armed gunmen robbed the bar during the day. I figured that was the final sign that I might need to avoid the place.
While I did go on a very good run I figured that I was on borrowed time if I kept going back. I walked away from playing figuring that my health and well being might be more important than some quick cash.
What is the sketchiest place you have hung out at?