Lucky Morris I (redux) | The Poker Perspective

[For those who missed, or forgot, Lucky Morris I — the first installment in this story — I reprint it for you here.  It precedes Lucky Morris II].


Everything was going terribly for you that Saturday. You had planned to leave your home in White Ridge, Rhode Island at 2:00 AM for Foxwoods Casino’s poker room. You would have arrived at 3 or so, just in time to hit the room when most of the players were at their weariest — having chased their losses all night. You shouldn’t have had any problem at all leaving by then, having gone to bed at the unholy hour of 8:00 PM. But you didn’t wake in the middle of the night as you usually did. You slept right by 1, 2, and 3 AM — and didn’t get up until half past 5:00. So instead of arriving by 3, you arrived at 7:00, just in time to face that crowd of early rising seniors, who started their Saturdays with a solid breakfast, a cup of coffee, and then a trip in to their favorite casino.  These were not the fish you wanted.  These were the old anglers.

So here you were at 11:00 AM, discouraged from the get go, and now nearly steaming because of the awful luck you’d had. You had your pocket Aces cracked by some jackass who called you down to the last card, the river as its known. This guy had started with, get this, an unsuited 7 and 8. But he couldn’t lay it down when you raised to $15 before the flop. And, since he hit a pair of 7s he couldn’t lay it down on a flop of 7K9, even though you bet $35. And he couldn’t fold on the turn when the Jack hit, when you bet $75, because he had that inside straight draw. And, of course, when he hit that straight on the river and shoved; you surely couldn’t fold to this nothing of a player who might well have been bluffing. So you went down $300 in one hand and had to reload. And it didn’t happen just once, but in similar fashion four fucking times! So now you’re down over $1,000 in this lousy $1/2 game and you’re playing a short stack of just $100, because that’s about all the dough you brought. And the only thing that will save you is probably hitting the bad beat jackpot — which now sits at $133,000.

The reader should understand something about this bad beat jackpot. It is a reward for getting royally screwed when you have a great hand but get beaten by an even greater hand. It’s a way of attracting suckers to the room, since it’s like a lottery and losers love lotteries because they’re not about skill but about luck. So if you are unfortunate enough to have your 8888 or better beaten by another player, and you are both using both of your hole cards in making the hand — well then you win it. Seems easy. But the odds against such an unlikely couple of hands going against each other is something like 10,000,000 to 1 against. So you’re statistically more likely to get hit by an airplane while riding in another airplane. But still, that’s what losers think about at the table. “If only I could hit the bad beat jack pot”.

Even good players think of it sometimes — as you were right then. Of course you don’t play for it. But it’s like seeing the Powerball jackpot of $133 million. How can you not at least think about it?

So you are. You’re thinking that if you hit the jackpot and won even the players’ share (the guy who loses with the great hand get’s 50% of the jackpot. 25% goes to the winner of the hand. And the other players sitting at the table divvy up the remaining 25%). With a $133,000 jackpot the player’s share is $4126.

You’re musing about this, while folding hand after hand, waiting for something you can play, when you spot Morris at the next table over. Morris is over 100 years old. He wears a hat that says “100+”. He doesn’t look it. He looks 95. Morris plays all the time. You think he may live in the room. Morris had won the bad beat a few months ago. He’s also a casino regular. You’ve never visited when you haven’t seen him in the room. And there he is, sitting at the next table over. You give him a short wave and mouth “hi” with a smile. He nods in recognition and smiles back. After a few more hands of nothing, you get up from your seat and walk over to where Morris is playing. You wait until he folds and is out of the hand. He turns his head to see you — and he says hello”. He pushes his chair back a few feet and is out of the next few hands.

“How you running Morris” you ask.

He smiles, and says, “not so bad, you?”

“Awful” you say, not mincing words. “Just awful”. You think about your four bad beats and hold your tongue, knowing that he and you have each heard every bad beat there is — and don’t need to hear any more.

“Hit any more bad beat jackpots Morris”, you say with a grin.

“Hah, not since my third one a few weeks back”.

“Third one? I had heard you hit one a few months ago. But now you’ve hit one again?”

“Oh, that was my first. But I have actually hit it twice more , three times in two months— with a table share a couple of other times”.

“That’s like impossible, Morris. No one hits a bad beat jackpot three times in two months — with two other table shares. It’s statistically impossible?”

He laughs, and turns back to the table, not wanting to miss the deal, as the dealer has just started to shuffle for the next hand.

Still smiling broadly and looking back toward me, he says,

“I’ll have to tell you about it some time”. And he gets his next hand.

You were amused and mystified. The bad beat is luck — pure luck. There’s no way that anyone can increase his chances of winning it. Morris was kidding you, of course.

Your luck, meanwhile, continued to be horrid. You had gone to the money machine and taken out a few hundred dollars more. You folded about thirty hands in a row. But then you get something worth playing. You started off a hand with the KdQd on the button. It was called around to you. You made it $15, just to take advantage of your position, hoping for a caller or two whom you could manipulate into folding on a later street. You got two callers. The board was Ad, Ts, 7d. You hit the nut flush draw and an inside straight draw. It was checked to you. You figured with that scary board, and no one betting, a bet from you would take down the pot. So you bet $30. The first guy folded and the next guy called. No matter. You had so many ways to win that you’re glad he called you. You’ll either steal it on the next card, improve, or win on the river. The next card was the 5s. The card didn’t help you, but how can your opponent call a pot-sized bet from you — a guy who hasn’t played a hand in about an hour. So you bet $100 — just enough to get him to fold you figure. Sure enough, he didn’t call right away. He looked back at his down cards. He looked at the board, and he looked back at his cards. The guy wasn’t an actor. You knew he had crap. Still, after what seemed like an hour, he finally called. The river was the Jack of Spades, making the board Ad Ts 7d 5s Js. It was just about the perfect card for you. If he was playing a straight draw with the 8 9, he just made a straight — but you made the NUT STRAIGHT. On the other hand, if he was playing a flush draw, he just made it. But he couldn’t have been playing a flush draw, could he? He checked. You figured you’d either win a big hand or get him to fold. You shoved for your remaining $150 or so. He instal-called. Uh oh. You showed your nut straight. He paused a little too long and then rolled each card over, one at a time, dramatically, to reveal the As and the 2s — for the nut flush. Aargh. You are done for the day.

You are still shaking your head when you see Morris. He seems to be calling you over. So you get up and walk to him. Sure enough, he is waving you over to his seat.

“Hey, could you do me a favor”, he asks.

“Would you give me a ride? My son was supposed to meet me here but he didn’t show and he doesn’t answer his cell phone. I need to get home to take my medication. I only live in Norwich.”

“Sure, Morris, I’m done anyway. It’s a lot earlier than I was planning to leave, so no problem.”

With that you stand back, watch Morris stack his chips into a chip holder. First he asks the dealer to color him up. The dealer takes $700 in red $5 chips and gives him 7 black $100 chips. Morris stacks them and the $300 or so green chips he also has into a chip rack. They take up one stack but it comes out to $1,000 even. Morris tosses to the dealer the few whites and two reds he has left.

“Nice tip, Morris” you say.

“I always tip nicely. It pays in the long run.”

With that we walk slowly over to the cashier. You wait while Morris goes to the window and gets his cash. He folds it neatly into his money clip, that he slides into the front left pocket of his blue sweat pants. He meets you and you exit in the back of the room. You then both go outside and walk toward the outdoor lot, diagonally across the street from the poker room exit. It’s a nice Sunday afternoon — about 2:00 — with the sun shining. You feel good to be outside, even though you are upset by your nearly $1400 loss for the day.

You point to your car, a few hundred feet away. Morris walks slowly toward it and you slow your pace to make sure he keeps up. You open the front door for him, and you remove the McDonald’s bag left over from your breakfast that you downed early that morning en route to the casino. Morris sits down and you close the door behind him.

You walk around the back of the car to the driver’s side and get in. You put on your seat belt and ask Morris for the address so you can punch it into your GPS on the dashboard.

“I live at 18 Havenville Lane, in Norwich. This is really nice of you” he adds with a small smile.

He looks tired, almost ready to fall asleep. The walk must have tired him out.

You punch in “Connecticut” “Norwich” “H A V E N V I L L E”. It takes longer than you want — as you’re eager to start moving. You then punch in “18” and “calculate route”. It takes about a minute, shows you the map, asks if you want the faster, shorter, or economical route. You type in “faster”. It says the ride will take 18 minutes. And you’re off.

Morris doesn’t fall asleep, though his eyes are closed. Instead, he says,

“I wanted to tell you about the three bad beat jackpots and how I won them”.

You hadn’t been thinking about them, but as soon as he mentioned them you remember that he implied there was a secret to winning them. You are eager to hear about it, not so much because you really think there is any secret but because you are curious to know how this guy could think there was something he could do about it. So you remain silent, waiting for him to keep talking.

He pauses long enough for you to realize that he wants you to say something before he’ll share his insights. So you begin,

“Yeah, Morris, I’m eager to hear. There’s a secret, huh?”

He says,

“Yes there is. But I haven’t told anyone yet. You’re the first.”

“I’m honored” you say. And you mean it. Even if it’s completely bogus, you are honored to be someone that Morris trusts enough with something he considers so important.

“It’s simple, really” he says. “I’ve known about it for the 25 years I’ve been coming to Foxwoods, but I haven’t really cashed in on it until recently”

You smile, but say nothing. So Morris continues.

“You see, there really is something called luck. It can be amplified or muted if you know how. And, believe it or not, it’s not that hard to amplify.
“I was an engineer for my entire career. I studied it in college and got my doctorate in it from MIT. I helped implement radar systems around the United States and China during WWII. And I learned something back then that I’ve kept with me.”

“I was assigned work in China — with the Kuomintang — those were the Nationalists whom the Communists defeated to take control of the country after the war. They had me up in some Godforsaken city in Tibet — Lhasa — installing radar. It was especially useful there because of the high altitude. As I was there, I got to talking with some of the local boys. Turns out one of them was the brother of a monk. So when he invited me over to his house — more like a hut — I got to meet his monk brother.

“The long and the short of it was this. This monk was able to elevate his electrical field — he called it an aura. He learned it from an older monk who passed it down, one person to one person, each generation.  He was apparently the chosen one — the monk who would get the aura amplification method.  Go figure.

He did it with diet and with some special mental exercises — and some very special physical exercises as well, as I was to learn. And goddamn, if he wasn’t the luckiest guy in the world. Really. They bombed his village; he alone out of all the monks survived. He moved to a refugee camp and survived a bout with typhus that got the rest of the people in the camp.  He relocated to some Chinese city and he alone survived the purge by the Communists who wiped out all of the other Tibetans who lived there. And then he moved back to Lhasa and he passed on his secrets to me.  I guess he thought that I was helping the Nationalists who were fighting the Communists who had killed many of his family and friends.  The enemy of his enemy was his friend — something like that.  So he passed his secrets on to me.

He paused then, and seemed exhausted by the long speech. We sat in silence as we made a left on route 2 toward Norwich.

“You learned to amplify your luck?” you asked.


We drove in silence for three or four minutes as you contemplated what he had said.

He chuckled to himself, with his eyes closed. He seemed to have said all that he was going to say.

“Then why aren’t you incredibly rich? If you can amplify your luck why don’t you enter the World Series of Poker main event and win it? Why don’t you win the Powerball? Why do you play $1/2 no limit at Foxwoods instead of playing $100/200 no limit at the Bellagio”.

“Oh, that’s easy. I don’t want to do those things. I don’t want to be super rich. I don’t want to bring too much attention to myself. I like things pretty much as they are.”

You didn’t believe him. Not for a minute. But still…

“So what do I have to do” you asked.

“What do you mean, ‘what do I have to do’”  “What do you have to do for what”?

“Come on Morris.  You tell me, a guy who is having a terrible run of bad luck, that there is a secret to amplifying your luck.  You tell me that you have won three bad beats and had a table share in two more in two months.  I see you cash out of a $1/2 game for over a grand while I’m down $1,400.  And you want to know what I’m asking about?  I want to know what I have to do to get the secret of luck.”

He smiled slowly.  He knew it all along.  He just wanted to hear you beg him.  And then he paused.  Finally he said,


“Well, first of all, you have to give up meat. Meat hurts your aura. Any meat. Even animal products. You have to give them all up if you want to increase your luck.”

“I have to be a vegan?”

“That’s right. No meat or animal products of any kind”.

“Do I have to give up leather?”

“Yes, you can’t eat leather either”.

“But I can wear it”.

“Sure, why not. You just can’t eat animal products”.

“What else”

“You can’t have sex”

“Nope, no sex, and no jerking off either. You can’t emit semen at any time — at least not on purpose”.
“Wow, no sex, no meat, no animal products of any kind, no jerking off”.

“Anything else?”

“No sweets — no sugar, no corn syrup, no honey, no maple syrup, nothing with sugar in it, not even fruits; no white flower, no baked goods unless they are made with whole grains — but remember, no butter, no eggs. And no alcohol. No beer, wine, whiskey — no nothing like that. Not even hard cider. If it has alcohol in it you can’t have it.”

“Wow, that’s pretty strict.  So Morris, what DO you eat?”

“For breakfast I have oatmeal with flax seed. For lunch I have a pepper, a couple of cucumbers, maybe a radish. And for dinner I have a large plate of spinach, some bulgur, and a lot of beans — maybe a nice piece of horseradish root. That’s my regular diet.”

“And you have to exercise like crazy — at least two hours a day of hard physical exercise — running, swimming, tennis — stuff that makes you really sweat — not just walking or leisurely biking — hard exercise for at least two hours a day. Me, I play handball and use a weight machine”.

“Really, still, at 100 years old?”

“You bet. How do you think I got to be this old?”

“So if I do all these things I’m going to get lucky?”

“Well, not exactly, you have to do a little more”

“What, what else do I have to do?”

“You have to rub the bottom of the poker table. You rub it in a circle, in a clockwise direction, gently, and at least 500 circles an hour.”

“I make circles under the table? That seems crazy”

“It isn’t. It realigns the luck at the table so it focuses on you. It extends your aura to the entire table, including the cards and the other players. It works like a huge electromagnet pointed at you — directing the luck to you.”

By then we had reached his house. You pulled into his driveway and stopped. You turned off the ignition. You wanted to talk with him further. But he was already opening the door. You quickly got out, hustled around to his door, and helped him open it. He slowly stepped out.

“Learn something?” he asked.

“Why are you telling me Morris?”

“Seemed like the least I could do for getting you to drive me home.”

You really couldn’t say anything.

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