Sunday, January 03, 2010


I played at Mandalay Bay this afternoon, as I usually do on Sundays. After four or five hours, I was still sitting on my starting stack, having made no forward progress. I was alerted to a problem at another table when the floor person got into an extended (though not heated) discussion with a young woman who was apparently not protecting her hand well, and thus letting her neighbors see her cards. She seemed not to care and thought she should be left alone to play the way she wanted, but other players understandably resented playing with the people on her right and left having such a huge edge. From the snippets of conversation I could hear, it was clear that she had no idea what she was doing, and that she was drunk. A quick look around the table made me think it was pretty unsharky. So I put in a request for a table change.

Soon after I moved, the seat to the left of the young woman in question opened up, and I made a beeline for it. Within the first couple of hands in my new position, she doubled her stack from about $300 to about $600 with a lucky full house on the river, having started with K-5 offsuit. Poor guy that made a flush understandably couldn't put her on that, and paid her off. So she was (1) drunk, (2) playing in a casino for the first time, (3) playing every hand, (4) the big stack at the table, (5) a calling station most of the time, and badly bluffing the rest, and (6) on my immediate right. This seemed to me a highly promising confluence of circumstances.

I sent out a Tweet to that effect. I had barely finished it when the hand of the day occurred. I was on the button with K-2 of hearts. (By strange coincidence, this is the exact hand that CK had when Grange95 and I tripled her up a couple of weeks ago, in a $1000+ pot. It is a hand that I now understand is known as a "LeDawn.") I would usually throw this away, but I got to limp in with others, and I was looking for every possible opportunity to win a double through Drunk Girl.

The flop was Ah-10c-x. It was checked around. Turn was Qh, giving me the nut flush draw plus a gutshot to Broadway, so I called a smallish bet from an early-position player.

River was the 7h, giving me the stone-cold nuts. EP guy bet $15. Drunk Girl called. I raised to $45. EP guy called. Drunk Girl thought a few seconds, then said some of the most beautiful words in the English language: "I'm all in." I insta-called. (I could have tried to Hollywood it, but either the EP guy was going to call or he wasn't, and I didn't think theatrics would help my cause. He had already been highly reluctant to call the $45, so I was pretty sure he wouldn't come along no matter what. I was right. He folded.)

She had Jh-6h (not sure of her kicker, but it doesn't matter) for the second nut flush.

Here's where it got weird. She thought we were going to split the pot. After an exchange with the dealer, it finally became clear why. She thought that all ace-high flushes were equal in value, so that in this situation anybody with two hearts as their hole cards had an ace-high flush and therefore the same hand. At first she couldn't understand why she wasn't getting half of the pot. The dealer had to explain to her that if two flushes have the same highest card, the tie is broken by the next highest card, etc.

She was crestfallen. But, fortunately, she didn't get angry, and she kept playing. I think she was too happily drunk to care about much of anything.

Not too surprisingly, the rest of her chips soon went away on other equally bad plays--e.g., calling an all-in with just top pair when her opponent obviously, transparently had hit a full house on the river.

I remember once at the old Hilton poker room I once flopped top two pair when my opponent flopped top and bottom pair. When the high card on the flop paired on the river, we both made boats, but of course mine was higher. The money all went in, and there ensued the same sort of other-worldly-strange dialog. The guy genuinely thought that all full houses were equal, and that we should be splitting the pot. Maybe that's how they do it in his home game. He was stunned to learn that there are ranks within the realm of the full house.

It's pretty rare that you'll run into somebody with this fundamental a misunderstanding of the rules of the game. But when you do, it can be pure gold. On one level, I feel kind of sorry for these people. But on the other hand, nobody makes them play a no-limit game for which they are woefully unprepared. They could, if they wanted, play a nice, safe $2-4 limit game in order to become familiar with how things go. And, besides, once they make the decision to put several hundred dollars at risk playing a game for which they don't even know the simplest rules, somebody at the table is going to take their money, fairly and squarely, before they wise up.

It might as well be me.


Arthric said...

Like Canada Bill Jones said, it's immoral to let a sucker keep his money.

BWoP said...

I am glad to read that the Le Dawn served you well!

The Blue Knave said...

Some further comments on this situation in my post, here.

Essentially: thanks for a beautiful demonstration of the way the game works!

Rakewell said...

Thanks for the very kind comments in your blog, BK.

Memphis MOJO said...

The guy genuinely thought that all full houses were equal

I was playing in a $125 buyin tournament one time (casino). After about 30 minutes, the guy next to me leaned over and asked me which is higher - two pair or three of a kind.

Lucypher said...

NH, sir. Well played.

Freight Train said...

The best 3 months I've ever had were Sep-Nov 08. Mohegan Sun just opened up their poker room and lots of curious fish were swimming by every day. It was unbelievably soft. I took days and days off of work to drive up and play. I actually played with people who had to be explained the game. They actually put one or two hundred down (at $1/$2 NL) and didn't know how to play. I personally witnessed this many times over that three month period. Eventually, the feeding frenzy came to an end, but it was funny watching all the sharks come to Mohegan from Foxwoods just to feast on the fish. As soon as the frenzy was over, all the sharks went back to Foxwoods and things settled down.