Monday, June 07, 2010

Night at the Rio

Just home from a session in which I not only made a little money, but I picked up a whole bunch of little stories to tell you. This pleases me.

Feeling famous

The first unusual thing that happened was that I sat down next to a reader, though neither of us knew it for a while. She was chatting with somebody else about blogs, and said she read a lot of them. I asked if she read any poker blogs, and when she said yes, I asked which ones. She said she browses lots of them, but specifically mentioned F-Train and Poker Dealer, both friends of mine. I have to admit it was a slight ego blow that the first words out of her mouth were not "Poker Grump," but when I asked about that blog, she said yes, it was on her list. She got a suspicious look on her face and asked if that was me. I fessed up. She proved that she really does read it by mentioning, first, that "That's the one with all the photos," and, second, that I had recently taken time off to go out of town to a wedding. Right on both counts.

Apparently she has a blogger friend who is an even bigger fan of mine. (I jotted down the friend's blog's name, but now find nothing of the sort, so I must have written it incorrectly. Sorry I can't give a little plug.) She texted her to say that she was sitting next to me. Her friend seemed quite excited back in Ohio, and demanded a photo for proof. I gave her a faux grumpy face. Hope it filled the bill. The whole thing made me feel very slightly (emphasis on those two words) rockstarish.

(I told her that this session probably wouldn't result in a post, because it didn't seem that anything of particular interest was happening. I was wrong. All the other story-worthy stuff happened after she left.)

Angry about--what???

The worst beat I took this session: I raised from the small blind with A-A. Guy who had limped under the gun shoved for about $60. I called. He had A-Q. I'm a 7:1 favorite. Usually that's enough. Not tonight. Flop: K-10-x. Turn K. River J.

"He beat me, straight up. Pay him. Pay that man his money." (OK, I didn't really say that. I believe one has to be highly selective in one's deployment of "Rounders" lines during poker games.)

Anyway, a little while later he did another shove re-raise--a rather ridiculously large overbet. When the original raiser (player to his right) folded, my nemesis flashed him his hole cards before passing them face-down to the dealer. Naturally, I was interested in what range of hands he might do this with, given that his first instance was A-Q. I asked the dealer to show them. She did: Q-Q.

The guy stood up, looked at me, and asked, "Did you see them." I said yes. He said, "So you got what you wanted?" There was unquestionable hostility in his voice. I was a little flummoxed--had I done something wrong?--so I hesitated in answering. I guess I didn't need to respond, because before I could think of how to reply, he picked up his chips and said, "Good. I'm glad you're happy. But bad decision for you." And he stormed off, cashed out, and left.

I'm at a loss to understand what the problem was. Surely he knew that when he showed one player his cards, that opened the door for anybody else to see them. Jeez, dude, if you want to keep it secret, just don't show anybody. It's real easy.

I've only once before seen somebody get that bent out of shape over the completely standard practice of exposing a hand that was shown to another player; I told that story here. I still don't get it.

Table jumper

We were short-handed after a few people left nearly at the same time. We had three empty seats. A new player sat down in one of them, but immediately left to go have a chat with a friend at another table. When she came back, she picked up her chips and announced that she was going to play at that other table instead. The dealer politely informed her that she would need to get the floor's permission first. The woman replied, "He said it was OK."

I watched where she went, and it was to a table that had only one open seat. It seemed very strange to me that the floor guy would approve that move, unless there was some special circumstance that wasn't apparent. So I asked the dealer to call the floor. Turns out that she had neither asked for nor been given permission to move. He fetched her and brought her back. She was not happy to have been caught.

She obviously knew exactly what she was doing and that it was against the rules. Lie, cheat--what does it matter, as long as you get what you want, right? Why should she have to be concerned about what effect her actions have on other people? People are so scummy.

Premature evacuation

In one dumb hand, I had 10-6 in the small blind--but it was SOOTED! So I threw in the extra $2. There were four of us in the hand. The final board was something like 3-5-7-8-J. I.e., it hit all around my cards, but didn't quite connect. It was checked all the way down. At showdown, one guy just pitched his cards into the muck without waiting to see anybody else's. I flipped over my lousy 10-6, with about zero expectation that it was the winner. The big blind then mucked, so apparently I had him beat. About the same time that I was showing, the woman on the button said, "Ace high," but she didn't expose her cards.

Hearing that, the dealer picked up my two cards, and dumped them face down on top of the muck, and started to push the pot toward the button. I protested: "Why are you killing my hand?" The dealer stopped and fished my cards from off of the pile. Only after all of this did the woman on the button finally show her hand. She did indeed have an ace, and took the pot. The dealer shot me a dirty look, as if I had wasted her time and annoyed her by insisting that we go through the formality of, y'know, having an actual showdown in the showdown portion of the hand.

I suppose if one were to ask this dealer, "At showdown, can a player just announce that he or she has the best hand and thereby claim the pot?" she would answer, "Of course not." But in actual practice, that's exactly what she appeared to be willing to do.

I remember when I was in poker dealer school, they drummed into us over and over again: "Don't kill an exposed hand until somebody shows a better one." It's a rather obvious procedural point.

The less obvious factor in effect here is that given my cards and the texture of the board, it's a situation in which another player could easily think--in error--that I had made a straight. The player on the button has to look at my cards and the board, figure out what my hand is, and decide whether hers beats it. If she is prone to mistakenly thinking that my hand is better and as a result decides to muck hers unseen, well, that's a little bonus pot for me, and I'm happy to take it. The dealer killing my hand when the button says "Ace" is a clear signal to the player that an ace is good enough, without the player having to reach that conclusion on her own. In effect, it violated the "one person to a hand rule" by providing unwarranted assistance.

Of course, the player on the button doesn't have to make that assessment; she can just flip her hand over and let the cards speak. But if she's going to decide whether to show based on whether she decides she has the winner, that is an evaluation she must undertake all by herself. It is also true that the dealer can (and probably should) announce my hand verbally and/or push up the board cards that go with my hole cards to make my best hand. That much assistance to the player on the button is perfectly appropriate. But what she did was beyond that.

I'm not sure I've ever before seen a dealer kill a live, exposed hand in favor of one that was announced but not shown. Strange stuff.

What he was waiting for

I was rather short-stacked (this hand actually marked the beginning of my comeback), and had moved all-in on the turn with top pair/top kicker (A-10 on 10-high board). I had thought my lone remaining opponent was on a draw on the flop, and the turn wouldn't have helped him, prompting my move.

He groaned, made some faces, and clearly had a difficult decision. He eventually showed me his cards: Nut flush draw plus a gutshot straight draw and an overcard (ace, which would be no good if it hit, but he didn't know that).

He was taking a long time to decide. He finally said, "Sorry to take so long. I'm waiting for the alcohol to kick in so I have the nerve to call you."

It's rare that somebody can break my stoicism while in the middle of a hand, but he made me laugh out loud.

He eventually folded, but I had to concede to him that he had delivered the line of the night.


diverjoules said...

Hi Grump. I am now the proud recipient of your photo. My Friend Jen is who was sitting next to you. She knows I am an avid reader of yours. Thanks for the taking the time for the photo. :-)

Rakewell said...

Ah, definitely a familiar name! I wrote down "jaristime" as the blog name, which Google couldn't find. Now I know why: "Jari's time."

lightning36 said...

"She obviously knew exactly what she was doing and that it was against the rules. Lie, cheat--what does it matter, as long as you get what you want, right? Why should she have to be concerned about what effect her actions have on other people? People are so scummy."

I immediately thought of your post last November regarding the H1N1 vaccine. With over six months to absorb and reflect, would you still have made the same decision? Posted about it? Do you see it as being different than the situation you described in your post?

Thanks for the consideration.

--S said...

"Sorry to take so long. I'm waiting for the alcohol to kick in so I have the nerve to call you."

Immediately added to my list of favorites ;)

cbob8 said...

Love your blog, but I have to say, I had the same thought as lightning36 regarding your post about lying to get the flu vaccine. Nov. 26. Seems to me that the potential harm of your lie was more substantial than the (admittedly annoying) lie told by the woman who probably wanted to sit with her friend. Just food for thought.

Greylocks said...

This is why one should keep a death grip on one's tabled cards until one is satisfied that one is not entitled to any share of the pot.

There are simply too many idiots, lazy-asses and pot-heads dealing poker these days to throw your cards out there face up and hope everything magically works out okay.

Rakewell said...

Well, there's an element of truth to that, but I wouldn't take it that far. Once the cards are properly tabled face up, the dealer accidentally killing the wrong hand is much less of a problem than if the dealer mucks your winner before you've shown it. Usually several other players saw your cards, they're usually put on top of the muck rather than shoved into its middle, and as a last resort, the camera will have caught the action, so it can be reconstructed.

Jeff Simpson said...

I think lightning36 made a valid point and asked a worthwhile question. As you seem to be a stickler for intellectual consistency, I'm surprised you ignored the question.