Tuesday, January 12, 2016

He Literally Played His Hand Face Up

They say you make your money in poker by taking advantage of other people’s mistakes.  But that usually means routine poker mistakes.  You know, like calling when you know you’re beat, an ill-timed bluff, chasing your draw without the proper odds (or giving your opponent giving you the right odds to chase).  The kinds of mistakes my opponents made on this night were a bit different.

I was playing at the Venetian.  I had played there two nights before with Prudence and her new fella Aaron—a story I’ll get around to eventually. And I liked two things about the Venetian making it worth a return visit.  First, I won.  Second, it was warm inside.  Too many places I’d played this trip were freezing cold inside.  The V was quite comfortable—warm, inviting, accommodating. And since the cocktail service was excellent, it was well lubricated. Now, some people complain about the scent at the V.  But it is what it is.

I bought into the 1/2 game for $200.  Early on, in the big blind, I had 8-5 off and there was no raise.  Four of us saw a flop of 8-7-6.  I bet $6 and got a call.  I bet $15 on another 8 on the turn and took it down.

Next big blind I had Ace-10 of hearts and just checked. Seven of us saw an Ace high flop, two diamonds.  I bet $10 and got one caller.  I bet $15 on a blank turn and got another call.  No call to my $25 river bet on another blank.

Now there was a guy at the table who was instigating most of the action during the early part of this session.  He raised preflop a lot, and frequently bet the flop (whether or not he was the preflop raiser).  He was pretty aggro.  Every now and again, he would make a huge bet on the flop or the turn—a shove of way more chips than the pot.  For reasons that will soon become obvious, let’s call this character “Oops.”

I had Ace-5 of hearts and raised to $10.  Oops and one other player called.  The flop totally missed me, but I c-bet $20.  Ooos called and then the third player made it $75.  I was done with the hand.  Oops tanked and very unhappily folded.

The very next hand, I had Ace-5 of hearts again.  I guess because of having been burned on the immediate hand before, I just limped in.  Oops made  it $12.  Three players called before it came back to me, so I called.  The flop was Ace-7-6 rainbow.

It checked to Ooops who immediate announced “all-in.”  As he said this, he pushed/spilled his entire stack out in front of him in a very aggressive manner. The shove was around $150 or so.  I had him covered by a bit.   But there was one more thing he did as soon as he finished pushing all his chips forward in kind of a mess.  He turned over his hand.  It was not an accident.  He did it on purpose, absolutely.  Of course there were still four players with live hands behind him to act.  The dealer kind of went “whoa…what are you doing?” and put his hand out to indicate that this was a major mistake.  Oops came to his senses and quickly covered his cards and turned them back face down.

Now I was in seat 8 and he was in seat 3, so I was about as far from him as I could be, and my eyesight isn’t very good.  But I got a good enough look. I was at least 97% sure he flipped over the dreaded pocket Kings.

Folks, one of the things this blog is dedicated to is how badly I play pocket Kings.  But even I don’t play them that badly.

Truth be told, the only thing I was 100% sure about was that they were both paint cards.  If it wasn’t two Kings, it might have been King-Queen. If it was K-Q, he had no draws, as I said, it was a rainbow flop. 

It appeared that everyone at the table had seen his hand.  The first two players to act folded instantly.  Then it was on the player to my immediate right, the last player left to act before I would close the action.

He tanked.  He said he didn’t see the cards that had been exposed!  He said, to everyone at the table, “What did he show, what did he show?”  And to my amazement, no one answered him.  A couple of people even said, “We can’t tell you,” or “It wouldn’t be right to tell you.”

That was the right thing to do, but I have to say, that may be the only poker table I’ve ever been at where no one who had seen the hand wouldn’t have blurted out what the exposed hand was. 

And after a few minutes, as everyone continued to refuse to tell him what the hand was, he finally said, “I can’t call….” And he mucked.

Of course, knowing I was well ahead of his hand, with no one left to act, I snap-called.  The board bricked out, he showed his hand again.  It was indeed pocket Kings.  I had him covered, he left.  I don’t know that he would have left if he had just been felted in a more standard way.  But I’m sure he was too embarrassed by keep playing at this table after what he had done.

The players around him said he was on tilt. The guy who had raised to $75 on the previous hand claimed it was his raise that had put the guy on tilt.  Really?  He was that sensitive?

Here’s the punch line.  As the dealer was pushing the very nice pot to me, the player on my right said he folded Ace-9.  He said he’d only seen one card and assumed the guy had an Ace to go along with the King.  Knowing that he had just given away the easiest pot he’d ever win, I think he felt almost as bad as the Oops did.  But you know, you gotta pay attention.

Note: Being last to act made it easy for me. Even if the guy on my right had seen the hand, he still had to worry about me.  I’m guessing though that he would have risked my having a better hand (after all, I had limped in and checked the flop) and called.  With my crummy kicker, I would not have been able to call him—and would have lost to him if I had.

For the next couple of hours, I was incredibly card dead.  I finally got the dreaded KIngs myself, in the big blind.  After a bunch of limpers, I made it $16 and no one called.  

A bit later I got pocket Aces. I raised to $8 and it was three way.  The key player here was a woman from Anchorage, so let’s call her Anchorage Girl.  The flop was 10-10-8, two hearts.  Neither of my Aces had the heart-shaped design on them. I bet $15 and Anchorage Girl was the only caller.  The Jack of hearts hit the turn and put all kinds of made draws out there.  My Aces weren’t looking very good.  It appeared to be a good time ask for a divorce.

But Anchorage Girl donked out a bet—a measly $10.  For the size of the pot, I couldn’t resist calling, even tho I thought my Aces were as worthless as my Kings usually are.  But I was ready to reconcile with those Aces when I saw the river card. A black Ace. Sweet.

This time, Anchorage Girl led out with a real bet--$50.  Ok,  I dismissed a straight flush and if she was playing flopped quad 10’s that way, she was going to get all my chips.  I raised to $125.  A call would have left her with about $50 behind and so I figured if she was going to call, she’d just shove.  I think that psychologically a smaller raise is more likely to get her to call then a shove (I had her covered by quite a bit thanks to Oops).

Well, she went into the tank.  That was nice, because if she did have quads (or the straight flush) she wouldn’t need a lot of time to think.  And she is thinking, and thinking, staring at the board, staring at me.  She had mentioned that she plays a lot of home games but this was her first ever poker session in a casino.  She had been playing pretty tight.  

Finally she took another peak at her cards.  She hesitated….the color kind of drained from her face….and then she mucked.  She said, “I misread my hand. I thought I had a flush but the other card was a diamond.”

Well damn…it would have been nice for me if she did have the flush, wouldn’t it have?  But she called my flop bet with a draw she didn’t have, and then bet $10 and $50 with a flush she didn’t have, so it wasn’t so bad for me.  And the tiny turn bet when she thought she had a flush was sure nice, as it kept me in the hand.

Later, after I had left the game, I ran into her in the casino and told her that she was lucky she didn’t have the flush there.  I hoped that made her feel a little better.  She was rather upset that she had goofed up like that.

A bit later I limped in with pocket 7’s and four of us saw a Queen-8-7 flop with two spades. A short stack led out for $20 and a big stack called. The shorty had less than $20 left.  I made it $80.  The shorty put his last $18 in and the big stack folded.  I caught an 8 on the river for the boat and the short stack didn’t show when I flipped over my hand.

I left the three-hour session up a bit over $200, thanks mostly to some unusual errors on the part of my opponents, for which I was very grateful.

(Edited to add, as you can see from the comments below the exposed KK hand created a bit of a controversy....should the player who acted before me been told of what the exposed hand was?  I did a follow up post where I asked "people in the know" to weigh in.  See here.)


  1. the de@ler should've been required to tell the guy wh@t he showed before he @cts on his h@nd, 1 sees, @ll see, if the rules were to be followed correctly.

    1. I disagree, Tony. The "Show One, Show All" rule refers to after the hand is over and a player only wants to show his folded hand to one player.

      If dead cards are accidentally exposed everybody is entitled to see them.

      But if a player accidentally flips over his hand while it is still live and there action is pending, the player has the right to hide his cards from as many players as possible.

    2. shocking that Tony is wrong #sarcasm

    3. There is definitely some support for Tony's view, to be honest.

  2. Very long time lurker here - first post! As an ex-dealer, Tony is correct that the dealer should expose the cards to all players - to prevent possible angling, or giving advantage/disadvantage between other players who hadnt done anything wrong, but only some might have seen the hand.

    Nice story tho, always nice to book a win!

    1. Thanks very much for the comment, Anony, Always nice to hear from a first time commenter. Glad you enjoy the blog.

      I may have to do a follow post, after reading Tony's comment, I inquired of a few dealers and floor people to get a ruling. It's mixed, but so far, more agree with me than Tony.

      I mean, suppose when the player before me asked for the cards and they were shown (or he was told), someone who had folded said, "Oh that's what it was? I saw it wrong. I would have called. Can I get my cards back?"

    2. Exactly why they should be shown to all players - fair playing ground for all.
      Equally if the player is unpopular, people may be more keen to say what his hand was. Or someone could say what they thought they saw but be wrong. Or the more awkward way - what if his friend is on the table, sees hes obviously beat, but then says 'He showed AceKing'.
      The showing to all eliminates a lot more issues than it causes - the only person to suffer a disadvantage should be the one who flipped his cards!

      Look forward to a possible follow up post to hear other opinions though.

    3. Not sure how I'm gonna do the follow up, maybe a quick post after the one I'm about to put up. Stay tuned.

  3. anybody piss in a cup during this poker session???? also u dont have to get that futon cuz the Raiders arent moving to LA. I KNOW u r dissapointed but GO RAMS!!!!!!!!!

    1. I lobbied very hard to keep the Raiders out of L.A. The Rams are L.A.'s team. Welcome back.

      I think the guy who flipped over his pocket Kings might very well have pissed his pants....but not in a cup.

  4. No love for the Snow Bunnies? very nice pic sir.

    Big L

  5. But one fine posterior. Swag