He Got Me

Dear reader: I wrote this in 2002.

He really got me good on this one.
I was playing $40-80 limit hold’em at Lucky Chances. Alex was at the next table, playing no-limit. He spoke to me with a hand gesture and said, “Do you want to take a break on your next big blind?” I signaled back “yes.” A few hands later, he was standing behind me, ready to go. I was under-the-gun. I looked at my cards and raised. I don’t recall how the hand went after that except for the only thing that is pertinent to the story: at some point, I folded. Then I hopped up, and outside we went.
Walking away from the table, Alex asked, “What’d you have?”
“Ace-queen,” I said.
He looked at me kind of funny. “Really?”
“Yes,” I said. And then I did some splaining. I don’t know what I said, but I can do a reenactment of the tone and content. I said something like, “I knew when the small blind called preflop that he had at least bla-bla-bla, and that when he checkraised the flop he either had bla-bla or bla-bla, so when the bla-of-bla came on the turn, it was a no-brainer to fold.”
I can assure you that whatever it was I said, it was all very sensible. It was a legit explanation for playing ace-queen exactly the way I had played it. Except for one thing… I didn’t. I mean, I didn’t have ace-queen.
What I actually had was king-queen. I had lied, masterfully, as usual. I’m really good at this game. I can always come up a believable lie that will send whatever message I’m trying to send. I might be lying so that my opponents think I played better than I had, or worse. I might be lying to save face, as I had done with Alex. Or to maintain a solid image. It doesn’t matter. All lies are created equal as far as I’m concerned, and by that I mean equally well.
After my stategy rant about how I had played a fictitious ace-queen, a couple minutes went by, and I remember being caught off-guard when Alex asked, “So, what did you have on the last hand again?”
“Ace-queen!” I said. “If you think I played it bad, just tell me!”
He probed yet again. “Are you sure you had ace-queen?”
Something was going on here. I gave him a stern gaze. He broke into a big guilty grin, and I figured it out.
“You bastard!” I said. “You saw my hand!”
He was doing nothing but laughing now. And then me too.

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