Saturday, November 05, 2011

Let's count the mistakes

I played at the Rio last night. When I was directed to a table, the only seat open was #2, so I took it. Good thing. It was so advantageous that in retrospect I'm astonished that nobody else there moved to it when it became available.

Its advantage was all about the guy in Seat 1. He was drunk out of his mind. A friend of his at the table said that he had had about 20 vodka/Red Bulls in the past five hours or so. At the rate he was downing them, I believed it.

He was the classic happy drunk--far more interested in socializing and commenting on everything else going on around him than the game. He always had to be pestered into taking his turn, always had to be told about five times to post his blinds, always had to be told what the action was, etc.

Of most importance to the story, he put zero effort into protecting his cards, despite multiple warnings from the dealer, me, and the other players. He never capped his cards with a chip or other object. This is an especially dangerous habit in the two seats next to the dealer, for two reasons. First, the dealer can sweep one's hole cards into the muck much faster and more easily than from other positions. Second, other players mucking their cards can accidentally run them into unprotected hole cards of Seats 1 and 9 (or 10), thus killing the hand. The other way he failed to protect his hand was that he just lifted his cards in front of his face with no attempt to conceal them. I could see them without even trying about half the time.

As it happened, he quickly developed a fear of playing a pot with me, so I made almost no money from him over the couple of hours we played together. In only one hand was my view of his hole cards potentially going to make a difference. He raised pre-flop with 7h-8h. I had A-Q offsuit and called. The flop missed both of us. He put in a continuation bet. Since I knew exactly what he had, it was an easy call. I didn't raise, because the only decent player at the table was still in it with us. He raised, which foiled my chance at playing the hand as a superuser. Drunk guy and I both folded.

OK, now we get to the crazy hand of the night.

Drunk guy was in the big blind, but, as usual, didn't know it, despite the dealer asking him to post a couple of times. I folded from under the gun. I saw one of drunk guy's cards, a jack. Seats 3 and 4 folded. Just about that time, drunk guy says, "All in." It wasn't his turn, obviously. He still hadn't even posted his blind. Seat 5 pushes his chip stacks forward. He must have heard the all-in announcement, because there's no way he would have just open-raised all-in for $135.

So the first mistake was drunk guy acting out of turn. Second mistake was the dealer not quickly stopping the action and clarifying that that declaration was out of turn and would be binding only if there was no raise in turn from any other player before action was properly back on Seat 1. Third mistake was Seat 5 not understanding all of this, and responding as if Seat 1's action had been in turn.

But wait, there's more!

The next player asked for a clarification of what the action was. The dealer told him that Seat 1 had gone all in out of turn, and Seat 5 was all in. He folded, as did everyone else. Then the dealer, apparently having forgotten what he had just said, looked down at Seat 1, saw unprotected cards and no chips out (he still hadn't posted his blind), and absent-mindedly swept Seat 1's cards into the muck. Let's call that mistake 4.

Drunk guy looks down, trying to figure out what happened, and says, "Hey, where's my cards?" Dealer immediately recognizes what he did. He calls for the floor. While he's looking away, trying to get the attention of the supervisor, drunk guy says loudly and repeatedly that he had had two jacks, and pulls two cards out of the muck that he thinks are his. He turns them face up: a jack and a deuce. He points to the deuce and says, "That one's wrong," and starts rummaging through the muck turning cards face up, trying to find his other jack. Finally the dealer notices what he's doing and puts a halt to it. Let's call this mistake 5.

Meanwhile, Seat 5 says, "Go ahead and find those jacks, see if you can beat this!" and triumphantly slams his pocket queens face up on the table. Mistake 6. Why invite your opponent to get a live hand that has a 20% chance of beating you if you might instead get his chips as a freeroll if he is deemed to be committed to the all-in with a dead hand? Of course, an opponent's approval of muck-fishing doesn't legalize it.

Floor comes over. The correct ruling, in my opinion, should be that Seat 1 is responsible only for the big blind. His out-of-turn declaration is no longer binding once Seat 5 puts in his raise. Since he never moved any chips into the pot, when the action is properly on him, he can call Seat 5's all in, or he can fold. With a dead hand, folding is the obvious thing that any sensible player would chose to do, given the option in that situation--lose the $3 big blind and hopefully learn a lesson from the close call. But instead, the floor rules that the out-of-turn all-in is, in fact, binding. Mistake 7.

Drunk guy accepts this ruling, but clearly does so thinking that he still get a chance to fight for the pot with his long-lost jacks. Mistake 8. Nope. Floor tells him it's a dead hand and instructs the dealer to take $135 from Seat 1 and give it to Seat 5.

Drunk guy is surprisingly sanguine about this. I expected an eruption, but it didn't happen. He quickly resigned himself to it, saying, "Whatever. I don't care. Fuck it."

Floor guy gave him a "final warning" about the f-bomb. (He had issued one previous warning, and the dealers had issued several.) Sadly, about 10 minutes later, one more effenheimer resulted in another call for the floor, and our friend being ejected from the room.

Strangely, this was an outcome that two other players had actively sought, complaining to the floor about how the drunk guy was slowing down the game. Which he was, obviously. But if you're there to make money, having a player like this booted from the game is absolutely the last thing you want to see happen.

When I cashed out later, I told the floor guy how I couldn't believe how short-sighted those other players had been in working to have Seat 1 kicked out. It was like killing the goose that laid the golden eggs. He was sympathetic, and clearly knew exactly what was going on. He told me, "I know! I knew he was the action player in the game, so I tried to look the other way and let him keep playing for as long as I could."

Oh well. I made my money from the other players.


qdpsteve said...

Although your decision might very well have been the best one, Rakewell, frankly I'm happy to see where the Rio floor came down on this one.

I don't mean to be a conspiracy theorist, but IMHO it's just become too easy (and common) since the 10-years-ago 'poker boom' for folks to just show up at the table, drink themselves (often with complimentary alcohol) into oblivion, then use it as cover for angleshooting and other crap that would NEVER be tolerated from a sober player. It's just too easy: suck down 17 free cocktails, miss some blinds and fumble some cards, then voila: you've got the perfect excuse for too-often-floor-excused misbehavior at the table.

If I were in charge of a poker room, I'd ensure every floor and dealer knew: I don't care if the player's sober, drinking, or snorting cocaine right off the bare belly of the $15k hooker sitting behind him. ANY obnoxious or suspicious table behavior will result in dead hands and ejection.

BTW this theory of mine is reinforced by, as you mentioned, Seat 1's calm reaction when he found his out-of-turn gambit wouldn't work and his "jacks" would stay dead. Frankly it sounds to me like a guy who got caught, rather than just a mellow drunk.

Anonymous said...

While reading your post, I kept thinking about the Harrah's commercial played on every WSOP telecast.

"We don't want you playing if you are under 21, depressed or intoxicated. No, No, No!!!!

Then the floor told you he tried to keep the intoxicated action player in the game by looking the other way.

Too funny.

George said...

I was playing at the Rio as well this weekend. The guy to my immediate left was quite loose and I could see at least his bottom card (sometimes both) on most hands. Despite this he proceeded to clean me out on 3 separate hands. Most notably he hit quad 5's when I was holding pocket 9's and I saw beforehand that he had a queen. I should have hit the ATM and re-upped but I had a date that was waiting on me. Oh well. (Some may argue my peeking was unethical, my only weak arguments are that the table told me the guy was getting incredibly lucky prior to my arrival, and that I have in the past told players that I could see their cards and the most common response is that they don't believe me).

Rob said...

I'm really surprised by the floor decision here. This was a serious error by the dealer. He had correctly stated that Seat 5 was all in (and thus Seat 1's action out of turn was no longer valid). But as you said, he almost immediately forgot what he had just said and swept the guys cards away!?! That's a bad dealer, if you ask me.

I understand that it is the player's responsibility to protect his hand, but the dealer had basically announced the Seat 1 player was still alive. To then take his cards is a huge blunder.

So for that reason alone, aside from your reasoning, I think Seat 1was only responsible for the BB. I wouldn't blame the drunk for putting up a big fuss.

Remind me never to play at the Rio...based on your post both the dealers and the floor are incompetent!

BigTikit said...

I have a funny story about seeing an opponent's hole cards. I was playing in a 10-20 game at the Commerce a while back. The guy to my right consistently lifted up his hole cards without any protection to where I could clearly see both of them. I politely warned him and asked him 2 or 3 times to protect his hand. His response was "don't fucking look at my cards." So, I said that if he didn't protect his hand, that it would be his problem. Now, I should mention that although he was completely sober, he was playing very loose, and was in almost every pot. He raised with rags and absolutely would not fold pre-flop. I was certain that it would only be a matter of time before I would felt him.

A couple orbits later, I am on the button. There are several limpers. Mr. Loose Guy lifts up his hand and shows me 42. He makes it $620 to go! I look down to find that my hand is J2 and that I have him completely dominated. So, I think for a bit and make it $1600. I figure that Mr. Loose Guy will call, but that no one else can possibly play the hand without the nuts. What could possibly go wrong?

Sure enough, all Hell breaks loose. Under the gun shoves for about $5K and the next limper re-shoves for more than that. Mr. Loose Guy says that he wants to gamble, and calls off his stack of about $3K. I have to throw my hand away. After the board is dealt, the limpers turn over AA and KK, and Mr. Loose Guy is felted. He does not re-buy, complains how everyone at the table are such tight nits and leaves. Not only do I lose $1600 on a garbage hand that I would almost never play, but the game soon breaks and I don't have a chance to get even for the night.

There is probably a moral to this story somewhere, but I just can't figure out what it is.

Rakewell said...

BT: Amusing story, but I caught you in a lie when you said that the guy lost to garbage hands like AA when he was holding the nuts with 2-4. That is obviously impossible.