Friday, September 30, 2011

I Shouldn't Have to Say "Raise!"

This happened at BSC a little more than a year ago.  I was playing at my usual 2/4 limit game, sitting in seat 10 (immediately to the dealer’s right).  By this time I had established relationships with a lot of the BSC dealers, but not the one who was currently dealing, whose name is Barry.  Barry is not particularly chatty so I although I’d been dealt to by him many times, I’d never really struck up much of a conversation with him.
I had been having a really bad run, it had probably been over two hours since I’d last won a pot, even a little pot.  It had been almost that long since I’d even played a hand other than a blind.  That kind of night.  Finally, UTG (under the gun, ie, immediately to the left of the Big Blind), I was dealt A/K hearts.  I debated whether to raise.  I had been doing so badly at the time that there was a great temptation to risk only two bucks until I saw the flop.  Plus, being under the gun, you never know if you raise there you end up having everyone fold and you win a whopping three bucks.  I mean you want players when you have a premium hand like that so you can win some money….you just want the player who has the hand that would otherwise beat you to fold!
But I raised.  It was an average loose 2/4 game and I figured for sure I’d get some callers.  But I was wrong.  Everyone folded around, even the Small Blind, until the Big Blind.  I was starting to get pissed that I’d win a lousy three bucks… first pot in two hours!  But the Big Blind called my raise, to my surprise.  I’m thinking, if it had been me, and I knew it was gonna be heads up on the flop, I would have folded unless I had maybe pocket Ace’s or Kings.  Sure you might be favored to win with a lesser premium hand, but how much can you win?  You are getting such poor pot odds, it’s not worth the two bucks.  At least to me.  And if he had a really great starting hand, it would have made a lot more sense for him to re-raise me instead of calling, to at least get some money in the pot.
But BB called my raise.  As it happened, the BB was a new player at the game, having come over from a table that had broken.  He’d only played a few hands at this game before this happened.  Also, I believe he had a bit of a language issue, I hadn’t heard him say anything other than that he was Korean in a fairly heavy accent.  So I had no read on him.  Of course, he had no read on me, either.
Barry dealt out the flop, which was K-Q-5, rainbow.  Of course, that was a great flop for me, giving me top pair and top kicker.  To my surprise, the BB bet out.   So much for “checking to the raiser.”  So of course I wanted to raise to see how he reacted.  Perhaps he had two pair or even a set?  Would he re-raise my raise?  I wanted to see.
At this point in my poker career, I almost never announced “raise” when I raised.  I knew the rule and would make sure I would put out the entire amount of the bet and raise in one motion, over the betting line.  This of course is perfectly acceptable.  This was very late at night at the BSC and it is always very noisy.  Even right next to me, the dealer might not hear me say “raise.”  But he’d surely see that I was putting out four chips instead of two.
Or so I thought.  I put four chips across the line and waited for Barry to announce “raise.”  I believe I saw BB grab two more chips from his stack to call me.  But to my horror before he got the chips out across the betting line, Barry had already burned a card and flipped over the turn card.  Barry didn’t notice that I had raised. 
By the time I said, “Wait…I raised!” Barry had already exposed a King.  Of course, that was a great card for me, giving me trip Kings.  By this time BB had already put his two chips out over the betting line.  But the damage was done.  Barry had screwed up and he said “sorry.”   He immediately called the floor over. 
I didn’t say anything, but I was livid inside.  If I said, “That’s ok, he was gonna call anyway,” I would have revealed that I really liked the King as the turn card.  I was hoping that since the BB had called, they could just continue without me saying anything.  But no such luck.  The floor person enforced the standard rule for such a situation.  Burn another card, deal what would have been the river card as the turn card, and then reshuffle the deck with the exposed King back in the deck so it has a chance to be the river card. 
I was horrified.  But if I said anything, it would have revealed my hand and I figured I was still ahead in the hand.  And besides, as I found out later, my complaining wouldn’t have convinced them to change the ruling.  I tried to keep a poker face but I doubt I did.  The new turn card was a second 5.  Gulp.  If he had bet because he had pocket fives and flopped a set I was dead, dead, dead.  And when BB bet out again, that’s really what I was worried about.  I had two pair, Kings and Fives, but I sure as hell didn’t think I should raise there, having seen one of my outs buried back into the deck.
The river came as a Queen.  The board now had paired Queens and Fives, along with a King.  I had Kings and Queens and I didn’t think that was worth a damn.  Sure enough, BB bet out again.  For four bucks I had to see what he had.  Well at least he didn’t have pocket 5’s.  But he may as well have.  He had Ace-Queen.  Thus the river gave him a full boat.  He was actually behind me the whole way, and hit his out on the river.  The river that wouldn’t have been a Queen except for Barry’s huge mess-up.  You see, it should have been my full house, Kings full of fives, instead of Queens full of fives.  Barry’s inattention had cost me the pot.  As he pushed the pot to the BB, I said, rather sternly and unpleasantly I’m sure.  I would have had a full house.  I should have had a full house.”  All Barry did was very meekly say, “I’m sorry.”
So I was pissed.  I was pissed at what happened.  I was pissed at Barry.  I was pissed at what I thought was Barry’s inadequate apology.  I wasn’t expecting him to get down and his hands and knees and beg for my forgiveness, but I expected a little more sincerity, a little more sorrow in his voice.  And I was a little pissed at the guy who took down the pot.  I thought he should have apologized to me to, and acknowledged how lucky he was to win the hand.  But he was silent.  That may have been do the language issued I mentioned earlier, although he certainly did speak English.  But mostly, I was just pissed.  Now, the pot was only $23, and if that King had stayed on the turn, who knows if BB would have stayed in, so what I would have won could have even been less than the $23.  After watching BB play for an hour, I knew he was a solid player and wasn’t going to give his money away on a lost cause.  But right then, all I was thinking was that I lost a pot, and it would have been my first pot in two hours. 
I thought I was at about my highest level of annoyance right then, but I was wrong.  Of course the other players at the table had seen all of this occur.  I got a few comments offering me sympathy.  But then one guy, a New Yorker, of course, started yapping.  “That’s why I always say raise whenever I raise,” Then, directly to me, he said, “Yeah, you should have called out ‘raise’; then you wouldn’t have had that problem.”
I said, no doubt in a rough tone, “I shouldn’t have to say ‘raise’—the action speaks for itself.”  I started to go on, but caught myself.  I almost said something like, “If the dealer’s paying attention, if he’s doing his job, if he’s not totally incompetent, then I shouldn’t have to say “raise” in a noisy casino when you can’t hear it anyway.”  I really came close to saying that, but somehow, I restrained myself. 
Since I didn’t consider Barry a buddy at this time, I really did come thisclose to saying that.  But I managed to hold it in, for a couple of reasons.  First, I do have a great deal of self-restraint.  And after the moment past, I realized I was starting to become friendly with a lot of the staff at the BSC and didn’t want to suddenly get a reputation as a major asshole (even though everyone would have agreed I had a right to be pissed). Besides, why embarrass Barry further when suddenly the person I was even suddenly angrier at was this putz from New York? So I just sat there and said nothing more.  I just seethed and sulked.  Fortunately, I didn’t get any cards so my play wasn’t affected. 
After about 10 minutes, I started feeling relieved.  I was beginning to feel very good about not yelling at Barry, at not calling him incompetent.  I told myself that Barry probably felt as bad about what happened as I did, perhaps even worse. He’s only human, after all, and it’s not like I’ve never made a mistake myself.  He didn’t do it on purpose. And also I felt good about not making a scene at my favorite poker room.  It wouldn’t have made a difference, and all it would have done was make me look bad.  Instead, I was taking the high road and starting to feel good about it.
By the time his down was over, I wasn’t ready to go for a drink with him but at least I had stopped mentally sticking pins in my Barry voodoo doll. 
And here’s the kicker to this story.  After not playing at his table for quite a while after this incident (just by happenstance, not on purpose), next time he did come to my table he said hi to me by name (he’d never done that before) and we chatted amiably the entire down.  And thus we’ve actually become pals!  This makes me even happier about how I handled the situation, and you know, I really don’t miss that twenty three bucks.  And I’ve never brought up this story to Barry, and he’s never brought it up either.  But then, there’s no need to.  Some things are better left unsaid.

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