Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Slowroll??? I think not.

As you may have gathered, I've been back to the felt since Friday, after a week off, and things pretty much feel back to normal. Three wins and one loss so far, a ratio I'm prepared to accept. We'll see if it lasts.

I played at Caesars Palace tonight. My entire profit for the session came in one hand--literally. I was about $30 down from my initial buy-in when it occurred, and I left shortly after it had taken place.

I was the second one to limp, holding the 5c-7c. The button raised to $12. I had been playing with him for a couple of hours, and I knew that he was tight but not very good, that he was completely straightforward, and that he routinely overplayed his top-pair kind of hands. The pot swelled when one of the blinds and the other limper called. Except for the fact that I would have to play before the raiser, it was an excellent crAAKKer kind of situation.

The situation became even more excellent when the flop came 5-7-5. It was checked around to the button, who bet $60. That was nearly half of what he had left--I liked this because he might feel pot-committed and give me the rest. I was pretty sure he had a big overpair, because he had shown a tendency to get timid with A-K kinds of hands, especially against more than one opponent, when he missed the flop. The blind folded. To my surprise, the other limper moved all-in for about $235. I had about $260 left. I called. The button mucked in great disgust.

The dealer put out the turn and river, which I think were a ten and jack. The other guy still hadn't shown his cards. Then he said, "I've got a pair," but did nothing else. When I didn't react to that, he flipped over a 7 without looking to see which one it was. That left the possibility that he had pocket 7s, and was playing cruel with me. I didn't really think so, because I don't think he would have check-raised all-in with a hand that big; I think he would have just called, to avoid risking losing me. Also, before he showed the 7, I knew it was entirely possible that he had had pocket tens or jacks, and had gotten extremely lucky after the money was in. Rightly or wrongly, based on his previous play and table talk during hands, I judged him to be among that small group of experienced players who are capable and willing to deliberately miscall their hands--in this case saying that he had a pair when his hand was actually a full house, to be sure that he got to see my cards before showing the winner.

But what was on my mind more than the possibility that I had run into a massive cooler or suckout, more than the possibility that he was angle-shooting me, was my ongoing disgust with players who have a pathological aversion to ever showing their cards, even when the duty devolves upon them to do so. They wait, hesitate, fake the reveal, say what they have, maybe show one card--all in an effort to pressure the other guy to show first. This is horrible etiquette, annoying as hell, and wastes everybody's time. It's a rude, selfish way to behave. It's a dick move. If you are in this subclass of player, you're a dick.

I have writtten about this conduct at least twice before, most recently here (with an unusually lively and interesting debate in the comments following) and here (again with good discussion in the comments). Despite vigorous disagreement from some people who I like and respect, I stand by my view that the game is better served in the long run by players banding together to refuse to tolerate this despicable, unethical practice.

So, in accordance with this strongly held view, I just stared at him and sat and waited for him to show or muck. Mucking didn't seem very likely, since he was obviously not on a total bluff and wouldn't want to pass up the chance at taking a roughly $580 pot. Finally he rolled over his other card--an ace. I then immediately showed the winner and began stacking the chips.

As I was doing so, a woman who hadn't been involved in the hand said, with a distinctly sarcastic tone, "Slow-rolling with the nuts. Nice."

I ignored her. I did not feel like getting into a debate about rules and etiquette with her or anybody else. But I resent the charge, so I'll answer it here.

I did not slowroll. First, I didn't know for sure whether I had the winner. More importantly, though, the prescribed order of showdown was him first, me second. As soon as he either showed or mucked, I was prepared to do my part and either show or muck. Any delay in getting the hands shown was on his head, because my response was instant, as soon as he fulfilled his obligation.

There are times when I will just show regardless of the obligation being on the other guy. Factors that will push me in that direction include:

  • I have a completely unbeatable hand.
  • The game's atmosphere is unusually light and playful.
  • I'm in an especially good mood.
  • The opponent is clearly new to casino poker and doesn't seem to understand the showdown rules and etiquette.
  • The opponent is a straightforward player and I already have a pretty good idea of what he is holding.
  • The opponent is somebody I have some reason to like, either from an outside relationship or because we have been chatty and friendly during the game. (Don't smirk--it does happen once in a while!)

There's no formula to this decision, no magical combination of factors that will automatically prompt me to take the initiative; it's just a feel thing. But when I do it, it is a courtesy, not an obligation. And the one thing that will absolutely preclude me extending somebody this courtesy is him being a dick who is clearly experienced enough to know better, and is just stalling, trying to transfer the monkey to my back. No chance, pal. We'll sit here all night if that's what it's going to take, and the more you try to wriggle out of what you know the rules require you to do, the more I'm going to dig in my heels and defy you.

You think you're stubborn? Buddy, you haven't even SEEN stubborn yet. Bring on the stares and impatient comments from the other players. Let the dealer plead with me to reveal my cards, or even issue a direct command to do so. Nothing doing. Not gonna happen. The foundations of the casino will crumble from decay and vines will encircle all of us before I'm turning over my hand to the smug satisfaction of a non-showing douchebag. And even that would just be getting the contest underway. I will sit there until the sun burns itself down to a dark lump of iron, and then keeping sitting there, my cards firmly capped, until we see the coming of the very heat death of the universe, before I will yield in such a test of wills. "To the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee."

(Did I mention something here recently about occasionally getting overly dramatic?)

To the woman at the table, I say this: You were wrong. I did not slowroll. I simply waited for when it was my turn to show. Your venom was directed at the innocent party rather than the guilty one. Maybe you should find a good poker blog to read that would keep you informed of how things are supposed to work at the tables.

Incidentally, this story had an amusing coda. The button was kind of a jerk all night, and this hand really set him off. He began berating me--not for the slight delay of game at the end, but for having called his pre-flop raise with such a terrible hand. "Nice call!" (Dripping with sarcasm.) "Next time I have a big pair, I'm gonna raise to $30. See if you call that." (OK, pal, you want to risk $30 to win $4 in blinds, be my guest.)

In short, hilarity ensued.

The essence of what Grange calls a crAAKKer hand is one that can make a hand to beat a big pair (straight or flush or set, usually) in a sneaky, under-the-radar kind of way, precisely because there are players who just won't consider the possibility that an opponent played so "badly" as to call a sizeable pre-flop raise with "that kind of trash." I have written a bunch of times about making big scores with junk against opponents who just can't fold an overpair, no matter how much evidence you give them that they're beat. See, e.g., here, here, and here as just a sampling of such stories. Neither Grange or I were exactly the original inventors of this route to poker winning. It was the revealing of precisely this kind of play--when conventional wisdom said to wait for big pairs and big aces--that got Doyle Brunson's fellow road warriors mad at him when he first published Super/System, and forever changed how the game is played.

Frankly, I don't see what the guy was complaining about. The other player's action of check-raising all-in made it relatively easy for him to fold. I'd say he got off pretty cheap!


Matthew Yauch said...

Dear Grump,

Thanks for not educating the fools at the table and breaking your own rule. :) Anyone that either refuses to show in order or is as dense as that lady is just keeping our money warm for us.

Congrats on the upswing!

Karl said...

Glad you're back at the tables. Your poker rants are the best.

Snuffy said...

When you flop that hard just show your hand rather than hold up the game. It really isn't worth it to wait for his hand. Show it and take the pot.

Unknown said...

You did write that you'd roll the hand over immediately if you had an unbeatable hand.

If you'd had quad 5s in that spot, would you have flipped them up when the aggressor showed just a seven?

Either way, well played and that lady should learn the rules before spouting off like that about a slowroll that wasn't.

Anonymous said...

The Grump is back, the Grump is back!!

Bluejack said...

What baffles me is how anyone hits those flops. I've lost so much money on that crAAKKer move it's not even funny.

As for the slow roll, I *hate* the slow roll accusation. I got shouted at for slow rolling the other day when I took my time calling an all in with an ace high flush -- but there were two pairs on the board! Hardly the nuts.

home poker chips said...

3 wins and a loss is still a remarkable stat. It's nice to hear that you're back. I enjoy reading your rantings.

bellatrix78 said...

Always be nice to the fish, no matter what. They are your customers, customer is king, even if he's in the wrong. It's called customer service.

Check out the term "fastroll" by Tommy Angelo.

While you might be in the right because of the rules, you are not in the right in the spirit of the game. It is as if you're deliberately trying to cause a car accident, because the guy cutting in didn't signal correctly.

Grange95 said...

If you wait for the heat death of the universe, you're going to mess up the dealer pushes, and really tick off the management. Would hate it if being 86'd from Caesars Palace was your last conscious experience before dissolving into the sea of photons.

As for the showdown dance of the seven sunglasses, it annoys me so much I may do a responsive blog post later this week. Suffice it to say I think you did nothing wrong in combatting this scourge.

Jordan said...

Hey Grump. In case you are looking for topics to write about, I for one would love to read about what its like playing poker daily, and how you deal with the losses. Obviously, when you are having a long string of losses, it can be wearing, but what happens when you have just one loss. Does that set you off at all, because obviously it has to happen, but no one likes to lose. What do you consider a big loss for a day and how to you deal with that? I guess I've been thinking about the difficult mental aspects of poker and given your near-daily play, I thought you might have an interesting perspective

Rakewell said...

Drizztdj: That is not what I wrote. Having an unbeatable hand is one thing that makes it more likely that I'll be willing to just show and be done with it, but neither it nor any other single factor is always determinative. Yes, it is possible that if I had had quads there I would have shown as soon as the button mucked and the action was over. I often--even usually--would in such a situation, though not always.

baglife said...

Excellent rant well done. The issue is not caving to such a dick.

MelloAceCv said...

Not only does she not know what a slowroll is, she also doesn't know what the nuts is. You actually had the 7th nuts. Waiting your turn to show the lowest full house is hardly the same as waiting to show quads.