Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Poker at The Bike With Indiana Jones

Over this past weekend, I went down to the Bike here in Southern California to play some poker. I knew before getting there I was going to give that 2/3 NL game that I talked about here another try.  Of course, they call it the “$100-$300” game after the minimum/maximum you can buy in for.
As it turned out, the poker itself wasn’t all that interesting or profitable, at least for me.  But the table I was at for the afternoon had quite a few interesting and entertaining characters, and there was some drama too, so I want to blog about the weird afternoon.
I got there I around lunch time.  Last time I learned that by playing in this “big” a game, any food I ordered while playing would be comped.  I talked about the nice spaghetti lunch I had last time, this time I went for the NY steak.  It was a nice complete meal, salad, potato, vegetable, beverage, and of course a nice sized piece of steak.  Even if I had paid for it, it would have only been $9, but it was really a bargain for free.  The food was good, though far from the best steak I’ve ever had.
Enough about the food.  I was sitting in seat 8 (it’s 9 handed) and the most annoying person at the table was in seat 2.  He was there the entire time I played.  He had a big stack (between $500 and $700 most of the day) and took a long time to make decisions whenever he was facing a big bet.  He liked to make huge preflop raises when he opened a pot.  Whereas most players at the table would make it $10-$15, in that range, if he raised, he’d likely make it $25-$27 (he liked the number 27).  He had “time” called on him several times while I was there.
The first time was when he breached poker etiquette.  On the river, it was down to him and the guy on his immediate right in seat 1.  The board was all kinds of draw heavy, flushes, straights out there, but no pair.  Into a big pot, seat 1 put out $100.  Seat 2 tanked and agonized over whether to call.  He took forever.  Finally, in an act that signaled to everyone who was watching that he was about to fold, he raised his cards, showed them to the guy who bet the $100 and held them for a second or two.  Everyone thought he was gonna fold but the dealer spoke up.
“You can’t do that.  No showing the cards,” and immediately called for the floor.  Our table was very near the podium so there was almost always a floorperson nearby.  It took less than 2 seconds for the floor to show up.  Meanwhile, Seat 2 had put his cards down and was now waiting for the dealer to explain to the floor what happened. 
The dealer explained that he had showed his hand to his opponent.  The floor told Seat 2 that he was not allowed to show his cards while there was action pending, even if the action was his and there were no other players involved. 
The penalty?  Seat 2 had 10 seconds to act, or it was an automatic fold.
I’ve never seen this before, and I have no idea if this is a rule unique to L.A. clubs, or the Bike or if a similar ruling would have been made in Vegas.  All I knew is that it was new to me.
So Seat 2 picked up his cards again and looked at them.  I swear he was just about to chuck them, when suddenly his other hand grabbed a $100 stack of chips and he put the chips in front of him and said, “ok, call.”
Very strange.  But here’s the stranger thing.  Seat 1 showed his hand, all he had was top pair.  Seat 2 then showed his hand…pocket aces!  Pocket aces easily won, and the guy who had been penalized took down a big pot.  And he said, “I was gonna fold, I really was.  But when the guy put pressure on me to act fast, I changed my mind.  I really think better under the pressure.”
Seat 2 was not amused.  He felt, like I did, that the guy was just about to fold.  And he blamed the dealer for calling the floor.  “Why did you have to call the floor?  Why did you call the floor so fast?  You could have just explained the rule to him, you could have given him more time to act.  He was going to fold.  He would have folded if you hadn’t called the floor.  Why did you have to do that.”
The dealer said she was just doing her job, but the guy wouldn’t let it go and bitched about it—not overtly so, more under his breath—for quite awhile.  When the next dealer came in, he explained to the new dealer what happened and ask if he would do the same thing.  The dealer wisely stayed out of it and refused to answer the hypothetical. 
Not long after that seat 2 caused another problem, this time against seat 9, immediately to my left.  Seat 9 on the button raised preflop, seat 2 in the big blind re-raised.  Only seat 9 called.
The flop was K77.  Seat 9, acting out of turn, put out a big bet, about the size of the pot.  Dealer pointed out that he was out of turn.  So seat 9 went to grab his chips and pull them back, but Seat 2 said it was ok, leave them there, as he was deciding what to do.  So the action was on him.
Again, he took forever to decide what to do.  Seat 9, having seen the prior incident I described, was fine letting this clown take all day to decide, but everyone else was at the table was getting antsy.  Although these two incidents were the extreme, he had routinely taken “forever” to decide every time it came to such a decision.  Finally someone not in the hand said, “call time, the rest of us would like to play some poker.”  At that point, seat 2 told seat 9 to take back his bet, which he did, so the “time” call was never enforced.  But the guy still wouldn’t act.
Finally time was called again, this time the dealer called for the floor, and as he showed up, seat 2 finally said, “ok, check.”  Seat 9 immediately put out the same bet he had just taken back.
And then…..seat 9 still refused to act.  Really.  Another couple of minutes went by and again someone at the table called for time.  This time the floor made it over there and set his timer to 60 seconds.  The guy still wouldn’t act.  When it got to 10 seconds, the floor started calling it out, backwards, “10, 9, 8….”  When he got to 3 or 2, the guy finally said folded and mucked his cards.  He didn’t show, but apparently told the players near him that he had a big pocket pair, like Jacks or Queens.  The guy who took down the pot lifted up his cards and showed them to the guy to my right and myself, then mucked them face down.  “What did you have?” the guy in seat 2 wanted to know.  Seat 9 said nothing.  So seat 2 asked the two of us he had shown his cards to what he had.
Ordinarily, I would have told the guy what I’d seen in a heartbeat.  But not this time.  I was way too annoyed with the guy in seat 2 to be so accommodating.  He was just being a jerk.  And the guy to my right apparently felt the same way, as he said, “I don’t remember.”  So I said, “I didn’t really see, I wasn’t looking.”
In fact, the guy showed us pocket 6’s.  Seat 9 was grateful to us for not saying anything, and threw us each a dollar chip.  I didn’t like that, I hadn’t done that to get a buck, but I didn’t say anything or give it back because I didn’t want to call attention to seat 2 that the guy had paid us for our silence!  I guess I should feel a little guilty about this, but sometimes, the best way to improve the game is to take matters into your own hand, just a little.
There was more drama and another misunderstanding a bit later, this time involving seat 1 and seat 6.  On a board of A-10-9, 2 spades, seat 6 led out with a $26 bet.  Seat 1 made it $76. 
Seat 6 was a little confused about the bet, so he asked the dealer.  “What’s the bet?”
“$76,” the dealer said.
Seat 6 said, “so, $50 on top?”  The dealer said yes, $50 on top.
Seat 6 said, “Make it $100 on top,” and put out a stack of $100.
The dealer said he needed to put out another $50 because he said he was betting $100 on top.  So $50 to cover the raise, and another $100 for the “on top.”
Seat 6 said no, he was “making it $100 on top, so I was just raising it $50.”
Dealer called the floor, while seat 1 was saying, “No, no, he wanted to make it another $50, I understand what he meant.  Fifty is fine, let it stand.”  Everyone at the table now chimed in as to what the bet should be.  I heard him say “make it $100 on top” and thought that it was clear he raised only $50, not $100.  But everyone had their own opinion.  Oddly enough, both players in the hand were fine with it being a $50 raise.
When the dealer explained to the floor what happened, I don’t think she really conveyed to him how the bet was stated, the part about “making it $100 on top.” The player tried to explain, but the dealer wouldn’t listen and neither would the floor.  The floor ruled that he had to put out an extra $50, so he did.  He said, reluctantly, that it was ok.
So faced with a $100 bet, seat 1 just shoved, because he didn’t have all that much more than the $100.  Seat 6 called.
The both had 10/9.  So it looked like all that drama had been for nothing—a chopped pot.
Except that the final two cards were spades.  Seat 1 had the 10 of spades. Seat 6 had zero spades.  And thus seat 1 took down the pot.  He was apologetic, but happy.  “That was bad, I know, it should have been a chopped pot.”  Seat 6 was kind of stunned.  He was first of all surprised that seat 1 had such a weak hand.  Huh?  He had exactly the same hand as he did!  Somehow, he expected a better hand.  Also, he was still thinking that the bet had been called wrong by the floor and the dealer, and he should have been allowed to only raise $50 there.
Finally though, he said he should have shoved when he re-raised, instead of just adding another $50.  That probably would have gotten seat 1 to fold there.  Maybe.  I’m not so sure.
Anyway, as Seat 1 was stacking his chips, he said, “Man, this is the best table I’ve played at in months.  The floor’s been over here a bunch of times, I’m winning, the pots are big, there’s all this drama.  It’s like a TV show.”
And I said, “Yeah, and there’s even Harrison Ford.”
Harrison Ford?
Oh yeah.  About a half hour before this hand, an older gentlemen sat down directly to my right in seat 7.  I really didn’t get a good look at him, but within minutes, seat 1 said, “Hey, you know, you look just like Harrison Ford.  Ever been told that before?”
The guy said no and just laughed, but the guy continued, and everyone agreed.  I didn’t get a good look at the guy, but from the profile, I could see a resemblance.  Now suddenly everyone was referring to this guy as the Harrison Ford character (the President) from Air Force One and doing quotes from it.  “Get off my plane!”
Hmm, I wasn’t sure why that was the first Ford role that came to mind.  When I think of Harrison Ford, I either think of Han Solo or this guy:
Yeah, Indiana Jones.  I dunno, maybe because it’s an election year, they went to the role where Ford played the President.  Or it could have been the age.  This guy was older than Ford.  He looked older than Indiana Jones, even the old looking Indy from the last film, Indiana Jones and the Hip Replacement of Doom.
It turned out the guy was a pilot and owns his own small plane, but I’m pretty sure that he didn’t reveal that until after they brought up the Air Force One role.  BTW, speaking of Air Force One, I was always pissed they never completed the series.  I mean, calling the film Air Force One, they obviously intended this to be the start of a movie franchise.  Whatever happened to Air Force 2, Air Force 3-D, Air Force 4, etc?
But I digress.
By the time this hand had played out, Harrison Ford had moved to seat 5, and I got a good look at him.  Boy, he really did look like Harrison Ford, but about 10 years older than the oldest I’ve seen Ford look.  I wonder if he always looked like him or he just aged into it?
Anyway, Harrison Ford was an interesting guy.  He talked about his Korean wife, who he claimed was a compulsive gambler.  She comes to the Bike daily to play Pai Gow Poker for, um, $1000 a hand!  Yeah.  Fortunately, she’s got her own money, a lot more than he does (he’s retired).  He also claimed that she could beat him up….and has!  No idea if he was kidding.  He comes to the Bike and leaves when he loses $600-$700, but she can win or lose $10k a day.  Yikes.
He said he didn’t find out his wife was a compulsive gambler until he married her.  Before they got married, they’d never gone to a casino together, so he had no idea.
Someone asked him when he found out about her gambling addiction.  “The day after the wedding.”
That got a laugh and then he explained.  “We were honeymooning in the Bahamas and we went into a casino.  And I was showing her around like she was a total novice. ‘Now this such and such, and this is such and such.’  Suddenly she shoves me out of the way, sits at a table, buys in for a bundle and I realize she’s done this before.” When he got back home, he gave all his wife’s friends a hard time for not clue him to her gambling problem.
Finally seat 1 left, so seat 9 took his seat and I took seat 9’s seat.  Into seat 8, where I formerly was, came a really attractive woman.  When I looked at her, I did a double take, maybe a triple take.  She looked remarkably like Ginger, the BSC dealer I’ve posted about numerous times (see here, for example).  At quick glance, she looked enough like Ginger that I almost said hello to her and asked her what she was doing in L.A.  In fact, I was ready to drive her to another casino if she had asked!  But on closer look, I realized that although there was a very strong resemblance, she was probably a few years younger than Ginger.
Now poker wise, I’d been playing very tight, as usual.  The table was weird.  About half the table were loose aggressive, with some really big preflop raises (like seat 2’s obligatory $27 opening bet), and the other half was tight as me.  Well, not quite.  I started looking for openings to loosen up, but there was usually someone making some outrageous raise first whenever I thought about it.  One time I had AQ suited and raised preflop.  The guy to my left said, “If he raises, I’m folding anything.  I fold aces.”  I got two callers and whiffed on the flop, but my continuation bet took down the pot.
A couple of other times, my raises were not called.  But mostly, I did a lot of folding.  I was kind of enjoying the table dynamic, and figured that there were enough loose players at the table that I could make a good score if I ever actually caught a hand.
So the very first hand I had after Ginger came to the table, I got AK suited.  She had already limped, as had a few others.  I raised, everyone folded, including Ginger.  The very next hand, I was dealt pocket Aces.  No kidding.  I was praying for a raise before it got to me, so that I could three bet, fearing that no one would call my raise.  But no one raised, just a bunch of limpers, including, again, Ginger.
Again no one called, and as Ginger folded, she said to me, “Do you have raisey-itis?”  I had to laugh, from her perspective, I was the wildest player at the table.  Two hands, two raises.  Of course everyone else knew the truth, and I felt the need to explain.
“That’s the first two raises I’ve made in an hour.  Ask anyone else at the table if I raise a lot!”  Harrison Ford said he’d played with me an hour and he couldn’t remember raising until the previous hand.  Seat 1 (formerly seat 9) repeated his line that he’d fold Aces if I raised.
Later, the guy next to Ginger asked her if she played poker a lot.  By now it was obvious that she was a decent player.  Her response was great.  She said, “Not really. I just play every……….day.”  There was about a 10 second pause between “every” and “day.”  As he laughed, the guy who asked the question said, “That’s otherwise known as ‘daily.’”  She then corrected herself.  She takes Sundays off.
Then came the most interesting hand of poker that involved me.  I had 9/8 hearts in the big blind.  Young guy in seat 4 raised to $11.  I had pegged this guy as the best player at the table before Ginger showed up.  Didn’t play a lot of hands, made reasonable raises when he did, not too aggro, but not too tight.  Plus he looked familiar.  I was sure I’d played with this guy before.  I just wasn’t sure where.  Had I seen him here at the Bike or somewhere in Vegas?  I can’t be sure, but if I had to bet, I’d say it was probably Vegas.  He was one of the two most quiet players at the table.
Harrison Ford and Ginger called.  OK, so this was a reasonable raise, I hadn’t played a lot of hands and the aggro in Seat 2 was out of the hand.  I thought it was a decent risk to call for $8 more and hope for a flop to hit me.  Well it sorta did.  It was Q83, rainbow; the Queen was a heart.
It was checked around to seat 4 and he bet out $26. Both Harrison Ford and Ginger called.  With middle pair and one heart do I call?  I almost folded but with the pot suddenly a decent size, I thought it was decent odds to call and see one more card.  So I called.
Turn was a Jack of Diamond which was gave me a gut-shot, but took away any flush possibilities.  I wasn’t about to put much more money into this hand.  But it checked to Seat 4 and he thought about it and….checked.  OK, a free card.  The river was a low card, a blank.  When it checked around to Seat 4, I knew I was folding to anything but a really small bet.  A pair of 8’s with two overcards on the board?  Not gonna risk anything there.
But seat 4 checked after tanking for a bit. I showed my 8 and….no one else showed their hand.  My 8’s were good and I took down a nice pot, one that put me in the black for the day.  Nice.  I was surprised, but happy to take down the pot.
The last story concerns a hand involving Ginger and the aforementioned kid in seat 4.  On the river there were 2 3’s on the board, along with a 7, a 6 and a 2.  Ginger went all in for about $100 or a bit more.  Seat 4 just said he called, without putting out any more chips.  Ginger flipped her hand showing 9/7, a pair of 7’s to go along with the 3’s on the board. 
The kid looked at his hand but didn’t muck it.  He put it down in front of him and asked how much he had to put in to pay off Ginger. Before getting an answer, he just put out a bunch of chips, and the dealer took it and measured it against Ginger’s last all-in bet.  Dealer threw back a few chips to the kid and then the kid looked at his cards again, looked at the board, and then said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I have you beat.  I’m sorry, I almost didn’t see it.”  And he flipped over his cards, which were a 7/6 for a better two pair than Ginger’s.  It was the worst slow-roll I’d ever seen, although presumably accidental.
So to Ginger’s absolute horror, just as she was about to pull in the two stacks in front of her, the dealer grabbed both stacks, put them in front of the kid, and then pushed him the rest of the pot.
The kid continued to apologize.  “I’m really sorry, I just noticed, that was totally accidental, I never would do that.  I thought we both had two pair, and that you had me outkicked with the 9.  I didn’t notice the 6 made it two bigger pair for me.  I’m really sorry.
Ginger just glared at him.  She had no intention of accepting his apology.  Finally she said, “Next time, one player to a hand.”  I didn’t understand this, but the kid said, “I noticed it myself, no one told me.  I looked and saw it myself.”  Ginger repeated the one player to a hand comment and looked miserable for the next few minutes.  But she did buy more chips and kept playing.
I didn’t get it.  Who helped the kid out in Ginger’s opinion?  Well, I found out about 20 minutes later when the kid got up to leave and so did the guy on his immediate right, another young kid.  And one of the oddest looking guys I’d ever seen.  He was freakishly skinny.  I had never seen the two of them converse during the whole session; I had no idea they were together.  But obviously they were.  And as Seat 4 started walking away with his chips, he apologized again to Ginger.  She responded by saying to him and said, “Next time, one player to a hand, please.”  Again he said he didn’t get any help.
When the kid and his friend were gone, I asked if she was sure the guy had help.  She said she was.  She said he briefly flashed his cards to his friend, and the friend had tipped him off that he had the better hand.  She was absolutely certain.  That being the case, I asked why she didn’t say anything to the dealer or call the floor.  She shrugged.  She said ultimately there’d be no way to prove it and they’d rule against her, so why bother?
Actually, I’m not sure they could have done anything.  He had the winning hand and he didn’t muck it. I think the most they could have done was warn the friend not to do it again.
Anyway, by late afternoon, I still had a few bucks profit and decided to call it a day.  I left about $15 ahead, which isn’t thrilling but it beats losing.  Plus I got a free steak lunch.  I’m sure the free lunch and the $15 more than covered the gas it cost me to get there.


  1. Regarding your issue with the annoying guy (table for that matter), if someone's really bothering you, change tables next time, or pack it in. Within 30 minutes of me calling it quits last night, a "kid" sat down, ordering beer after beer, complained about the cocktail waitress for various reasons, etc, etc... When it started bothering me, I just left - it takes you off your game if you're dwelling on it.

    1. Thanks, Coach. I did consider asking for a table change; they did have other tables spreading the same game. But there were a couple of reasons I never did.

      One, most of the most obnoxious stuff I described was happening while I was waiting for my lunch or eating it, so moving would have been especially inconvenient.

      Then he settled down a bit and I kind of liked the other players at the table--and thought I was getting some good blogging material out of the session! Hey, I do have my priorities. :)

      And third, did I mention the very attractive girl who sat next to me who bore an uncanny resemblance to a hot dealer from BSC?