Saturday, May 07, 2011

How many stories does the Stratosphere have?

Tonight, just four.

Story 1

I was in Seat 8. A middle-aged Asian gentleman, who kept falling asleep between hands and had an almost incomprehensibly thick accent, was in Seat 9 next to the dealer--one of my two favorite spots. He appeared about to leave. He picked up his chips and cash and took a step toward the aisle, apparently heading for the cashier. I told the dealer, "I'll take that seat." I was in the middle of a hand, so I didn't start moving my stuff right away.

But then the oddest thing happened: The guy did an about-face to his right, walked behind his seat, pulled it out, sat back down, and put his chips and cash back on the table.

I asked him, "Change your mind about leaving?" He said, "No, I do that for good luck. I haven't had any good cards in an hour. Now everything's gonna be changed." I asked him how that works. He replied, "I dunno. I'm just superstitious."

Really? I never would have guessed.

Story 2

Maybe 15 minutes later, I had my only all-in confrontation of the night. I had pocket aces. My sole opponent, a very pleasant young woman, had raised pre-flop to $8 and then called my $25 reraise. Then she led into me on the flop of 4-9-10 with two clubs. It left her with about $100 behind, and I had her covered. I thought a bit, and decided that it was pretty unlikely that she had me beat at this point, but if she were on a draw, she might call when the odds were in my favor. So I shoved. She agonized for a while, then settled on a call, even while saying that she knew I was ahead. I showed the aces, she showed Jh-Qh. The board ran out blanks.

As I was stacking the chips, I turned to the man next to me and said, "I think you did that for me. That little walk around the chair made me have good luck!"

He apparently didn't catch that I was joking with him. He adamantly denied it. "I had nothing to do with that! I do only for me, not for you!"

I wasn't done kidding him. I said, "I dunno. You know, sometimes when the gods throw lightning bolts, they miss. They may have intended to send you the good luck, but they missed and hit me instead."

This time he smiled, apparently having now figured out that I was just joshing him, and not actually trying to steal his mojo. But he still would have no part of it. He said, "My voodoo is only for me. You do your own voodoo!"

I laughed, and was going to make a Cole Porter quip, but I was pretty sure he wouldn't get it.

Story 3

At the far end of the table was Larry. I've played with him several times before, previously always at the Sahara. Apparently he has found a new venue, now that the Sahara poker room is virtually closed.

Larry is an ornery cuss. He's in his 60s, always disheveled, with a perpetual scowl etched into his face. I've never seen him smile or laugh. He's terribly slow to play, because he's never paying attention. He's an alcoholic, and has been drunk every single time I've played with him. In fact, on at least three occasions he has been a seriously obnoxious drunk, has been cut off from more booze, then spent the next couple of hours scheming ways to get around his ban. E.g., he'd find a different cocktail waitress, or wander off to one of the bars and sneak his bottle of beer back to the table under his coat, etc. I had some of his beer spill on me once when he tried that--immediately after I had asked him to put his beer on the table so that he wouldn't drop it, and he denied having one.

It was Larry about whom was uttered the strangest sentence I've ever heard at a poker table, as I wrote about here: "If you hadn't taken out your teeth, I would have won that pot." Larry is also the guy whom a Sahara dealer let get away with an absent-minded tapping that should have been considered a check, as I described here.

In case you can't tell, I don't like Larry much. Scratch that. I don't like him even one little bit. His sole redeeming quality, from my point of view, is that he's a really, really bad poker player. Taking his money is like the proverbial candy/baby situation. (About which, this Mythbusters test of that cliched expression is well worth watching.)

So anyway, Larry is in a three-way hand with the nice young woman mentioned above and our second drunk, who annoyed me by being way too chatty, but at least he wasn't an intolerably obnoxious old coot like Larry. On a flop of 9-8-4, all three got their chips in. Young woman, who was the first to shove, obviously didn't like being called, and said, "I need help." She showed A-K. Drunk #2 turned over his pocket jacks. Larry didn't move a muscle.

The turn brought an ace, which delighted the young woman. The river paired the board--another 4.

Everybody sat there waiting for Larry. He didn't touch his cards. I assumed that he had lost and just didn't want to admit it. He mumbled something to the dealer, which neither she nor I could understand. She asked him to repeat himself.

He said, louder and more emphatically, "Call the floor!" The dealer was confused. "Why? What's the problem?"

Larry said, with a strange mix of irritation and triumph, "Call the floor, so they can bring me my jackpot money." And with that, he turned up his pocket 4s, still scowling.

It was without a doubt the most deliberate, prolonged, mean-spirited, and uncalled-for slowroll I have ever witnessed.

Some people are pretty much worthless human beings. Larry falls into that category, if you ask me.

Story 4

Once in a while, you run into somebody who is so fixated on the etiquette of chopping the blinds that when somebody refuses, he feels it necessary to "teach him a lesson."

We had such a kid at the table. A new player joined us to the kid's left, pretty obviously inexperienced at casino poker. When they had their first chop opportunity, and the option was explained to the newcomer, he said, "Let's play." The kid looked disgusted at him, and quickly announced a raise to $15. Newbie called.

The flop came K-Q-3 rainbow. Check, bet, call. Turn was an apparent brick. Check, bet, min-check-raise, call. River another nothing. Kid moved all in. As the new guy was trying to decide what to do, the kid said, "You shoulda chopped. This is what happens." New guy thought some more. Kid said, "I have two pair, if that makes your decision any easier." New guy finally called.

Kid's face fell. He bashfully admitted, "I got nuthin'," and turned over A-2, for ace high. New guy flipped up his K-7 offsuit and took the pot. Kid stormed off.

I couldn't help laughing. "Nice hand," I said. "Nicely done."

And I meant it.

Some people like to see what they perceive as "justice" done to somebody who won't chop the blinds. (In this case, for what it's worth, I think the guy just had no clue what was being asked, nor that he committed what some consider to be a breach of etiquette by requesting to play it out.) I, conversely, loved seeing somebody who was trying to shame a green player get his comeuppance in a rather humiliating way--kind of like seeing the playground bully trying to push somebody down, but slipping and falling face-down in the mud himself instead.

Players are free to chop or not chop, so long as they're consistent about it, and I don't like others trying to apply social pressure to influence the decision or make somebody feel like an outlaw for wanting to play. After all, isn't playing why people sit down in the game? This is especially the case when somebody is an inexperienced player. After it's over, it's fine to explain to him that he might think about chopping in the future because of the difficulty of anybody making money in such a hand, etc. But do it in a friendly, helpful way--not trying to rub his nose in it.

The kid clearly thought that his opponent was going to get what he had coming--but it was the kid who got what he so richly deserved.


Memphis MOJO said...

When I'm playing with a newbie and it's folded to me in the small blind, I just ask: "Do you want to chop?" and if they get a blank look, I don't bother to try and explain it to them - I just go ahead and play or fold. It's not worth trying to explain. After, somebody else is always happy to tell them about it.

Anonymous said...

Hehe v good entry grump, although the quad 4s story is a mean one I couldn't help but laugh, it's the way u tell em!

Anonymous said...

Ha ha just realized I was the "nice young women" those quad 4's hurt!