Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Playing Poker with Phony Bigcharles

I had barely gotten settled into my seat at PC Ventura on Saturday when I noticed the guy on my immediate left looked very familiar.  Damn if he didn’t look like the world’s most famous poker blogger, TonyBigcharles.

Now, the guy wasn’t an exact double for Tony.  It wasn’t like I saw him and did a double-take and thought, “What the hell is Tony doing here in Ventura?”  Nothing like that.  But I couldn’t help noticing there was a definite resemblance.

Ever since I started playing poker seriously (I know, I know, you’re all waiting for that day to actually take place), I find it useful to “identify” players who look like other people (usually famous people), both for my poker notes and to keep them straight as I try to develop reads on them.  And of course, if they do something blog worthy, they will make into the blog with the name of the famous person they resemble, or at least something inspired by that.  Thus I’ve told you about players I call “Stan Lee” and “Steven Spielberg” even though I now know their real names. 

So once I noticed this fellow’s resemblance to Tony, I was thinking that if made any notes about him—or if he made it into the blog—I could refer to him as “TBC.”  Except that Tony isn’t just some celebrity I’ve seen on TV. I’ve met him, played poker with him, had dinner with him, transported him and most importantly, written blog posts in which he appears.  So I had to come up with another way to identify this TBC doppelganger.

It didn’t take me very long to decide that I would be referring to this guy as “Phony Bigcharles.”  Or “PBC” for short.

Now, if you think that’s a clever creation on my part, then you are probably not following me or any of my poker pals on Twitter.  I’m afraid I can’t take credit for coming up with the name Phony Bigcharles.  For those who don’t know, fairly recently a parody account has sprung up on Twitter, “Phony Bigcharles” (see here).  PBC says things that Tony himself would say if only he had no filter. 

As far as I know, nobody knows who is behind the parody account of PBC.  Is it a member of the so-called “inner-circle” who has created a second account just to have a few laughs?  Or is it someone none of us know, perhaps a brazen newcomer trying to earn his (or her) way into the inner-circle by impressing us all with his cleverness?  No idea.

Anyway, for the rest of the day, I was thinking to myself that I was playing poker with Phony Bigcharles.

Unfortunately, PBC didn’t really do anything too memorable.  In fact, there wasn’t much memorable at all from the session.  Another session of extreme card-deadness, where I ended up winning just enough small pots to break even (OK, technically I lost ten bucks, but who’s counting?).  And none of my hands, good or bad, are interesting enough to write about (I hear a lot of you saying, “That’s never stopped you before!”).  But I did see a few memorable things.

Including one thing that the aforementioned PBC did.  I didn’t note it in detail but I was the big blind in an unraised pot.  My two cards, though not close together, were suited.  The flop gave me a flush draw. I checked, and PBC bet something like $10 or $15.  It folded back to me and I called.  Or at least I started to.  But before I could put my three redbirds out (which, in L.A., are actually yellowbirds), two face up cards flew in front of me.  PBC folded his hand, on the flop, just based on my calling, not raising.  I’ve never seen that before…I mean on the flop (on the river, yes, of course).  And everyone looked at him, did he really mean to do that?  Yes, he did.  “That’s the first time he’s called a bet in an hour.”  The dealer grabbed them before I could see what he had, but obviously it wasn’t much.  But it was nice to induce a fold just by calling with a flush draw.

I told you I was card dead.  But of course I thought I’d be able to use this information on a future hand. Unfortunately, there was a guy at the table who was a friggin’ maniac.  I’ve played with him before and I recognized him right away.  I even mentioned him on the blog but I can’t seem to find the post where I talked about him.  He plays any two cards and then often makes ridiculously large bets and raises.  His loose aggressive play encouraged one player—a nice lady and a solid player I’ve played with many times before—to not only leave the table but get her husband out of his game so they could go to the movies instead.  After she open raised a pot and had a caller or two, the maniac added $100 on top of her raise.  She said as she folded, “Why am I still here?  That’s it.”  And took her chips and cashed out.  If this was an isolated incident, you could say maybe he was trying to protect his big starting hand.  But he had done something like this at least half a dozen times in past couple of orbits.

The maniac had, by this time, an enormous stack of chips—over $1K worth I believe.  You see he was also extremely lucky.  He went all-in with the worst of it many times, and always seemed to suck out on the river.  Also, he got his first big double-up that I saw by calling a raise with 7-4 offsuit and hitting two pair.  Interesting, when he was away from the table, the guy next to me said that he was probably still down for the day.  You see, when I got to the game, the player I was replacing was racking up almost three full racks of $5 chips and cashing out.  And he got most of his chips from the maniac.  You could say he plays a high-variance game.

As long as he was around, it was hard to take advantage of my image because he wasn’t going to fold.  I could bluff PBC perhaps, but the maniac didn’t like to fold.  In fact, when he was away, there was a brief conversation about him and someone said, “I’d like to see the hands he does fold.”  Having seen the crap he continued to play, we really couldn’t imagine what that might be, but every now and then he did fold a hand preflop.

There was one unusual thing that happened to me in a hand.  I was sitting at seat 5, directly across from the dealer.  I had just won a small pot and was still stacking my chips when the next hand was being dealt. I had put out my $2 for the small blind. My two cards were right in front of me and I was still gathering the chips I’d just won.  I hadn’t touched my cards, hadn’t looked at them at all, when suddenly two cards flew right on top of them.  Apparently the guy in seat 8 had mucked his hand and had really, really bad aim.  You usually see something like that with the hands in seats 1 or 9, right next to the dealer.  But across from the dealer?  That guy (who had just gotten to the table only a few hands before) really needs to work on his pitch.

I actually had no idea which of the four cards now in front of me belonged to me.  The dealer saw what happened and called the floor.  Upon hearing what happened, the floor killed my hand and allowed me to take back my $2 small blind and the hand continued.  That seemed a reasonable solution, I was fine with it.  Honestly, since I had failed to obey the cardinal rule of protecting my hand, I really wouldn’t have complained if they killed my hand without giving me my blind back.  I was actually feeling really dumb.  After all, I’ve written several blog posts about the importance of protecting your hand, starting with this one here from the very early days of my blog.  I can’t believe I got burned by that, even though it was certainly unlikely considering the seat I was in.

The guy who mucked his hand so badly apologized, and I said it was no big deal.  I’ll never know what the cards were, but considering how card dead I was it was most likely 7-2.  Although, part of me thinks it was the dreaded pocket Kings. And that therefore, the wild pitch saved me from getting felted.

The last hand I will tell you about involved two big stacks (neither one the maniac, who was oddly missing from this one).  I believe there was a preflop raise and several callers.  The flop was Jack-high, two hearts.  I think there was also a straight draw.  The preflop raiser, who had maybe $500-$600 in front of him made a reasonable bet and a guy on the other side of the table—who had at least $400—made a big raise, something like $105-$110 total.  It folded back to the preflop raiser, who tanked a bit and then said, “All-in.”

The other guy went into the tank.  That was a pretty big bet he’d made, and I was wondering if he’d be able to walk away from it.  Finally the guy who shoved turned his hand over and tossed them towards the dealer. It was two Aces.

Huh?  The guy actually tanked a little more and then folded, not saying anything and not showing his hand. 

A few months ago I saw something somewhat similar in this very poker room (see here).  And I wondered whether the room had a rule against exposing your hand like that.  I guess now I know.  The dealer didn’t say a word, so it must be ok.

But I still don’t get it.  I guess he really, really, really didn’t want to be drawn out on.  But still, the guy’s big re-raise might have meant that he had the Aces beat.  Regardless, the guy is never folding a set there, so why make it easy for him to fold a lesser hand that might call a smaller raise?

I don’t get it. And I’m still waiting for someone to intentionally show me their hand when they’ve given me a tough decision to make.

I left, wondering if I’ll run into “Phony Bigcharles” again anytime soon.


  1. Lol ive always thought tbc looked just like this guy.

    1. It's been a meme for some time that Luis Guzman resembles Tony, I didn't come up with it. But yeah, it's true!

  2. google: guzman batman robin

    The images are great...

  3. Luis Guzman from Boogie Nights with Burt Reynolds looks like TBC. You have got to be kidding right???

    1. Nope. The resemblance is actually pretty striking, Ed.

  4. If you need an excuse to never eat in a restaurant again or maybe never eat chicken in a restaurant again this clip from the Luis Guzman movie "Waiting" is something that you need to watch...


    1. My readers are warned to watch that clip at their own peril.

      Um.....thanks, Lester. I coulda gone my whole life without seeing that.