The Cuban (Part 2) The Game Must Go On
BY: Eugene Valdez
The first time I ever played poker with the Cuban was at a regular weekly home game almost 20 years ago. We must’ve sometimes had 20 plus people in that little apartment off Perrin Beitel and Loop 410. The carpet was nasty. The drinks were watered down, and it was mostly pizza for dinner back in those days, but this game was the best game I knew in town that played twice a week. Every week.
Cuban likes to say he was always the professional he is today, but I remember when all he ever did was donate at this game. We played 2 and 5 blinds in a 5-10 limit Texas holdem structure with an option to bet 10 or 20 on the river. Today most of the younger players cringe at the thought of playing limit poker. You can’t protect your hand!… You can’t beat the rake!… There’s not enough action for them like they have in No Limit, etc., However this game was historic.
We played a 4 bet cap after the last straddle. So, if UTG straddled to 10 and next position re-straddled to 15 we could potentially have a $35 dollar per player pre-flop and often did this with 8 or more players seeing the flop. That’s $280 to $350 for a family pot pre-flop, and if you follow limit structure you know you can only open up for $5 bucks after the flop. You could imagine pretty quickly what the result was gonna be. Inflated pre-flop pot sizes made the pot odds right for gut shots and non-nut flush draws and anything else you could go runner runner for. So, the action moved fast and furious.
Out Go The Lights
Cuban was a regular here. He never missed a game. And he was a great ambassador for the game as he would bring new players to join our group every week. He didn’t just benefit the game with his loose action and his new players. One night we were just buying in when the lights go out. The game keeper hadn’t paid his electric bill. He made plenty of money hosting, but he just forgot to mail the check two months in a row. The game keeper is just about to cancel the game when the Cuban walks in and asks, “What’s going on?”
What Are Neighbors For?
After a minute he says, “We don’t have to cancel. Let me work my magic.” He leaves the apartment and we are just sitting there waiting… no TV…no smart phones in 1999 to surf the internet, when 5 minutes later Cuban walks back into the apartment with extension cords followed by the lady neighbor from next door carrying lamps. I’m not sure how he convinced her to lend us her cords, lamps, and electricity but I think I remember them ordering pizza for her kids and later the neighbor and a couple of her girlfriends hanging out with us at the poker game and drinking with us later that evening and subsequent game nights.
We are playing by borrowed electricity. The game went on as scheduled. When every new player arrived, we got to explain the cords they almost tripped over, running out the front door, across the stairway to the neighbor’s apartment, and laugh at the jokes about the game keeper being too cheap to pay his electricity bill.
Cuban wasn’t about to lose a night of poker for something that was an easy fix. “In my country, we borrow electricity from the neighbors all the time… Sometimes we even ask first!”
Big L was one of the other regulars at this game. First time I met him was on a game on the south side of town a few months prior. I thought he was the greatest player I’d ever played against. He kept winning every showdown that first night. I mentioned that to him, and he says “You know son, first impressions are important. Sometimes when you first meet a person you get an idea of what they are like and when you really get to know them that feeling can change, but as for you…I’d have to say, you’ve stayed pretty consistent in my book… I thought you were an asshole when I first met you and you’re still an asshole today!” He busts out laughing as does the rest of the table.
Next hand when Big L is in the big blind, Cuban tells me to straddle and he will re-straddle. Big L says “see?… a pair of assholes!” Cuban responds, “Let’s see if you can triple me up!” Big L asks, “Is that Cuban math? I can personally only double you up.” Cuban says, “Not if I get you on your small blind on the next hand too!” Big L asks, “then wouldn’t that be a quadruple up?” Cuban replies, ” I don’t know what math y’all do here in Texas, but I have 300 and you have 600… You don’t have enough yet to quadruple me up, but you can buy more chips if you like! I have all night.”