Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Snowing in Vegas

Last night I made one of my occasional ventures into the Imperial Palace Sunday night 10-game mix. On my immediate right was a player there for the first time. He openly admitted that he had played some of these games for microstakes a few times online, but never live. That this was true was confirmed when he made common rookie mistakes (the same kind I made the first few times playing the unfamiliar games), such as getting confused between the betting rounds and drawing rounds. In the first hand of 2-7 triple draw, he announced his hand prior to the third draw, thinking the action was all over with. Oops!

On the next hand, I started with four strong low cards (don't remember exactly what they were) plus a jack. (The goal of triple-draw is to get five unpaired cards as low as possible without a straight or a flush.) I raised and drew one--a king. I bet again when the two remaining players checked to me. The only one who called was the guy on my right.

He discarded two, which meant that the chances of him improving to a really strong hand by the end were rather small. I didn't really want to turn in my king and get another bad card in return, because that would then compel me to either get lucky on the final draw or try a desperation bluff, which could easily get called by an opponent suspicious that I had tried and missed all three times.

So here's my situation: I had position, I had just one opponent (and an inexperienced one at that) who had drawn two cards on the second drawing round, I had raised and drawn just one card, then bet again, so I was telling a consistent and presumably believable story. I decided the situation was right to try snowing instead of drawing.

The "snow" is a form of bluffing unique to draw games. It means that you stand pat without having made your hand, in order to falsely project strength. It basically forces an opponent to get lucky enough in his draw to make a very strong hand, or else abandon his hand in the face of your confidence. You can do it on just the third draw, but it looks even more convincing if you do it on the second draw. You are declining two chances to improve your hand, so you must like what you have a lot, right?

I patted the table. Predictably, my opponent checked, so of course I bet again. He called and drew one. I patted again. He checked on the final betting round, and I bet once more, hoping he would fold--because I couldn't beat any hand with which he would call. He shook his head and said, "I only improved to a ten, and I'm sure you must have better than that." He indeed showed his made 10, then mucked. I.e., he had five different cards, the highest of which was a 10--only a mediocre hand in this game. He knew it was good only as a bluff-catcher, and I had given him no reason to think I was bluffing, even though I was.

My friend Troy (dealer at TI, excellent player) was on my left in the 10 seat, which made it easy for me to be sure that he--but nobody else--caught a glimpse of my king before I passed my cards back to the dealer. He caught my eye and gave me a half smile and an approving nod after realizing what it meant I had done.

I'm happy to have left back in Minnesota the cold, white powdery stuff that falls from the sky in such prodigious amounts there. But just a little snow here and there at the poker table can still make my day.


sevencard2003 said...

i never wouldve thought of that.

Josie said...

I too been the recipient of a Poker Grump snow job. :P

ManInBlack said...

I will be arriving back into Vegas on Sunday. Is there still a game on Super Bowl Sunday?

Rakewell said...

I don't work there. You could call them and ask.