Monday, May 5, 2014

"Come On, You Know You Have to Call"

I’m back from my most recent excursion to Vegas, my annual birthday trip, so hopefully I can make some headway in the backlog of blog posts I have floating around in my head, not only from that trip, but from the March Madness trip as well.  And from earlier trips, for that matter. 

As usual, I will not be posting my stories in any particular order, and to prove it, I will be starting out with the story from my very last night in Vegas, just last week.

And since it’s me, I will present this tale in three parts.  Because Mike would fall asleep if I posted it all at once (as noted here).

I’m starting with this night because it was so odd.  I lost my cool.  I mean, I really, really lost my cool.  Twice, in fact.  And that’s pretty unusual.

This was actually a “bonus day” in Vegas.  Originally I planned to drive back home on this particular Monday.  Due to circumstances I may eventually describe in a future post (or not), I ended up staying one more night.  Although it wasn’t the reason, the extra day gave me a shot at winning some cash they were giving away at my favorite poker room.  You see those cash drawings I’ve described in the past are now only offered Mondays through Thursdays, twice on each of those days, at 10AM and 10PM.  No cash drawings on the weekend.  Tickets are earned for flushes or better starting four hours before the drawings.

They replenish the cash envelopes at the beginning of the month, and there were just a few days left in April.  So when I got to the poker room there were only five envelopes remaining, three of them worth $400 and two worth $1,000.  So, if you got picked, you would win at least $400, and had a 40% chance of claiming a grand.  Pretty good odds.

Of course, you had to win the drawing first.  And for that, you had to win tickets—which meant your hand had to be live at the showdown with a flush or better.  Piece of cake, right?

I got there earlier than usual—6:30 PM—in order to give myself a chance to win as many tickets as possible. Of course my main goal was to have a good overall session, but I was hoping to finesse it a bit and win some tickets while still playing good poker.  I had been having a pretty successful trip until the previous two days when I had a reversal of fortune, so I was really hoping to end the trip on a high note.

A few minutes after I arrived at the table, Isabel (see here) came to deal.  And a few minutes later, a guy I’m calling Bigmouth joined us.  He immediately started telling Isabel about his day, and it wasn’t clear to me whether he knew her or not.  He didn’t look at all familiar to me, so I doubt he was a regular.  He might have just been one of those guys who can’t help flapping his lips.  He was sitting next to Isabel but then moved his seat and a new player took his spot next to her.  The new player made a comment, “Oh, I get to sit next to the pretty lady dealer.”  To which Bigmouth replied, “Oh did you forget to put in your contact lenses today?”

Now that seemed like a rather nasty comment, but if he and Isabel were pals, I suppose it was ok.  And I also couldn’t tell if Bigmouth knew the new player who took his old seat, or if he was just going to talk the ear off anyone and everyone he could.

For awhile, this was the tightest NL table I could ever recall. There was almost no raise you could make that would get called.  There was one hand—a limped pot—where an older gentleman called a $6 flop bet and then folded when someone made it $20 (he had last action so he knew it would only cost him $14 more to see the next card).  He folded face up and said $6 was ok, but $20 was too much to call with his open-ended straight draw.  He also had a pair as well.  Nobody could believe he folded that hand.  I whispered to Isabel, “Is the nit convention in town?”

The very next hand, I flopped a pair of 9’s and no one bet.  When a second 9 hit the turn, this same nit bet out $10.  I was planning to make it $30 but then thought better of it.  I only made it $20 and he folded anyway.  I said to Isabel, “I bet you he had a boat.”  She laughed.

A few hands later, I had 6-7 offsuit in the big blind.  Of course there was no raise so I saw the flop for free.  The flop was 5-6-6.  I bet $5, which was slightly less than the pot.  Bigmouth raised to $15.  Another player called and I called as well.  I had to wonder if Bigmouth had a 6 with a bigger kicker.

The turn was an Ace and I checked.  Bigmouth put out a big bet—$76.  Huh?  We had started the hand with around $200 each, more-or-less.  He may have had a little more than me.

The other guy took a long time to decide, and then folded.  Now the action was on me.  His bet was bigger than the pot, which was about $50-$55, and I had to figure out what that likely meant.  I hadn’t played with Bigmouth long enough to learn anything about his game, just about his big mouth (although, actually, I did learn what his profession was and what his workout routine was….not that I wanted to).  I had no read on him as a player.

The flop had contained two hearts and the turn wasn’t a flush card.  Was he betting to get a flush draw to fold?  Was he betting his flush draw?  Was he bluffing?  Semi-bluffing?

My thought was, if he had a monster—if he had a boat—he wouldn’t bet so big.  He’d make a bet smaller than the pot, not bigger. Right?

Well, it had only been a few seconds after the other guy folded, and I was running through all this in my mind, when Bigmouth starting yapping.  And yapping.  And yapping.

“Come on, you’ve got a 6, you know you have to call.”

“I’m just betting my draw, you’ve got to call.”

“How big is your kicker?  Jack?  King?  How can you lay it down?”

“Yeah go ahead and lay it down, I’ve got you, you’re out kicked,”


Now, I’m going to admit something that won’t make me look very good, but I’ve got to tell the story.

I hate this shit.  I really, really hate it.  I hate it when someone tries to play mind games with me during a hand.  I suppose it can work to the person’s advantage, throw the other player off his game, get him to make the wrong play.  And all’s fair in love and poker.

But god, do I hate it.  I know, I know, I should be able to handle it.  And here I am, giving all of the information you need to put me on tilt if you ever happen to play at the same table as me sometime.  But so be it.  I hate this particular tactic.

When I make a bet, and someone is thinking about the action in the response, I do my best to put on the perfect poker face.  I don’t say anything, I try to freeze.  I stare emotionless at the pot, or at the TV screen, or something else.  I think that’s the right (and classy) thing to do.

Of course, I know that Bigmouth is trying to induce the action he wants me to take.  He has a monster, so he’s goading me into calling with my lowly trips.

Unless he knows I’ll think that.  And what he really wants is for me to think he’s goading me into calling him with his monster when he really doesn’t have shit.  Reverse psychology.  He wants me to think he wants a call so I’ll think one level above him and fold.  And then he’ll flip over 2-3 and laugh at his successful bluff.

And the more you think, the more you can take it one more level and call, or two more levels and fold.

Meanwhile, he was smiling and laughing and joking and making his comments.  And it was driving me nuts.  It was distracting, to say the least.  Which of course was what he wanted.

And it worked in the sense that it got me off my game.  Suddenly, I’m thinking more about not being being embarrassed than I am about making the right play.  And you shouldn’t be playing with the goal of not being embarrassed.  You should be playing with the goal of making the best play.

Calling the $76 didn’t make sense, as I would be committed.  It was either fold or shove.

The guy kept talking, saying the same things over and over again—at least I guess that was what he was doing, as I was tuning him out, or trying to.  But the thing is, by all this talking, this was now a very important hand, no matter what.  Because he’s the kind of guy, if he wins this hand (and maybe if he losses it), he’s gonna be talking about it the rest of the night.  I could tell, this hand wouldn’t end when the pot was pushed one way or the other.

So before I decided on my action, I decided something else.  No matter what I did, no matter the result, I was going to request a table change as soon as the hand was over.  I suddenly really, really, really didn’t like this clown, and I wasn’t going to spend one more second with him this evening than I had to.

Then, as I was trying to figure out the right play, I also was thinking about the best way to punish this guy, if I could.  I wasn’t looking at him, and I was pretty motionless, and so I thought I’d just wait and wait and wait like forever until he or someone else called the clock on me.

But no, I couldn’t do that.  I’d really be punishing the dealer, not the Bigmouth.  So I didn’t do that.

Finally, I decided. He seemed to want me to call, so I would fold. Take him at face value. This seemed like the best play.  I’d be only out $17, no big deal. Of course, if it was a bad laydown, I would be giving away a huge pot.  But if I called (or shoved) and he was ahead, I’d not only lose a big pot, but it would especially galling—no, more like revolting—to lose all that money to this asshole I now truly hated.

So now I’ve just given all my readers the roadmap to get me to laydown the better hand.  I know.  But I’ve already established that I should never play poker with someone who reads my blog (see here).

Except that, folding turned out to be the right move.  I folded, disappointing Bigmouth who then exposed his hand.  “How could you lay down your trips?” he said as he showed his pocket 5’s. He had flopped a boat.  

I can’t say for sure, because I can’t replay the hand in the alternate universe where he bet $76 and sat there stone-faced, but I think if he hadn’t said a word, I wouldn’t have folded.  I say this because of the size of his bet.  I wouldn’t have expected him to overbet the pot with such a big hand.  I think his bet was a bad play on his part.

But by attempting to goad me into the wrong play, he managed to actually goad me into the right play. He got me so angry, I didn’t want to reward his behavior with all my cash.  Better to risk giving up on a potential big pot than for losing a ton of money to him.

So his little mind games backfired.  Good for me.

But that didn’t change my mind one bit about moving to a new table.  I didn’t want to have to face this situation again. Because if it happened again, I’d be in the same situation, and then I’d be wondering if he was adjusting his strategy to be more deceitful—or not adjusting it, thinking I would be expecting that. 

No, no, I was through with Bigmouth.  Enjoy the $17 you won from me—with the best hand.  If you played it straight, you might very well have gotten all my chips.  Happy?

OK, so the reason the guy showed his hand was, he wanted a ticket to the drawing, and he could only get one by showing his full house.  Would he have shown if it wasn’t for a ticket?

My first thought was that he would have shown anyway, to kind of rub it in.  But now I’m not so sure.  I think he might have preferred continuing the mind game, by somehow implying that he didn’t have much and I had laid down the better hand.  Better to put me on tilt.  But I’ll never know.

Of course, having actually won the battle with him, perhaps I should have been happy that I made the right play and saved myself some money. And stayed there and kept playing against the guy, since I had essentially, somehow, won that round. But no, I was past the point of no return.  There was no way I was going to keep playing this clown.  I mean honestly, if I had shoved, he had called and I had caught my 7 (or the case 6) on the river and had a nice double up, I would have left the table (assuming he rebought).  Or if I had caught him in a bluff…same thing. I had no interest in continuing my relationship with Bigmouth one second longer.

I played my small blind and my button, and had to listen to the guy keep asking me how big my kicker was.  “King?  Jack?  I know you folded a 6.”  I said absolutely nothing to him.  Not one single word.

So I got up to check the other 1/2 games.  I saw one with an open seat and a lot of big stacks.  That was good enough for me.  I went to the floorperson and asked if I could change tables, and she said I could.  So long Bigmouth.

And that's the end of part 1.  Part 2 continues here.


  1. It better be shortly, because you've got me on the hook. I don't know if I should comment now, or check, to see what develops behind me, in parts 2 and 3... #inthetank

    1. Heh heh. Old show business adage....always leaving 'em begging for more.

    2. Okay, I basically wish that you would have said, "The only reason that I folded is because you wouldn't shut up..." :D

    3. Yeah, I was too upset really to come up with a good response--another reason I absolutely had to get away from this clown.

      But in hindsight, rubbing it in that his non-stop talking actually caused me to make the right play (and cost him money) would have been a cool thing to do. Tho I doubt it would have caused him to change his behavior. Guys like that don't change.

  2. Grrrrrrr your worse than a television show season ending cliffhanger lol. Update soon please. :-)

    1. I won't make you wait an entire summer.....or even a week.

      Just need to make sure that some of my readers have enough time to read my "too-long" posts!

  3. You need to have the sound effects of "24" to end your cliffhanger.


    1. Great idea, cowboy. tick....tick....tick.....

      Events do NOT occur in real time.

    2. LOL.i was about to make a JACK BAUER comment too.

  4. LOL. Yeah, in the previous post, my friend LM tied in Jack to poker, asking what would he do if he was dealt pocket Kings.

    I of course responded that pocket Kings wouldn't dare get dealt to Jack Bauer.

  5. Oh, wow.....what photo.....Brazilan Wax !!
    And good write up too.

  6. Thanks, norm? Are you referring to the pic in this post or the one of Kate Upton in part 2?

  7. YES the upside down, ones!

    1. Yeah....I got lucky when I was looking for "flopping a boat."